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Thread: the creature

  1. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #31

    Re: the creature

    Quote Originally Posted by magic dragon View Post
    Some teachers try to master articles and teach them to their students, but knowing an article system has something illogical in it and understanding it requires years of experience
    There's nothing illogical about the English article system.

    Native speakers make appropriate choices as to which article to take based on rules of thumb.
    Absolutely not true. Learners may use rules of thumb, but native-speakers do not.

    Almost everyone makes an appropriate choice, but what on earth makes it possible? Probably they, when choosing articles by experience, share the identical psychological tendency. When each person's psychological tendency is the same, it should be thought, there is some extent of logic in it. What kind of logic then? Only God knows.
    You're on the right lines here but of course it's not only God who knows!

    Now when I teach the reason for "the" being added to, say, "meter", as in "The cloth is sold by the meter in that shop.", I provide 4 explanations:
    One is that the standard "meter" must be only one meter recognized by people.
    Another is that generally a unit of measurement is the only socially accepted one.
    Still another is that the meter is chosen by the shopkeeper, not the yard or not the inch.
    (The meter is in contrast with other units of measurement.)
    Still another is that the meter is the generalized concept of meters, which is only one thing.

    Which of the four is correct? Only God knows.
    Hold on—

    1) Don't assume that only one of these four is correct.
    2) Don't assume that any of these is correct, in fact.
    3) Don't assume that only God understands use of English. Remember that there are different levels of understanding. It may be only God who understands things perfectly, but I can tell you that there is the possibility of some level of understanding by simple English teachers like us.

    I understand that you're having difficulty getting to grips with the use of articles, but I have to say that based on our previous exchanges over the past few months that you actually have a pretty good sense of it, in my judgement.

    Have you not thought of trying to get hold of any decent scholarly books/articles about the article system?

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    #32

    Re: the creature

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    There's nothing illogical about the English article system.
    I don't entirely agree.

    The basic uses of the articles are not too difficult for beginners, even those whose native languages have no articles.

    However, there are many common exceptions to the basic guidelines; it's no wonder to me that learners sometimes despair. My only consolation for them is that misuse of articles rarely impedes communication.
    Typoman - writer of rongs

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    #33

    Re: the creature

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    However, there are many common exceptions to the basic guidelines; it's no wonder to me that learners sometimes despair. My only consolation for them is that misuse of articles rarely impedes communication.
    My cousin Vladimir never uses them, nor does he bother with the verb to be. This doesn't impede him from expressing complex thoughts like "English, uh, uh, wery bad language!"
    I am not a teacher.

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    #34

    Re: the creature

    Well, to be fair to your (imaginary?) cousin, the third word of that sentence is actually the word he needed, even if he said it inadvertently.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #35

    Re: the creature

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Well, to be fair to your (imaginary?) cousin, the third word of that sentence is actually the word he needed, even if he said it inadvertently.
    He isn't the least bit imaginary! He can be a little hard to believe at times, though.

    He escaped the siege of Leningrad with his mother at age four, but not before enduring a year of starvation whose effects are taking a terrible toll in his last years.
    I am not a teacher.

  6. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #36

    Re: the creature

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    He isn't the least bit imaginary! He can be a little hard to believe at times, though.

    He escaped the siege of Leningrad with his mother at age four, but not before enduring a year of starvation whose effects are taking a terrible toll in his last years.
    I think that is not well known in this country. (It certainly is remembered in Russia. Some even resorted to cannibalism).
    Last edited by Tarheel; 14-Sep-2019 at 22:19. Reason: Alter punctuation
    Not a professional teacher

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    #37

    Re: the creature

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    There's nothing illogical about the English article system.
    Absolutely not true.
    ---I'll withdraw the word "illogical". I meant by it that comprehensive reasoning mostly ends up allowing exceptions, and in some cases the choice of articles depends on the speaker's personal preference and mood (say, in the choice of an indefinite article or a zero article before a noun with an adjective).

    of course it's not only God who knows!
    -- Several natives have given me advice. They said the reason for a definite article being added to something in the case exophora reference is needed shouldn't be sought for, because, say, the meter, the east, the past, the morning, the winter ---etc are ideas commonly accepted long long ago, and said seeking for the reason is impossible. One of them said, if I continue seeking, it would make me go mad. "Only God who knows" is the words one of them used.
    I agreed with their opinion that seeking for the reason is impossible. However, I think being as reasonable as possible is at least worth doing.

    What I talked about is getting big, though I just wanted to make a comment on probus's opinion.
    Thanks for a nice opinion and advice.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 15-Sep-2019 at 15:24. Reason: Fixed quote boxes (again!)

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    #38

    Re: the creature

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    However, there are many common exceptions to the basic guidelines; it's no wonder to me that learners sometimes despair. My only consolation for them is that misuse of articles rarely impedes communication.
    --I think the misuse of articles sometimes puts a strain to native hearers, not to say impedes communication. Thanks for your comment.

  9. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #39

    Re: the creature

    Most native English speakers are patient and forgiving when it comes to errors made by non-native speakers when they're casually conversing. I have to agree with you that article errors can sometimes impede understanding, as shown in the third exchange below.

    Vladmir: Do you have dog?
    Sarah (who understands the question even without an article): Yes. I have a very cute Labrador puppy.

    Vladimir: Do you have a dog?
    Sarah (who understands this grammatically correct question): Yes. I have a very cute Labrador puppy.

    Vladimir: Do you have the dog?
    Sarah: What dog? Which dog? Am I mean to have a dog? I've got a very cute Labrador puppy at home but what dog are you talking about?
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #40

    Re: the creature

    Thank you emsr2d2 for a nice example.
    I sometimes have a conversation like this with one of my students:

    magic dragon: Kenji (assumed name) do you have a girlfriend now?
    Kenji: Yes, I do. She's very charming and cute.
    magic dragon: So how about your friend Koji (assumed name)?
    Kenji: Oh, he, too, has the girlfriend.

    I, after making sure that the 3 persons aren't in a love triangle, tell Kenji to use "one" or "a girlfriend" instead of "the girlfriend".
    A bit strainful to me. I know that Japanese learners of English including students tend to use "the" too often, so avoiding misunderstanding is rather easy, but some native teachers in Japan, having no knowledge of Japanese learners' tendency like above, might misunderstand.

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