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Grammar and usage questions

 
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Ms.mcGlover



Joined: 12 Mar 2005
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 12:34 am    Post subject: Grammar and usage questions Reply with quote

My students came up with some wuestions I can't find the answers to.
Why do we say difference in culture rather than difference of culture?
And, in these sentences " Sweeten to taste as desired" or "Add sugar as needed" Why is the verb in past tense? Is it conditional? What is the subject?
Please help. Thanks, Sarah
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 2993
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 3:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm pretty sure it is a ("passive"*) participle and not a past-tense verb. The subject and verb can be omitted/ellipted as they aren't necessary (for native speakers, anyway) to understand the instructions (obviously).

We could, if necessary, expand the sentence to make things clearer for learners: [Sweeten to taste] [as (and when/if) desired (by you or whoever)].

The above could also be expressed actively: Sweeten to taste if you desire (it/want (to (do that))).

Viewing it as a sort of conditional seems valid ('if' can replace 'as (and when)'), but that was not the central concern here.

I wouldn't necessarily object to 'a difference of culture' (I don't expect students to know every little native collocation when it comes to expressing themselves, if indeed 'a difference of culture' is a non-native oddity - I haven't checked the statistics, and don't feel offhand as a native speaker that it is that unclear or odd), but it must be said that 'a difference in culture(s)', 'a difference between cultures' and 'a cultural difference' or 'cultural differences' do all sound better. This is the sort of instance where it is probably better to ask 'How can I express this, and how do most people express it?' rather than 'Why is it (not) expressed in this manner?'.

*I hesitate to call it a passive because there is no verb 'BE'. Perhaps we should call this a "verbless clause" - 'an adverbial clause with ellipsis of the verb be and the subject.' (Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English, pg 261).
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 2993
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 5:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've asked guys over on the Applied Linguistics forum (haunt of some "mean" grammarians Laughing ) to take a look at your questions, Sarah, and offer their take on things. I'd like to suggest that we all continue whatever discussion there rather than here (please follow link below).
http://www.eslcafe.com/forums/teacher/viewtopic.php?p=15284
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RolandTrego



Joined: 23 Mar 2005
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2005 8:24 pm    Post subject: Sweeten to taste as desired... Reply with quote

"Sweeten to taste as desired" or "Add sugar as needed"

I agree with "fluffyhampster" that this is an instance of ellipsis. Sweeten to taste as is desired (by the person who is eating the item).
=Sweeten to taste as you desire.

As for "a difference in culture" vs. "a difference of culture," "in" sounds natural. That's just how these particular words occur together. I don't see any underlying generalization or rule that covers other similar constructions. ("It's a cultural difference" doesn't bother me either.)
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