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Making Sense of Grammar
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Why does sentence like “He very beautiful.” is not acceptable in English but it is completely fine for Chinese (他很聰明)?

Group Number: TA1 Group 5

asked Apr 7, 2022 in Questions about English Grammar by TT (160 points) | 317 views

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English is a sentence-oriented language, “sentence” forms a unit. A verb is a necessary component of a simple sentence in standard English. Each verb defines the semantics roles of the argument in the sentence. Copula “be”  here takes the proposition “very beautiful”, presenting a temporary state. The copula verb also changes its forms according to the number/person/tense aspect to show its morphological properties.

(It is noted that some dialects in the US accept questions like "where you at?". )

Apart from copula "be", English learners might also be puzzled about the use of do-support. NICE properties can help us differentiate whether a dummy auxiliary do/ do-support is needed. NICE refers to negation, inversion, code and emphasis. 

Negation: She is not a teacher. (*She does not a teacher.)

Inversion: Is she a teacher? (*Does she a teacher?)

Code: She is a teacher, isn’t she? (*She is a teacher, isn’t she?)

Emphasis: She is a teacher. Yes, she IS. (*She is a teacher. Yes, she DOES.)

Similar to auxiliaries, the copula verb “be” also has the NICE properties. However, other linking verbs which take subject complement such as “become” require do-support in NICE constructions.

Negation: She did not become a teacher. (*She became not a teacher.)

Inversion: What did she become? (*What became she?)

Code: She became a doctor, and so did he. (*She became a doctor, and so became he.)

Emphasis: She became a teacher. Yes, she DID. (* She became a teacher. Yes, she BECAME.)

answered Apr 7, 2022 by TT (160 points)

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