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Showing posts with label WRITING. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WRITING. Show all posts


¿A quién le importa esto?

Para construir correctamente un texto, es importante saber cómo estructurar correctamente un párrafo y, antes que eso, una oración. Por eso, me parece buena idea incluir una serie de posts sobre las estructuras básicas del idioma y poner los cimientos para explicar otros temas de manera mucho más clara y simple. 

Muy bien, empecemos por lo primero: LA ORACIÓN.

❓ What is a SENTENCE?


What is case?
Cambridge dictionary ⇒ case is “any of the various types to which a noun (or pronoun) can belong, according to the work it does in a sentence (clause), shown in some languages by a special word ending; for example: the accusative/dative case.” 
Llamamos 'case' a la forma que toma un nombre / sustantivo / pronombre según la función que tiene en la oración; por ejemplo: caso acusativo / caso dativo.

 What is a pronoun?


In English, like in Spanish, a word is a single unit that has full meaning and can stand alone or be part of a larger structure (spoken or written).

Words can be classified according to their meaning and function and divided into different categories or parts of speech. Some books list up to 8 or 9 parts of speech depending on whether they take determiners as adjectives or as a separate category. Others divide verbs into lexical verbs and auxiliary verbs. In my posts, for the sake of simplification, I’ll be taking determiners as adjectives and treating verbs as a single part of speech (unless otherwise stated), so the 8 major parts of speech in English grammar are noun, pronoun, verb, adverb, adjective, conjunction, preposition, and interjection. 

USAGE: "Compare With" Or "Compare To"? (From Oxford Lexico Usage)

In general terms, either preposition is correct, but the choice depends partly on meaning and partly on grammar. 

In addition, American English generally prefers to when there is a choice, whereas in British English the two different constructions are more evenly spread.

💡Let’s look first at the meaning of each phrase. To compare can be defined broadly as "to estimate the similarity or difference between things." For example:
  • Individual schools compared their facilities with those of others in the area.
  • It is difficult to compare our results to studies conducted in the United States.
In this meaning, either preposition can be used.

💡However, when compare is used to say that one thing resembles another, or to make an analogy between two different things, to is obligatory:
  • Her novel was compared to the work of Daniel Defoe.
  • He compared children to young trees, both still growing and able to be shaped.
A Shakespearean example ⇒ One of the most famous lines in English poetry, from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, uses compare to in this way:
  • Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Shakespeare is likening the addressee to a summer’s day, even though in the end he shows his beloved to be lovelier than such a day.

💡Intransitive uses

British English prefers with when compare is used intransitively, because similarities are being evaluated:
  • His achievements do not compare with those of A. J. Ayer.
  • No other English painter can compare with Sutherland in the subtlety of his vision.
In American English, however, compare to is possible and slightly more frequent:
  • None of those birds compare to L.A. pigeons.
  • No, today’s calamities don't compare to the Great Depression or even to the agricultural troubles of the 1980s.
💡Compared to...

When the past participle compared introduces a phrase, the preposition is either to or with, although here usage is moving in favour of to:
  • This was a modest sum compared to what other people spent.
  • Compared to physics and astronomy, cosmology is a young science.
  • However, compared with the USA and Japan, Europe contains a group of separate nation states.
💡Comparable, comparison

Comparable is used with to or with in line with the previous discussion, with a marked preference in current usage for to:
  • We find ourselves in a situation comparable to mediaeval times.
  • Social mobility is, in fact, comparable with most countries in Europe.
Comparison as the noun equivalent of compare can be followed by either with or to:
  • Poussin’s approach bears closest comparison to Michelangelo’s.
  • Prices for real estate in Tbilisi cannot stand comparison with Western capitals or indeed Moscow.
The phrase in comparison to is more often used than in comparison with, but by comparison with is more frequent than by comparison to:
  • The film is utterly benign in comparison to some of the more violent movies of today.
  • The standard is pitiable in comparison with other countries.
  • By comparison with North Sea oil production, it is a drop in the ocean.
Essentially, both with and to are correct prepositions to use after compare, comparable, or comparison, although it may be worth checking the regional and grammatical context of the sentence when making your choice.

💡GO TO OXFORD LEXICO and See more from Usage

💡You may also be interested in:

I ain’t standing for that! What is wrong with ‘ain’t’? By Charlotte Buxton (From Oxford Dictionaries Blog)

👉By Charlotte Buxton, an Associate Editor for Oxford Dictionaries.

The language we use every day is littered with contractions. Shortened words like I’m, I’ve, I’ll, don’t, won’t, and we’ve have become an accepted part of standard English […].

Contractions are as old as the English language itself. When speaking quickly, it is natural to run a group of words that are commonly used together into one word: a form of verbal shorthand that is in turn adopted into written language. Most contractions have become so commonplace that we barely even notice we’re using them, while excluding them can actually make language sound stilted and unnatural.

One contraction in particular remains out in the cold, however. Ain’t has never been accepted into standard English […].

Even the origin of ain’t is murky […]. Unlike most of its cousin contractions, the words it is formed from are not immediately clear. […] It may have originally come from am not or are not, but it could also have derived from isn’t, with the s being dropped to make in’t, which was in turn lengthened to ain’t. When used to mean ‘has not’ or ‘have not’, as in they still ain’t been found or I ain’t been there myself, it derives from the dialect form haint or hain’t – a somewhat more obvious contraction of have not. This irregular formation is part of the reason for the widespread condemnation of the word, but it ain’t the whole story (so to speak). We accept other irregular contractions, such as won’t (which formed from the archaic form woll not), so why can’t we allow ain’t?

[…] Though undoubtedly used earlier in speech, it first appears in writing in the 18th century (though the form an’t is found earlier). It was initially used to imitate Cockney speech, with Dickens using it to mean both ‘are not’ and ‘have not’:

She ain’t one to blab. Are you Nancy? (Oliver Twist)

I ain’t took so many year to make a gentleman, not without knowing what’s due to him. (Great Expectations)

The use of ain’t in Victorian literature carries a moral judgement, usually signalling that the speaker is a part of the ‘criminal class’, to be feared and avoided. These associations cling to the word to this day, with ain’t still strongly associated in many people’s minds with a lack of education and low social status. (GO TO FULL BLOG POST)

🎬 You may also want to watch this:
What does AIN'T mean? | Real English Vocabulary (4:08 minutes)

GRAMMAR PILLS: How to use articles - A/AN, THE and ZERO article

How do we use articles in English?

💡 Quick answer:

In general
(indefinite / non-specific)
In particular
(definite / specific)
Countable Plural
(1) Zero article
(3) the (el, la, los, las)
Countable Singular
(2) a / an (un, uno, una)


(1) When we talk about an uncountable noun or a countable plural noun in general (i.e. we talk about all the items in a group, or there is no need to specify an item in particular), we do NOT use an article:
Cuando hablamos de un sustantivo (=nombre) incontable o contable plural en general (es decir, hablamos de todos los elementos de un conjunto o no hay necesidad de especificar uno en particular), NO usamos artículo:

in technology (❌The advances) have made it easier for us to keep in touch with our loved ones.
Modern technology (❌The modern technology) is essential to our lives, both at home and at work.
Students (❌The students) should hand in their assignments on time.
People (❌The people) are the same everywhere.
👉In these examples, we are talking about 'technology', 'students', and 'people' in general.

2) When we talk about a countable singular noun in general (i.e. we talk about one non-specific item in a group), we use a / an (the indefinite article):
Cuando hablamos de un sustantivo contable singular en general (es decir, hablamos de un elemento no especificado en un conjunto), usamos 'a' / 'an' (un, uno, una = el artículo indefinido):

⟶ I went to a pub last night. (Fui a un bar anoche.)
⟶ I’ve got a car. (Tengo un coche.)
⟶ He gave me an apple. (Él me dio una manzana.)

🔺 ‘A’ or ‘an’?

Use ‘a’ before words that start with a consonant SOUND:
Usamos ‘a’ antes de palabras que comienzan con un SONIDO consonante:
A university degree ⇒ ‘u’ is pronounced /juː/ here, and /j/ is a consonant sound
a one-hour class ⇒ ‘one’ is pronounced /wʌn/, and /w/ is a consonant sound
⟶ a uniform / a house, etc.

Use ‘an’ before words that start with a vowel SOUND:
Usamos ‘a’ antes de palabras que comienzan con un SONIDO vocal:
An honest man ⇒ ‘h’ is silent here, and the first sound is a vowel: /ˈɒnɪst/
an hour ⇒ ‘h’ is silent here, and the first sound is a vowel: /aʊə/
an MBA degree, etc.

3) When we talk about an uncountable, a countable plural or a countable singular noun in particular (i.e. we talk about a specific item, or there is only one item in the group, and it is therefore clear which item we are talking about – e.g.: ‘the sun’), we use ‘the’ (the definite article):
Cuando hablamos de un sustantivo incontable, contable plural o contable singular en particular (es decir, hablamos un elemento específico, o hay un solo elemento en el conjunto, por ejemplo: the sun’, el sol’), usamos ‘the’ (el, la, los, las = el artículo definido):

⟶ A look at the advances in technology during the 1960s (los avances en tecnología durante la década de los 60), from washing machines to computers. (BBC Four) (a specific set of advances)
The students who failed the exam (Los alumnos que reprobaron el examen) should study hard for the resit. (a specific group of students)
The people who migrate (La gente que migra) are called migrants. (a specific group of people)

👉The rules above apply to almost all cases; however, there are some special uses that should also be taken into account. Read more:
Using zero articles - BBC English Class (2:10 minutes)
The definite article - BBC English Class (2:22 minutes)
Learn about indefinite articles with singular countable nouns - BBC English Class (2:40 minutes)
GRAMMAR: How to use the definite article with abstract uncountable nouns (6:04 minutes)

📌 Practice:

How many is a billion? (From Oxford Dictionary – Explore)

💡 In British English, a billion used to be equivalent to a million million (i.e. 1,000,000,000,000), while in American English it has always equated to a thousand million (i.e. 1,000,000,000). British English has now adopted the American figure, though, so that a billion equals a thousand million in both varieties of English.
The same sort of change has taken place with the meaning of trillion. In British English, a trillion used to mean a million million million (i.e. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000). Nowadays, it's generally held to be equivalent to a million million (1,000,000,000,000), as it is in American English.

The same evolution can be seen with quadrillion and quintillion. In British English, a quadrillion used to mean a thousand raised to the power of eight (1024), and is now understood to be a thousand raised to the power of five (1015). A quintillion, in British English, used to mean a million raised to the power of five (1030), and is now most commonly held to be a thousand raised to the power of six (1018).

Even higher are sextillion, septillion, octillion, nonillion, and decillion, some of which are not common enough to be included in yet.

Other terms follow the same linguistic pattern (ending with -illion) but do not refer to precise numbers. These include jillion, zillion, squillion, gazillion, kazillion, bajillion, and bazillion. All of these words are used informally to refer to an extremely or indefinitely large number.

How many is a billion? (2:02 minutes)

A BRIEF HISTORY OF SINGULAR 'THEY' (From Oxford English Dictionary Blog)

👉 An excerpt from "A brief history of singular they", by Dennis Baron

Singular ‘they’ has become the pronoun of choice to replace ‘he and she’ in cases where the gender of the antecedent – the word the pronoun refers to – is unknown, irrelevant, or nonbinary, or where gender needs to be concealed. It’s the word we use for sentences like ‘Everyone loves his mother’.
Since forms may exist in speech long before they’re written down, it’s likely that singular 'they' was common even before the late fourteenth century. That makes an old form even older.

In the eighteenth century, grammarians began warning that singular 'they' was an error because a plural pronoun can’t take a singular antecedent. They clearly forgot that singular 'you' was a plural pronoun that had become singular as well. You functioned as a polite singular for centuries, but in the seventeenth century singular 'you' replaced 'thou', 'thee', and 'thy', except for some dialect use. That change met with some resistance. […]

Singular 'you' has become normal and unremarkable. […] And singular 'they' is well on its way to being normal and unremarkable as well. Toward the end of the twentieth century, language authorities began to approve the form. The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) not only accepts singular they, they also use the form in their definitions. And the New Oxford American Dictionary (Third Edition, 2010), calls singular 'they' ‘generally accepted’ with indefinites, and ‘now common but less widely accepted’ with definite nouns, especially in formal contexts.

Not everyone is down with singular 'they'. The well-respected Chicago Manual of Style still rejects singular 'they' for formal writing, and just the other day a teacher told me that he still corrects students who use ‘everyone … their’ in their papers, though he probably uses singular 'they' when his students aren’t looking. […]

👉 Dennis Baron – Professor of English and linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Read Dennis’s blog, The Web of Language, and follow him on Twitter as @DrGrammar.


A book released in 2017 claims that Americanisms will have completely absorbed the English language by 2120 - Hephzibah Anderson takes a look.
From: BBC Capital
So, it turns out I can no longer speak English. This was the alarming realisation foisted upon me by Matthew Engel’s witty, cantankerous yet nonetheless persuasive polemic That’s the Way it Crumbles: The American Conquest of EnglishBecause by English, I mean British English.

Despite having been born, raised and educated on British shores, it seems my mother tongue has been irreparably corrupted by the linguistic equivalent of the grey squirrel. And I’m not alone. Whether you’re a lover or a loather of phrases like “Can I get a decaf soy latte to go?”, chances are your vocabulary has been similarly colonised.

Speaking on the wireless in 1935, Alistair Cooke declared that “Every Englishman listening to me now unconsciously uses 30 or 40 Americanisms a day”. In 2017, that number is likely closer to three or four hundred, Engel hazards – more for a teenager, “if they use that many words in a day”.

But how did this happen and why should we care? After all, as a nation we’ve been both invaded and invader, and our language is all the richer for it. Words like bungalow, bazaar, even Blighty, have their roots elsewhere. Heck, go far enough back and isn’t it pretty much all just distorted Latin, French or German?

The first American words to make it across the pond were largely utilitarian – signifiers for flora and fauna that didn’t exist back in Merrie England. Moose, maize and tobacco were among them. But there were others, too, that in retrospect might seem laden with significance – words like plentifulness, monstrosity and conflagration.

With no means of swift communication or easeful passage between the two countries, American English merely trickled back into its source to begin with. But as the balance of power between Britain and her former colonies shifted, as America ascended to military, economic, cultural and technological dominance, that trickle swelled to a torrent, washing away any kind of quality control.


Throughout the 19th Century, Engel contends, “the Americanisms that permeated the British language did so largely on merit, because they were more expressive, more euphonious, sharper and cleverer than their British counterparts”. What word-lover could resist the likes of ‘ornery’, ‘boondoggle’ or ‘scuttlebutt’? That long ago ceased to be the case, leaving us with words and phrases that reek of euphemism – ‘passing’ instead of dying – or that mock their user with meaninglessness, like the non-existent Rose Garden that political reporters decided No 10 had to have, just because the White House has one (it doesn’t exactly have one either, not in the strictest sense, but that’s a whole other story).

Call me a snob, but there’s also the fact that some American neologisms are just plain ungainly. I recently picked up a promising new American thriller to find ‘elevator’ used as a verb in the opening chapter. As in, Ahmed was ‘elevatoring’ towards the top of his profession in Manhattan.

Nowadays, no sphere of expression remains untouched. Students talk of campus and semesters. Magistrates, brainwashed by endless CSI reruns, ask barristers “Will counsel please approach the bench?” We uncheck boxes in a vain effort to avoid being inundated with junk mail that, when it arrives regardless, we move to trash.

It’s understandable, of course. Sometimes, American words just seem more glamorous. Who wants to live in a flat, a word redolent of damp problems and unidentifiable carpet stains, a word that just sounds – well, flat – when they could make their home in an apartment instead? Sometimes that glamour is overlain with bracing egalitarianism – it’s a glamour untainted by our perennial national hang-up, class.

Take ‘movie’. The word has all the glitz of Hollywood and none of the intellectual pretensions (or so it might be argued) of the word ‘film’, which increasingly suggests subtitles (‘foreign-language film’ is one of the few instances in which the f-word doesn’t seem interchangeable with its American counterpart – ‘foreign-language movie’ just sounds odd). Other times they fill a gap, naming something that British English speakers have been unable to decide on, as is increasingly the case with ATM, a boring but brief alternative to cash point, cash machine, hole in the wall. Also to be factored in is what Engel dubs “Britain’s cultural cringe”, which predisposes us to embrace the foreign.

It’s often pointed out that plenty of these Americanisms were British English to begin with – we exported them, then imported them back. A commonly made case in point is ‘I guess’, which crops up in Chaucer. When Dr Johnson compiled his seminal 1755 dictionary, ‘gotten’ was still in use as a past participle of ‘get’. But as Engel points out, good old English is not good new English. Moreover, his beef isn’t really to do with authenticity; it’s more to do with our unthinking complicity. Because it’s not just the cookies and the closets, or even the garbage, it’s the insidiousness of it all. We’ve already reached the point where most of us can no longer tell whether a word is an Americanism or not. By 2120, he suggests, American English will have absorbed the British version entirely. As he puts it, “The child will have eaten its mother, but only because the mother insisted”. (Continue reading)


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