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Zentrum für Translationswissenschaften

Grade, Teacher, Year

Prof. Peter Moravec

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Grammatik im Kontext Englisch (Moravec)

2. VO / Thursday, March 26, 2009

Content words (meaning words): nouns, verbs, objectives, adverbs

-          Good students listen attentively. (=entirely content words)

Function words (structure words): help the structure of the sentence

-          The nice teacher speaks … (grammar function in a sentence)

Function words include determiners, prepositions, conjunctions, interjections, auxiliary verbs such as “to do”

determiners are:

1.       articles

2.       pronouns

Indefinite/definite articles

basics

definite article à the (refers to a definite/specific noun)

-          the woman (specific woman)

indefinite article à a/an

-          a woman (any woman, indefinite noun, no specific woman, is more general, example of…)

-          !! spaghetti is not countable, therefore no indefinite article

limiting adjectives: because they are used as adjectives à nice teacher

the dog à specific

a child à not specific

In addition to the definite/indefinite article we have a third article as well à zero article (many nouns don’t take an article)

Articles aren’t content words. They are function words. When articles aren’t necessary they are left out.

Indefinite article

a an

a rabbit (consonant) an elephant (vowel)

an old house

The a/an depend on the pronunciation, not on the spelling!

a uniform à because of the pronunciation (it’s not a uniform)

-          Jane wore a uniform of blue.

a one … à pronounced as a consonant

abbreviations: a NASA engineer, a FIFA referee, an IMF meeting, an OPEC meeting

words beginning with “h”

In most cases the article is “a”: a hotel, a history

exception:

when “h” is not pronounced: an hour, an honest man, an heir (ein Erbe)

-          Please remain in this room for an hour.

-          … an honor system

-          A history of the United States.

before hesitation

if we want to emphasize something

-          He bought a Honda.

-          … a real effort (emphasized)

USE OF THE INDEFINITE ARTICLE

To refer to a particular but unspecified person, thing, event,…

a child à particular being but unspecific

-          After this long and boring lecture I definitely need a glass of beer. (particular but unspecific thing)

a = one

Im Deutschen “ein” ist sowohl Artikel als auch Zahlwort (Numeral)

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numerical and quantity expressions

-          XY weighed a hundred and twenty kilograms.

-          XY weighed one hundred and twenty kilograms.

Im Deutschen: Er wog 120 kg.

Im Englischen: entweder indef. article oder nummeral

-          The firm founds a/one hundred new jobs.

Ind. article for numbers or percentages which is modified (noun like “teacher” – any teacher – bad teacher) by an adjective.

INFORMAL ENGLISH (grammatically wrong, only spoken – Global English, not use in test)

-          We’ll need an extra 10 pounds. (Combination between the indefinite article and the plural form of the noun)

-          He’s been waiting for a good 2 hours.

-          She spent a happy ten minutes looking through the photos.

-          I’ve had a very busy three days (We need the adjective here! Otherwise it doesn’t work, we can’t say: a three days)

-          The inflation rate sank to a surprising low 4 percentage.

-          A good few + plural à extremely informal

-          I bet that house could tell a good few stories.

Ind. article in expressions of price, speed, time, ratios (Verhältniszahl; 2 of 4), etc.

-          The flour is 70 penny a pound.

-          You went along with a speed of 50 miles an hour.

-          This contract expires after half a year.

-          To the town it’s only half a mile. (BrE)

-          To the town it’s only a half-mile. (AmE)

-          They talked for a quarter of an hour.

-          He washes four times a day.

-          This door is open 24/7. (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

-          I attend evening classes twice a week.

-          He ran up the steps taking two at a time.

-          I’ll be back in a moment/in a minute.

one evening (not a evening) – eines Abends

one day (not a day) – eines Tages

-          One evening, while I was relaxing at home, I heard a strange noise.

-          One day I’ll be a famous writer.

3. VO / Thursday, April 2, 2009

Indefinite article referred to religion, job, nationality, political parties,…

-          She was a company director when she retired.

(Because she is not the only director; this is not a unique position)

-          Mr. Smith who might got to know to the exhibition…

-          His wife has been a Euro MP (Member of Parliament) for two years.

-          Mr. Stuart was a catholic while Luther was a protestant.

-          As a catholic, an economist and an expert in social policy I cannot condemn these policies.

-          …as a manager and a …

-          I didn’t realize that Roy Black was a German.

-          Later in his life he became a socialist.

-          Later in his life he turned socialist (zero article after “to turn”)

-          He will never turn traitor.

For unique positions we use no article.

-          Arnold Schwarzenegger has been appointed Governor of California.

-          They chose Mr. M. chairman of the…

-          His duties as head of the institute…

-          She’s been president…

In sentences with position of, post of, role of à zero article before the job title

-          Professor Will Smith has taken on the position of head of department.

Zero article also for uncountable nouns

-          advice

-          information

-          news

-          progress

-          experience

-         

-          You’ve made very good progress.

-          The doctor said that he had considerable experience in midwifery.

-          This is excellent news.

-          Such information can create a competitive advantage.

-          I’ll give you a piece of/some advice (Ich werde dir einen Rat geben.).

-          I have interesting news for you (Ich habe eine interessante Neuigkeit für dich.).

-          I’ve an interesting piece of news for you.

a/an not with weather and English

-          We’re heaving terrible weather (Wir haben ein furchtbares Wetter.).

-          She speaks very good Englisch (Sie spricht sehr gutes Englisch.).

zero article is also used for nouns consisting of 2 parts

-          scissors

-          trousers

-          To cut this material you need very good scissors.

-          To cut this material you need a pair of scissors.

-          Why should I pay a $ 100 for a pair of trousers (Warum sollte ich 100 Dollar für eine Hose bezahlen?).

Illnesses and pains are usually uncountable. Therefore no article à but only in BrE

-          I think I’ve got measles.

-          He has had got a appendicitis.

-          I’ve got toothache again.

INFORMALLY the definite article “the” can be used with less common diseases.

-          She’s never had the measles.

-          I think I got the flue.

BUT

-          I’ve got a terrible cold.

the word “catch”:

-          I only catch a cold/cold in the draft.

-          He hoped he wasn’t catching cold.

-          a headache (because we cannot count headache)

-          I’ve got a splitting headache (Ich habe Kopfweh.).

-          I often get headaches.

-          The grammar tests usually give students headaches.

stomach-ache, back-ache, toothache,…are uncountable at least in BrE

-          I’ve got bad toothache.

In AmE these words are countable

-          Certain problems are like a toothache.

-          He’s suffering from a stomach-ache.

when other parts of the body hurt à “to ache”

-          My legs ache (NOT I’ve got legache.).

-          heartache: kind of condition, not disease or illness

Indefinite article in connection with the word “own” (eigen – in German this can be used in combination with the indefinite article à ein eigenes Auto). In English we use a possessive pronoun.

-          Sony Ericsson has its own research centre (Sony Ericsson hat ein eigenes Forschungszentrum.).

-          It could take years before you got your own office (Es könnte Jahre dauern bevor du ein eigenes Büro bekommst.).

There is another possibility as well.

indefinite article (a/an) + noun + sentence of ”ones own”

-          Sony Ericsson has a research centre of its own.

-          It could take years before you get an office of your own.

2 exceptions: * an own goal (NOT gaol)

* an own child (reference sentence nr. 3)

otherwise always use own + possessive pronoun

Use of quite and rather

-          It’s quite (approx. “fairly”) good, but it could be better.

-          It’s quite (“completely”) impossible.

quite + indefinite article + noun

-          It’s quite a nice day.


gradable adjective à important for word order

“quite” before the indefinite article if there is a gradable adjective or no adjective

-          We watched quite an interesting film last night.


gradable, therefore quite + indefinite article + noun

-          She’s quite a woman.

-          He’s quite a hero.

-          The party was quite a success.

non-gradable adjectives:

-          It’s quite impossible (=non-grad.)


“quite” comes after the indefinite article in BrE

-          It was a (quite) perfect day.

AmE: It was quite a perfect day.

In spoken English: intonation – stress – emphasize

-          I heard quite an interesting story.

-          I heard a quite interesting story (a very interesting story).

“quite” is sometimes used INFORMALLY before the definite article meaning “exactly” or “completely”

-          He’s going quite the wrong way.

-          He’s going the wrong way (better, not informal).

-          You’re telling me quite the opposite of what John told me.

4. VO / Thursday, April 23, 2009

In both cases “quite” can be left out, because it’s not necessary

“quite a bit”, “quite a few”

Informally they mean “quite a lot”

-          We are having quite a bit of trouble with the kids.

-          We thought nobody would be there but actually quite a few people came.

“rather” is also an adverb (more than usual, more than suspected) – meaning is similar to “quite” and “fairly”; it generally comes before articles.

-          He’s rather a fool.

-          It was rather a disappointment.

-          That’s rather the impression I wanted to give.

-          John has had rather a good idea.

However, the “rather” comes after indef. articles if there is an adjective.

-          I had intended the money for a rather different purpose.

-          This is a rather complicated matter.

differences (in regard of the indef. article) between English/German

preposition of phrases

preposition and noun

-          You are not in a very good mood this morning.

-          Suddenly they both were in an immensely humor (bei äußerst gutter Laune).

-          The sound of shooting threw the crowd into a panic (versetzte die Menge in Panik).

-          She flew into a temper when he told her that she was wrong (Sie geriet in Wut).

-          His insults made her fly into a passion … (führten dazu, dass sie in Wut geriet)

-          We are in a position to supply you with the goods require (Wir sind in der Lage).

-          To a grade extend he is himself to blame for his misfortune (In hohem Maße).

-          It’s absolutely necessary to bring this affair to an end (zu Ende bringen).

-          By the time the grammar lecture had come to an end he was fast asleep (Als die Lesung zu Ende war).

-          Our full supplies are at an end (sind zu Ende).

-          He has been the boss of this firm for a long time (Er ist schon lange Zeit Chef dieser Firma).

-          On Sundays we usually go for a walk (machen wir für gewöhnlich einen Spaziergang).

-          He has been writing for three hours without a break (ohne Unterbrechung).

-          Why don’t we go to Majorca for a change (Warum fahren wir zur Abwechslung nicht einmal nach Mallorca)?

-          As a child I often had nightmares (Als Kind hatte ich).

-          As a result of the accident he had to undergo four painful operations (Als Folge des Unfalls).

-          As a rule there are three performances every day (In der Regel gibt es).

-          He has made it a rule to keep this sub… at a distance (Er hatte es zur Regel gemacht).

-          It is a pity that you have not applied for that position (Es ist schade, dass).

-          My friend has a feeling that everything will change for the better (Mein Freund hat das Gefühl, dass sich alles zum Besseren wenden wird.).

-          You’ve still got a temperature, and getting up is out of the question (Du hast noch immer Fieber…kommt nicht in Frage).

-          He’s got a birthday today (Er hat heute Geburtstag.).

-          He is a man with a voracious appetite (mit unersättlichem Appetit).

-          The boy shows an interest in sports (Er zeigt Interesse an Sport.).

-          She takes a great interest in everything he does (Sie zeigt großes Interesse an allem.).

-          The long walk gave me a good appetite.

-          She ate with appetite but he not (Sie aß mit Appetit, er hingegen nicht.).

-          He was glad to get the soup, and he fell to with appetite (Er machte sich mit Appetit darüber).

-          What you’re telling us is old hat (Was du uns erzählst ist ein alter Hut.).

-          I’ve never had such nonsense (noch nie so einen Unsinn).

And similarly phrases with “what kind of”, ”what sort of” and related phrases are usually used without the indef. article

-          What sort of person is he?

-          What sort of man is he? (Was für ein Mann ist er?)

-          What kind of suit was the susp…wearing?

-          What line of business are you in? (In welcher Branche)

-          What brand of cigarette do you prefer?

-          They’ve developed a new variety of sheep.

-          That species of bird is extremely rare around here.

exclamations

In exclamations after “what” we use the indef. article with singular countable nouns.

-          What a lovely day! (day is singular, also countable)

However, the indef. art. cannot be used in exclamations with uncountable nouns.

-          What nonsense! (Was für ein Unsinn!)

-          What luck!

________________

DEFINITE ARTICLE

There is only a definite article. à THE

Pronunciation: before a consonant/a vow

-          the (i) ice

-          the (ä) snow

We use “the” before a vow sound even it is written as a consonant

hour (h is consonant, but we don’t prounounce it) – the (i) hour

abbreviation:

The Royal Society for Prevention… (RSPCA)

the (ä) university

a one-pound-coin à the (ä) one-pound-coin

the (ä) USA

the (ä)UNESCO

before a hesitation. If something doesn’t come into my mind immediately – after a long pause;

Use of def. art.

We use the def. art. before a noun when the reader/listener knows or understands what we are talking about.

-          I’ve been to the dentist. (reader knows which dentist I know – my dentist, where I always go to).

-          When did you water the flowers? (not any flowers – my flowers or the flowers in the room)

-          Could you pass the salt please? (uncountable noun; the salt on the table)

“You know what I mean” à def. art.

When I cannot say “You know what I mean” à indef. art.

-          There is a huge spider in our bedroom.

-          I need an article from this week’s Time Magazine.

-          Yesterday I only had a yoghurt and a salad.

-          The yoghurt wasn’t so good but the salad was good.

(In the second sentence the reader already knows which yoghurt – from yesterday – therefore the def. art.; in the first sentence à introduction, I don’t know anything about the yoghurt)

-          I’m going to the post office. (there is only one post office here)

-          Is there a post office near here? (No idea about the post office)

-          She arrived on the 8:15 train. (def. art. because it says which train.)

-          Last week I took the bus to the airport but it was really overcrowded. (airport is clear)

-          So next week I’m going to take a taxi. (any taxi, not specific taxi)

-          She’s got 2 children. A boy and a girl.

-          The boy is 14 and the girl is 8. (def. art. because we already know which boy/girl they are talking about)

-          Who are the girls over there with John? (I’m pointing to this girls)

-          Tell Peter the story about John and Suzan. (I say, what I mean)

-          Could you please close the door? (Sometimes some students are late for the course…it is clear from the situation which door).

-          Could you turn on the lights please? (in winter when it is still dark outside…clear from the situation which lights one)

typical nouns: the moon, the sun, the earth, the world, the universe, the future, …

-          I haven’t seen the sun for days.

-          People use to think the earth was flat.

def. art. when there is only one such thing

-          Washington DC is the capital of the United States.

-          Do you trust the government? (One American might ask another American)

first, next, last

same, only (adj. but similar to superlatives)

-          I’m the oldest in my family.

-          Can I have the next pancake?

-          We went to the same school.

the def. art. is also used in the sense of “the well-known”

-          She married R. B., the actor. (the well-known person; not any R.B. – there is only one R.B.) à identifying phrase with “the”

-          I’d like you to meet Peter the actor.

5. VO / Thursday, May 07, 2009

plural nouns or uncountable nouns do not use the def. article to talk about things in general

-          Elephants can swim very well. (not the elephants…)

-          Nowadays petrol is expensive. (uncountable noun)

When we talk about people or things in general à we do not use normally the def. art. with uncountable nouns or plural nouns

-          My brother loves horses but he is afraid of rats.

-          Economists have a problem with self-control.

-          Prices could plumed.

-          Wages in call centers tend to be low.

-          I need help.

most in the sense of “the majority of” is also used without the def. art.

-          Politicians are paid more than university professors.

-          Most birds can fly.

-          Most students usually get very tired during the 8 o’clock class.

def. art. + singular countable noun

-          Schools should concentrate more on the child and less on exams.

common with names of scientific instruments, musical instruments,…

-          Life would be quieter without the telephone.

-          Life would be quieter without telephones.

-          The violin is more difficult than the piano.

When a noun modifies other nouns à the article of the first noun is dropped

-          Lessons in how to play the guitar…

-          A spot on the sun

Sometimes the def. art. is dropped when talking about jazz and pop music and classical music

-          This recording was made with M. Davis on trumpet.

-          She studied Oboe and Saxophone at the Royal Academy of Music.

We can also generalize by using the indefinite article + singular countable noun

-          A child needs plenty of love.

However, we cannot say: A tiger is in danger of becoming instinct.

def. article or no article (zero article)

zero article

def. art.: if the reader/listener knows which things we are talking about

-          Nurses mostly work very hard. (generalization, therefore no def. article)

-          The nurses have never gone on strike. (refer to all nurses all over the world)

-          Stars vary greatly in size.

-          Farmers often vote conservative.

-          What has the government done for the farmers?

-          It’s difficult for railways to make a profit.

-          The railways are getting more and more unreliable. (the railways in that country)

-          Austrians don’t like to be mistaken for Australians.

-          The Austrians suffered heavy losses in the First World War

Normally we cannot leave out a noun after an adjective

-          The most important thing in life is to be happy.

However, we can use art. + adj. if we want to refer to certain group of people in particular social/physical condition (well-known groups); adj. becomes a noun

-          He is collecting money for the blind.

-          The unemployed are losing hope.

-          The dead

-          The handicapped

-          The jobless

-          The mentally ill

-          The old

-          The poor

-          The rich

-          The young

-         

-          à this expressions are plural! if we want to use it as a singular, we would have to add a word – die Kranke = the sick woman

-          After the accident the injured were taken to hospital

4. VO / Thursday, April 23, 2009

In both cases “quite” can be left out, because it’s not necessary

“quite a bit”, “quite a few”

Informally they mean “quite a lot”

-          We are having quite a bit of trouble with the kids.

-          We thought nobody would be there but actually quite a few people came.

“rather” is also an adverb (more than usual, more than suspected) – meaning is similar to “quite” and “fairly”; it generally comes before articles.

-          He’s rather a fool.

-          It was rather a disappointment.

-          That’s rather the impression I wanted to give.

-          John has had rather a good idea.

However, the “rather” comes after indef. articles if there is an adjective.

-          I had intended the money for a rather different purpose.

-          This is a rather complicated matter.

differences (in regard of the indef. article) between English/German

preposition of phrases

preposition and noun

-          You are not in a very good mood this morning.

-          Suddenly they both were in an immensely humor (bei äußerst gutter Laune).

-          She flew into a temper when he told her that she was wrong (Sie geriet in Wut).

-          His insults made her fly into a passion … (führten dazu, dass sie in Wut geriet)

-          We are in a position to supply you with the goods require (Wir sind in der Lage).

-          To a grade extend he is himself to blame for his misfortune (In hohem Maße).

-          I can’t stay any longer because I am in a hurry (da ich in Eile bin).

-          It’s absolutely necessary to bring this affair to an end (zu Ende bringen).

-          By the time the grammar lecture had come to an end he was fast asleep (Als die Lesung zu Ende war).

-          Our full supplies are at an end (sind zu Ende).

-          He has been the boss of this firm for a long time (Er ist schon lange Zeit Chef dieser Firma).

-          On Sundays we usually go for a walk (machen wir für gewöhnlich einen Spaziergang).

-          He has been writing for three hours without a break (ohne Unterbrechung).

-          Why don’t we go to Majorca for a change (Warum fahren wir zur Abwechslung nicht einmal nach Mallorca)?

-          As a child I often had nightmares (Als Kind hatte ich).


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