Parts of speech

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Doughnut

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Jun 7, 2004
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.
 

Tdol

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

Doughnut

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Jun 7, 2004
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.
 
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Neurotica

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Hi there...

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

Regards,

Neurotica
 

Doughnut

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Jun 7, 2004
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?
 
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Neurotica

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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
 

Doughnut

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Jun 7, 2004
Neurotica, I'm even more confused now :roll: 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.
 
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Neurotica

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Doughnut said:
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
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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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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