Idioms with picture: Pretty as a picture

Today, our lesson is about one of my favorite subjects: idioms.

Idioms are seemingly nonsensical groupings of words.  However, they aren’t as they seem. In fact, these phrases are cram-packed with meaning! Their meaning evolved through usage, rather than the entries of lexicographers, Grammarians who decide which words are placed in the dictionary and what they mean.

Idiom of the day: pretty as a picture. 

This saying came about during the Victorian Era, the 1800s. It was even used by Mark Twain. In the book A Connecticut Yankee in King Author’s Court, Twain describes a character as “pretty as a picture.” Despite the noted hubbub, this phrase literally means attractive, in fact, there’s not much else to it. 

You may encounter a native English speaker saying “She’s as pretty as a picture.” The speaker is telling the listener that the person in question is beautiful. 

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Question Tags and Auxiliary verbs

Some Question Tags use the Auxiliary Verb, but these little action words are nothing to fear. An Auxiliary Verb simply demonstrates tense. For example, can versus could. At this point, we know when to deploy Auxiliary Verbs. 

Note: These sentences elicit somewhat complex answers, not merely “yes” or “no” like our earlier lesson, Positive/Negative Question Tags. 

Question tags, with or without Auxiliary Verbs are contextually interesting. They transform declarative and imperative statements into interrogative sentences. furthermore, they are often used to communicate irony, insults, and alternate usages of a word. Here’s an example that both use an Auxiliary Verb and express irony. 

Speaker 1: “In the ‘90s, I was big in New Orleans.”

Speaker 2: “You were big, weren’t you? The fattest Blues singer in the city!” 

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Question Tags: Positive and Negative

Much of this will be somewhat familiar to speakers of Asiatic languages. For example, Hindi, Japanese, and Arabic use tags at the end of sentences to alter their meaning. 

Simply, in English, Question Tags are tacked onto the end of declarative (stating) or imperative (commanding) sentences to make them interrogative, these small phrases are used to transform a statement into questions. 

Interestingly, Question Tags come across as an afterthought, but these phrases are intentionally placed. And, most often, Positive/Negative Question Tags are deployed by native English speakers when the listener is expected to agree.

For example, you may encounter an English speaker saying “It’s hot today, isn’t it?” It would be atypical to hear this on a day below 26℃ Celsius. The listener would reply with a simple, but heartfelt, “Yes, it is!” 

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Types of Nouns: Abstract nouns and collective nouns with examples

What is a Noun?

A noun is the name of a person, place, or thing. When we specify who or what we are particularly speaking of for the listener to be able to relate to, that’s called a noun.

How can we identify the type of Noun?

There are 4 main types of nouns to identify:

  • Proper Noun: These are names of anybody or of something you specifically imply to or when you are referring to a particular person or place or thing.
    Examples: Wall Street Journal, Albert Einstein, London, Monday, etc
  • Common Noun: It refers to the name of a class or section of people, animals, or things.
    Examples: Teacher, Nurse, Street, Post office, Table, Bench, etc
  • Abstract Noun: They are nouns used to define anything that cannot be seen, touched, or sensed by any of our senses. An idea, a state of being, a feeling, a quality, or a characteristic quality can be termed as abstract nouns.
    For example, you can be sad, and feel the emotion, but not touch it, smell it, taste, or even see it, but you do know it exists within you.
  • Collective Noun: Nouns that are considered to be a group of nouns or a set of things or people. They are a group of common nouns and can be counted. 
    For example, a banana is a common noun, the collective noun for it
    will be a bunch of bananas/hand of bananas.
Read more about Abstract and Collective Nouns

The Preposition “Under”

How do I use the Preposition under

Under is another commonly used Preposition. 

In general, Prepositions communicate the position of an object relative to another. “Under” describes an object as below another.  

For example, Americans refer to Australia as The Land Down Under because it’s located in the southern hemisphere. Are you in a land down under? 

A fun and useful example might be “everything under the sun.” A native English speaker, especially in a film, may use this phrase to speak of each and every item that possibly exists. 

Here’s another example, you may encounter a native English speaker saying “The keys are under the rug.” By saying this, the speaker is telling the listener that the house keys are located under the doormat. 

Notice the use of a Determiner, “the,” “a” or “an,” with a Preposition. It’s common to use both a Determiner and Preposition in a sentence.

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The Preposition “Up”

Not all languages possess words or phrases that Linguistics classifies as Prepositions. In fact, Hungarian, Turkish, Greek,  and Japanese use Post-Prepositions. Post-Prepositions function much like English Prepositions, but are dissimilar in syntactical placement and may be suffixed (a syllable added to the end of a word). 

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Determiners and Plural and Uncountable Nouns

It’s a fact, some things are countable, and some are not. Uncountable Nouns are objects or ideas that can’t be divided into parts. 

Today, we are discussing Plural Uncountable Nouns. Those many indivisible objects or ideas that don’t have a singular form. 

Water is an example of a plural Uncountable Noun. Although it takes any form and its volume can be measured, the number of waters in a vase is illogical and unknowable, it’s neither plural nor singular. Other examples are groceries, snow, music, etc

Most often, plural Uncountable Nouns are emotions or abstract concepts like success, joy, or behavior, but there’s plenty of physical objects that fall into this category like coffee. 

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Determiners

Grammar, syntax, and morphology, are among the most fascinating aspects of language. And, every student of language, regardless if they are studying Russian or Chinese, has a story to tell about the complexities of using Determiners. However, there’s no need to stress, there are a few simple rules to make them easy and fun.

Firstly, the student must understand the difference between Countable and Uncountable Nouns.  

Simply, a Countable Noun is an object, like people, that can be counted. For example, “There is a boy in the classroom.” This sentence tells us that there’s one young man waiting for his teacher in the schoolroom. Just to be clear: 

a = one

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Being Verbs there is/are

What do I need to know about the English Adverb there + the being Verbs is and are

Surprisingly, not all modern languages have a present tense Being Verb. For example, Hebrew and Turkish do not; they have other methods of stating that an object or action exists. 

Interestingly, the English language possesses two present tense Being Verbs, “is” and “are.” Both simply mean to be. Despite possessing the same definition, they can’t be used conversely. 

Remember, the Being Verb “Is” is used with all singular Nouns, but “are” is used with plural Nouns. For example, you may encounter a native English speaker saying the sentence below.

There is a black cat over there.

By saying this, the speaker is telling the listener that there is a (singular) black cat nearby. 

Notice that there’s a direct relationship between the Being Verb and the Noun. And so, if the noun is plural, “are” is used. Here’s an example:

There are black cats over there.

By saying this, the speaker is telling the listener that there are black cats nearby. 

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