日本人英文法の意外な穴

帝京大学教授で、ルミナス英和辞典(研究社)をはじめとする英語辞書編纂にも多く関わってこられたクリストファ・バーナード先生が月3~4回、語法、語彙を含めた広い意味での英文法の様々なトピックを解説します。

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108. 'I got to do it'

108. 'I got to do it'

This is another "get" pattern which is not commonly taught. It is a colloquial pattern, and this is perhaps the reason why it is not taught.

"I got to do it" has two, but overlapping, meanings:
1) I got the chance to do it./I was lucky enough to have the chance to do it.
2) I got the time to do it./I finally found time to do it.

As I said, these are overlapping meanings, since having the time to do something also often means we have a chance to do it.

This "I got to do it" pattern can be thought of as being a pattern in which "chance" and "time", or similar words are omitted.

Here are some example sentences with these patterns. As the reader will see, sentences (3) to (9) are more closely connected to the idea of chance, and sentences (10) to (16) are connected with the idea of time.
3) When do I get to be batter?
4) I got to play a small part in the movie.
5) But Dad! All the other kids get to stay up late on Saturday night.
6) During this cooking class, you will all get to bake a cake.
7) You get to do it the way you think best.
8) In this game, you only get to throw the ball once.
9) We always do things your way. When will I get to do things my way?
10) I finally got to clean out my room last week.
11) If everything goes well, I should be able to get to work in the garden this weekend.
12) I just cannot get to write the new computer program.
13) Don't worry. There is plenty of time. Everyone will get to have a go.
14) I just cannot get to do all the things I want to do.
15) You are always making me hurry with my work. I never get to do it properly.
16) I have been really been busy and have not had time to get to do it.

◆NOTES◆

・colloquial: 口語的な
・overlapping: 重なり合った
・be thought of as ~: ~と見なされる(>think of A as B)
・idea: 概念

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107. 'I got him to do it'

107. 'I got him to do it'

Within English education in Japan, the following two patterns are taught:
1) I made him study till late at night.
2) I let him study till late at night.

These are the causative patterns which are taught at school. And much time and energy is devoted to the grammar of these patterns, and the differences in meaning between the two patterns.

In this Column I want to give some examples of another causative pattern. Here are some examples of this:
3) I got John to do what I wanted him to.
4) You will never get me to come to work on a national holiday.
5) She is very charming, and can get people to do anything she wants them to.

As is clear from these examples, this "get him to do it" pattern is also a kind of causative. In fact, we can say that it is between "make him do it" and "let him do it" in terms of the forcefulness of the causative meaning.

The meaning is close to "persuade him to do it", or, "persuade him to do it although he does not want to do it".

We can therefore rewrite the above sentences in the following ways:
6) I persuaded John to do what I wanted him to do.
7) You will never manage to persuade me to come to work on a national holiday.
8) She is very charming, and can talk people into doing anything she wants them to.

This is a very common pattern, and one, which I have said, is not usually taught at school. I recommend that you master it.

In the next Column, I will look at another "get" pattern which is not usually taught at school.

◆NOTES◆
・causative: 使役(の)
・be devoted to: ~に捧げられる
・As is clear from these examples: これらの例から明らかなように(asは関係代名詞)
・in terms of ~: ~の観点から
・forcefulness: (語気の)強さ

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106. The difference between 'yes' and 'no'

106. The difference between 'yes' and 'no'

Not many Japanese learners of English seem to have mastered the following:

A: You are not Junko?
B: No. (I am not Junko).
A: No?
B: No. (I am not Junko.)

Of course, as readers realise, the Japanese way of thinking about negative questions, and the way they are answered in Japanese, is different from English. The Japanese logic is as follows:

A: You are not Junko?
B: Yes. (You are correct. I am not Junko.)
A: No?
B: Yes. (You are correct. I am not Junko.)

We can summarise this by saying that in English the reply echoes the negative (...not....? > No; No? > No). In the case of Japanese, the person who replies agrees with the person answering the question.

When it come to these kinds of negative questions, Japanese is an agreeing language, and English is an echoing language.

Some Japanese learners of English have mastered the difference between the English system and the Japanese system to some degree. So they answer "No". However, while they do this they nod their heads up and down!! In other words, they are saying "No" in words, but "Yes" in actions.

The way to master this part of the grammar of English is to make many imaginary dialogues in your mind--perhaps over a period of several weeks. So, for example, if you see a white wall, make a dialogue in your mind like this:

A: That wall is not black?
B: No.
A: No?
B: No

You can think of this as a kind of image training. It seems a bit silly, but I promise you that if you do it intensively and actively over a period of, say, a month, you will master this part of the grammar of English.


◆NOTES◆

・echo: 呼応する
・when it come to ~: ~ということになると
・to some degree: ある程度
・nod: 縦に振る
・over a period of several weeks: 数週間にわたって
・in one's mind: 心の中で
・think of A as B: AをBとみなす

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105. Six classes of nouns

105. Six classes of nouns

In Columns 23, 24, 28, 29, 30, 31, 66, and 89, I discussed some different classes of nouns. In this Column I want to give a general overview of these classes:

ABSTRACT NOUNS: love, happiness, freedom, etc.
These nouns do not usually occur with an article:
1) Freedom is the most important thing.

An exception to this is when the abstract noun is made more specific, as in:
2) The freedom that we now enjoy is the greatest in human history.

COUNTABLE NOUNS: an apple, two cats, three men, etc.

PAIR NOUNS: a pair of trousers, two pairs of glasses, three pairs of contact lenses

UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS: some sugar, some bread, some furniture

We can count uncountable nouns by using containers, measurements, or shapes:
a cup of sugar, two litres of water, three loaves of bread

It is important to realise that uncountable nouns like "furniture" are different from uncountable nouns like "sugar" since we can see and recognise the different parts making up furniture, such as: a chair, a bed, a lamp, etc.

We can count these furniture-type uncountable nouns in, for example, the following manner:
3) We bought ten sets of bedroom furniture for the new hotel.

We can also count the individual parts which all together make up furniture in the following way:
4) We bought five pieces of furniture.
5) We sold ten items of equipment.

GROUP NOUNS: crew, staff, audience, etc.
These are made up of individual items (eg, people) within the group (eg, pilot, co-pilot, stewardess).

If we want to talk about one of the people within a group noun, we have to say something like this:
6) She is a member of the crew.

Group nouns can themselves be plural:
7) There were five crews and five planes.
8) The staffs from the different branches of our company had a joint meeting.

Group nouns very often are followed by either a singular or a plural verb:
9) The crew was/were very calm.
10) The audience is/are bored.

PLURAL NOUNS: the police, the intelligentsia

These nouns are always plural, and always occur with a plural verb:
11) The police are hunting for the bank robber.
12) The intelligentisia always think that they know best.

Plural nouns may look like group nouns, but they are not, since they themselves cannot form plurals: X two polices.

◆NOTES◆
・give a general overview of: ~の概略を説明する
・abstract nouns: 抽象名詞
・an exception to ~: ~の例外
・(un)countable nouns: (不)可算名詞
・pair nouns: 対で用いられる名詞
・all together: みんな一緒に
・group nouns: 集合名詞

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