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Grammarbites part 10 – determiners

Part 1 – introduction

Part 8 – Building words, prefixes and suffixes

Part 9 – Latin, Greek, French, Norse and English words

Part 6 – sentence types

Part 5 – nouns

Part 10 – determiners

Part 2 – auxiliary and modal verbs

Part 3 – regular and irregular main verbs

Part 7 – pronunciation – the basic sounds of English

Part 4 – pronunciation – consonant clusters

A determiner goes before a noun to make a basic noun phrase, usually giving information about which one(s), whose, how many and how much? The most basic are a, which can be used with any singular countable noun, and the, which can be used with any noun: a/the pizza tastes good (singular countable), (-)/the pizzas taste good (plural countable), (-)/the pizza tastes good (uncountable). 

Pronouns can replace noun phrases, usually giving information about who or what? The most basic are I~me, you, she~her, he~him, it, we~us and they~them. Any singular and most uncountable noun phrases can become she, he or it, and any plural and a few uncountable noun phrases can become they: it tastes good, they taste good. Continue reading

Strenuous laboratory

Two snippets from this week.

1) My class was practicing changing verbs into nouns into adjectives and vice versa. One word was strength, to be changed into an adjective. Most students wrote strong, but one wrote strenuous. To the extent that I have ever actually thought about it, I have never thought that strenuous is related to strong, so I had to check it quickly. No – it’s not. Online dictionaries didn’t give quite enough information, but Etymology Online shows the derivation of each, slightly confusingly, but convincingly.

Strong is from Proto-Germanic *strangaz and Proto-Indo-European *strenk-. (An asterisk with an etymology means that word has not been directly attested, but has been reconstructed by comparing forms in related languages.) Strenuous is from Latin strenuus and is possibly related to stern.

The student happily accepted his classmates’ answer of strong, but I told him that if he’d written strenuous in a test, I would have given him a mark. Continue reading

Speaking and listening to Korean

My wife’s sister-in-law is visiting from Korea, less to visit us and more to visit her daughter/our niece, who is living with us while she studies at university her. Her English is very limited (essentially just those English words which are used in Korean), so we must rely on my Korean to communicate. My listening is the worst part of my Korean, and three instances of a mis-hearing have stuck in my mind.

On the day she arrived, her daughter/our niece caught a train to the airport, met her, they caught a train back and I picked them up at our local station. I said hello, it’s nice to see you (in Korean). She then said something which flummoxed me. The Korean word for wait starts with 기다 (gi-da). I heard 기도 (gi-do), which is the Korean word for prayer, and I couldn’t figure out why she was asking me about praying. Our niece eventually translated (she’d said Have you been waiting long?). Continue reading

Trumputin, Trumpkim

Trumputin seems to be a thing, but I can’t find any occurrence of Trumpkim. There’s Trump-Kim and Trump, Kim etc but not Trumpkim. If it does become a thing, you saw it here first.

Personally, I wouldn’t trust any/all of them as far as I could comfortably throw them, but at least talking about talking is better than not talking about talking or talking about not talking or not talking about not talking. And nobody’s insulted anybody for several days now.

Slow listening for absolute beginners

Recently I have been searching online for “easy korean reading practice”, of which there is not much, and “easy korean listening practice”, of which there is some, but Korean educators’ idea of “easy” doesn’t match with mine.

There’s 25 Minutes of Korean Listening Comprehension for Absolute Beginners from Talk to me in Korean. Reading the comments, I’m not alone in thinking that it’s not really for absolute beginners. The format is helpful and consistent: a cartoon graphic four choices, the audio gives a scenario and asks a question, then there’s a short conversation or monologue without subtitles, the question is repeated, then the conversation or monologue is repeated with Korean and English subtitles, and the graphic animates to eliminate the incorrect choices and highlight the correct one. I can’t understand anything in its entirely, mostly understand enough to answer the question, and sometimes don’t understand anything. My reading is far better – I can understand everything (especially because the English translation is given as well). Continue reading