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Thread: Gizmos grammar thread.

  1. #41

    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    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.
    Last edited by smile and nod; July 22nd, 2015 at 08:54.

  2. #42
    Crustacean Sensation Ebi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by smile and nod View Post
    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.

    Attachment 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".)

  3. #43
    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by smile and nod View Post
    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cytrix View Post
    Organising anything with ALTs is like herding cats on catnip

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonath View Post
    We Jeeperneez are express all emotion through money. Wedding is happy money. Funeral is sad money. Izakaya is friendship money. Girl-bar is almost-sex money. But babby-borning is bery happy money, as no babby in Japan. All babby is special so we is givings much money as presento for babby.

  4. #44

    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    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?

  5. #45
    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    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.)
    Quote Originally Posted by Cytrix View Post
    Organising anything with ALTs is like herding cats on catnip

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonath View Post
    We Jeeperneez are express all emotion through money. Wedding is happy money. Funeral is sad money. Izakaya is friendship money. Girl-bar is almost-sex money. But babby-borning is bery happy money, as no babby in Japan. All babby is special so we is givings much money as presento for babby.

  6. #46

    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    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.

  7. #47

    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmotech View Post
    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?")

    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmotech View Post
    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..."

    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmotech View Post
    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.
    Last edited by smile and nod; July 22nd, 2015 at 14:08.

  8. #48
    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cytrix View Post
    Organising anything with ALTs is like herding cats on catnip

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonath View Post
    We Jeeperneez are express all emotion through money. Wedding is happy money. Funeral is sad money. Izakaya is friendship money. Girl-bar is almost-sex money. But babby-borning is bery happy money, as no babby in Japan. All babby is special so we is givings much money as presento for babby.

  9. #49
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    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    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?

  10. #50
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    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    I'll reply to this later.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cytrix View Post
    Organising anything with ALTs is like herding cats on catnip

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonath View Post
    We Jeeperneez are express all emotion through money. Wedding is happy money. Funeral is sad money. Izakaya is friendship money. Girl-bar is almost-sex money. But babby-borning is bery happy money, as no babby in Japan. All babby is special so we is givings much money as presento for babby.

  11. #51
    The Sun's Bird God..what? Zolrak 22's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    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.

  12. #52
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    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cytrix View Post
    Organising anything with ALTs is like herding cats on catnip

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonath View Post
    We Jeeperneez are express all emotion through money. Wedding is happy money. Funeral is sad money. Izakaya is friendship money. Girl-bar is almost-sex money. But babby-borning is bery happy money, as no babby in Japan. All babby is special so we is givings much money as presento for babby.

  13. #53
    Senior Member mothy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    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.

  14. #54
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    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    @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?")

  15. #55
    Fit via vi Virgil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    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?
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  16. #56
    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cytrix View Post
    Organising anything with ALTs is like herding cats on catnip

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonath View Post
    We Jeeperneez are express all emotion through money. Wedding is happy money. Funeral is sad money. Izakaya is friendship money. Girl-bar is almost-sex money. But babby-borning is bery happy money, as no babby in Japan. All babby is special so we is givings much money as presento for babby.

  17. #57
    The Sun's Bird God..what? Zolrak 22's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    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?

  18. #58

    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    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.
    Last edited by Ananasboat; September 28th, 2015 at 13:15.

  19. #59
    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ananasboat View Post
    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cytrix View Post
    Organising anything with ALTs is like herding cats on catnip

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonath View Post
    We Jeeperneez are express all emotion through money. Wedding is happy money. Funeral is sad money. Izakaya is friendship money. Girl-bar is almost-sex money. But babby-borning is bery happy money, as no babby in Japan. All babby is special so we is givings much money as presento for babby.

  20. #60

    Default Re: Gizmos grammar thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ananasboat View Post
    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.

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