[Previous] Subjective and Objective | Home | [Next] How Discussion Works

Elliot Temple on June 10, 2019

Messages (19)

under Step 4 in the article there is a typo (should be "Example adjectives")

>Examples adjectives: beautiful, tall, thin, round, young, blue, plastic.


Anonymous at 10:19 AM on July 4, 2019 | #12959 | reply | quote

Standard tip: If a word ends in "ly", it's probably an adverb.

Advanced tip: If a word has a *synonym* that ends in "ly", it's probably an adverb.

This advanced tip it's from Justin in his video about part 3 of the grammar article


curi at 6:44 PM on July 13, 2019 | #13088 | reply | quote

A "conjunction" joins two (occasionally more) *separate* things. Separate means non-nested: neither thing is inside the other. A conjunction goes *in between* things and it isn't part of the things in joins.

Examples: "John *and* Sue went to the park." "I went shopping *after* I got paid."

A "relative pronoun" is a common type of "subordinator": it allows a *non-separate* (nested) clause to exist in the sentence and determines its function (typically a modifier).

Example: "John, *who* is tall, went to the park."

The clause "who is tall" is *inside* the main clause as a modifier for John. It's functioning as an adjective just like "*Tall* John went to the park."

The word "that" is particularly tricky. Consider:

> The ball *that* John likes is actually mine.

Here, "that" is a relative pronoun. It does two jobs. It subordinates the internal clause "that John likes" and it also is a pronoun referring to "ball" and acting as the object of "likes".

> I think *that* John is wise.

Here "that" is a direct object of "think". Because "that" is part of the first clause ("I think that"), it isn't a conjunction. And it's not a relative pronoun because it's not used in the second clause ("John is wise" is complete without the "that"). It has two roles. It's a subordinator which introduces, allows or governs the "John is wise" clause (you can't just throw extra clauses into sentences for no reason, although people do often say "I think John is wise" and leave the "that" implied.) And the word "that" refers to the text "John is wise" – it's like a pronoun except but it can refer to a clause (or in other cases even a paragraph or more) rather than just something simpler like a noun phrase. "That" functions as a noun and refers to "John is wise" as a noun. How can "John is wise" be a noun? Because it's being referred to as a concept, a thought, or some *thing* like that.

The only way you could think "that" was a conjunction is if you view "think" as intransitive (a verb with no object or complement) and say the two separate clauses are "I think" and "John is wise" and then "that" is a conjunction to join them. I think that's a bad idea because the meaning of the sentence is equivalent to:

> John is wise; I think that.

This makes it easy to see what "that" refers to, what words go with what clauses, and how "that" works like a pronoun. I think this shows that "that" plays the role of direct object for "think".

The semi-colon is similar to the subordinator role of "that". With this word order, "that" no longer has its role of introducing the "John is wise" clause, so something is needed to allow both clauses to exist in the same sentence, and a semi-colon is a minimal way of doing that.

Conjunctions can't be left on the end with a re-ordering like that because they don't fit within the clause they are next to. E.g. you can't change:

> I like Macs and I like iPhones.

to

> I like iPhones; I like Macs and.

or to

> And I like iPhones; I like Macs.

(Those take the original sentence and move the last 3 or 4 words, in order, from the end to the beginning. They aren't doing rearrangement in general, they are just attempts to swap to divide the sentence into two clauses and swap the order. They don't work because "and" is not part of either clause.)

When you replace a conjunction with a semi-colon, whether you reorder the clauses or not, you need to delete the conjunction. But in the sentence about John's thinking, "that" doesn't need to be deleting because it's not a conjunction.

A semi-colon functions similarly to a conjunction and you don't need two conjunctions (specifically it's most similar to the word "and"). A semi-colon is also similar to a period, which is a different way of separating clauses. The purpose of a conjunction is to join clauses more closely together than a period does and also to give some information about the relationship between the clauses. ("And" is the most generic conjunction, the most neutral, and so the most similar to a period.)


curi at 11:12 AM on July 30, 2019 | #13178 | reply | quote

"Any times" and "then"

http://curi.us/2211-twin-studies-are-frauds :

> Any times genes have an effect that people notice, then people will respond to it.

I think that "Any times" should be replaced by "Any time" or "Whenever".

I also think that "then people will" should be replaced with "people will". If the sentence started with "If" instead of "Any times", then the part after the comma would be grammatically correct as it stands.


Alisa at 8:50 PM on August 4, 2019 | #13215 | reply | quote

> I also think that "then people will" should be replaced with "people will". If the sentence started with "If" instead of "Any times", then the part after the comma would be grammatically correct as it stands.

Do you have a reason?


Anonymous at 8:56 PM on August 4, 2019 | #13216 | reply | quote

#13215

https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/112996/any-followed-by-singular-or-plural-countable-nouns

> [any] can modify either plural count nouns or singular mass nouns

Idk if that's right, but you can read more from that page and others if you are interested.

https://www.englishgrammar.org/time-countable-uncountable-noun/

> The word time has both countable and uncountable uses.

In this case, I think "time(s)" is count because you can say e.g. "I went fishing three times." This page agrees:

http://www.englishlanguageguide.com/grammar/count-noun.asp

> - How much time did it take for you to drive to school?.

> - Here, time is a **non-count noun**, because it refers to a category that contains smaller items (think of it as a "group" of minutes).

> - How many times did you take the test before you passed?.

> - Here, time is a **count noun**, because you can count exactly how many separate times you took the test.

We do also say e.g. "You may leave at any time." but in that case we're talking about leaving once, whereas the blog post deals with multiple times. The use of "times" is similar to "cases", e.g. "In any cases where...". "Case" could be singular there if you wanted to talk about one case, but it can also be plural if you want to talk about multiple cases, e.g. that you should do something in all the multiple cases where some condition holds.


Anonymous at 9:05 PM on August 4, 2019 | #13217 | reply | quote

Helping Verbs Song and modal verbs

On October 13, 2019, in "Helping verbs" (on the Alisa discussion page), I wrote:

> There is a song that I call the "Jingle Bells Helping Verbs Song". It is a short song that lists 23 helping verbs, sung to the tune of *Jingle Bells*:

>> Helping verbs, helping verbs,

>> there are 23.

>> Am, is, are, was and were,

>> being, been, and be [hey]!

>> Have, has, had, do, does, did,

>> will, would, shall, and should.

>> There are 5 more helping verbs:

>> may, might, must, can, could!

Interestingly, the last 9 verbs on that list are exactly the modal verbs!


Alisa at 5:12 PM on October 22, 2019 | #13907 | reply | quote

Analysis of lead sentence in AGDQ/MAGA hat article

https://kotaku.com/as-games-done-quick-gets-bigger-so-do-its-controversie-1791393815 :

> Awesome Games Done Quick started as a small outfit of speedrunners who played games to raise money for cancer prevention.

First, I will analyze a simpler version of the sentence: "Awesome Games Done Quick started [...]".

1. Verb: "started" (action)

2. Subject: "Awesome Games Done Quick"

3. Object: N/A

4. Modifiers: N/A

Conclusions: Awesome Games Done Quick is something that had a beginning.

Next, I will analyze a slightly less simple version of the sentence: "Awesome Games Done Quick started as a small outfit [...]."

1. Verb: "started" (action)

2. Subject: "Awesome Games Done Quick"

3. Object: N/A

4. Modifiers:

- "as a small outfit" is a prepositional phrase.

- "outfit" is a noun: "3. *Informal* An association of persons, especially a military unit or a business organization." (ahdictionary)

- "as" is a preposition. It governs the noun "outfit". It tells us the relationship between "outfit" and "started".

- "a" is an adjective (specifically, a determiner). It modifies "outfit". It lets us know that we aren't supposed to know already which specific outfit this is.

- "small" is an adjective. It modifies "outfit". It answers the question: What size was the outfit?

Conclusions: In the beginning of its existence, Awesome Games Done Quick was a small association of people.


Alisa at 9:32 PM on October 23, 2019 | #13929 | reply | quote

More analysis of the lead sentence in the AGDQ/MAGA hat article

#13929

https://kotaku.com/as-games-done-quick-gets-bigger-so-do-its-controversie-1791393815

> Awesome Games Done Quick started as a small outfit of speedrunners who played games to raise money for cancer prevention.

Continuing the analysis from #13929, I will now analyze a few more versions of the quoted sentence.

Version 1: "Awesome Games Done Quick started as a small outfit of speedrunners who played games [...]."

"who played games" is a restrictive clause. It modifies "speedrunners" by limiting the meaning of the word. Now they're not just speedrunners, they're speedrunners *who played games*.

Version 2: "Awesome Games Done Quick started as a small outfit of speedrunners who played games to raise money [...]."

"to raise" is an *adjective infinitive*, which is a type of *verbal*. It modifies "played". It tells us the purpose of their playing. As a verbal, "to raise" has no subject, but it does have an object. The object answers the question: What did they raise? (Chickens? No.) *Money*.

Finally, I will analyze the original sentence:

> Awesome Games Done Quick started as a small outfit of speedrunners who played games to raise money for cancer prevention.

"for cancer prevention" is a *prepositional phrase*, which is a type of *modifier*. "for" can be a preposition, according to Webster's 1913:

> For (?), prep …

> 1. Indicating the antecedent cause or occasion of an action; the motive or inducement accompanying and prompting to an act or state; the reason of anything; that on account of which a thing is or is done.

The preposition "for" indicates that what follows will give us additional information about the verb "played". This prepositional phrase tells us the reason for the playing, namely: *prevention*. Normally, "cancer" is a noun, not an adjective, but here it's being used as an adjective. It tells us what is to be prevented: *cancer*. The phrase "cancer prevention" is a shorter way of writing: "the prevention of cancer".

### Conclusions

At the beginning of its existence, Awesome Games Done Quick was a small group of speedrunners. Those speedrunners played games. The reason they played those games was to raise money. The purpose of that action (raising money) was to prevent cancer.


Alisa at 7:54 PM on October 24, 2019 | #13954 | reply | quote

I think linking verbs with adjectives are a shortcut for a link with a noun.

The house is green. -> The house is a green house.

The link is between the noun and a second version of the same noun which is modified by the adjective.

When names or references are involved, the noun is sometimes rewritten:

Joe is clever. -> Joe is a clever person.

It is big. -> It is a big door.

Joe is the name of a person. "It" was referring to a door.

This idea removes a special case from English. It helps unify action and linking verbs so that they both only take a noun as an object/complement, rather than complements being nouns or adjectives, since I'm saying the adjectives can be seen as implied nouns.

FYI it's more awkward in some cases.

The apples smell rotten. -> The apples smell like rotten apples.

The apples smell rotten. -> The apples have the smell of rotten apples.

I had to add the "like" or change the verb to "have". You can't just put a noun after "smell".

The concept of linking a noun with an adjective is a little odd in general since they're two different things and it's not the same concept as linking a noun with another noun. Linking two things, and linking a thing with a modifier, are different. And we already have thing-modifier links: just say "green house" to apply the modifier "green" to the "house" noun. So there's a little bit of a mystery about why you'd say "The house is green".

Thinking of it as a link to an adjective is fine in general, but I think it's good to know this alternative view on what's being said. It makes things clearer and answers a bit of a mystery. Adjectives apply to nouns but why would they link with nouns? That's linking different, asymmetric things. That makes linking have two separate meanings. With nouns, linking relates two things. But with adjectives, linking isn't relating to things on equal footing, it apparently works a different way. And why use a link "The house is green" when you could just say "The green house" and apply the adjective to the house directly? One reason is to get a clause instead of a phrase. Anyway, my idea means adjectives only really get used the one way instead of two (applied to nouns, not in links) and linking verbs only really work the one way instead of two, so it simplifies things.

I thought of this myself and don't know where to look to find out of it's an original idea or not. Also I don't know the relevant history of the English language (or Latin or others) to know whether the concept actually developed this way or not.


curi at 1:58 PM on January 19, 2020 | #15154 | reply | quote

#15154

> The apples smell rotten. -> The apples smell like rotten apples.

> The apples smell rotten. -> The apples have the smell of rotten apples.

I wonder if those versions change the original sentence's meaning by making the smell specifically a smell of rotting *apples* rather than merely a member of the set of all rotten smells. Here's a rewrite that survives that criticism:

The apples smell rotten. -> The apples have the smell of something rotten.


Alisa at 2:08 PM on January 19, 2020 | #15155 | reply | quote

#15154

> The concept of linking a noun with an adjective is a little odd in general since they're two different things and it's not the same concept as linking a noun with another noun. Linking two things, and linking a thing with a modifier, are different.

IIUC, in predicate logic, those two things (linking a thing with a noun and linking a thing with a modifier) are commonly written the same way, e.g., one could write "H(x)" for "x is a house" and "G(x)" for "x is green".


Alisa at 2:19 PM on January 19, 2020 | #15156 | reply | quote

I see what you mean re meaning change. The difference comes up in unusual contexts, e.g. the apples could be poisoned and the smell could be coming from that. Could do:

The apples smell rotten. -> The apples have a rotten smell.

BTW I was thinking that you could also go the other way and convert all noun-noun links to noun-modifier links. The purpose of linking two nouns is to give more info about the first noun, which is what modifiers do. It can be wordy and can require some guesses about context and meaning tough.

Joe is a giant. -> Joe is giant-sized.

That house is a mansion. -> That house is mansion-sized.

That dog is a monster. -> That dog is monstrous.

Joe is a true knight. -> Joe is knight-like in a very consistent manner.

There aren't adjective forms to correspond to all nouns but you can

But after trying it, there's a major conceptual problem here. When you link two nouns, there are many dimensions on which they could be similar, and you commonly don't state which dimension(s) you mean. Whereas adjectives usually (always?) deal with a single dimension like size. So to capture "Joe is a giant." properly with adjectives, you might need multiple adjectives: Joe is large, strong, tall, wide, courageous and good at throwing rocks. It could mean all of those while *not* meaning he's smelly or a monster.

The other conversions don't have this problem.

Noun is adjective. -> Noun is an adjective noun.

Here, the single relevant dimension (e.g. color) is specified by the adjective on both the left and the right (because we're linking to a noun with an adjective in front which specifies the relevant dimension). A noun can also have multiple adjectives to tell you that multiple dimensions matter. In "The large, red box.", both color and size matter. When you link to a noun without any adjectives to tell you what dimensions matter, then you're leaving the dimensions specified by context or ambiguous, and converting to a link to one or more adjectives is problematic because that requires specifying dimensions because, basically, adjectives are inherently linked to particular dimensions while nouns aren't.

But some adjectives, like "monstrous", are kinda ambiguous. I'm guessing that's common with adjectives derived from nouns. "Monstrous" could mean ugly or cruel among other things. One of the dictionary meanings for "monstrous" is "having the qualities or appearance of a monster" which you can see *does not specify the dimension*. It means basically "like a monster in some way". That's how links to nouns normally work. Adjectives normally are *not* like that: they specify information about a particular dimension like size, color, material, etc. This chart tells you adjective types (10 different standard dimensions adjectives apply to): https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/about-adjectives-and-adverbs/adjectives-order


curi at 2:29 PM on January 19, 2020 | #15157 | reply | quote

> IIUC, in predicate logic, those two things (linking a thing with a noun and linking a thing with a modifier) are commonly written the same way, e.g., one could write "H(x)" for "x is a house" and "G(x)" for "x is green".

I think your examples both involve one dimension. I read "x is a house" as specifying the "type of object" dimension rather than meaning that x is house-like on some number of unclearly-specified dimensions.

I think it'd be problematic for formal logic to have links like "Joe is a giant" or "Joe is giant-like", without further definitions/info, so it's unspecified *which* similarities to a giant Joe has.


curi at 2:33 PM on January 19, 2020 | #15158 | reply | quote

I think lots of metaphors are noun-noun comparisons, with no adjectives to qualify the nouns, which makes it pretty vague how the two nouns are related, which helps explain how/why metaphors differ from regular, clearer speech.

The metaphors with is/are on this page are mostly like that: https://literarydevices.net/a-huge-list-of-short-metaphor-examples/

You kinda ruin them as metaphors and literary devices if you specify them better. E.g. consider:

> Love is war.

If you say "Love is similar to war in the sense that there are multiple people involved in love affairs and multiple people involved in wars." then it's losing it's metaphorical nature and becoming boring, clear prose.

Adjectives help specify the types of comparisons to be made. E.g. calling a person "an animal" has many potential meanings while calling him "a vicious animal" has far fewer due to the adjective. You can use multiple adjectives for multiple dimensions, e.g. "a vicious, strong animal" tells you two specific types of animal-like-ness to focus on.


curi at 2:49 PM on January 19, 2020 | #15159 | reply | quote

I think we use modifiers for nouns significantly more frequently than for verbs. Does this indicate things are somehow inherently more complex or ambiguous than actions? Why do we more often need to give extra info to focus our attention on aspects of things than on aspects of actions?

As a first impression, running and swimming don't seem more specific and informative to me than apples or houses.

Maybe it's because, other than "not", we don't generally modify our really generic verbs like "is", "would", and "have". While generic nouns like "thing" often get modifiers ("big thing").

It may be because verbs automatically get a subject and often get an object or complement too, and those don't count as modifiers in the adjective/adverb sense. While nouns don't get free extra info like that.

"is" is pretty low meaning on its own, similar to "thing", but it gains meaning, with no need for an adverb, when you add an object and complement.

The fact that swimming is done by Joe, a human being, gives you significant info about the swimming. Or if a dog swims, that also gives you info to help you imagine what action is happening.

Similarly knowing the subject gives you significant info about an eating action because different species eat differently. And knowing the object of the eating, e.g. soup or steak, gives you a bunch of info about the action too.


curi at 3:03 PM on January 19, 2020 | #15160 | reply | quote

Since a human or salmon swimming are pretty different actions, "swim" is more ambiguous than a noun like "apple" or "salmon".

It's verb/action words which are less specified and noun/thing/object words which are more specified, in general. It's just that subject, object and complement aren't necessarily counted as modifiers – but they really are. I think that's controversial though. I believe lots of grammarians view subject and verb as equal, while others see verb as primary, so there's a debate there. I don't think there's a major school of thought which says the subject is primary and the verb is its modifier though, so that's an asymmetry. I don't think there's much interest in viewing "The salmon swam" as being primarily about a salmon and it being currently swimming being modifying info for the noun.


curi at 3:49 PM on January 19, 2020 | #15161 | reply | quote

Nice software tool to tell you how to capitalize titles correctly:

https://capitalizemytitle.com


curi at 1:46 PM on February 23, 2020 | #15595 | reply | quote

Going to be spending at least 15 minutes per day learning grammar. I analyzed the first part of curi's Fallible Ideas Grammar post here: http://curi.us/2263-freeze-discussion#15815


Freeze at 11:51 PM on March 8, 2020 | #15817 | reply | quote

(This is an unmoderated discussion forum. Discussion info.)