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05-01-2011, 23:44   #1
St._Andalou
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Grammar/English Help

Hi all,

I know this is a creative writing forum, but I cannot find a language/English language forum on boards. I'm applying for a course and have been set some pre-tasks to complete. I wonder if people would mind looking over my answers and give thoughts or clarifications where required? I realize they're quite simple, but I'm worried I'm overlooking some glaring errors.

Thanks in advance. If I'm breaking rules here, please feel free to move the thread or delete it.

Part A.

Correct the following statements and explain your choice:

(1) Speaker A: Have you got any money?
Speaker B: Yes, I've been to the bank yesterday.

My answer: Yes, I went to the bank yesterday. I went (past simple) implies a certain time in the past, or a place in a sequence of events. I've been (present perfect) means an unspecified time.

(2) Speaker A: Is John ill? He's lost a lot of weight.
Speaker B: Yes, he's rather slender these days, isn't he?

My answer: Yes, he's rather skinny/thin these days, isn't he? "Slender" has positive connotations (a model's build is "slender", for example). Since Speaker A enquires if John is ill, the context is not positive.

(3) Speaker A: Why didn't you answer the phone?
Speaker B: Because I had a bath.

My answer: Because I was in the bath. "I had a bath" in the past means it's over and done with. "I was in the bath" means the person was in the bath when Speaker A rang and that is why they could not answer the phone.

(Could someone help me explain number 3 better? My mind's gone to mush.)

Part B

Correct the following text:

Quote:
You must'nt worry about me, the course is great and I'm happy with my accomodation. I think I'll definately stay here until June. My teacher's names are Sue and John; they are very professional and the lessons are interesting. My landlady's got a beautiful dog; it's name is Ginger.
My corrections:

Quote:
You should not worry about me: the course is great and I'm happy with my accommodation. I think I'll definitely stay here until June. My teachers' names are Sue and John; they are very professional and the lessons are interesting. My landlady's got a beautiful dog; its name is Ginger.
Part C

Comment on the difference in meaning in the following:

(1) If I had the money, I'd buy a new car / If I have the money, I'll buy a new car.

My answer: "If I had" (second conditional) means that the person does not have the money for a new car, and the situation is defined by unreality. "If I have" (first conditional) suggests the possibility of the person having the money to purchase a new car.

(2) The house was very isolated / The house was very secluded.

My answer: "Secluded" suggests hidden or private; "isolated" suggests alone. A house in the city surrounded by high walls and trees could be described as secluded, but not "isolated".

(3) Give me a hand with this bag, will you? / Could you give me a hand with this bag, please?

My answer: The first statement implies familiarity with the person whom you are asking for a favour. The second is more polite and formal.

Last edited by St._Andalou; 05-01-2011 at 23:47.
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05-01-2011, 23:50   #2
Iwannahurl
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A(3) "Because I was having a bath" ?

C(3) First part may also sound like an order / the Imperative?
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05-01-2011, 23:53   #3
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Part B:

I think I'll stay here until June.

or

I'll definitely stay here until June.
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06-01-2011, 07:33   #4
pickarooney
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Moved to English.
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06-01-2011, 12:43   #5
Permabear
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Quote:
Originally Posted by St._Andalou View Post
(1) Speaker A: Have you got any money?
Speaker B: Yes, I've been to the bank yesterday.

My answer: Yes, I went to the bank yesterday.
I would prefer "Yes, I've been to the bank," or even "Yes, I've been to the bank since yesterday." You are being asked to show that you can use the tense correctly; do this rather than shifting to another tense.

Quote:
(3) Speaker A: Why didn't you answer the phone?
Speaker B: Because I had a bath.

My answer: Because I was in the bath.
I would prefer "Because I was having a bath." You're effectively being asked here to illustrate the difference between "had" and "was having."

Quote:
You should not worry about me: the course is great and I'm happy with my accommodation.
"Shouldn't" is a better replacement for "must'nt" than "should not" because it shows you know how to use the correct contraction, with the apostrophe in the right place. Also, a semi-colon might be preferable after "about me."

Quote:
I think I'll definitely stay here until June.
Since the student is delighted with his accommodation and course, and has no reason to be equivocal, you should say: "I'll definitely stay here until June."
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06-01-2011, 20:18   #6
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I see no reason to change "mustn't" to another word, apart form correcting the apostrophe. It sounds more UK idiomatic to my ears and I don't think the intention was for you to change the word or meaning.

"I think I'll stay here until June" is as positive to me as "I'll definitely stay here until June". I read is as similar to "I think I'll have a piece of cake" - there is no doubt that the speaker will have cake, he's made a decision and it's just a turn of phrase.
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14-01-2011, 22:15   #7
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I agree with pikarooney. Mustn't is not the same as shouldn't, there is no reason to change the word, just move the apostrophe. Also the only thing wrong with definitely was the spelling in the original passage, no need to change the sentence.
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14-01-2011, 23:36   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pickarooney View Post
I see no reason to change "mustn't" to another word, apart form correcting the apostrophe. It sounds more UK idiomatic to my ears and I don't think the intention was for you to change the word or meaning.
The student will be expected to recognize that mustn't sounds too stuffy and archaic in this context. Unless one is a scriptwriter for Merchant Ivory ("Oh, Mama, you mustn't worry when I go away to boarding school!"), shouldn't is the more appropriate modal verb for the context, and will earn the student higher marks.

Quote:
"I think I'll stay here until June" is as positive to me as "I'll definitely stay here until June".
There's a definite distinction: A construction such as "I think I'll see her next week" sounds hesitant and unsure, whereas "I'll definitely see her next week" is emphatic and decisive. Above, the test-taker is prompted to select the more assured wording by the speaker's unambiguous delight in her course, her teachers, her accommodation, and even her landlady's dog.

Quote:
I read is as similar to "I think I'll have a piece of cake" - there is no doubt that the speaker will have cake, he's made a decision and it's just a turn of phrase.
"I think I'll have a piece of cake" is implicitly followed by now, leaving little opportunity for the speaker either to change his mind or to have his course of action thwarted by circumstance. But if I announce that I'm thinking of doing something many months in the future (such as "I think I'll go to Tenerife next summer") I'm voicing a vague intention rather than a defined plan. "I'll definitely go to Tenerife next summer" signals that I have much firmer plans.

Last edited by Permabear; 15-01-2011 at 17:33.
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17-01-2011, 12:09   #9
pickarooney
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Permabear View Post
The student will be expected to recognize that mustn't sounds too stuffy and archaic in this context. Unless one is a scriptwriter for Merchant Ivory ("Oh, Mama, you mustn't worry when I go away to boarding school!"), shouldn't is the more appropriate modal verb for the context, and will earn the student higher marks.
We'll have to agree to disagree there. I wouldn't consider "mustn't" as archaic or stuffy. I also don't think that if the test-setter intended the student to change the verb that they would have bothered misspelling it. There's one clear correction to be made there; by making another adjustment that correction is nullified and the student may actually lose points for not making the obvious correction.

Quote:
There's a definite distinction: A construction such as "I think I'll see her next week" sounds hesitant and unsure, whereas "I'll definitely see her next week" is emphatic and decisive.
This is not comparable - you can't be definite that you'll see someone next week as you cannot be sure that that person will be available to see you. In this situation, there has to be a measure of uncertainty.
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26-01-2011, 06:26   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pickarooney View Post
There's one clear correction to be made there; by making another adjustment that correction is nullified and the student may actually lose points for not making the obvious correction.
Agreed—you have a good point there.

Quote:
This is not comparable - you can't be definite that you'll see someone next week as you cannot be sure that that person will be available to see you. In this situation, there has to be a measure of uncertainty.
I also see a measure of uncertainty in "I think I'll stay here until June," in that the speaker, while favourably disposed toward her accommodation at present, is leaving open the possibility of a change of mind. If she says "I'll definitely stay here until June," she sounds much more emphatic and committed.
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