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#4101 - 07/21/00 12:50 AM Re: tenses
Bingley Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/09/00
Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
Sure, Bridget, I would agree verb forms show more than just tenses. But "you go" is not a verb form, it's a sentence. "You" is not part of the verb.

[quote] 'Mood' I find a bit more complex. No-one so far has mentioned conditional - is this the same as subjunctive in English? {/quote]

I think in English conditional is a type of sentence , which sometimes has a subjunctive verb. Conditional sentences usually have if or a similar word in there sometimes. They can be generalisations (if I drink too much coffee, I can't sleep), factual (If I drink too much coffee now I won't be able to sleep tonight), or counterfactual (If I drank too much coffee I wouldn't be able to sleep tonight (but in fact I'm not going to drink too much coffee)). Each of these types can be adapted to refer to past, present, or future. Counterfactuals referring to the present or future use a past subjunctive form (If I were you, ).

Sorry this is a bit rushed as I have to go out.

Bingley
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#4102 - 07/21/00 09:37 AM Re: bloomers
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
Bridget

You are very kind. How politely you point out my stupidity! I spotted my error whilst visiting a friend. I combined two bits of grammar.

Here are my lines as punishment:

nominative singular Dominus "Lord"
genitive singular Domini "Lordís" or "of the Lord"
dative singular Domino "to or for the Lord"
accusative singular Dominum "Lord" (English objective case)
ablative singular Domino "by or with (etc.) the Lord"
vocative singular Domine "Lord" (direct address)

nominative plural Domini "Lords"
genitive plural Dominorum "Lordsí or "of the Lords"
dative plural Dominis "to or for the Lords"
accusative plural Dominos "Lords" (English objective case)
ablative plural Dominis "by or with (etc.) the Lords"

As you say - thank goodness we don't have to do all that in English!


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#4103 - 07/21/00 01:26 PM Re: tenses
Bridget Offline
addict

Registered: 06/27/00
Posts: 444
Loc: Sydney Australia
>>Sure, Bridget, I would agree verb forms show more than just tenses. But "you go" is not a verb form, it's a sentence. "You" is not part of the verb.<<

Yes, Bingley, totally valid.

I think what was going on in my brain was about persons of the verb and 'go' versus 'goes', where the change in form is entirely to do with person and not with tense at all.

Bad example to demonstrate the point we seem to agree on that form covers more ground than tense.

As for conditionals, when I wrote this I was remembering learning the 'conditional tense' in French. Having thought about it, I remember that what I was actually taught was to use the imperfect tense in a conditional sentence. So I suspect you are right about it being a type of sentence. (in English - in Japanese it is a different form of the verb.)

BTW this is a great thread - thanks to everyone who has posted in it.


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#4104 - 07/21/00 01:48 PM Re: tenses
william Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 200
i generally teach my students present tense (with action verbs) is for habits and routines eg. i always win at poker; past tense is for something that happened and is finished eg. i won at poker last night; and present perfect is for something that happened before now but the time doesn't matter so much eg. i have won a few times at poker.
now imagine a game has just finished and you won.
you can say "i win", "i won" or "i've won".
where does that leave the old tenses? and the old teacher?!


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#4105 - 07/21/00 02:28 PM Re: tenses
Bridget Offline
addict

Registered: 06/27/00
Posts: 444
Loc: Sydney Australia
>you can say "i win", "i won" or "i've won". <

The way I see it, it depends on your mental state of time:

I win - you're still living in the moment
I've won - still close to the moment, but coming out of it.
I won - it's all over and done with and you're moving on to the next thing.

The present perfect is about achievement or completion, no?

Then again, talking of mental states, it's the middle of the night and I don't guarantee mine!


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#4106 - 07/22/00 10:23 AM Re: tenses
william Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 200
bridget, i know what you're saying, and i think you can reduce these uses to their nuances.
my problem is that all three can be used for the same situation with ALMOST no change in meaning. and even a native speaker would accept all three without even a slight glance at the grammar books.


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#4107 - 07/23/00 05:14 AM Re: tenses
Bridget Offline
addict

Registered: 06/27/00
Posts: 444
Loc: Sydney Australia
>>my problem is that all three can be used for the same situation with ALMOST no change in meaning.<<

William, off-topic, but I have to share it with you because I know what you're up against!

My all-time poser for explaining to the Japanese was what makes the following sentences mean what they do:

That man has few ideas.
That man has a few ideas.


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#4108 - 07/24/00 01:04 AM Re: tenses
Bingley Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/09/00
Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
The problem still comes down to the fact that tenses, aspects, persons, etc. are linguistic categories, whereas situations happen in the real world. It's like countable and uncountable nouns: the difference is based on the real world but then language goes its own merry way and gets those of us who have to explain it more and more confused.

One book I did find helpful when I first started wrestling with all this in a teaching context was Michael Lewis's "The English Verb".

Bingley
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#4109 - 07/24/00 10:21 AM Re: tenses
william Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 200
bridget, i hear ya!
actually i love explaining (or trying to explain) the capricities (jackie, is that another one for my dictionary?) of english to my students. it just makes the teacher's job so much more interesting. imagine explaining something you understood yourself! you'd be bored to drink!
bingley, i'll have a look out for the book. is it still in print?


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#4110 - 07/24/00 10:49 AM Re: tenses
Bingley Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/09/00
Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
In reply to:

My all-time poser for explaining to the Japanese was what makes the following sentences mean what they do:

That man has few ideas.
That man has a few ideas.


It's getting late, Bridget, so I'm not sure how coherent this is, but here goes.

Few means not many. A few means not none. Why?

I suspect the answer is to do with the general meaning of definite (the), indefinite (a/an), and zero ( __ ) articles. Consider the following:

The people who came to the party enjoyed themselves.
We have a definite group in mind, all of whom are included. Similarly with The few people who came to the party enjoyed themselves.

A group of people who came to the party enjoyed themselves.
Here the group of people is indefinite, is part of a larger group. Hence A few (of the) people who came to the party enjoyed themselves.

People who came to the party enjoyed themselves. No article, so not a definite group of people. Similarly Few people who came to the party enjoyed themselves.

You can probably think of better examples to illustrate the point, but I think that's on the right lines. Whether it would actually be useful for your students or would only confuse them even more, is another matter.

William, I'm told that a second edition of the Michael Lewis book came out a year or so ago, so it should still be in print.


Bingley

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