Monday, January 29, 2007

Show 271 Monday 29 January

Watch today’s show at YouTube or BlipTV.

Hi, I’m Sarah. Welcome to The Daily English Show.
This week is grammar week.
Today: gradable and ungradable adjectives.

What’s an adjective? An adjective modifies a noun.

A red dog. Red is an adjective.
This dog is:

All adjectives.

Adverbs modify verbs and other things.
Rover dances beautifully.
Adverbs often end in -ly.
Adverbs modify verbs and they also modify other adverbs and adjectives.
Very useful.

Very is an adverb (it’s also an adjective – but I’m talking about the adverb)

Very can be used before adjectives, adverbs and determiners.
For example: Rover is very beautiful and Rover dances very beautifully.

The adverb very is useful and it’s used a lot before adjectives.
It’s very cold.
Mmm this is very tasty.
Mmm he’s very sexy.
I’m very happy.

But the adverb very can’t be used before all adjectives. You can’t say something is very awful or very impossible.

Try and think of adjectives in two groups – one is gradable and the other is ungradable.

For example – temperature.
Hot and cold are gradable. Gradable means there are different levels.
It’s hot.
It’s very hot.
It’s a bit cold.

It’s quite cold.
It’s very cold.

The ungradable adjectives are often the extremes.
The extremes of hot are for example:

They are all like the maximum hot. So they can’t be any more or any less. So you can’t use very with these words.

An example for cold is freezing. Freezing is ungradable. You can’t use very with freezing.

It think it helps to look at a list ... like in this book.

With these gradable adjectives you can use these adverbs and with these ungradable adjectives you can use these adverbs.

I’m going to make some sentences using words from here.

So from the gradable adjective box: important.
With important I can use words from here.
So, I can say:

This is extremely important.
This is fairly important.
This is really important.
This is very important.

Now an ungradable adjective: useless.
This is absolutely useless.
This is completely useless.
This is totally useless.

There’s a video on YouTube called: Dictionary of Jack: Unique
It’s by JackDanyells
And he says that you can’t say something is very unique.
Which is actually wrong – but the video is comedy, it’s not a(n) English lesson, so it doesn’t really matter.

Actually you can say something very unique – but it depends what you mean by unique.
Unique – like many words – has more than one meaning.

1. being the only one of its kind
For example: Everyone’s fingerprints are unique.
For this meaning – unique is ungradable. So you can’t say very unique. This is the meaning that Jack is talking about in his video.

But the second meaning of unique is: very special or unusual
For example: A unique talent
For this meaning unique is gradable, so you can say very.

This dictionary has both the Oxford Dictionary and the Oxford Learners Dictionary – which is very useful. The Learner’s Dictionary explains things like this.

See it says: “You can use absolutely, totally or almost with unique in this meaning.”
“You can use more, very etc” with unique in this meaning.”

And my final tip. This is very useful – so ichi man en (10,000 yen) please.

There is one word which is in both of these boxes that is really. So if you’re confused, just use really for everything. No worries.


Kia ora, this is Stick News. A high school student in New Zealand received his national examination paper back last week with the words “you useless sack of poo” written on it. An investigation into who wrote the comment is now underway.

Last week high school students in New Zealand got their national exam papers back.
A 17-year-old Christchurch student opened the envelope to find “you useless sack of poo” written on one of his papers in blue felt pen.
One of his classmates had "Good one dick!!" written on his paper.
New Zealand post delivers the papers to the students. They suspect one of their temporary staff may be to blame.
An investigation is under way.

And that was Stick News for Monday the 29th of January.
Kia Ora.

the snow report

I noticed some mysterious things in the snow today. At first I thought it might have been aliens.

conversations with sarah
#163 Why did they stop teaching it?

Step 1: Repeat Takeshi’s lines.
Step 2: Read Takeshi’s lines and talk to Sarah.

Sarah I think there are a lot of people in New Zealand who don’t know what an adjective or adverb is?

Takeshi Really? Why?

Sarah My generation didn’t really study English grammar. My parents’ generation did though.

Takeshi Why did they stop teaching it?

Sarah I don’t know. I guess somebody decided that it wasn’t important to learn.

Takeshi When did you study English grammar?

Sarah I studied French at high school and we had to study English grammar before we could understand French grammar.

Takeshi Was it difficult?

Sarah Yeah. My teacher used to get really frustrated because we didn’t know anything about grammar. He made us buy this blue book called “English grammar for students of French”.

Takeshi Wow. You even remember the colour.

Sarah Yeah, the book was really interesting so I spent all summer studying it.