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Thread: Parts of speech

  1. #1
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    Parts of speech

    Hello, everyone.
    Could you help me, please?
    I'm trying to understand, what part of speech the word "alien" in the following sentence is:
    He is alien to me.
    For the first sight we would say it's an adjective. But there is another structure: He is an alien to this work. , where "alien" is a noun. And these two structures are very similar (or even have the same meanings). So, might it be that "alien" is a noun (or a substantive adjective) in the first sentence? Could there substantivation take place? Or there should be an obligatory article in front of "alien" in this case?
    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Parts of speech

    I think it's an adjective. I don't see any difference between your sentence and 'he is dear\kind, etc, to me'.

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    Re: Parts of speech

    Tdol, you are absolutely right when we see one sentence He's alien to me. But if we compare two sentences that were described:
    He's alien to me
    He's an alien to this work

    these words (alien and an alien) seem to be the same part of speech, as these two structures have the same meaning.
    I might be mistaken, of course.

  4. #4
    Neurotica Guest

    Re: Parts of speech

    Hi there...

    I guess you are right, but have you thought about using it in 'He is an alien'?

    Regards,

    Neurotica

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    Re: Parts of speech

    I thought, of course. But some native speakers said it's not correct to use AN alien in structures like "to be alien to SMBD". Isn't it really so?

  6. #6
    Neurotica Guest

    Re: Parts of speech

    That is correct. Being a native speaker, saying 'to be an alien to somebody' sounds weird to me. E.g would be 'I'm alien to you.' He's alien to me.' Do note that in certain circumstances it isn't the case. 'He could have been an alien in that party.'

    Hope this helps you out.

    Regards,

    Neurotica

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    Re: Parts of speech

    Neurotica, I'm even more confused now What's the difference then between 'I'm alien to you.' He's alien to me.' and 'He could have been an alien in that party.'?

    And what's your answer to my main question: what part of speech is the word alien in the sentence like He is alien to me.?

    Thanks and regards.

  8. #8
    Neurotica Guest

    Arrow Re: Parts of speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Doughnut
    I thought, of course. But some native speakers said it's not correct to use AN alien in structures like "to be alien to SMBD". Isn't it really so?
    My previous post was regarding the above quoted. The use of 'an' preceding the word alien is not used but there are a few exception like 'He would have been an alien to that party', where if you don't use the 'an', the sentence has a whole different meaning.

    Regards,

    Neurotica

  9. #9
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Parts of speech

    They are similar, but grammatically, 'alien' is an adjective and 'an alien' a noun. There are cases where adjectives and nouns can carry similar meanings.

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