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Gizmotech
May 28th, 2015, 22:37
So in the spirit of AmA, here's a thread to ask grammar/English questions.

For the record, I am a theoretical and applied linguist with a university tesol certification, so if I can't answer right away I can find you the answer.

naginataonthebrain
May 29th, 2015, 00:04
What's your opinion on IPA? And how would you recommend integrating that into the classroom? I'll be working with ES most likely so if there are any activities that focus on pronunciation, I would love to hear them. All I can think of right now is vowel karuta....

BifCarbet
May 29th, 2015, 02:36
EDIT: answered my own question

This will be useful.

Ebi
May 29th, 2015, 08:44
Alright, I have a question for you. What is your take on time/place order in a sentence? Which of the following seem grammatically correct to you?

1. We can camp here all year round.
2. We can camp all year round here.
3. All year round we can camp here.

1. I can play soccer there after school.
2. I can play soccer after school there.
3. After school, I can play soccer there.

1. He studied at home yesterday.
2. He studied yesterday at home.
3. Yesterday he studied at home.

Personally I feel like time and place clauses/words can be switched around without really changing the meaning in informal English. Thoughts?


What's your opinion on IPA? And how would you recommend integrating that into the classroom? I'll be working with ES most likely so if there are any activities that focus on pronunciation, I would love to hear them. All I can think of right now is vowel karuta....
I'm not an applied linguistics major, but I'm curious. Will you be based at an elementary school or just visit one occasionally? If you're just a visiting teacher, especially if you only teach grades 5 & 6, then you might be told that you're not allowed to teach reading/phonics explicitly.

MEXT education goals for elementary school are wishy-washy and basically say that students should do fun speaking games. Some schools are happy to let ALTs teach whatever, but other schools will say no because they aren't officially supposed to start learning English until JHS grade 1.

I recommend getting a feel for what your school wants your role to be before diving into phonics.

Ananasboat
May 29th, 2015, 09:44
Ok, I'm glad you just started this thread. Because my teacher just came up to me with a problem that I really should be able to answer myself. We've just gotten new textbooks. Like, just now. In the first chapter there is a sentence that is troubling my teacher.

"Nice to meet you too, Mike."

He was concerned because he has learned that there has to be a comma between "you" and "too." That's fine, but the comma isn't there, and a different one is put after "too." And on the page before that there is a line that says, "I am Maruko too," with no comma. He's wondering if this is fine. I know it is, but I can't really figure out how to say it properly to him. Good thing I'm taking this TEFL course, amirite.

BifCarbet
May 29th, 2015, 10:02
Alright, I have a question for you. What is your take on time/place order in a sentence? Which of the following seem grammatically correct to you?


I use #1 in most cases. I think it sounds most natural. I feel like as long as the parts of the sentence are in agreement, English has a very broad definition of "correct".

In the camping example, #2 could suggest that you can camp for an entire year. #3 is funky.

Gizmotech
May 29th, 2015, 10:31
What's your opinion on IPA? And how would you recommend integrating that into the classroom? I'll be working with ES most likely so if there are any activities that focus on pronunciation, I would love to hear them. All I can think of right now is vowel karuta....

Frankly, I wouldn't bother at all. That's a JHS 3rd year, SHS 1st year problem. When they are using dictionaries, encountering new words, and need to figure it out. At the early levels its unnecessary. What's more important is minimal pair contrasts to produce the basic consonant sounds, and if you can manage to salvage any of their innocent vowel sounds go for it.

Like Ebi said though, you really want to get a feel for what your particular area is doing in regards to ES education. Some places have ALT designed curriculum, others are using the MEXT approved books, others are just an extra recess with the ALT.


Alright, I have a question for you. What is your take on time/place order in a sentence? Which of the following seem grammatically correct to you?

1a. We can camp here all year round.
2a. We can camp all year round here.
3a. All year round we can camp here.

1b. I can play soccer there after school.
2b. I can play soccer after school there.
3b. After school, I can play soccer there.

1c. He studied at home yesterday.
2c. He studied yesterday at home.
3c. Yesterday he studied at home.

Personally I feel like time and place clauses/words can be switched around without really changing the meaning in informal English. Thoughts?


Okay, You have three distinct problems here, but not all contained in one data set.

First, Time is a flexible modifier that can be placed anywhere in the sentence. It's position in the sentence defines its scope (or more accurately the limitations of it.) So 1a, 3a, 1b, 3b, and 1-3c are all okay from this rule perspective.

Second, when location is referenced with a preposition it can be placed anywhere in the sentence as it's a marked modifier. We prefer in English to use the Object, Location, Time pattern, but it's not fixed at all. Therefore they are all correct when having a preposition, but 2c feels strange because you have two conflicting rules (explained in three), and the default pattern has the stronger impression.

Third, There's a rule in English which says order modifiers based on phonetic length. For instance, apples, pineapples, and watermelon is fine, but apples, watermelon, and pineapples should sound strange. This means that 2a and 2b just don't work naturally. What's more, those locations are lacking their prepositions therefore their sentence pattern order is even more important now as they aren't free floating modifiers anymore. 2a and 2b should actually be making your head spin if you're a native speaker.

Fourth problem... which isn't obvious from the data set. Spoken vs written rules are different due to one nasty little bugger, pausing stress. 2a and 2b can be said naturally if you stress the location as if you were adding a comma before it and emphasizing it. If you don't do that, you can't say it naturally, but that isn't obvious from just reading it and following grammar rules.



I'm not an applied linguistics major, but I'm curious. Will you be based at an elementary school or just visit one occasionally? If you're just a visiting teacher, especially if you only teach grades 5 & 6, then you might be told that you're not allowed to teach reading/phonics explicitly.

MEXT education goals for elementary school are wishy-washy and basically say that students should do fun speaking games. Some schools are happy to let ALTs teach whatever, but other schools will say no because they aren't officially supposed to start learning English until JHS grade 1.

I recommend getting a feel for what your school wants your role to be before diving into phonics.

again. word.


Ok, I'm glad you just started this thread. Because my teacher just came up to me with a problem that I really should be able to answer myself. We've just gotten new textbooks. Like, just now. In the first chapter there is a sentence that is troubling my teacher.

"Nice to meet you too, Mike."

He was concerned because he has learned that there has to be a comma between "you" and "too." That's fine, but the comma isn't there, and a different one is put after "too." And on the page before that there is a line that says, "I am Maruko too," with no comma. He's wondering if this is fine. I know it is, but I can't really figure out how to say it properly to him. Good thing I'm taking this TEFL course, amirite.

too... ahh that little bastard.

Too does not need a comma because it has special pronunciation. It's a reduction of "as well". Now, he probably learned "Nice to meet you, too" as a sentence because the verbal stress is different and it helps early on, but it's completely unnecessary. Now, the comma between too and Mike is super important because too actually is working grammatically as intended where as Mike is a completely separate clause. It's an isolated noun which is not part of the original sentence.

Jiggit
May 29th, 2015, 10:38
What gizmo said. As to how to explain it, I would ask him why he thinks there should be a comma before the "too".

Ananasboat
May 29th, 2015, 14:45
too... ahh that little bastard.

Too does not need a comma because it has special pronunciation. It's a reduction of "as well". Now, he probably learned "Nice to meet you, too" as a sentence because the verbal stress is different and it helps early on, but it's completely unnecessary. Now, the comma between too and Mike is super important because too actually is working grammatically as intended where as Mike is a completely separate clause. It's an isolated noun which is not part of the original sentence.

Thank you a ton. I tried explaining that it wasn't necessary and that it was most likely used for stress, but he was having a hard time with that. I think he was just trying to find a problem with the textbook so he wouldn't have to use it.

Ebi
May 30th, 2015, 11:25
Okay, You have three distinct problems here, but not all contained in one data set.

First, Time is a flexible modifier that can be placed anywhere in the sentence. It's position in the sentence defines its scope (or more accurately the limitations of it.) So 1a, 3a, 1b, 3b, and 1-3c are all okay from this rule perspective.

Second, when location is referenced with a preposition it can be placed anywhere in the sentence as it's a marked modifier. We prefer in English to use the Object, Location, Time pattern, but it's not fixed at all. Therefore they are all correct when having a preposition, but 2c feels strange because you have two conflicting rules (explained in three), and the default pattern has the stronger impression.

Third, There's a rule in English which says order modifiers based on phonetic length. For instance, apples, pineapples, and watermelon is fine, but apples, watermelon, and pineapples should sound strange. This means that 2a and 2b just don't work naturally. What's more, those locations are lacking their prepositions therefore their sentence pattern order is even more important now as they aren't free floating modifiers anymore. 2a and 2b should actually be making your head spin if you're a native speaker.

Fourth problem... which isn't obvious from the data set. Spoken vs written rules are different due to one nasty little bugger, pausing stress. 2a and 2b can be said naturally if you stress the location as if you were adding a comma before it and emphasizing it. If you don't do that, you can't say it naturally, but that isn't obvious from just reading it and following grammar rules.
Thanks! You laid it all out very clearly. You're right, I should have split up the examples because they aren't all following the same rules. Your last two points really helped: I kept thinking of 2a & 2b with the appropriate pauses and stress in my head which is why I felt like technically they could be okay, although I know we favor the order in 1a & 1b.

How about a preposition like "often"? Are there hard rules about where it should be placed?

1. Often I walk to school with my friend.
2. I often walk to school with my friend.
3. I walk often to school with my friend.
4. I walk to school often with my friend.
5. I walk to school with my friend often.

Example #3 is the only one that jumps out as being undeniably incorrect.

Gizmotech
May 30th, 2015, 11:44
Simple time modifier so it's free flowing. Three is technically okay, except we're well conditioned not to put these things right after verbs due to standard transitivity.

starxrox
May 30th, 2015, 19:10
Wow... This a good thread and actually really bloody interesting.

webstaa
June 1st, 2015, 09:00
What's your opinion on IPA? And how would you recommend integrating that into the classroom? I'll be working with ES most likely so if there are any activities that focus on pronunciation, I would love to hear them. All I can think of right now is vowel karuta....

Not gizmo, but I taught/refreshed my teachers on IPA (one had seen/used it in school, another had not.) We delved into phonics without it. We found a reader that did mouth position/sound connection explanations as well as writing/penmanship. So far, so good. Now my first years can spell easy words from the sound and sound out words better than most of the 2nd/3rd years. The bigger sticking points for pronunciation for my JHS and ES kids is being able to recognize when Japanese phonemes don't belong at the end of an English word. (used =/= usedo)

Gizmotech
June 1st, 2015, 10:36
Not gizmo, but I taught/refreshed my teachers on IPA (one had seen/used it in school, another had not.) We delved into phonics without it. We found a reader that did mouth position/sound connection explanations as well as writing/penmanship. So far, so good. Now my first years can spell easy words from the sound and sound out words better than most of the 2nd/3rd years. The bigger sticking points for pronunciation for my JHS and ES kids is being able to recognize when Japanese phonemes don't belong at the end of an English word. (used =/= usedo)

To help solve that problem (as you're obviously dealing with phonics) is to just teach them that English words never end in "o" sound. Make it a hard rule, that can be changed as they get older. There's nothing wrong with lying to the kids with hard rules, then breaking them as they get older. (Just like how we learned math for instance... get told a rule, then realize there are exceptions to it as we progress in difficulty)


If they're a bit quicker, you can try explaining that English does make a sound at the end of most of the words, but it's a dead sound (it's actually a schwa that sort of supports the vowel, but has so many different characteristics based on the main vowel). Then you can explain it's just like "u" in Japanese, where we might say it, but we don't need it most of the time, and it just gets short.

In fact, if you can get the short schwa into their English at all, you'll be doing yourself and everyone after you a favor to be honest.

Jiggit
June 1st, 2015, 10:43
Honestly I find that most students are perfectly capable of pronouncing words without the "-o", they just choose not to out of embarrassment. Or they do it reflexively when they're struggling with what they're supposed to say. I get a lot of:

"I going to eto - I aMU goinGU to... go shopping."

Zolrak 22
June 1st, 2015, 11:38
Honestly I find that most students are perfectly capable of pronouncing words without the "-o", they just choose not to out of embarrassment. Or they do it reflexively when they're struggling with what they're supposed to say.."

So basically they are so afraid of failing that they choke?

I'm guessing it's hard getting them to try a casual conversation where they don't have to worry about mistakes.

Jiggit
June 1st, 2015, 11:53
So basically they are so afraid of failing that they choke?

I'm guessing it's hard getting them to try a casual conversation where they don't have to worry about mistakes.

Not exactly what I meant, though that's also true. More like they don't want to be made fun of for pronouncing it super "Nativey" (literally ネイティブっぽい). I dunno, when I was a kid we'd have probably made fun of someone in French class rolling their R's and whatnot, so I totally get it.

As for the latter, it's more like they're sounding it out. If they know what to say smoothly they can do it, if they forget they want to go back over it, which brings out the "katakana" pronunciation.

uthinkimlost?
June 1st, 2015, 11:53
So basically they are so afraid of failing that they choke?

I'm guessing it's hard getting them to try a casual conversation where they don't have to worry about mistakes.

They want to sound like their classmates.

webstaa
June 1st, 2015, 14:06
To help solve that problem (as you're obviously dealing with phonics) is to just teach them that English words never end in "o" sound. Make it a hard rule, that can be changed as they get older. There's nothing wrong with lying to the kids with hard rules, then breaking them as they get older. (Just like how we learned math for instance... get told a rule, then realize there are exceptions to it as we progress in difficulty)


If they're a bit quicker, you can try explaining that English does make a sound at the end of most of the words, but it's a dead sound (it's actually a schwa that sort of supports the vowel, but has so many different characteristics based on the main vowel). Then you can explain it's just like "u" in Japanese, where we might say it, but we don't need it most of the time, and it just gets short.

In fact, if you can get the short schwa into their English at all, you'll be doing yourself and everyone after you a favor to be honest.

It'd be nice, but unfortunately I can't be there every class, and the JTE doesn't realize when their pronunciation starts to backslide. (Or when the students start doing silly shit to be funny, without realizing that the 'silly' way of pronouncing that word ends up being the only one they remember.) And some JTEs don't like it when you fix their pronunciation (or critique their diction, etc. Even after they ask you to do it.)

Explaining 'a' and 'an' to students after they learn/use 'a' alone first is so much easier as well - once they know how the original concept works, they catch on to it really quickly.

smile and nod
June 29th, 2015, 09:05
How do I simply explain the difference between "a" and "the"? As in, "I work at a hair salon," or "I work at the hair salon." In English I would say "the" is for specific things and places, but my students don't understand "specific."

Jiggit
June 29th, 2015, 09:44
How do I simply explain the difference between "a" and "the"? As in, "I work at a hair salon," or "I work at the hair salon." In English I would say "the" is for specific things and places, but my students don't understand "specific."

Despite the JET/ALT mandate I generally allow Japanese when talking about grammar rules, especially one so complex and alien to them.

In general, you're going to want lots of examples. I would actually do a lesson just on "a" and plural first. Get them to decide whether something is singular or plural in various example sentences, use a lot of pictures, get them to start thinking about whether there's one or many things. Once you think they've got that, get them onto the specificity conundrum.

Gizmotech
June 29th, 2015, 10:15
Ya sorry, I don't teach this and that's for a different thread :P

"a" -- non-specific, singular reference for a noun
"the" -- specific (either through context or true singularity), can reference pluralized things (groups) or singular things (group)
"plural" -- categorical, or multiple

Seriously, for teaching this, just go online and pull one of the million or so documents down and figure it out.

Ebi
June 29th, 2015, 10:36
This should cover most situations, but there are plenty of exceptions (like when referring to musical instruments):
http://blog-imgs-47.fc2.com/e/i/g/eigodekaiwa/image3.jpg

Naru-toes
June 29th, 2015, 14:53
If you really have to do it without japanese, and there's no shame in that since you'd need better than basic japanese to do so, you're going to have to use a lot of examples.

smile and nod
June 30th, 2015, 14:09
Everyone - Great, thanks!

Ebi - Thanks so much! I attempted a copy of that in English below:
5324

I'm only allowed to teach in English, hence the emphasis on that.

Gizmotech
June 30th, 2015, 16:18
Change retired to happiness. You need a pure noun, not an participled verb.

Also, remove the many from the explanation as it's not required. That way they can think in categories and quantities.

smile and nod
June 30th, 2015, 16:30
Change retired to happiness. You need a pure noun, not an participled verb.

I agree on the pure noun thing, but "I am happiness"? Was that a typo/autocorrect?


Also, remove the many from the explanation as it's not required. That way they can think in categories and quantities.

I agree theoretically, but it sounds less natural.

Gizmotech
June 30th, 2015, 16:44
Nope, not a typo at all.

uthinkimlost?
June 30th, 2015, 17:27
Everyone - Great, thanks!

Ebi - Thanks so much! I attempted a copy of that in English below:
5324

I'm only allowed to teach in English, hence the emphasis on that.

The extra frames add a lot of visual confusion. Make it 2D if you want them to glance and get it.

Ebi
June 30th, 2015, 18:08
Everyone - Great, thanks!

Ebi - Thanks so much! I attempted a copy of that in English below:
5324

I'm only allowed to teach in English, hence the emphasis on that.
I agree with Gizmo & uthink, the examples should probably be tweaked a bit and the bubbles should be toned down since they're distracting more than helpful.

Personally, I think a straight line from the "Yes" answer would look better too rather than making it bend like that. You might also want to increase the size of the text/text boxes so it's less crammed. Look at the original again and you'll see it's very clean and neat with major points shown in larger text.

Suggestions for the examples:

<specific>
He ate the banana.
He ate the apples.
He ate the ice cream.

<general - singular>
He ate a banana.
He ate an apple.
He ate an ice cream cone.

<general - plural>
He ate (some) bananas.
He ate (some) apples.
He ate (some) ice cream cones.

<general - noncount>
He ate (some) ice cream.

smile and nod
July 1st, 2015, 15:01
I agree with Gizmo & uthink, the examples should probably be tweaked a bit and the bubbles should be toned down since they're distracting more than helpful.

Personally, I think a straight line from the "Yes" answer would look better too rather than making it bend like that. You might also want to increase the size of the text/text boxes so it's less crammed. Look at the original again and you'll see it's very clean and neat with major points shown in larger text.

Microsoft Word is being my enemy right now. This was originally made with their flow chart generator. I will probably have to remake it from scratch. But I whole-heartedly agree that the formatting is le suck.


Suggestions for the examples:

<specific>
He ate the banana.
He ate the apples.
He ate the ice cream.

<general - singular>
He ate a banana.
He ate an apple.
He ate an ice cream cone.

<general - plural>
He ate (some) bananas.
He ate (some) apples.
He ate (some) ice cream cones.

<general - noncount>
He ate (some) ice cream.

Since I am ultimately teaching "I am a (job) at (article) (place).", I might have to table those suggestions for a later lesson. But I see what you're getting at, and will implement them for a different chart.

I ended up simplifying the chart since it ended up being as confusing as it looked to be, so:

5325

(Bibbi di Bobbi di Boo is a local hair salon that they might recognise, hence the use.)

Thanks everyone for all your help!

uthinkimlost?
July 1st, 2015, 15:26
Microsoft Word is being my enemy right now. This was originally made with their flow chart generator. I will probably have to remake it from scratch. But I whole-heartedly agree that the formatting is le suck.



Since I am ultimately teaching "I am a (job) at (article) (place).", I might have to table those suggestions for a later lesson. But I see what you're getting at, and will implement them for a different chart.

I ended up simplifying the chart since it ended up being as confusing as it looked to be, so:

5325

(Bibbi di Bobbi di Boo is a local hair salon that they might recognise, hence the use.)

Thanks everyone for all your help!

That example might be confusing, because you can say, "I work at Coco's," but you probably wouldn't say, "I work at the Coco's." UNLESS you're going to give more information to specify which. Even though your example is okay, most native speakers I know would simply say, "I work at BibityI'mnotactuallywritingthat Hair Salon."

Ebi
July 3rd, 2015, 17:08
I'm only allowed to teach in English, hence the emphasis on that.
Just for giggles I started working on a reference sheet for 'a'/'an', count/non-count nouns, and 'the' rules. I made a version in Japanese but I'm still waiting on a JTE to look it over for me since I'm sure I've made some mistakes. But here's the English version. Let me know if you find any errors/typos.

5335

(Disclaimer: I wouldn't recommend just handing a student a sheet like this though. Odds are they're end up more confused/paranoid about the usage than they already are. It's mostly just for reference.)

webstaa
July 6th, 2015, 09:00
Here's an odd thing that got brought up to me that gets worse the more I think (over-think) about it.

JTE brings a couple sentences:
"I need some money to buy computer." (Ignore the lack of 'a.')
"I need time to eat lunch."
"I need some time to write a letter."
The question he brings is: In each of these sentences, is the 'some' necessary?

I answered no - that it subtly changes the meaning and is often combined with 'more' (as in 'some more') but isn't necessary. The change to the meaning being that it implies you have some, but not enough of X to do Y, or that you only need a small or certain amount. What do you think?

Gizmotech
July 6th, 2015, 09:28
Nope, the qualifiers aren't required. They just limit the scope of the non-count nouns. In all cases it implies there is a requirement of time that is understood not to be present.

Notice:
I need time to defuse the bomb
I need some time to defuse the bomb
I need more time to defuse the bomb.

Time implies lack.
Some time implies lack
more time implies it is impossible in the time frame (unless you're in a movie, at which point it will be magically done in the last 2 seconds)

BifCarbet
July 6th, 2015, 10:33
Gizmo, you are good at this.

uthinkimlost?
July 6th, 2015, 11:24
Gizmo, you are good at this.

He should be. If he wasn't he'd be like those art school students that graduate without learning to draw.

Virgil
July 6th, 2015, 13:50
He should be. If he wasn't he'd be like those art school students that graduate without learning to draw.
Like when people tell me I sing well/play an instrument well. God I hope so.

Gizmotech
July 6th, 2015, 14:24
I realized I missed a sentence in there, which came up in the discussion.

I need some more time to defuse the bomb

some more time seems to imply a lack, but acquirable amount to me, in that it isn't a great deal more.
This contrasts with some time which implies quite a large amount of time required.

Also super big hint I learned in school, always go for words like murder, death, and explosions for your example sentences to figure things out. They often have the strongest meaning associations in your head, and likely have the most limited number of connected meanings, so they are easy to use to figure out grammar explanations.

BifCarbet
July 6th, 2015, 15:23
I wasn't trying to patronize, Giz. It was more of an applause.

smile and nod
July 22nd, 2015, 08:53
Back again. What is a simple explanation for uncountable and countable nouns - mainly why. I had an inquisitive student last night who used meat as an example, and I was a bit stumped as per the grammatical reason. I've done a little Internet research and I think it might be because you measure meat rather than count it?

Thanks!

EDIT: Also spaghetti versus noodles.

Ebi
July 22nd, 2015, 09:15
Back again. What is a simple explanation for uncountable and countable nouns - mainly why. I had an inquisitive student last night who used meat as an example, and I was a bit stumped as per the grammatical reason. I've done a little Internet research and I think it might be because you measure meat rather than count it?

Thanks!

EDIT: Also spaghetti versus noodles.
Here's a worksheet I made that details a lot of rules for a/the including count/non-count. Unfortunately there isn't an easy rule for count/non-count but there are a multitude of reasons why some words are categorized as non-count.

5335

(Disclaimer: I wouldn't recommend just handing a student a sheet like this though. Odds are they'd end up more confused/paranoid about the usage than they already are. It's mostly just for reference.)

As for noodles vs spaghetti, usually the name of a dish is not counted which is why spaghetti, lasagna, meatloaf, etc. isn't counted. Noodles are large and easy enough to count individually so they are countable (as opposed to "rice"). But there are always some exceptions and sometimes words can be count and non-count depending on the context (like "chicken".)

Gizmotech
July 22nd, 2015, 09:20
Back again. What is a simple explanation for uncountable and countable nouns - mainly why. I had an inquisitive student last night who used meat as an example, and I was a bit stumped as per the grammatical reason. I've done a little Internet research and I think it might be because you measure meat rather than count it?

Thanks!

EDIT: Also spaghetti versus noodles.

This is one of those moments where I'll get ya to go online and look around. Countable and uncountable are a concept which is very hard to explain when a language doesn't have a concept of quantity, category, and proper noun distinction.

Basically think of it as Category vs Items. Meat vs Steak. If you can divided the thing and it hasn't changed, it's uncountable. No matter how much you chop up meat, it's still meat. Steaks however are clearly divisible units, that can be counted. You can even throw it back into Japanese if you want meat (肉) にく, it's all the same. You also can't count it in Japanese. You can have 1 meat in Japanese anymore than you can have 1 meat in English. Then look at yakitori (串焼)くしやき/やきとり (焼き鳥). They are both countable and uncountable nouns (categories and items)

The classic examples though are time, water, etc. Anything that needs a descriptive separator to answer the question "how much".

Spaghetti and noodles are categories and sub-categories. Depending on how you grew up, all noodles might be spaghetti (my case for YEARS... sad as it was), or you're not a dumb and all spaghetti are noodles.

webstaa
July 22nd, 2015, 10:19
Category vs Items. Meat vs Steak.

This is a can of worms. (Or at least I think so.) We say meat (as the broad category, "I like meat.") but use the same word to talk about varieties of cuts ('cold meats' or "We had a variety of meats." (a more specific category) except where 'cuts of cold meats' vs 'cuts of steak' occurs and there's a double plural vs a single...) But "We had steaks." and "We had steak." are both acceptable. Like "We raise beef" vs "We raise cattle" vs "We raise cows." Ugh. English. I butchered this paragraph. (Pun intended.)

Noodles vs spaghetti gets into the same-ish thing. Spaghetti is the name of the noodle and the dish. But macaroni and macaronis are used (at least in some regions) as the dish vs noodles. Which raises the question: do loan word nouns regularly use the uncountable/non-plural form?

Gizmotech
July 22nd, 2015, 10:34
Which is why I was keeping it simple :P Loan words don't follow the English rules often.

That being said, nothing in your example discredits what I said :P you used a descriptive separator "variety, cuts of", you used a plain descriptor "cold" to redefine the category.

Steak is both a category and an item :P "We raise" beef shouldn't be fucking English though, as beef is the French word reserved for the flesh of cows in English, and people are making a lexically dense phrase when they do it.

The only reason macaroni is encoded the way it is, is because we have no dish called macaroni to override the countability... otherwise spaghetti would also count the same way. (And small children will always regularize the countability of things in English rather than uncountability. S is far more productive than not.)

webstaa
July 22nd, 2015, 10:48
Loan words don't follow the English rules often.

English doesn't follow the English rules often.

I didn't mean to discredit what you said, just work through an example of why it's difficult to explain.

smile and nod
July 22nd, 2015, 14:06
This is one of those moments where I'll get ya to go online and look around.

I did, and couldn't find a proper explanation besides "These are countable words and these aren't." One place did go so far as to describe uncountables as ideas or things that are too many to be counted (i.e. the H2O molecules that make up water, hence "how much water would you like?")


Basically think of it as Category vs Items. Meat vs Steak. If you can divided the thing and it hasn't changed, it's uncountable. No matter how much you chop up meat, it's still meat. Steaks however are clearly divisible units, that can be counted. You can even throw it back into Japanese if you want meat (肉) にく, it's all the same. You also can't count it in Japanese. You can have 1 meat in Japanese anymore than you can have 1 meat in English. Then look at yakitori (串焼)くしやき/やきとり (焼き鳥). They are both countable and uncountable nouns (categories and items)

However we also say "How much chicken would you like?" rather than "How many chickens would you like?" (which would imply 鶏 rather than チキン.) Same goes for turkey. [EDIT: not pork] steak, and ham are similar in that they also can be quantified with "much" but, with a slightly different meaning, can be quantified with "many." Beef, on the other hand, is just "how much beef."

So basically, what I'm looking for is a why, because the higher thinking students ask that. Unfortunately this particular student's language skills aren't equally high enough to understand "Well, long ago there were German and Latin, and they had a baby called English. And then French was made the god-father, but Greek still wanted to be involved, so..."


Spaghetti and noodles are categories and sub-categories. Depending on how you grew up, all noodles might be spaghetti (my case for YEARS... sad as it was), or you're not a dumb and all spaghetti are noodles.

With those, wouldn't it be loan words? Because fruit (much) and bananas (many) are also a category and sub-category.

Today I went with count for many and measure for much (which still isn't a hard and fast rule), and just excused the weirdness with "Well, that's English!" and told them they'd have to memorise as they learn. I also told them that a neat trick is if the noun is in plural form, it's definitely countable.

Gizmotech
July 22nd, 2015, 14:26
I agree. There are no good rules for it at all. The divisibility criteria is generally the rule that languages with it work on. Things like Money (bills of), Water (cups of) Time (hours of), Air (litters of).... And the list is memorised with their "of" categorised.

That being said, anything you can count is often a tangible, distinguishable, thing. I have three apples, two computers, and an idea. These things cannot be merged together (an idea plus an idea do not make ideas)

Go with "Memorise the list you little farts". It's best.

Ebi
September 4th, 2015, 23:03
I have another question for you straight from my JTE. She asked me the difference in nuance between "Did you see Tom?" and "Have you seen Tom?" but I don't think I gave her an adequate answer. Can you help clarify the difference and why/when we use them?

Gizmotech
September 4th, 2015, 23:16
I'll reply to this later.

Zolrak 22
September 4th, 2015, 23:48
The way I interpret it, the latter implies that Tom should be in the area. He might be in the building or came in to work that day. The former is unsure if the person could have been seen.

Gizmotech
September 7th, 2015, 08:39
Zolraks explanation works for me. Have is traditionally experiential and complete, vs past tense which is just action performed.

There really isn't a clear delineation, especially given Tom is a known referent to both of you (if he was an unknown, you'll notice the meaning shift quite a bit). Now, if you changed it to Tom Colins, then the use should be clearer.

mothy
September 7th, 2015, 08:54
If someone asks me "Did you see Tom?" I expect that that someone has information about Tom he wishes to discuss. For example, Tom was looking for me earlier or he has a terrible new haircut. If someone asks me "Have you seen Tom?" I assume he's looking for him.

Ebi
September 7th, 2015, 09:27
@mothy: Yeah, that's along the lines of what I was thinking too. Although Zolrak & Gizmo's explanations probably work for most contexts.

Like let's say I was talking to Tom at a party. He excused himself to go to the restroom down the hall.

A long time passes and I get impatient. I walk down the hall and the men's restroom door opens and Bill comes out.

If I ask him, "Did you see Tom?" is it significantly different from "Have you seen Tom?"

In this situation, since I have what I believe to be solid knowledge about Tom's whereabouts, I feel like "Did you?" is just as appropriate than "Have you?"

(Granted, I'd probably say something like "Hey Bill, was Tom in there?")

Virgil
September 11th, 2015, 09:34
This was brought up to me recently. I know the meanings are essentially the same, but I would dig an explanation on why we would do this.

The difference between:

Keep moving
Keep on moving

What is happening here?

Gizmotech
September 11th, 2015, 11:07
Keep is purely stative. Keep the door locked [OK]. Keep moving[OK].
Keep O X [ where O is an optional object and X is a state of action].
Keep on is continuous action only. Keep on moving [OK]. Keep on the door locked [TERRIBAD]
Keep on X [where X is a continuous/dynamic action]

Functionally they are identical 90% of the time, as we are more likely to talk about our actions than about maintaining a state.

Zolrak 22
September 11th, 2015, 16:32
So keep moving would be like if you have to finish something and the boss is like, keep doing it.

Whereas keep on moving would be more like if you were in a marathon or something along those lines where there's no end in sight yet?

Ananasboat
September 28th, 2015, 12:05
Hey, I have a question. My JTE is wondering what the difference between "will" and "be going to?"

The examples she gave were:

I will be 14 next month.

I am going to be 14 next month.

We want to know what the difference is between those sentences, because they both mean the same thing. There's a slight directional difference, but that's all I can see really.

Edit: So one of her conversation books is saying that "will" means that you've just decided that something will be/happen.

I will help you tomorrow. I hope she will get married soon.

Then it says that "be going to" is something that was decided before.

She's going to have a baby. I'm going to have the chicken.

So according to her thinking you can't say "She will have a baby," because having a baby has already been "decided," even though it makes perfect sense. I also pointed out that "I will have spaghetti," and "I'm going to have the chicken," are the same in meaning and context in English. The book she's using adds context that isn't there. For example "I will have spaghetti" is a picture of a lady looking at a menu, while the chicken example is someone walking into a restaurant already thinking about chicken. I feel like they're just making this up.

Gizmotech
September 28th, 2015, 13:26
Hey, I have a question. My JTE is wondering what the difference between "will" and "be going to?"

The examples she gave were:

I will be 14 next month.

I am going to be 14 next month.

We want to know what the difference is between those sentences, because they both mean the same thing. There's a slight directional difference, but that's all I can see really.

Edit: So one of her conversation books is saying that "will" means that you've just decided that something will be/happen.

I will help you tomorrow. I hope she will get married soon.

Then it says that "be going to" is something that was decided before.

She's going to have a baby. I'm going to have the chicken.

So according to her thinking you can't say "She will have a baby," because having a baby has already been "decided," even though it makes perfect sense. I also pointed out that "I will have spaghetti," and "I'm going to have the chicken," are the same in meaning and context in English. The book she's using adds context that isn't there. For example "I will have spaghetti" is a picture of a lady looking at a menu, while the chicken example is someone walking into a restaurant already thinking about chicken. I feel like they're just making this up.


Will = simple future event (usually more distant than be going to) and/or strong intent (not always at the same time)
be going to = a planned action, or event that can occur any time after its immediate utterance

Don't make it more confusing than it is.

Jiggit
September 28th, 2015, 13:37
Then it says that "be going to" is something that was decided before.

She's going to have a baby. I'm going to have the chicken.

So according to her thinking you can't say "She will have a baby," because having a baby has already been "decided," even though it makes perfect sense. I also pointed out that "I will have spaghetti," and "I'm going to have the chicken," are the same in meaning and context in English. The book she's using adds context that isn't there. For example "I will have spaghetti" is a picture of a lady looking at a menu, while the chicken example is someone walking into a restaurant already thinking about chicken. I feel like they're just making this up.

That's how I explain it.

So long as you add a clarification that it doesn't really matter/the rules aren't absolute I think it isn't worth arguing about.

Ebi
September 28th, 2015, 16:16
There are a few instances when it absolutely does matter though, and that's usually when you can see how they're different.

For example:

A: "Hey, can you help me?"
B: "Sure, I'll help you." ("Sure, I'm going to help you." sounds weird.)

A: "Are you going to the party with me?" vs
"Will you go to the party with me?"
(The meaning is quite different.)

A: "Are you going to the party?"
B: "I won't go." vs. "I'm not going."
(Won't implies you're intentionally missing the party.)

They're used the same most of the time, but "will" often implies volition. Also, I feel like we tend to favor "going to" when asking questions, unless it's worded as a favor.

Jiggit
December 14th, 2015, 15:10
Any good rules/methods to teach my 3rd grade for distinguishing infinitive vs gerund? It seems to come up a lot on their practice tests and as far as I can tell they're basically guessing every time.

Gizmotech
December 14th, 2015, 15:29
Nope,

Because most of the places where they are making their mistakes are issues with it being restricted to a NP rather than a VP. It's a failure of memorisation on their part, combined with their fucking textbooks teaching them infinitive clauses as structurally normal (Who the fuck says "to eat vegetables is important" anyways...)

For instance:

I like [to run in the forest] Is C series complement construction (that I run in the forest)
I like [running in the forest] is a NP series construction (like apple)

It is important [running in the forest], doesn't work as important is an adjective and there is no NP conjunction there,
whereas
It is important [to run in the forest], works because it's a subject dropped C series complement (that people run)

I make chiho [put her skirt down], is okay because it's functionally an order [Make is not an SVOC, it's an SVOV [SV(sv)] structure technically]
I make chiho [to put her skirt down], doesn't work because this is not a C series complement construction
I make chiho [putting her skirt down], also doesn't work because this is not an NP series construction either.
Chiho was made [to put her skirt down] by me, works fine because now is a proper C series complement structure again... yay fucked up verbs.

Basically, the students need to know SVOO/SVOC, and that Os must be NP structures (therefor gerunds), but they were never taught that correctly as Japanese textbooks don't use the SVOO and SVOC terms correctly. Talk is SVO because [about shit] they see as an object. Same with Tell, I told chiho that she should put her skirt down, That.... is all a C series complement in linguistics, but they call it a fucking object.

TLDR: Nope, Good luck!

Jiggit
December 14th, 2015, 15:56
I'm not trying to be an ass, but some of the terminology you used had literally zero results on google. I appreciate the effort though.

Ini
December 14th, 2015, 16:08
ENGLISH PAGE - Gerunds and Infinitives Part 1 (http://www.englishpage.com/gerunds/part_1.htm) ?

Gizmotech
December 14th, 2015, 21:45
ENGLISH PAGE - Gerunds and Infinitives Part 1 (http://www.englishpage.com/gerunds/part_1.htm) ?

Ini, that's a great explanation but students who learn deep grammar crap in high school look at vague shit like that and go "whatever".

@jiggit I imagine most of it isn't google able as I'm remembering syntactic theory while doing like five other things. Basically there are structural order a beyond frequency (which ini linked) to explain this shit but they're based in chompskian x bar theory.

Edit: Jesus christ the drunk spelling mistakes.

Ini
December 15th, 2015, 07:12
you lost me at structural otter.
http://thumb9.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/83138/83138,1240509104,6/stock-vector-beaver-builder-29026231.jpg ?

Does anyone else go weak at the knees when gizmo talks about grammar? You have no idea what he is talking about but you cant help but be impressed by it.

webstaa
December 15th, 2015, 08:15
It doesn't help that every JTE ever seems to ignore the rules for "enjoy" and "want." When they're teaching gerunds and infinitives. So the practice tests they make have problems that read like "Tom enjoys to swim," or "We enjoy to listen to music," along side others like "He wants running in the park," or worse, "He wants to running in the park."

Jiggit
December 15th, 2015, 09:32
Apparently Ini has never seen a university entrance test. Why is this man being employed to train ALTs?

uthinkimlost?
December 15th, 2015, 09:48
His A+ reacharounds, obviously.

Gizmotech
December 15th, 2015, 10:49
Apparently Ini has never seen a university entrance test. Why is this man being employed to train ALTs?

Well he's not wrong, it's just I knew where your problem was (being knee deep in it myself), and it wasn't with the simple infinitive/gerund problem.

Jiggit
December 15th, 2015, 11:20
Well he's not wrong

http://cdn.meme.am/instances/52895829.jpg?

I get your frustrations, certainly, I'm just wondering if there's any way I can help my wonderful little angels not fall into some common pitfalls these universities like to set for them. Any common misconceptions or errors you'd fix if given the chance? I have 4 lessons a week until the tests but the JTE has restricted it to exam focused stuff from now on.

Gizmotech
December 15th, 2015, 11:37
http://cdn.meme.am/instances/52895829.jpg?

I get your frustrations, certainly, I'm just wondering if there's any way I can help my wonderful little angels not fall into some common pitfalls these universities like to set for them. Any common misconceptions or errors you'd fix if given the chance? I have 4 lessons a week until the tests but the JTE has restricted it to exam focused stuff from now on.

I'd probably just wack out their vocab book and make a list of words that take to exclusively vs ing and make em practice those sets.

Jiggit
December 15th, 2015, 12:06
Thanks Daisempai.

Gizmotech
December 15th, 2015, 12:10
Thanks Daisempai.

The other thing you could do with them is recognizing parts of speech, as they know most of the rules well enough but are shit at identifying adjectives vs nouns vs verbs eh

Jiggit
December 15th, 2015, 12:12
The other thing you could do with them is recognizing parts of speech, as they know most of the rules well enough but are shit at identifying adjectives vs nouns vs verbs eh

I've had low success rate with that before, any methods you'd suggest?

Gizmotech
December 15th, 2015, 12:28
If I had to do it I would probably start with prepositions, then verbs, followed by contrastively identifying adjectives vs nouns. Combine it with some dictation where you read out the sentence to the students rather than giving them a work sheet, then ask them in steps to find the parts of the sentence.

uthinkimlost?
December 15th, 2015, 12:31
I'd probably just wack out.

I did that and it landed me in the Kocho's office!

webstaa
December 15th, 2015, 13:19
If I had to do it I would probably start with prepositions, then verbs, followed by contrastively identifying adjectives vs nouns. Combine it with some dictation where you read out the sentence to the students rather than giving them a work sheet, then ask them in steps to find the parts of the sentence.

I'd just like to know why JTEs are so adverse to using the noun/verb/proposition/conjunction etc (名詞・動詞・前置詞・接続詞 and I forget the others in Japanese)in their classes. They're using these terms to describe Japanese, but can't use them to describe English? No wonder students don't know how to describe grammar when they only know a couple set phrases instead of basic grammar structure. Heck, the first time one of my classes hit "名詞" it was to talk about "代名詞." To which a couple students had the reaction, "There are nouns in Engish?"

Gizmotech
December 15th, 2015, 14:44
I blame junior highs for not introducing some of these basic concepts early on... and then I blame senior highs for assuming junior highs did their job.

mothy
December 15th, 2015, 18:03
I used to think every problem in english education in Japan came from how it's taught in junior high school. Then I taught at jhs. Now I know it's their fault.

Jiggit
December 18th, 2015, 21:52
I feel pretty dumb about this one but:

This is a book whose author is unknown
This is a girl whose hair is brown.
This is a house whose roof is red.

Why are the first two acceptable but not the third? I know it's something about being a possessive relative pronoun but I can't think how to explain it.

Gizmotech
December 18th, 2015, 21:59
No, there's nothing wrong with third, except we would prefer to say "with the red roof" because we want to compress into modifiers rather than subordinate sentences.

Jiggit
December 18th, 2015, 22:13
Seriously? It sounds incredibly wrong. I usually don't go by that kind of argument but in this case... My gorge rises at it!

I can't find any online using two objects, except for in Japanese language explanations. It's always a person or animal of some sort.

Gizmotech
December 19th, 2015, 08:33
We have no other possessive tool for that, but I can totally understand if you've programmed yourself out of doing it.

Jiggit
December 19th, 2015, 18:57
Yeah I suppose it makes sense considering I couldn't think of a reason why. God knows why they feel they have to test on this stuff.