Anglophones, answer me two doubts about grammar in English, please and thank you very much:?
Topic: Abstract phrases
July 17, 2019 / By Klara Question:
1) In English, there are three ways to indicate that something belongs to someone, for example:
The ball of Peter.
The Peter ball.
The Peter's ball.
In Portuguese and Spanish, we only use one, following the same example:
A bola de Pedro (in Portuguese).
El balón de Pedro (in Spanish).
Which of the three forms in English is the most formal and which is the least formal?
2) Why do not you use the neutral article?
Here's an example of a sentence in Portuguese, English and Spanish, so you can see what the neutral article is and explain to me why it does not exist in English:
Eu não sei o que é essa coisa aí (in Portuguese, where the neutral article is "o").
I don't know what that thing there (in English, where the neutral article don't exist).
Yo no sé lo que es esa cosa ahí (in Spanish, where the neutral article is "lo").
And well, for now, that's it!
Best Answers: Anglophones, answer me two doubts about grammar in English, please and thank you very much:?
Jasmin | 1 day ago
Rebecca's answer is my favorite, but a few others also give the same information.
Let me say more about it.
1. Peter's ball. The boy's ball. The possessive case. (we do not usually use THE with proper nouns, like Peter)
a. Normally used to indicate ownership. The owner is usually a person or an animal, etc.
b. Sometimes it is abstract ownership. Tomorrow's meeting. (tomorrow, cannot really own something, but we speak as though it does).
c. If one of those criteria doesn't apply, then an "of" construction is used. The theory of evolution (not: the evolution's theory). Evolution does not own the theory, even in abstract sense (in the mind of an English speaker anyway).
2. the ball of Peter -- using a prepositional phrase beginning with OF as an adjective to describe the ball. This is not done for possession. Peter's ball -- is the only option.
-- There are times when both ways can be used with certain nouns, but they are rare and should be learned as exceptions.
3. Peter ball -- not allowed. Some nouns can be used as adjectives without changing form, but not all nouns.
The golf ball -- golf, is a noun, used as an adjective describe what kind of ball. the golf's ball - not possible - not about ownership. the ball of the golf - not possible (just sounds wrong).
4. Here is a rare example where all three structures are possible:
a. The restaurant's menu -- the restaurant owns the menu.
b. The menu of the restaurant - turns restaurant into an adjective phrase using OF. Not very likely, but possible, especially for emphasis.
c. The restaurant menu -- restaurant, a noun used directly as an adjective. It merely describes what kind of menu it is. Native speakers are likely to use A or C, depending on the dialect or the speaker's personal choice.
5. the neutral article. Even though it exists in Spanish and Portuguese, that construction is rather rare among the world's languages. It is hard for me to understand why it's used.
French uses two words, but they translate as: that which. I don't know that which that thing is (there)
English uses one word: what. I don't know what that thing is (there). there - is not necessary; That - makes "there" very clear.
what, ce que, etc - are relative pronouns, without an antecedent. They also function as conjunctions introducing a dependent clause. Different languages do those differently, if they even have relative pronouns (some languages don't). They don't have to exist, so it's not surprising that they can be done in different ways.
6. I don't know enough about Spanish or Portuguese to know if there would be any confusion if the neutral article were left out. If there would be, then that might explain why it's there. que - may have other uses in those languages that English what or French que don't have to worry about. (If I'm correct about that, please leave me a comment. I would love to know).
7. Always ask why. There are often logical reasons. But sometimes the answer is: just because. (There is usually more than one way to do something, and different languages make different choices).
8. Note: using the equivalent of "what" as that type of relative pronoun is fairly common among Germanic languages. English is a Germanic language.
9. Note also: Latin didn't have articles. So those Spanish & Portuguese constructions using the neutral article are relatively new ideas, since they were not part of classical Latin.
10. It's best to think like an English speaker. Word it in your head the way an English speaker would (just as I do for French. I know "ce que" translates as "what", but I also know it is literally: that which). note: que - does not mean "what" in this French phrase (sometimes it does though).
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We found more questions related to the topic: Abstract phrases
1) the most formal, but you have it incorrect. it would be "The ball belonging to Peter." this form is too formal, and seldom used.
2) Is NOT a possessive form. ":The Peter Ball" says that the ball is somehow like or related to Peter, but NOT the he owns it.
3) Is the most common use, but the word "the" is not used. Use "Peter's Ball", not "The Peters Ball."
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Your English examples are wrong. In theory "the ball of Peter" could be said, but it would be highly unusual and not standard. "Peter's ball" is how to show ownership, not "The Peter's ball".
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English does have several ways of indicating possession. However, the form, "Peter's ball", is the one that is ordinarily used.
There is no special reason for the absence of what you call the neutral article in English. I could as easily ask why it is used in Portuguese and Spanish. It seems to be used in the Romance languages. English is a Germanic language and so I can only guess that it is not used in Germanic languages.
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The third example is closest. However we drop the word 'The' as 'Peter's ball' is sufficient and correct.
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