Results 1 to 6 of 6
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China

    • Join Date: Feb 2016
    • Posts: 437
    #1

    Jack has a problem speaking German

    I wonder the grammatical structure of "Jack has a problem speaking German".

    Does it refer to "Jack has a problem when he speaks German"?

    That is, I don't know the grammatical function of "speaking" there.

  1. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Jan 2009
    • Posts: 3,606
    #2

    Re: Jack has a problem speaking German

    Quote Originally Posted by GoodTaste View Post
    I wonder about the grammatical structure of "Jack has a problem speaking German".

    Does it mean "Jack has a problem when he speaks German"? Yes.

    That is, I don't know the grammatical function of "speaking" there. It tells us what his problem is. Speaking German is a problem for him.
    Does that help?
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China

    • Join Date: Feb 2016
    • Posts: 437
    #3

    Re: Jack has a problem speaking German

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    Does that help?
    Do "a problem" and "speaking German" both serve as objects (double-objects)?

  2. Roman55's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • Italy
      • Current Location:
      • France

    • Join Date: Feb 2014
    • Posts: 2,311
    #4

    Re: Jack has a problem speaking German

    I don't think it means, 'Jack has a problem when he speaks German'.

    It's more a case of Jack having difficulties with the language. He may not actually speak it; that's the problem he has.
    I am not a teacher

  3. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Jan 2009
    • Posts: 3,606
    #5

    Re: Jack has a problem speaking German

    Quote Originally Posted by Roman55 View Post
    I don't think it means, 'Jack has a problem when he speaks German'.

    It's more a case of Jack having difficulties with the language. He may not actually speak it; that's the problem he has.
    Yup. For sure. I started typing a bunch of hypothetical scenarios, then went back to what I actually knew from the sentence. After all, if he doesn't speak it, NOT speaking German might be a problem. (It was a problem for me when I traveled through Germany.)

    GT, I'd call the object "problem." Rearranging it: Speaking German is a problem for Jack.

    See?
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Great Britain
      • Current Location:
      • Great Britain

    • Join Date: Mar 2016
    • Posts: 237
    #6

    Re: Jack has a problem speaking German

    Quote Originally Posted by GoodTaste View Post
    I wonder the grammatical structure of "Jack has a problem speaking German".

    Does it refer to "Jack has a problem when he speaks German"?

    That is, I don't know the grammatical function of "speaking" there.

    "Speaking German" is a subjectless non-finite participial clause functioning as postmodifier to the noun "problem". The noun phrase a problem speaking German identifies what it is that Jack has. "Speaking" is a verb and "German" is its direct object.
    Last edited by PaulMatthews; 28-May-2016 at 22:13.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 3
    Last Post: 28-Aug-2012, 13:12
  2. [General] speaking problem
    By Anisulislam in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 12-Aug-2010, 12:28
  3. Spanish speaking problem
    By Loctas in forum General Language Discussions
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 11-Nov-2008, 00:12
  4. Eng. Speaking problem
    By monaacs in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 10-Jun-2008, 06:53
  5. Speaking Problem
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 07-Aug-2004, 20:17

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •