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    #1

    Months, seasons and weather

    English teacher

    I’ve been doing a Learning Unit about months, seasons and weather with my middle school students (aged 11). This morning I gave them very easy activities and questions such as: “What’s the weather like in your town today?”
    Their answers were quite different: “Today the weather is cold and frosty”, “Today is really bad and windy”, “Today it’s terrible and depressing”.
    I accepted all of their answers even if different subjects were used. What do you think?

    PS Some of my students regularly use the definite article before the seasons, some others omit it. Again, I usually accept both forms. They seem natural to me. Do you agree?
    Thanks a lot.
    WW

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Months, seasons and weather

    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Whitman View Post
    “Today the weather is cold and frosty”, “Today is really bad and windy”, “Today it’s terrible and depressing”.
    They are all OK. 'bad and windy' and 'terrible and depressing' are not combinations I would normally expect to hear, but they are not wrong

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    #3

    Re: Months, seasons and weather

    Thank you, 5jj.

    Couldn't the weather be depressing because it's really bad and I have to stay at home? Or is the adjective "depressing" wrong when talking about the weather? Same question for "bad and windy".
    How about my PS?
    I'm asking too many questions, aren't I?
    Thanks.
    WW

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    #4

    Re: Months, seasons and weather

    When we are talking about the seasons in general, there is little difference between the forms with 'the' and those without.

    You are not asking too many questions - I just think about one at a time.

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    #5

    Re: Months, seasons and weather

    I can’t believe it!
    Tomorrow I’ll tell my kids a native speaker has to ponder over their sentences. You can bet your life that they’ll be very excited and happy (do you like this combination?).
    Good luck, 5jj.
    Always very kind.
    WW
    Last edited by Walt Whitman; 23-Jan-2012 at 22:25.

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    #6

    Re: Months, seasons and weather

    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Whitman View Post
    Couldn't the weather be depressing because it's really bad and I have to stay at home? Yes.
    Or is the adjective "depressing" wrong when talking about the weather? No.
    Same question for "bad and windy".Same answers.
    My answer in post #2 was based on feeling. As I said, your combinations are not wrong, but I do not think many native speakers would often use those words joined by 'and'.

    I might, for example, say 'it's wet and windy', it's cold and windy', 'damp and windy', 'cold and wet', etc. Note that the two words I have joined are talking about a different feature of the weather. I would not normally say that it was 'bad and ...' something else. 'Windy' does not really add anything to bad.

    Similarly, if I say that it is terrible, it is likely to be depressing, so I wouuldn't add that idea after 'and'.

    I might say, "It's bad. It's windy."..... "It's depressing. It's terrible." ....."It's terrible. It's depressing."

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    #7

    Re: Months, seasons and weather

    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Whitman View Post
    I can’t believe it!
    Tomorrow I’ll tell my kids a native speaker has to ponder over their sentences. You can bet your life that they’ll be very excited and happy (do you like this combination?).
    One of the hardest questions for a teacher to deal with is "Can I say X in English?". If the student has made a mistake in the grammar or pronuciation, or clearly chosen the wrong word, then it's relatively easy.

    If, however, as with the sentences we have been discussing, there is nothing wrong with the sentences, then we have the difficult task of explaining why few (or no) native speakers would ever say them. Sometimes we can come up with some reasonably plausible explanation, as I hope I did with your sentences. At other times we just have to fall back on 'That's the way it is', which is not very satisfactory for the learner.

    Why for example does the word 'kindly', which would seem to be polite and harmless in a request, seem authoritarian to a speaker of BrE and unnatural to a speaker of AmE (https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/a...tml#post847165 and the next few posts)? That's just the way it is.

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    #8

    Re: Months, seasons and weather

    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Whitman View Post
    Thank you, 5jj.

    Couldn't the weather be depressing because it's really bad and I have to stay at home? Or is the adjective "depressing" wrong when talking about the weather? Same question for "bad and windy".
    How about my PS?
    I'm asking too many questions, aren't I?
    Thanks.
    WW
    If I were taking a class and asked that question, I would not accept "depressing" as being an appropriate description of the weather. This is a description of the subjective reaction of the student to the weather, but says nothing at all about the weather itself.
    I like rain; I like to lie in bed and read books. Sometimes I find it depressing if it's sunny and mild outside, because I feel guilty that I should be out enjoying the "weather".
    Similarly, "bad" is not a good answer; "windy" is appropriate.
    Other words that I would be dubious about are: "nice, lovely, good, etc".

    The practical problem is that the student may learn no vocabularly at all about the weather or any other subject, if every topic can be described as "nice, good, bad ..."
    If you have a class on employee strikes, earthquakes, animals ... they can all be described as being good or bad or nice or depressing. I'd encourage the use of words which have meanings specific to the topic.

    About "it": "Today is really windy" is as good as "Today, it's really windy" to me. But I've noticed that many Spanish and Italian students leave out the "it" when it has to be there, as in "Is very windy today", because that's how their native language handles it. In this respect, it might be useful to explain that a subject is always needed in English.
    In "Today is very windy", the subject is "Today", but the sentence structure and grammar changes when you rearrange the words to "Is very windy today". It's easy to see how your students might be using "Today" in "Today is very windy" not as a subject, but as an adverb, "Today, is very windy", which is wrong, of course.
    Last edited by Raymott; 24-Jan-2012 at 07:59.

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    #9

    Re: Months, seasons and weather

    Thank you very much, 5jj and Raymott for your opinions, suggestions, and feelings.
    I think that only natives are able to convey such subtle nuances of meaning, slight differences which may be very difficult for non-native learners and speakers to notice. That’s why Forums like this are invaluable resources and volunteer helpers (like you, 5jj and Raymott) more precious than cold prescriptive grammars. And always there! If I (an English teacher) am in doubt about something I can count on you.
    Life bless you all.
    WW

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    #10

    Re: Months, seasons and weather

    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Whitman View Post
    If I (an English teacher) am in doubt about something I can count on you.
    You can usually count on one of us to give you an answer. Do not count on our being 100% infallible; we are only human. Most of us who post regularly know rather more about what is generally regarded as acceptable English, and why it is, than the untrained layman, but we can all make mistakes. Although most of us try to be objective, some of us (I include myself) can be somehat opiniated at times, convinced that only our answer is the right one.

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