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  1. #11
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: syntax in affecting sentence semantics

    This started with the assumption that can and be able to should behave the same way because they share a meaning. They are different types of verbs so this is trying trying to force one to behave in an unnatural way, which means that at best it will be a very strained usage, and one that Gillnetter calls incorrect.

    I think that it is possible to come up with contexts where the form might occur- speech is full of things we wouldn't write.

    We would both recommend not using I am able to do it next time she comes and it would be marked wrong in exams. The only difference is that I think it is a form that might occur in speech because of they are similar in meaning and are often interchangeable. If I heard someone say it once, I wouldn't think it was an error, but if I heard them say it repeatedly, I would.


    You can get the proverbial cigarette paper between our positions, but not much more. And if my last post came across as saying that Gilllnetter's view didn't cut it, then I apologise- that was not my intention.

  2. #12
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    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: syntax in affecting sentence semantics

    Quote Originally Posted by lycen View Post
    What I understood from the above, "am able to do" might not be grammatically wrong in my example ...
    If you count semantics under grammar, then it's wrong. I agree with Tdol that a primary problem is that, as you say, you cannot see any difference between "can" and "be able to".

    phil2009 has given you this:
    * By the end of the course, I can speak French fluently.
    (Wrong)
    (-->...I'll be able to...) (Right).

    Do you need help with understanding the difference in usage between "can" and "be able to"? Or do you even need convincing that there is a difference?

  3. #13
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    chester_100 is offline Member
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    Default Re: syntax in affecting sentence semantics

    Quote Originally Posted by lycen View Post
    I am happy the next time she comes.
    The next time she comes, I am happy.

    The above-mentioned sentences are clear in having the same meaning.

    However, I would like to know if there's a subtle difference between these (presence of auxillary verb):

    I am able to do it the next time she comes. (I think "am able" here is referring to my current ability i.e. "I can do it the next time she comes." )

    The next time she comes, I am able to do it. ("Am able" is referring to the future ability I am sure that I will have; zero conditional)

    Thank you.
    The above question isn't exactly about tense. but since the sentences were flawed, it was necessary to correct them first- and they were corrected thanks to the useful views of the members.
    The technique of topicalization helps us to give prominence to a special chunk by distorting the normal order of the words.

    What is the normal word order in a sentence?

    It's simply the first level of grammatical sentence and the single level of semantic sentence. Any deviation will result in a skewing between the two worlds. It all depends on the intentions of the writer There's a psychological reason behind such shifts.
    Grammar can take a variety of forms which are represented through syntax:

    -I like playing football.(same grammatical and semantic level)
    -What I like is playing football. (a different level of grammar)
    -It is playing football that I like. (another level of grammar)
    -Playing football; that's what I like. (another level of grammar)
    ********************
    -I will be able to do it the next time she comes. (same grammatical and semantic level)
    -The next time she comes, I will be able to do it. (a different level of grammar)
    -The next time she comes is the time when I will be able to do it. (a rather uncommon level of grammar)

    I detect no semantic difference in the above sentences; how about you? Share your views with us..

  4. #14
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: syntax in affecting sentence semantics

    I am closing the thread.

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