Sunday, September 30, 2012

Oh My Grammar!


I received quite a mind-boggling email from a student, asking me to clarify some of his confusions related to grammar. Even though I did some research from several websites, I find that understanding grammar can be really overwhelming. Please share your views.

Here is his email:

Salam Teacher Nuha,

I was reading and doing some exercises from 'fokus Sukses PMR 123' English book. It was on page 61. Few questions has confused me.

The answer for question,

5. Last Saturday, we went to our grandparents' house because they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
Why not,
    Last Saturday, we went to our grandparents' house because they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

6. The secretary printed out the documents and gave them to me last week.
Why not,
    The secretary was printing out the documents and was giving them to me last week.
or,
    The secretary was printing out the documents and gave them to me last week.

8.  This evening, I will be reading a book about elephants which I borrowed from the library earlier today.
Why not,
     This evening, I will be reading a book about elephants which I have borrowed from the library earlier today.
or
     This evening, I will be reading a book about elephants which I had  borrowed from the library earlier today.

9. Sarah cried all night long because her cat had died of food poisoning.
Why not,
    Sarah was crying all night long because her cat had died of food poisoning.
Is this sentence correct?
    Sarah is crying all night long because her cat has died of food poisoning.

***


My reply:


Salam ***. Sorry for the late reply. Thanks for asking the questions. Check out my response.


5. (a) Last Saturday, we went to our grandparents' house because they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
Why not,
    (b) Last Saturday, we went to our grandparents' house because they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

Explanation:
In my humble opinion, I think both 5 (a) and (b) can be accepted. However, both sentences indicate a different meaning to the readers.

In 5 (a) we can understand that, 
Last Saturday, your grandparents invited you to their house. When you arrived at your grandparents' house, they were celebrating their anniversary. 
(Sabtu lepas, atuk dan nenek kamu menjemput kamu ke rumah mereka. Apabila kamu tiba di rumah atuk dan nenek, mereka sedang menyambut ulangtahun perkahwinan mereka.)

In 5 (b) we can understand that, 
Last Saturday, you visited your grandparents' house because they celebrated their anniversary. 
(Sabtu lepas, kamu berkunjung ke rumah atuk dan nenek kerana mereka menyambut ulangtahun perkahwinan mereka.)


6. (a) The secretary printed out the documents and gave them to me last week.
Why not,
    (b) The secretary was printing out the documents and was giving them to me last week.
or,
    (c) The secretary was printing out the documents and gave them to me last week.

Explanation:

6 (a) is correct.

The sentence:  The secretary printed out the documents and gave them to me last week.

In 6 (a) there were two actions which happened in sequence: 

Action1: The secretary printed out the documents. 
Action2: Then, she gave the documents to me. 
When Action1 had finished, Action2 took place.

In  6 (b), it's illogical for both actions to happen at the same time.
The sentence: The secretary was printing out the documents and was giving them to me last week. (Sekretari itu sedang mencetak dan memberi dokumen itu kepada saya.)
Action1: The secretary was printing out the documents.
Action2: The secretary was giving the documents to me.
If Action1 had not finished, how could Action2 take place?

The same goes to 6 (c). The sentence sounds illogical.
The sentence: The secretary was printing out the documents and gave them to me last week. (Sekretari itu sedang mencetak dan memberi dokumen tersebut kepada saya.)
Action1: The secretary was printing out the documents.
Action2: The secretary gave the documents to me.

For 6 (b) and (c), in a normal situation, I believe that the secretary will wait for the printing to completely finish before handing it to a person, rather than printing and handing it at the same time. That's not an efficient way to do their work! 


8.  (a) This evening, I will be reading a book about elephants which I borrowed from the library earlier today.
Why not,
     (b) This evening, I will be reading a book about elephants which I have borrowed from the library earlier today.
or
     (c) This evening, I will be reading a book about elephants which I had  borrowed from the library earlier today.

Explanation:

8 (a) is correct. When the past tense "borrowed" is used, the time you borrowed the book is indicated which is "earlier today".

For 8 (b), if we want to use "have borrowed", normally the time you borrowed the book is not indicated. The phrase "earlier today" is omitted. Therefore, the correct sentence would be:
This evening, will be reading a book about elephants which I have borrowed from the library.

For 8 (c), I strongly believe that "had borrowed" is not suitable for the above situation. In order to use "had borrowed", another related event should take place. For example:
had borrowed the book from the library before the library was closed. I will be reading the book this evening. 


9. (a) Sarah cried all night long because her cat had died of food poisoning.
Why not,
    (b) Sarah was crying all night long because her cat had died of food poisoning.
Is this sentence correct?
    (c) Sarah is crying all night long because her cat has died of food poisoning.


Explanation:

9 (a) We know that two events have taken place in the past. 

Event1: Sarah cried all night long. (Sarah menangis sepanjang malam.)

Event2: Her cat had died of food poisoning. (Kucingnya telah mati disebabkan keracunan makanan.)

In 9 (a), we don't know when both events happened specifically. We just know that both events had already happened in the past. 

9 (b) okay.

9 (c) the sentence doesn't sound right.
Sarah is crying all night long. (The phrase "all night long" can be omitted.)

Therefore,
Sarah is crying because her cat has died of food poisoning. (Sarah sedang menangis kerana kucingnya telah mati. - Sarah sedang menangis sekarang kerana kucingnya baru saja mati)

Reference:

3 comments :

E.Y said...

Wow, English can sometimes be very confusing!
or is it:
English is sometimes very confusing!

hehehehe pening kepala.. :)

Teacher Nuha said...

Hi E.Y. Both sentences can be accepted :)

lee woo said...

Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another. See the link below for more info.

#borrowed
www.ufgop.org

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