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Thread: Grammar issues

  1. #1
    Senior Member Narnia's Avatar
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    Default Grammar issues

    I would like a second opinion.
    My JTE gave me these sentences and says that I have to choose whether they are correct, acceptable, ungrammatical or unacceptable

    What headings would you put the following under:

    1) She being absent from school, we couldn't see her
    2) Being absent from school, we couldn't see her
    3) Being absent from school, she couldn't be seen by us
    Dr Peterson: 'I'm a schoolteacher'
    Porter at Empire Hotel: 'Thought so: they always look as if they've lost something' -From "Spellbound"

  2. #2
    Fucking Classy lains's Avatar
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    Default Re: Grammar issues

    1) She being absent from school, we couldn't see her
    Unacceptable

    2) Being absent from school, we couldn't see her
    Unsure...

    3) Being absent from school, she couldn't be seen by us
    Correct/Acceptable

    I have no idea really, thats just what it seems like to me.
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    Senior Member Narnia's Avatar
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    I was thinking that too, thanks Lains! Can an American reply, because he is going to tell me "well I asked the American exchange student and she said..."
    Dr Peterson: 'I'm a schoolteacher'
    Porter at Empire Hotel: 'Thought so: they always look as if they've lost something' -From "Spellbound"

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    The second and the third ones are both acceptable, but the subject is different.

    In #2, it says that we are the ones that are absent and therefore could not see someone.

    In #3, the girl is the subject as being absent. Imagine, if you took out the "by us", the sentence would read "Being absent from school, she couldn't be seen." The "by us" is just extra information to clarify.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alexandra
    In #2, it says that we are the ones that are absent and therefore could not see someone.

    In #3, the girl is the subject as being absent. Imagine, if you took out the "by us", the sentence would read "Being absent from school, she couldn't be seen." The "by us" is just extra information to clarify.
    Not quite. #2 is ambiguous, it could mean either.

    #1 is wrong because it is structured as if the sentence could have two subjects. If "she" is the subject, the second half has to be in the passive voice, and as it stands, it isn't.

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    Actually, #2 isn't ambiguous at all - we are the ones that are not at school.

    The phrase "Being absent from school" is a participial phrase. Specifically, this participial phrase uses the present participle, which denotes it as active; the subject of the sentence actively performs the action described by the verb, in this case "being". While it's possible to specify that the participial phrase is being performed by someone else, in that case it would be necessary to place the subject in front of the clause, as in #1, which is actually perfectly grammatically correct, even if no one would talk that way.

    So...

    #1) She being absent from school, we couldn't see her.
    CORRECT, but not natural sounding

    #2) Being absent from school, we couldn't see her.
    CORRECT, so long as we're the ones absent from school

    #3) Being absent from school, she couldn't be seen by us.
    CORRECT, and probably the option I'd choose if I were looking to structure the sentence this way.

    The most natural option would be to lose the participial phrase entirely in this case though. "Because she was absent from school, we couldn't see her."

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    So "Being made of metal, we were unable to break the bars" is ungrammatical if the bars are the ones made of metal?

    #1 still seems wrong, but maybe that's just because I'd reading it with my own punctuation. I naturally want to put a comma after she, making "being absent from school" a parenthetical phrase:

    1) She, being absent from school, we couldn't see her

    If that were the case, you have "She" and "we" in the same clause which is a no-no since they're both subject pronouns (nominative case?). One's gotta be an object and the other a subject.[/u]

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    Quote Originally Posted by cb
    So "Being made of metal, we were unable to break the bars" is ungrammatical if the bars are the ones made of metal?
    Yep.
    #1 still seems wrong, but maybe that's just because I'd reading it with my own punctuation. I naturally want to put a comma after she, making "being absent from school" a parenthetical phrase:

    1) She, being absent from school, we couldn't see her

    If that were the case, you have "She" and "we" in the same clause which is a no-no since they're both subject pronouns (nominative case?). One's gotta be an object and the other a subject.
    Right, but that's not what's happening here. Look at this: "The Tigers having won the game, we all went out drinking." Same kind of thing, just using a pronoun as a subject. Or, to use your example from before, "The bars being made of metal, we were unable to break them."

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    I think the "being" is just fucking it up in general. Ask your teacher why it's there in the first place.

    As she was absent from school, we couldn't see her.
    As we were absent from school, we couldn't see her.

    Much better.
    Why these bloody entrance exams, and therefore, textbooks, have to fuck things up so completely... AAAAAAAAAARGH!
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    Quote Originally Posted by enrique_suave
    "The Tigers having won the game, we all went out drinking."
    Blurrrg! But they both sound so wrong. The latter just looks like you joined "we all went drinking" to a sentence fragment using a comma splice. They can't be right! They just can't! :smt022

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    actually, is it just a comma spliced sentence fragment? "The Tigers having won the game" is just a noun phrase right? but it's neither the object nor the subject of the sentence... so what's it doing there? Maybe I'm oversimplifying, but isn't that essentially the same as

    "Jelly, we ate sandwiches"

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    Maybe Google can explain this better than I can.

    http://www.edict.com.hk/vlc/clauses/...ipleclause.htm

    A couple good example sentences from there:

    "The chairman being absent, the secretary started the meeting."
    "Her eyes glistening with tears, she stood up and turned away from the people."

    And yeah, I said in my first post that for real natural-sounding spoken English a total overhaul would probably be better, but, hey, you do what you gotta do, eh?

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    Senior Member Narnia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andreyla
    I think the "being" is just fucking it up in general. Ask your teacher why it's there in the first place.

    As she was absent from school, we couldn't see her.
    As we were absent from school, we couldn't see her.
    My JTEs are always trying to find ways to give students marks. They do not believe in correct and incorrect, rather marks for merely trying. Your above sentences were already given as correct

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    Daimyo ***** dombay's Avatar
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    The last one is correct in terms of trad grammar but it's a clumsy expression.


    The first one makes sense if you change she to 'her'.

    Explain to the Js that in English unlike in Japanese we usually express ourselves as effect-cause (We couldn't see her because she was absent from school) rather than the J cause-effect ('She was absent from school because, we see her could not).

    This will make them sound much more natural.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dombay
    The first one makes sense if you change she to 'her'.
    Actually, perversely, since it's acting as a subject in this case, "she" is correct. I know it sounds horrible, but there you go.

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    Daimyo ***** dombay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by enrique_suave
    Quote Originally Posted by dombay
    The first one makes sense if you change she to 'her'.
    Actually, perversely, since it's acting as a subject in this case, "she" is correct. I know it sounds horrible, but there you go.
    I disagree.

    If you said 'she' in place of 'her' then you would sound like a nesb speaker which at the very least would make it 'unacceptable' and therefore incorrect.

    It's like the way Sunshine textbooks like to say that people 'enjoy' everything. "Mary what did you do last night?"
    "I enjoyed playing baseball"
    "I enjoyed listening to music".

    Sure you could argue out of a 1970s grammar textbook that that is correct but I'd say (and have) that it's not correct because it sounds wrong.

    i know my way around traditional grammar just as well as anyone else having studied it at uni but I don't use it and I definitely don't teach it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dombay
    Quote Originally Posted by enrique_suave
    Quote Originally Posted by dombay
    The first one makes sense if you change she to 'her'.
    Actually, perversely, since it's acting as a subject in this case, "she" is correct. I know it sounds horrible, but there you go.
    I disagree.

    If you said 'she' in place of 'her' then you would sound like a nesb speaker which at the very least would make it 'unacceptable' and therefore incorrect.

    It's like the way Sunshine textbooks like to say that people 'enjoy' everything. "Mary what did you do last night?"
    "I enjoyed playing baseball"
    "I enjoyed listening to music".

    Sure you could argue out of a 1970s grammar textbook that that is correct but I'd say (and have) that it's not correct because it sounds wrong.

    i know my way around traditional grammar just as well as anyone else having studied it at uni but I don't use it and I definitely don't teach it.
    Which is fine, and your perogative -- I'd argue that using the participial in this case at all is unnatural, since any native speaker that I've ever met would just use the effect-cause example you gave, "We couldn't see her because she wasn't at school." In fact, if I'm getting the spirit of the sentence right, and based on what I know about Japanese second-language learners, what they're really trying to say is "We weren't able to see her because she wasn't at school.", which is what I'd teach.

    HOWEVER.

    Given that Narniaru's JTE is hellbent on teaching this particular grammar point, I'm going to put forward that you have to teach it correctly by traditional grammar guidelines. By all means, put in a caveat about how no one actually talks that way -- it would almost be irresponsible as a second-language teacher not to. But if they insist on phrasing it that way, might as well do it right, no?

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    Well, that all comes down to the old prescriptive / descriptive grammar argument.

    Do you teach how the language _is_ spoken, or how it _should_ be spoken (according to books and old people). Sometimes there's no difference; sometimes you've got to pick and choose.

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