Monday, July 16, 2012

Explain THIS, Part 3

Richard FirstenBy Richard Firsten
Retired ESOL Teacher, Teacher-Trainer, Columnist, Author

Well, I’m back. Your inquisitor is at it again! I hope you enjoyed Parts 1 and 2  of my mini-crusade to help you, the English teacher, avoid “discomfort” when a student asks a question about grammar or usage and the answer doesn’t fall trippingly off your tongue. I also hope you learned a little something from the answers supplied in Part 2.

Now it’s time for Part 3. This time we’ll deal with sentences in which just one little word can change meaning tremendously, albeit subtly. So, without further ado, I’ll leave you to it. Please remember not to go running to a dictionary for help and not to google anything. If you can’t figure something out, that’s fine for now. Just have fun with these 16 items. The answers, of course, will appear in Part 4.

1. What’s the difference between . . .

a. Mr. Spock is a character on Star Trek.

    Mr. Spock is a character in Star Trek.

      b. Mr. van Straten is on the phone.

    A Mr. van Straten is on the phone.

      c. She’s going to have the baby.

    She’s going to have a baby.

      d. They have little money.

    They have a little money.

      e. Did you remember to do that?

    Did you remember doing that?

f. This tree has blooms.

   This tree has blossoms.

g. I’m going to call my lawyer.

    I’m going to call my attorney.

h. I don’t like that program. Let’s find another station.

    I don’t like that program. Let’s find another channel.

i. Turn right at the next traffic sign.

   Turn right at the next traffic signal.

2. What’s wrong in each of the following items, and why? (A word to the wise: You may find that not every sentence has something wrong.)

a. He makes much money.

b. That tornado was horrible. The local ER was unbelievably crowded because so many people had sustained damages.

c. Hi, Jim. Ooh, I like that new perfume you’re wearing.

d. A dentist uses this special tool to extract teeth.

    A dentist uses this special tool for extracting teeth.

e. I’ve come here to learn all about dental instruments.

    I’ve come here for learning all about dental instruments.

f. A: I’m going to a movie tonight, Gustavo. Would you like to join me?

   B: Yes, I’d like.

g. I ate too many chickens for dinner last night. I’m still stuffed.

Comments

Comment from Helmi
July 28, 2012 at 6:59 am

c.1- She’s going to have the baby.
2- She’s going to have a baby.
1 means that she already knows which baby but in 2 she is pregnant and as a result she is going to deliver a baby

a little is more than little and has positive meaning.

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November 1, 2013 at 11:54 am

[...] back once more! In Part 3 we took a look at sentences, most of which show subtle but important differences or changes in [...]

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