Monday, October 08, 2007

Grammatically Speaking

My favorite column in any of the TESOL publications is "Grammatically Speaking" by Richard Firsten in The Essential Teacher. His answers to even the most minute but baffling questions about English grammar are brilliant.

He always poses a question for the readers at the end of his column. Having been a teacher at Dave's ESL Help Center, where I spent numbers of hours answering questions about grammar and other aspects of English, I still have fun working out the puzzles of the language. In June, therefore, I almost couldn't help but responding to the question of the month.

Much to my delight, I received a personal email from Richard Firsten, thanking me for my answer. What's more, he used my answer in his column! To quote:

Here’s the Brain Teaser from my June 2007 column: What role does over play in the following sentences?

He went over to his friend’s house.
They flew over to Bimini.
She ran over to the grocery before it closed.

The first acceptable answer was sent in by Carol Ann Edington in Sapporo, Japan:

The over in these sentences implies geographical proximity. Even in the second sentence using flew over, the assumption is that Bimini is not far from where the flight originated.

For that reason, I could say, "Come over sometime," to a friend living in my neighborhood or city. However, the invitation would be strange if the friend were living in a different prefecture (state or province).

That’s precisely the reason for using over in those sentences, Carol Ann. And your explanation couldn’t be clearer! Thank you very much.

If you want to read the latest "Grammatically Speaking" or even answer the latest teaser for yourself, check out:

1 comment:

Dennis said...

Hi, CA.

I also like Richard Firsten's "Grammatically Speaking" and remember, as a matter of fact, reading your answer to his "over to" question.

Another grammar-related site (though not one linked to TESOL) that I enjoy is "The English Family Reunion"; it's a section of a blog called "Harmless Drudge."

Here's the link:

The English Family Reunion

All the best—

Dennis in Phoenix