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Thread: English you can't explain.

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    Smashes through the wa Miss_igirisu's Avatar
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    Default English you can't explain.

    1. What's the difference between high and tall? I explained it as tall is something that is actual height but high is more about position. An irregular one would be a high mountain.


    2. She admitted having stolen the bag.
    She admitted that she had stolen the bag.

    What's the difference (meaning wise) if any?

    Feel free to reply with stuff you can't explain too. It's so annoying when you have something but can't explain it to a class of kids screaming "why??!!"
    Quote Originally Posted by tenderRondo View Post
    they said your uk blood has extremely high levels of tea and crumpets in it.
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    [QUOTE=Miss_igirisu;478094]
    2. She admitted having stolen the bag.
    She admitted that she had stolen the bag.

    What's the difference (meaning wise) if any?
    'She admitted having stolen the bag' - Emphasis on the action. The speaker admitted to stealing the bag.
    She admitted that she has stolen the bag - Emphasis on pronoun. She stole the bag.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miss_igirisu View Post
    1. What's the difference between high and tall? I explained it as tall is something that is actual height but high is more about position. An irregular one would be a high mountain.
    Maybe one way of explaining it would be:

    tall expresses height (used to compare height between objects/people etc) i.e:

    Tom is tall (compared to other people)
    That building is tall (compared to other buildings)

    high expresses elevation (used to describe elevation from a fixed point that has been raised/lifted upwards)

    That mountain is high (mountain having a fixed point from the ground - hence the irregularity??)
    Tom is high (Tom has raised spirits/mood is elevated)

    Hope that makes sense!

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    Default Re: English you can't explain.

    Tom's been on the hooweehoo?
    "Like anyone with a sliver of honesty in them I believe what I find I believe when I wake up each morning."
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    Smashes through the wa Miss_igirisu's Avatar
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    Default Re: English you can't explain.

    Haha! Thanks people. If there's anything your kids ask, please put it on here. I find these really interesting.

    I got asked the other day by my kyoto "why do you say 'pay IN yen', there's nothing inside anything else??" although I could explain why in doesn't always have to mean like the Japanese naka, but I still couldn't explain it.
    Quote Originally Posted by tenderRondo View Post
    they said your uk blood has extremely high levels of tea and crumpets in it.
    http://osharejunks.blogspot.com/

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    Али Димаев AliDimayev's Avatar
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    Default Re: English you can't explain.

    just tell him it's like the japanese partricle: de

    pay in yen
    speak in english

    But sometimes there is simply no rhyme or reason to English grammar.
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    As usual, you all (Aliを除く) have your heads up your asses.

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    Smashes through the wa Miss_igirisu's Avatar
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    Default Re: English you can't explain.

    Ahh I like it.

    I'm so bad at explaining all this stuff. Thanks Ali!
    Quote Originally Posted by tenderRondo View Post
    they said your uk blood has extremely high levels of tea and crumpets in it.
    http://osharejunks.blogspot.com/

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    Senior Member kamukamuume's Avatar
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    good thread idea! I wish this could be in anything goes so it'd get more attention. but I get the feeling mods would plop it right back here anyway!

    anyway, as an answer to some questions where the primary verb is "to be," you say "it's ____." as an answer to others, you say "____ is."

    "What nutrient is considered to be extremely beneficial to digestion?"
    "Fiber is." (NOT "It's fiber.")

    "What's that object on your desk?"
    "It's a computer." (NOT "A computer is.")

    At one point I thought I had it figured out, but I keep finding exceptions to everything I try! HALP!

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingmongkut View Post
    anyway, as an answer to some questions where the primary verb is "to be," you say "it's ____." as an answer to others, you say "____ is."
    Hmm... I don't think I use "It's" unless the thing is in the room with me. e.g. "What's something with chapters that you can read?" "A book." "What's that you're reading?" It's a book."

    "___ is"... I think it's probably only used when the fragment normally trails off into a sentence that describes it. I mean, using your examples, if somebody asked you, "What's that thing on your desk?" it would sound weird to say, "A computer is a thing on my desk." Answering the question doesn't actually explain what a computer IS. But if they said, "What nutrient is considered to be extremely beneficial to digestion?" and you said "Fiber is a nutrient beneficial to digestion," or "fiber is," it sounds ok. That describes what fiber actually is. If you say, "What's that in your drink?" then "Fiber is" doesn't work. In that case, since the drink is in the room with you, you say, "It's fiber."

    That's my idea, but I pretty much never us "____ is." It's just a sentence fragment. I'd just answer "Fiber" or whatever. So I could be wrong. If you have some examples that don't agree with my idea, please post them.

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    Senior Member kamukamuume's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by violetessence View Post
    Hmm... I don't think I use "It's" unless the thing is in the room with me. e.g. "What's something with chapters that you can read?" "A book." "What's that you're reading?" It's a book."

    "___ is"... I think it's probably only used when the fragment normally trails off into a sentence that describes it. I mean, using your examples, if somebody asked you, "What's that thing on your desk?" it would sound weird to say, "A computer is a thing on my desk." Answering the question doesn't actually explain what a computer IS. But if they said, "What nutrient is considered to be extremely beneficial to digestion?" and you said "Fiber is a nutrient beneficial to digestion," or "fiber is," it sounds ok. That describes what fiber actually is. If you say, "What's that in your drink?" then "Fiber is" doesn't work. In that case, since the drink is in the room with you, you say, "It's fiber."

    That's my idea, but I pretty much never us "____ is." It's just a sentence fragment. I'd just answer "Fiber" or whatever. So I could be wrong. If you have some examples that don't agree with my idea, please post them.
    I've always thought answers to questions should include all those words that JTEs insist on dropping, but such is life. I think, for the record, that "___ is" is a full sentence, though. It's a very simple one and doesn't really mean much in itself, but grammatically it can stand alone.

    And I think a lot of the time I use "It's..." is indeed when I'm referring to something close by, but you can also say something like, "It's blue." when you're asked, "What's your favorite color?" I think that one could go either way.

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    Hmm... I'm no grammar expert, so I googled "sentence fragment" and got this link from UNC: Fragments

    It says a sentence has "1. a subject (the verb or action), 2. a predicate (the verb or action), and 3. a complete thought (it can stand alone and make sense—it's independent)."

    This case has 1 & 2, so the question would be, does "___ is" stand alone as a complete thought?

    You're right about "It's blue," since you can say, "what color is your wall at home?" and get the same answer. Yeah - chalk one up for illogical English, I guess.
    Last edited by violetessence; October 30th, 2009 at 08:49.

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    Default Re: English you can't explain.

    What about:

    "I want my friends to help me with my homework."
    Why do we say "with", and what's the meaning of that particular with? I have a hard time explaining it, but I need to because on most student's sheets, they wrote, "I want my friiends to help my homework." and they have no idea why that's wrong.

    Thanks.

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    Senior Member kamukamuume's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HeartNana View Post
    What about:

    "I want my friends to help me with my homework."
    Why do we say "with", and what's the meaning of that particular with? I have a hard time explaining it, but I need to because on most student's sheets, they wrote, "I want my friiends to help my homework." and they have no idea why that's wrong.

    Thanks.
    I would just explain that as a preposition that we need with some verb constructions. it would probably just be easiest to tell them to take note of the times they need it as they go, since it's not all that common.

    "I am having trouble with my job."
    "I asked my friends to help me with my homework."
    "I can't put up with all this stress!"

    but usually we don't need it: "I am worried about my job."
    "I asked my friends to explain my homework."
    "I can't bear all this stress!"

    just an educated guess here, but yeah, I think it's a symptom of the verb phrase you're using it with. If you want to compare it to Japanese, you could mention that you usually use を to denote a direct object, but you also have phrases like 日本語が分かる and 車に乗る. Just memorize the exceptions when you come across them and try to get used to the feel of it.

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    Default Re: English you can't explain.

    High and tall: I am much too lazy to reproduce the diagram, but you can show the subtle difference in emphasis easily with a picture. Tall is counting up to X height. So it's like tall is the whole side of the building, which measures X meters, while high is a single line running across the top.

    (Although this has already been adequately answered, I thought I'd throw in my own version.)

    With regard to the bag-stealing: another thing is just that English is pretty flexible and you can phrase things many different ways. That's doubtless true in Japanese as well, but I do feel like English has a lot more "small words" that can link up into complex arrangements.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingmongkut View Post
    anyway, as an answer to some questions where the primary verb is "to be," you say "it's ____." as an answer to others, you say "____ is."
    My guess is that it has something to do with the structure of the questions, like where the verb 'is' and the subject (?) are in the sentence.

    Quote Originally Posted by kingmongkut View Post
    "What nutrient is considered to be extremely beneficial to digestion?"
    "Fiber is." (NOT "It's fiber.")

    "What's that object on your desk?"
    "It's a computer." (NOT "A computer is.")
    Compare your questions to:
    "What is the nutrient considered to be extremely beneficial to digestion?"
    "What object is on your desk?"

    (though you could answer all the questions with just "Fiber." or "A computer."...and they would make sense, at least)

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    Senior Member Rin's Avatar
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    Default Re: English you can't explain.

    Mountains are both "tall" and "high."

    The tallest mountain in the world and the highest mountain in the world, for example, are not the same mountain. Mt. Everest is the HIGHEST mountain in the world - it's peak is the farthest away from the earth's surface than any other mountain. However, Mauna Kea in Hawaii is the world's TALLEST mountain - from base to top, it is actually 4,451 feet (1,466 meters) taller than Everest, but because it's base is the sea floor, Mauna Kea is only 13,796 feet (4205 meters) above sea level (high); 15,233 feet (4,643 meters) shorter than Everest.
    教育を要らない
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    3 years later - it aint culture shock. Japan's just got its priorities wrong here.

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    Senior Member Rin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingmongkut View Post
    good thread idea! I wish this could be in anything goes so it'd get more attention. but I get the feeling mods would plop it right back here anyway!

    anyway, as an answer to some questions where the primary verb is "to be," you say "it's ____." as an answer to others, you say "____ is."

    "What nutrient is considered to be extremely beneficial to digestion?"
    "Fiber is." (NOT "It's fiber.")

    "What's that object on your desk?"
    "It's a computer." (NOT "A computer is.")

    At one point I thought I had it figured out, but I keep finding exceptions to everything I try! HALP!
    Think about how you would answer those questions if you used the exact wording of the question, replacing only the interrogative pronoun:

    First, replace the Int. pronoun with a blank, and arrange it into an indicative sentence:

    "What nutrient is considered to be extremely beneficial to digestion?" (In this case, "what" isn't even a pronoun, but a pro-adjective.)
    "____ nutrient is considered to be extremely beneficial to digestion." (You can't rearrange anything, since "what" isn't acting as a pronoun.)
    "Fiber is considered to be extremely beneficial to digestion." (Replace "____ nutrient" with the answer.)

    Since there's no reason to repeat everything else, in this case, we just drop the rest (though we must have at the very least, for a properly written English sentence, a subject (fiber), and a verb (is)):

    "Fiber is."

    -----

    "What's that object on your desk?"
    "That object on your desk is ____." (Rearrange to form indicative.)
    "That object on your desk is a computer." (Insert answer.)
    "It is a computer." (It = "That object on your desk")
    "It's a computer."
    Last edited by Rin; November 9th, 2009 at 05:02.
    教育を要らない
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    Quote Originally Posted by dombay View Post
    3 years later - it aint culture shock. Japan's just got its priorities wrong here.

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    Senior Member Rin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by violetessence View Post
    Hmm... I'm no grammar expert, so I googled "sentence fragment" and got this link from UNC: Fragments

    It says a sentence has "1. a subject (the verb or action), 2. a predicate (the verb or action), and 3. a complete thought (it can stand alone and make sense—it's independent)."

    This case has 1 & 2, so the question would be, does "___ is" stand alone as a complete thought?

    You're right about "It's blue," since you can say, "what color is your wall at home?" and get the same answer. Yeah - chalk one up for illogical English, I guess.
    Not illogical at all. One of the problems is that you guys aren't rearranging sentences into their proper indicative forms from their interrogative forms:

    Interrogative: "What color is your wall at home?"
    Indicative: "My wall at home is [____ color]."

    It = "My wall at home"; therefore, "It is (It's) blue," would be correct because without the pronoun (it), the answer would be "My wall at home is blue."

    Another problem is that "what" serves both as an interrogative pronoun AND as an interrogative pro-adjective (not to be confused with the interrogative adjective, "which").
    教育を要らない
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    Quote Originally Posted by dombay View Post
    3 years later - it aint culture shock. Japan's just got its priorities wrong here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingmongkut View Post
    just an educated guess here, but yeah, I think it's a symptom of the verb phrase you're using it with. If you want to compare it to Japanese, you could mention that you usually use を to denote a direct object, but you also have phrases like 日本語が分かる and 車に乗る. Just memorize the exceptions when you come across them and try to get used to the feel of it.
    Welcome to the wonderful, and often, very confusing, world of ergativity. It's usually confusing because we usually simply order our world in terms of subjects which either experience a state, act by themselves, or act upon an object. More accurately, though, nouns are intransitive subjects, transitive subjects, and direct objects (for the purposes of this explanation, other cases are ignored, since they tend to act the same no matter what system you use).

    Although some languages, like Basque, are purely ergative/absolutive, they are very rare. An ergative/absolutive language marks intransitive subjects and direct objects in the same way (absolutive), and only marks the ergative - transitive subjects - differently. These langauges don't have passive sentences, but they do have an anti-passive voice.

    Most of the world's languages, including English and Japanese, however, are nominative/accusative languages. We mark transitive and intransitive subjects in the same way (nominative), and direct objects differently (accusative).

    However, most nominative/accusative languages tend to have elements of ergativity in them. In American English, at least, we have employers (one who employs) and employees (one who is employed); but we have "retirees" (one who retires). If we were to be strictly nom/acc, it would be retire-ers. "Retiree" is ergative. Some langauges have highly mixed systems. IIRC, Hindi (it's one of those 200 some odd languages in India, if not Hindi) has nom/acc in first and second person sentences, but abs/erg in third person.

    In Japanese, liking something or someone, or understanding something tends to be ergative (with some exception). The ergative case in Japanese is 能格【のうかく】, and the absolutive case is 絶対格【ぜったいかく】

    Ergative–absolutive language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    教育を要らない
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    Quote Originally Posted by dombay View Post
    3 years later - it aint culture shock. Japan's just got its priorities wrong here.

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    Smashes through the wa Miss_igirisu's Avatar
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    Default Re: English you can't explain.

    Ok here's one for you.

    What's the difference between look, watch and see.
    Quote Originally Posted by tenderRondo View Post
    they said your uk blood has extremely high levels of tea and crumpets in it.
    http://osharejunks.blogspot.com/

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