The weather in York today has been gorgeous; 27 degrees centigrade and a bright blue sky. Friends I made when I was teaching English in Indonesia came over from Leeds and Huddersfield. We hired two small motor boats and went up and down the river that runs through the middle of York. The river was busy and we had to steer carefully through the ducks, geese, houseboats, rowers, bridges and cruisers.
We took photos and video of York, to be included in information for new summer school students at the excellent Leeds English Language School. Our friends from Huddersfield brought a big bagful of Indonesian noodles – the most delicious junk food in the world!! Thank you Didi and Hendri!!
Today’s post is a summary of some of the language points that have come up this week:
1. combining nouns and possessives
2. information structure
3. the present perfect (‘ever’ and ‘always’)
4. ‘shame’ and ‘ashamed’
1. Combining nouns and possessives
In English there are three main ways of putting nouns together: noun + noun (a war film), noun + 's + noun (my daughter's school), and noun + preposition + noun (a man from York, the top of the page).
Usually an idea is expressed in only one of these three ways, though sometimes there are two possibilities: 'a war film', not 'a war's film' or 'a film of war'; 'the top of the page', not 'the page's top, though 'the page top' is OK; 'a man from York', not 'a York's man', though 'a York man' is OK.
This is a complicated area of grammar, but a good dictionary should show which combinations are allowed.
'Research's results' and 'adjective's position' are both incorrect....these are two examples of noun combinations which need: noun + preposition + noun. Although no reader will misunderstand your meaning, 'the results of the/my research' and 'the position of the adjectives', sound better.
How do you decide whether to use noun + 's + noun, or noun + preposition (of) + noun? Well, sometimes either is OK; for example, 'the writing's accuracy' and 'the accuracy of the writing' are equally correct. Sometimes, it's necessary to use 'of'; for example, 'the back of the book', not 'the book's back'. On the other hand, sometimes only the possessive 's sounds OK; for example, 'my son's name', not 'the name of my son'.
Again, a good dictionary should show which combinations are possible.
2. Information structure
You say that the band Radiohead’s, 'songs are presenting to the public for the first time...' The word order needs to be changed to, ‘Radiohead’s songs are being presented to the public…' This is a passive structure; the direct object (songs) becomes the subject of the passive verb (are being presented: are being + part participle/third form). You could use the active voice here, 'Radiohead are presenting their songs to the public': subject + verb + direct object + preposition + indirect object. However, you have organised the information in this way (making 'songs' the subject of the sentence) to avoid repeating the name of the band, Radiohead, and to emphasise that THE PUBLIC are able to hear Radiohead's new songs, even though the lead singer has also made a solo album.
The way we organise information in a sentence, or part of a sentence, depends on what we have said/written before, or on what the listener/reader already knows, or on what we want to emphasise. This is a complicated area of grammar, but usually, in English, we like to put important NEW information at the end of a sentence or clause.
3. Present perfect: ever and always
You correctly use the present perfect form of the verb 'see', to describe the size of the Italian World Cup party, 'the biggest party I've ever seen'. When 'ever' is used with a present perfect verb form, it means 'at any time in the past, up to now'.
I think you need another present perfect verb in this sentence, 'It is the first time I can see Italy wins...'. As above, if you want to say 'any time in the past, up to now', try, 'It is the first time I have (I've) seen Italy win...'
To go back to the first example of the present perfect, 'the biggest party I've ever seen'.... 'ever' is MOSTLY used in questions, for example, 'do you ever go to the theatre?', meaning AT ANY TIME. Also, 'have you ever been to Italy?', meaning AT ANY TIME IN THE PAST UP TO NOW. Your example, however, shows that 'ever' can also be used in affirmative statements after a superlative adjective, 'the BIGGEST party I've ever seen.' You can also use 'ever' after 'only', for example, 'he's the only man I've ever loved.' There are a few other times when 'ever' can be used in affirmative or negative statements (e.g. 'I've never, ever liked him'), but as I have said, it is mostly found in affirmative statements.
'Ever' is not normally used to mean 'always', so, 'I've ever liked him', is wrong. 'I've always liked him', is the correct form and means AT EVERY TIME IN THE PAST UP TO NOW. Similarly, 'fair play should ever win in a competition', should be, 'fair play should ALWAYS win...'.
4. 'Shame' and 'ashamed'
‘Shame’ (uncountable noun) is a strong word that means feeling very, very bad because of immoral behaviour, inability or failure. You can tell someone that they should feel bad by saying ‘Shame on you!’. You can also use ‘shame’ as a verb, following it with an object and either ‘into’ or ‘out of’; for example, ‘We tried to shame the train company into refunding Antonio’s ticket’.
‘Ashamed’ (adjective) means feeling shame or guilt, or feeling stupid and uncomfortable about something you have done. ‘Ashamed’ can be followed by ‘of’, ‘that’ or ‘to + verb’ (for example, ‘The train company should be ashamed of their customer service’).
I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend. See you on Monday!
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