Jan. 12, 2019

Sentence 012 Let the cat out of the bag.

012 I like coffee.

Leslie: Can you tell me more about this Sentence?

Daniel: Not really.

L: If we talk about it for some time, you will probably have an eye for many aspects you may not see now.

D: OK. I’m ready.

L: Do you know what we use ’Horizontal Extensions’ for?

D: I have no idea.

L: In a Horizontal Extension, we talk about a sentence as long as you and I understand the same thing by it.

D: Can we see the Horizontal Extension for ’I like coffee’?

L: Sure. Here yo are:

I first tasted coffee when I was something like 15 and I liked it very much. I must have drunk shiploads of it and I still enjoy it a lot. My doctor told me the other day that I should think twice before I take my third coffee a day but I don’t think I will ever give it up.

D: It sounds like quite difficult.

L: Do you think it is more difficult than the original Sentence ’I like coffee’?

D: Yes, I think so.

L: I don’t agree with you. The Sentence contains only three words, and they are Subject + Verb + Object, and it is in the Present Simple Tense. What could be easier?

D: That’s exactly what I mean.

L: Now, this very ’simple sentence’ has a very complex meaning. Firstly, it is about Past Time and Present Time and Future Time. We call it All Inclusive.

D: It is in Present Tense.

L: Correct, but Time and Tense are not the same in English. If we copy the Horizontal Extension of ’I like coffee’, and colour the Time and Tense elements red, you will see what I mean.

I first tasted coffee when I was something like 15 and I liked it very much. I must have drunk shiploads of it and I still enjoy it a lot. My doctor told me the other day that I should think twice before I take my third coffee a day but I don’t think I will ever give it up.

D: It is very interesting.

L: I agree. Can you find the Tenses and the Time Markers that represent the three time-segments mentionad above?

D: Yes, I will try.

L: Then, start with the Past Time.

D: ’I first tasted coffee when I was something like 15 and I liked it very much. I must have drunk shiploads of it’ is clearly Past.

’I still enjoy it a lot.’ is Present Time – Non-Past Time.

L: ’My doctor told me the other day’ is not important here because it is not about my coffee-drinking habits. It is more about my health.

D: ’I should think twice before I take my third coffee a day but I don’t think I will ever give it up.’ is clearly Future Time – Non-Past Time.

L: I hope you can see that this simple-looking sentence has a very complex meaning. May I ask you a few more questions?

D: Yes, of yourse.

L: Does this Sentence contain one Idea, or more Ideas? You know, an Idea is a Subject + Predicate.

D: It contains one Idea.

L: Now concentrate on the Verb.

D: It is ’like’.

L: Can you identify the Time it refers to?

D: Now I can but half an hour ago I thought differently.

L: Is it Past Time, Non-Past Time, or both Past Time and Non-Past Time?

D: It is both Past Time and Non-Past Time.

L: Now, concentrate on the Tense. You know that Time and Tense are not the same. Is it Past or Non-Past?

D: It is Non-Past; it is Present Simple Tense.

L: If you have developed an eye for this Sentence, you can see the following long list:

  • you have no lexical problem in this Sentence,
  • this Sentence contains one Idea,
  • this Idea is about both Past Time and Non-Past Time,
  • these Past- and Non-Past Times are expressed in a Non-Past Tense of the Verb,
  • there is a lack of concord between Time and Tense.

D: Believe it or not, I can really see it. Thank you.

L: The pleasure is mine. Do you fancy working on another Sentence tomorrow?

D: I’ll be here.