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  1. #1
    1perriwinkle is offline Newbie
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    Grammar question

    Hello,
    New here but in need of some help! I was covering some present perfect tense stuff with my learners this week and I was asked why we say
    "I have been ill recently" rather than
    "I have been recently ill"?
    I adopted a rabbit in the headlights stance and said 'because we just do'. Can anyone help me explain this properly?
    Thanks
    MK

  2. #2
    ian2 is offline Member
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    Re: Grammar question

    Quote Originally Posted by 1perriwinkle View Post
    Hello,
    New here but in need of some help! I was covering some present perfect tense stuff with my learners this week and I was asked why we say
    "I have been ill recently" rather than
    "I have been recently ill"?
    I adopted a rabbit in the headlights stance and said 'because we just do'. Can anyone help me explain this properly?
    Thanks
    MK
    It seems "We just do" is good enough. But here is my take:

    If we say "Recently I have been ill", I think "recently" is used to modify the whole sentence. If we say "I have been ill recently", I think "recently" is also used to modify the whole sentence. But if we say "I have been recently ill", it seems to me that "recently" is modifying the word "ill" only. So if we want to have "recently" to modify the whole sentence, apparently we do, we probably would use "recently" at the end of the sentence. I am not sure this is correct. But just for your reference. Hope others will provide more convincing answers.

  3. #3
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    Re: Grammar question

    I would say both are acceptable, but it would depend at what level you are currently teaching.

    The question was outside the scope of the lesson (present perfect) as opposed to, say, timing an event in the past, so your answer was probably spot on, you don't want to deviate from your lesson plan.

    For beginner or intermediate, I would also say, keep it simple, no need to confuse them about elaborate ways of saying the same thing, "I've been ill recently" is the best, simplest form.

    For advanced learners, there might be a case for dwelling into the notion, but again, it would be slightly outside the scope of the lesson in my view.

    This is more a class management issue imo and you dealt with it appropriately.

    Hope that helps,
    Cedric

  4. #4
    1perriwinkle is offline Newbie
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    Re: Grammar question

    Thanks for your replies. The only thing is (and the reason I posted), is that even though I felt the my answer was correct, I didn't deal with it at all well - in fact I sounded totally unconvincing
    So I was looking to clarify it both for myself and so that I could return to my class (who are intermediate/advanced) with a 'I've been thinking about this question and the definitive answer is....'
    But as Cedric said, it was a class room mgmt issue and I guess I just need to work on my confidence!
    But if anyone else has a definitive answer, I'm all ears......

  5. #5
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    mgraff is offline Newbie
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    Re: Grammar question

    If in doubt, tell the student "That's a good question and I'll have a definitive answer for you tomorrow" Then, consult The Grammar Book by Marianne Celce-Murcia.

    It explains every aspect of English grammar.

    How do you like my new avatar?

  6. #6
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    Re: Grammar question

    Welcome, 1perriwinkle.

    ian2 has got it.

    recently is an adverb of time, whereas, for example, terribly is an adverb of manner. Now, adverbs expressing time modify verbs, whereas adverbs expressing manner can modify either verbs or adjectives. For example,

    [1] I have been terribly ill. <adverb of manner modifying the adjective ill>
    [2] I sing terribly. <adverb of manner modifying the verb sing>

    Now, if we place an adverb of time in that same position, between the verb and the adjective, like this,

    [3] I have been recently ill.

    then an adverb of time modifies an adjective - a state, and not an action. Which is why [3] sounds awkward.

    If, however, we place recently at the end of the sentence or at the beginning of the sentence or closer to the verb itself, it will modify the verb,

    [4] Recently, I have been ill.
    [5] I have been ill, recently.
    [6] I have recently been ill.

    Hope that helps.

    All the best.

  7. #7
    1perriwinkle is offline Newbie
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    Re: Grammar question

    Thanks for all your replies, have to the hang of it I think!?
    Will go forth and try to explain and if I end up in a worse mess, I'll be back here for some more good advice

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    Re: Grammar question

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    Now, if we place an adverb of time in that same position, between the verb and the adjective, like this,

    [3] I have been recently ill.

    then an adverb of time modifies an adjective - a state, and not an action. Which is why [3] sounds awkward.
    This is an excellent explanation, Casiopea. Thank you.

  9. #9
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    Re: Grammar question

    hello everybody! I really am very pleased that there's some people discussing english sentences' mistakes!! I just want to tell you that I really do have many problems whith this language espcially with tenses , so if anyone of you has some suggestion to give me. here is my e-mail:
    EMAIL REMOVED - Send PM to This User Instead

  10. #10
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: Grammar question

    Quote Originally Posted by 1perriwinkle View Post
    Thanks for your replies. The only thing is (and the reason I posted), is that even though I felt the my answer was correct, I didn't deal with it at all well - in fact I sounded totally unconvincing
    ....
    As you say, it's a matter of confidence. 'We just do' is a perfectly good response - trust your intuition.

    That said, Cas's explanation is magistral - well worth keeping.

    b

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