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Bits and Pieces of English Grammar & Usage: Tenses
Thread poster: Last Hermit

Last Hermit
Local time: 13:02
Chinese to English
+ ...
Jun 10, 2006

When it comes to the English tenses, many of us may feel tense. Because, first, the English grammar is difficult in nature. Second, there are no tenses in the Chinese languages. Last but no least, most of the grammar rules taught in schools throughout the Chinese Mainland are not keeping abreast of the times. To my best knowledge, most of them are based on some grammar books compiled and published as early as in the 1930s, not least that most of them are based on prescriptive grammars. Students therefore have to commit those dumb and bored rules to memory. This makes the learning of the English grammar even harder.

The following discussion is just an attempt to give you some fresh views on the English grammar. Hopefully, and ultimately, it will resolve some of your grammatical issues in relation to the English tenses. But please be advised that even grammar gurus are not able to offer a cure-all for all issues. So you wouldn't expect me to resolve all of yours. That means some of them, as Bus Uncle puts it, will remain unresolved.

It will be based largely on the 《朗文英语语法大全》, the Chinese version of the world-acclaimed CGEL (A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, by Randolf Quirk et al.). Your participation is welcome. Your correction and enlightenment are more than welcome.

Prior to the discussion, I would like to kindly ask you to do a small test.

Which of the following are incorrect or unacceptable?

1a)Since when do you read newspapers?
1b)Since when did you read newspapers?
1c)We live near Toronto since 1949.
 
2a)Uncle Yeti tells me that he is coming to Guangdong soon.
2b)Uncle Yeti told me that he was coming to Guangdong soon.
2c)Uncle Yeti has told me that he is coming to Guangdong soon.
2d)I hear that Uncle Yeti has gone to Guangdong.
 
3a)In The Brothers Karmazov, Dostoevsky draws his characters from sources deep in the Russian soil.
3b)In The Brothers Karmazov, Dostoevsky drew his characters from sources deep in the Russian soil.
 
4a)"To us finalists, LH and me, the last section is most exciting as well as most difficult," said LD.
4b)"To us finalists, LH and me, the last section was most exciting as well as most difficult," said LD.
4c)The author says that Apelles had a good personal reason for wanting to do a picture about slander, because he'd once been falsely accused himself, and almost executed. A rival artist called Antiphilus was jealous of him, and denounced him to the king. He told the king that Apelles had been seen whispering in the ear of one of the provincial governors and inciting him to revolt. (Fiction)
4d)I stop the car in the lake that collects in the dip by the wood where we found the dead tramp.(Fiction)
4e)The clock on the tower of St Michael-in-the-Moor chimed nine as he came onto the road. The milkman's van was on the green; Mrs Southworth from the Hall was at the pillar box, posting a letter. He walked on away from the green and the houses up the bit of the Jackley road from which Tace Way turned off. (Fiction)
 
5a)MEAT PRICES RISE AGAIN (Newspaper headline)
5b)MEAT PRICES ROSE AGAIN (Newspaper headline)
5c)MEAT PRICES HAVE RISEN AGAIN (Newspaper headline)
5d)WOMAN CLAIMS DRUG CAUSED CANCER, SUES (Newspaper headline)
5e)WOMAN CLAIMS DRUG CAUSES CANCER, SUES (Newspaper headline)


[Edited at 2006-06-10 17:35]

[Edited at 2006-06-10 17:49]

[Edited at 2006-06-10 17:51]


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Wenjer Leuschel  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 13:02
English to Chinese
+ ...
謝謝指教! Jun 10, 2006

Reed,

謝謝指教!幸好我寫的文章,需要以外文發表時,都會有母語者編輯修潤再發表,我個人倒不必十項全能。翻譯這個行業其實就是這麼一回事,最後把關質量的是母語者中的姣姣者,而不是表現強勢的翻譯者。

你這貼對同仁學習英文有幫助,所以推一下。Business is business, nothing personal.

- Wenjer


[Edited at 2006-06-10 06:35]


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ysun  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:02
English to Chinese
+ ...
It looks like a TOEFL test. Jun 10, 2006

I took a TOEFL test many years ago and certainly don't want to take it again. So, I decided to forget it forever!

[Edited at 2006-06-10 15:02]


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#41698 (LSF)
Malaysia
Local time: 13:02
Japanese to English
+ ...
Your question is the trick Jun 10, 2006

Last Hermit wrote:

The English tense is no easy topic to discuss. The following discussion is based largely on the CGEL (A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, by Randolf Quirk et al.). Your participation is most welcome.

Prior to the discussion, I would like to kindly ask you to do a small test.


Which of the following are incorrect or unacceptable?
1a)Since when do you read newspapers?
1b)Since when did you read newspapers?
1c)We live near Toronto since 1949.
 
2a)Uncle Yeti tells me that he is coming to Guangdong soon.
2b)Uncle Yeti told me that he was coming to Guangdong soon.
2c)Uncle Yeti has told me that he is coming to Guangdong soon.
2d)I hear that Uncle Yeti has gone to Guangdong.
 
3a)In The Brothers Karmazov, Dostoevsky draws his characters from sources deep in the Russian soil.
3b)In The Brothers Karmazov, Dostoevsky drew his characters from sources deep in the Russian soil.
 
4a)"To us finalists, LH and me, the last section is most exciting as well as most difficult," said LD.
4b)"To us finalists, LH and me, the last section was most exciting as well as most difficult," said LD.
4c)The author says that Apelles had a good personal reason for wanting to do a picture about slander, because he'd once been falsely accused himself, and almost executed.  A rival artist called Antiphilus was jealous of him, and denounced him to the king.  He told the king that Apelles had been seen whispering in the ear of one of the provincial governors and inciting him to revolt. (Fiction)
4d)I stop the car in the lake that collects in the dip by the wood where we found the dead tramp.(Fiction)
4e)The clock on the tower of St Michael-in-the-Moor chimed nine as he came onto the road.  The milkman's van was on the green;  Mrs Southworth from the Hall was at the pillar box, posting a letter.  He walked on away from the green and the houses up the bit of the Jackley road from which Tace Way turned off. (Fiction)

5a)MEAT PRICES RISE AGAIN (Newspaper headline)
5b)MEAT PRICES ROSE AGAIN (Newspaper headline)
5c)MEAT PRICES HAVE RISEN AGAIN (Newspaper headline)
5d)WOMAN CLAIMS DRUG CAUSED CANCER, SUES (Newspaper headline)
5e)WOMAN CLAIMS DRUG CAUSES CANCER, SUES (Newspaper headline)
 

[Edited at 2006-06-10 05:42]


Your question is the trick and not the contents as your question is likely to lead to people looking for the "unacceptable" sentence instead of focusing on which is more preferable.

Newspapers report current news and the headlines are frequently in the present tense to reflect the currency although the events are already considered to be in the past. Similarly, in a sentence such as "He said that blah blah blah", the "blah blah blah" can be in the present tense or in the past tense depending on the situation of whether to stress that the event happened in the past or that similar things are still applicable.

[Edited at 2006-06-11 03:40]


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ysun  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:02
English to Chinese
+ ...
Just kidding! Jun 10, 2006

Last Hermit wrote:

The following discussion is just an attempt to give you some fresh views on the English grammar. Hopefully, and ultimately, it will resolve some of your grammatical issues in relation to the English tenses. But please be advised that even grammar gurus are not able to offer a cure-all for all issues. So you wouldn't expect me to resolve all of yours. That means some of them, as Bus Uncle puts it, will remain unresolved.



[Edited at 2006-06-10 17:35]

[Edited at 2006-06-10 17:49]

[Edited at 2006-06-10 17:51]


It sounds like as if you were an English grammar teacher at 新东方! May I buy a set of answer keys at a discounted rate? Of course, I am just kidding!


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redred  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:02
English to Chinese
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语法 Jun 11, 2006

写文章是讲求语感的,看得多自然会写,多读优秀文章是很有裨益。中文所教授的主、谓、宾和定语等,作为母语者,至今也弄不明白,但这丝毫不影响我写文章及与人沟通。推已及人,英语为母语的人,是否如我们那般学习语文,也要拘泥于主、谓、宾和定语等,在斟字酌句之时,上述句子成份也要按序排次?如这样的方式去撰文,人会很累。

以would为例,I would like to meet you.还有其他,would在英语国家日常是经常用到。然而打自我学习英语之时,在国内课本上,这个字鲜见谋面。籍此贴子,也想学一堂关于would用法的课。


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pkchan  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:02
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
WOULD 的用法? Jun 11, 2006

REDRED﹕嚴重同意。WOULD 在GOOGLE共有3,820,000,000條。

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#41698 (LSF)
Malaysia
Local time: 13:02
Japanese to English
+ ...
A few shades of meaning Jun 11, 2006

redred wrote:

写文章是讲求语感的,看得多自然会写,多读优秀文章是很有裨益。中文所教授的主、谓、宾和定语等,作为母语者,至今也弄不明白,但这丝毫不影响我写文章及与人沟通。推已及人,英语为母语的人,是否如我们那般学习语文,也要拘泥于主、谓、宾和定语等,在斟字酌句之时,上述句子成份也要按序排次?如这样的方式去撰文,人会很累。

以would为例,I would like to meet you.还有其他,would在英语国家日常是经常用到。然而打自我学习英语之时,在国内课本上,这个字鲜见谋面。籍此贴子,也想学一堂关于would用法的课。



"Would" is just like "red" in the sense that there are a few shades of meaning.

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=would


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Last Hermit
Local time: 13:02
Chinese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
这种说法,恐怕有失偏颇。 Jun 11, 2006

redred wrote:
以would为例,I would like to meet you.还有其他,would在英语国家日常是经常用到。然而打自我学习英语之时,在国内课本上,这个字鲜见谋面。籍此贴子,也想学一堂关于would用法的课。


  依稀记得,读书时“would”在英语中至少有两个地方经常用到。其一,礼貌用法。如今,稍为懂点英文的都会说“Would you...”;其二,虚拟语气。If I were you, I would take the job.如果我没记错,当时的高中课本最后一二章就是讲述虚拟语气的。


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Wenjer Leuschel  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 13:02
English to Chinese
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You bet! Jun 11, 2006

Lew Shiong Fong wrote:

"Would" is just like "red" in the sense that there are a few shades of meaning.

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=would




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redred  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:02
English to Chinese
+ ...
would, will Jun 11, 2006

英语国家的实情是,would有时取代了will,另外,could也用得多。我对章道真的书是有印象,国内的语法书可不是以此为规则。

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xxxchance
French to Chinese
+ ...
语言与环境 Jun 11, 2006

卢森堡欧盟工作人员的孩子们在欧洲学校(Ecole Européenne)除母语外(其实有的就出生在卢森堡,说不上是他们自己的母语,而是父母的母语),还必须至少选学2种外语,虽才10岁左右,2门外语却已能简单对话。而我女儿也必须学两门外语,今年初中毕业,英语只能说非常简单的几句,德语就能说“Guten Tag! "。欧盟的孩子们如果不会几种语言,课间活动时很难和其他孩子玩到一起,学校里一般同时存在十几种语言,所以他们很快就自然地熟悉了几种语言。他们的欧洲业士证书(European Baccalauréat)在欧盟25国通用,真是幸福的一代!

[Edited at 2006-06-11 09:24]


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pkchan  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:02
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
WOULD之10義 Jun 11, 2006

1. Will的過去式﹕The peasants were sure that they would have another humper harvest that year.
2. 願、偏要﹕He would not leave before he finished his work. I told him not to go, but he would not listen to me.
3. 總是﹕On Sundays he would come to our production team and work with us.
4.大概﹕That would be in spring 1964.
5. 願意、要﹕I could do so if I would.
6.虛擬、有條件﹕What would you say to him if he would come?
7. 請求﹕Would you take a seat?
8. 要是就多好﹕ Would that I were a PLA!
9. =could: The barrel would hold 100 litres.
10.會、要﹕We wish that he would come again.

可配﹕would rather, sooner: The soldiers would rather die than surrender.

錄自『新英漢詞典』1975,香港三聯


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ysun  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:02
English to Chinese
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情况不至于像你所说的这么糟吧? Jun 11, 2006

Last Hermit wrote:

When it comes to the English tenses, many of us may feel tense. Because, first, the English grammar is difficult in nature. Second, there are no tenses in the Chinese languages. Last but no least, most of the grammar rules taught in schools throughout the Chinese Mainland are not keeping abreast of the times. To my best knowledge, most of them are based on some grammar books compiled and published as early as in the 1930s, not least that most of them are based on prescriptive grammars. Students therefore have to commit those dumb and bored rules to memory. This makes the learning of the English grammar even harder.




中国的英语教学、教材、教学质量确实存在不少问题,有待改进,但改革开放这么多年,而且现在是“全民皆英语”、“疯狂学英语”,教材仍然还这么落后?无论如何,有心深造的人应该还是有条件的。从70年代末起,中国市场上就出现了许多英美的原版词典、语法书,其中包括朗文出版的。此外还有许多英美的原版英语教科书,例如《New Concept English》、《Essential English》以及《English for Today》等。80年代在北京灯市西口、西单以及学院路的外文书店楼上(洋人不得入内)就专卖影印版的原版书。另外,原版的TOEFL、GRE和GMAT辅导书里也特别讲到很多tricky的语法问题。那里面讲的语法,应该也是可信的。不少中国人应付GRE和GMAT考试时,语法部分得分甚至比Native English Speakers还要高(不一定就代表英语水平高)。我去年回国时上街的第一件事就是去逛王府井和西单的外文书店和新华书店。那里面的外语词典、语法书、辅导书以及音像制品比以前更不知丰富了多少倍,价格也很便宜。《朗文英语语法大全》恐怕也不是只有少数人才能享用的奢侈品。再者,不少学校(甚至中学)都不惜高薪聘请了外籍教师。所以,客观条件还是不错的。在这样的条件下,我看关键还是在于自己。常言道,师傅领进门,修行在个人。


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ysun  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:02
English to Chinese
+ ...
Business is business Jun 11, 2006

Last Hermit wrote:

The following discussion is just an attempt to give you some fresh views on the English grammar. Hopefully, and ultimately, it will resolve some of your grammatical issues in relation to the English tenses. But please be advised that even grammar gurus are not able to offer a cure-all for all issues. So you wouldn't expect me to resolve all of yours. That means some of them, as Bus Uncle puts it, will remain unresolved.

It will be based largely on the 《朗文英语语法大全》, the Chinese version of the world-acclaimed CGEL (A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, by Randolf Quirk et al.). Your participation is welcome. Your correction and enlightenment are more than welcome.

Prior to the discussion, I would like to kindly ask you to do a small test.


尽管前面开玩笑说听起来你好像是新东方的英语语法教师,但对你开设的这堂语法课,我还是要大力支持一下!

其实,我自己也不知道北京新东方学校的英语语法教师长什么样。我出国时还没有什么新东方呢。当时北京经贸大学办的暑期托福班收费900元,是我当时好几个月的工资,哪上得起?只好靠自己穷琢磨、瞎琢磨。

[Edited at 2006-06-11 19:36]


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