BASIC ENGLISH : International Second Language
Section Two, Part One, ABC, p153
A. II. Word-Order
Generally, it is a good thing to put every word into some form of statement when you have its sound and its sense clear. It is much less hard to get a story into the memory than a list of words; and in a story such as the one about May and the rat, or in any of the examples in Section Three of this book you will have all the words in the right places, even if at first you are not quite certain about some of the details. This is very important because even though you may be quite clear about the sense of the words and how they are used, if you do not put them together in the right order, your statements may be taken in the wrong way by all your friends. For example, if you say "have I an idea" in place of "I have an idea," it will seem as if you are uncertain about the condition of your mind, when in fact your purpose was to say that something of value was going on inside it.
Take a simple statement, such as you might have made when you got to page 137,
I will give simple rules to the boys now.
So long as you make no change in the order of the words you may put any of the 600 names of things in the place of rules (which will make 600 different statements), and any of the 150 'adjectives' in the place of simple. This gives you 90,000 possible statements; though, naturally, not all of them will make equally good sense.
Other simple changes in this one example (by taking words from the Basic list which you are now quite certain might go into the places of I, will, give, to, the, boys, and now) will quickly give you more different statements than it would be possible to make by going through them for 1,000,000 years without a stop.22
22. This 1,000,000 is not a printer's error. Get the numbers yourself. It takes one second, at least, to make the statement ; and 60 x 80 x 24 x 365 x 1,000,000 is much less than 1205 x 2 x 16 x 200x 600x 20 x 204 x 600 x 119.
This would not be very interesting, but there is certainly enough in that one example to give anyone something to do for an hour or two on a wet day. But till we have some more rules, so that there is a chance of making use of other forms of words than those given in the First Step, we are limited to a small number of fixed statements; and we have no way of putting these statements together into longer ones, with connections between them such as are necessary for discussion and argument.
So let us take a look at the sort of complex statement which it will be possible to make when we get to the end of the division on Word-order, and have a little more knowledge about word- forms and the expansions of the simple senses of the words themselves.
This process is not unlike the behavior of readers who go to the last page of a story to see if it has a happy end. But in learning a language there are no surprises to be kept secret, and the only reason for not starting at the end is that it is not so simple. In fact, there are some teachers who do put boys into deep water before their first swim; but if they are not very good teachers, it is unnecessarily cruel, and a feeling of disgust may be produced by the shock. This book is designed to get the best out of their system by having a quick look at the middle, after a good start has been made on a solid base. So it is more like going to the top of a mountain for a wide view of the land before us; and then we see in the distance :
The camera-man who made an attempt to take a moving-picture of the society women before they got their hats off did not get off the ship till he was questioned by the police.
There are eight separate points here about which we have so far had no rules.
The first four of these come into the account of Word-order; the others are later details.
- 'Camera-man', 'society women' (the use of two names of things together, page 156).
- 'Who' (page 162).
- 'Before,' 'till' (as connections for two statements, page 161).
- 'Off' (placed before and after a thing, pages 206-07).
- 'Moving,' 'questioned' (the addition of 'ing' and 'ed,' page 176).
- 'Made,' 'got,' 'did' (= make, get, do, in past time, page 169).
- 'Their' ( = of them, page 170).
- 'Police' (international word, page 235).
QUESTIONS AND EXAMPLES
Make changes in the statement, I will give good rules to you now, by the addition of other words (No, I will not give . . .).
Now make changes by changing some of the words.
(I will give bad rules . . .)
When one of the statements formed by changing a word like good to electric does not make sense, it is interesting to put the question : Would this ever be possible? Care is needed in coming to a decision.
For example, in the year 1734, it would not have made sense to say, I will give an electric bell to the servant now. If you had been living then, you might have said that it would not ever be possible.
Make some simple statements like the example you have been given. Here are some suggestions:
I take a sweet cake from the shelf quietly.
I give soup to the family regularly.
The man will put a new roof on the house tomorrow.
Put these words in the right order :
Tired dogs after rats do go not.
Basic English a good opinion have I.
Slowly do we will the work.
It would be a good test of the learner's knowledge of the system at this point to make certain how the numbers given in the footnote on page 154 were worked out. For example, 1205= 400 general names + 200 picturables + 596 'plurals' (there is no change of form for news, trousers, scissors, sheep) + I, he, you, we, they, this, that, these, those; 2 = will and may. The numbers 200 and 119 do not take in all the words which might be put in these places. (For example, the '200' takes into account only the 150 names of qualities, with their 50 un- forms, though there are clearly some words among the 'Operations' which might be used.) What additions are you able to make for these positions?
Like is an 'adjective' pointing from one thing to another, so it is quite natural to put the name of the thing with which the comparison is made after it : an instrument like a plow. Two like things may be said to be like one another.
2. COMPLEX WORDS
We have seen how an 'adjective' comes before the name of a thing and says what sort of a thing it is. In the same way, you may put the name of one thing before the name of another, and so get a new name for a new thing.
The word coming first says something about the word which comes after it. House-coal is coal for use in the house, but a coal-house is a place where coal is kept. It will be quite simple to get the sense of other complex words with this example as a guide.
RULE. Complex words are formed by putting together two names of things. Word-order and word-form are two which are being used in this book.
An account-book is a book in which money accounts are kept, and the sense of
music-book and story-book will be equally clear.
So we get a milkman, who comes with the milk; a postman, who comes with the post (international word, page 235); a dustman, who takes the dust away in his cart; or a camera-man, who makes his living by taking pictures.
In writing complex words, the parts may simply be put together as one word or they may be joined by '-'. Very common complex words, which give no trouble to the eye or tongue, are formed without the joining-sign (bedroom, newspaper, raincoat, sundown), but much the greater number of complex words are formed with it (baby-carriage, cow-house, machine-gun, ticket-box), and it is safer to make use of it when in doubt.
Sometimes the words are simply put side by side. Any number of words may be put together to make one complex name in this way, but '-' is not generally used for joining more than two :
You may go on to say motion-picture house fire, or put an 'adjective' in front of the complete new word, as in sudden motion-picture house fire, or good, cheap, motion-picture house fire-apparatus.
This is an uncommonly fertile field for new ideas in language-making; the only limit being what the public is ready for.
In addition to these simple examples, there are certain words which are made up of two Basic parts --- not necessarily names of things --- but have now got fixed senses or special uses (like into, on page 141). Though the sense is different from what would be the normal suggestion of the parts, the sounds are generally not changed; so they have not been listed as new words among the 850.
Here are some which are used very frequently, and which might give trouble:
away (= at or to some distance). Go away.
become (= come to be). Boys become men.
cupboard (= boards or shelves for cups and other things, with a door). The glasses and spoons are in the cupboard.
income (= amount of money coming in regularly every year, and so on). Incomes go down after a war.
inside (= the side or part which is in). The inside of the house.
into (= to a position in). Go into the house.
outcome (= what comes out as the end of a process, and so on). These events had a sad outcome.
outlet (= way by which anything, for example a force or a liquid, is let out). Music is an outlet for the feelings.
outside = the side or part which is out). The outside of the house.
today (= this day; formed like tomorrow). They will go today.
undertake (= take on work, and so on). They will undertake the building.
upright (= straight up). An upright stick.
without (= not with, not having). He is without a raincoat.
When we have to make it quite clear that an act was done by (or to) one person or group and no other, my, your, its, and our (the owner-forms of I, you, it, and we; see page 170) are put with self or selves : I will do it myself, you yourself say, we saw him ourselves. There is only one 's' in itself, and about he and they we say himself (female form is herself) and themselves.
There is an important group formed by joining one, body (in the special sense of 'person'), thing, and where on to any, every, and some, and all but the first on to no. (Anyone, anybody, everyone, everybody, someone, somebody, nobody, but no one.) In addition, we have anyhow and somehow.
QUESTIONS AND EXAMPLES
In late years a he-man and a yes-man have come into use in some circles. Is the sense of these clear to you?
Fire-apparatus is used to put out a fire by firemen. See what other words come naturally before or after fire (fire dust, coal fire, and so on).
Do the same with face (face-cloth, face-powder, and so on).
There are two or more possible senses for some common complex words. Which of the two senses of snowman would seem most natural to boys playing in the snow?
Why are glass flowers different from flower glasses? (Because you see with an eye-glass, but not with a glass eye.)
What words would you put together to give the sense of : 'doctor', 'pavement', 'perambulator', 'calligraphy,' 'sailor', 'journal'? (medical man, side-walk, baby-carriage, handwriting, seaman, newspaper.)
What in your opinion would be the sense of these : anybody, footnote, good-looking, however, outlook, overcome, undergo, upkeep, downfall, mother-in-law, outline?
3. JOINING WORDS
Put two words together to give this picture a name.
All the statements we have made so far are simple, separate statements, with no expansions or ornaments.
When simple statements come one after the other the effect is like that of a number of jumps. It is much the same as putting the names of things together and letting the other person make the connection between your ideas:
The connection is clear when you are in a meat store; and someone may put a cover on the meat. At a meal, the effect might be to send someone running for medical help. In a Science building, where there may be flies of great value, someone might give help to the fly.
If you say, A fly is on the meat. Poison is on the fly. Take care of that dog ! -- you are doing the same thing with statements ; and a number of different sorts of joining words ('conjunctions') are necessary to overcome the jumping effect.
And and or are used to make the same sort of connections between statements as between words:
I will come and you will go. I may get the money, or it may go to the Government.
But gives a different sort of connection, with a sense like 'on the other side' or 'on the other hand.'
He is happy, but you are sad.
Everyone is happy, but you are sad.
But is used between words as it is between statements.
Everyone is happy but me.
In statements such as :
They say that the dog is dead,
The two parts, The dog is dead and They say that, are clear enough.
That, in addition to its other uses (page 149), is the joining word for all sorts of statements about sayings, opinions, and so on, where there is a connection between the first part and what comes after. The connection is generally clear. We say:
The opinion of the owner is --- the dog is dead.
The dog is dead --- that is the opinion of the owner.
The opinion of the owner is that --- 'the dog is dead.'
The opinion of the owner is that the dog is dead. The only trouble is with past time, where the is becomes was :
The opinion of the owner was that the dog was dead.
But till it is quite clear from examples how the change is made, you may keep the statement in the form, The opinion of the owner was, 'the dog is dead,' by giving the words of the person talking.
There are four other words which are specially used for joining statements:
Because, if, though, while.
Because = for this cause or reason. I will go because he is there.
If = on this condition, chance, or theory (which is in doubt).23
He may be there; and if he is there, I will go.
He may not be there; but If he is there, I will go.
I will go if he is there.
Though = even if it is true (that). The road is wet, though : there was no rain.
While = in the same stretch of time. I will go while he is there.
23. If has come to be used in a general way where there is a doubt or question about something : They are not certain if he is there, but they will see if there is an answer.
Before, after, and till are used in the same sort of way for the purpose of joining two statements; the dependent statement then takes the place of the name of a thing or person.
I will go before the boys.
I will go before the boys get ready.
I will go before you.
I will go before you are ready.
I will go before you come.
He is sad after they go.
He is happy till they go.
Because so has the sense 'in that way' it frequently does the work of a 'conjunction':
I will come; so you may go.
Another group of joining words is made up of when, where, why, and how, which are used in addition for putting questions (see page 166).
- 162 -
I will go when he is there.
I see where the ship is.
He will say why he is angry.
It is not clear how the box got broken.
QUESTIONS AND EXAMPLES
We were able to make the use of that as a 'conjunction' clearer by putting the four stages of its development side by side. The same may be done for the two uses of if :
1. I will go, if the parcel is there (on that condition -- but I am not certain that the parcel will be there).
2. I will see the parcel, if it is there (on that theory --- but it may not be there).
3. I will see if it is there (because I am in doubt).
4. He is not certain if it is there [it may or may not be there).
Do you see the connection between the first two and the last two? And are you clear that they are different? (No sort of stop is necessary before the if in the last two. Why? Because there is no stop in the sense.) In (2), what I will see is the parcel; in (3), what I will see is 'if the parcel is there.' And when it is there I see that (it is there).
Put He was certain that in front of They are in the room if it is true that the door is still shut; and make the necessary changes for past time.
Put joining words between the parts of :
"Men may come --- men may go --- I go on for ever."
"He will have heart-trouble --- he is at work all day, --- a medical man has said, 'Stop!'"
"--- there is no doubt -- it is foolish to put a lock on the cupboard -- the loss of the spoons -- you have no more silver, the lock-maker will not say --- it is a waste of time-the lock is safely fixed. (The words needed are when, after, though, till, that --- but not in that order; one of them is needed twice.)
4. WHO AND WHICH
We have now seen how an expansion of the names of things is possible by the addition of other names of things, and how statements about things may be made longer by the addition of other statements side by side with them or dependent on them. The use of an 'adjective' was the first way of saying something more about a thing; and some 'adjectives,' such as automatic, say more than others.
An 'automatic writing-machine' would be a writing-machine doing its work without the help of men. But a 'writing-machine' is itself a machine for putting signs on paper; and there is clearly a limit to the number of complex ideas which it is possible to put
in this 'adjective' form. If, for example, the machine is 'quick,' we get a 'quick, automatic writing-machine,' and then it would be hard to put in a word like 'electric.' So who and which may take off some of the weight.
Who is used for persons; which is used for things and animals. "I have a tall father" may become : I have a father, who is tall. "I have a small, gray hat" may become : I have a small hat, which is gray.
In the same way, who and which may take the place of and he or and it.
In complex statements formed with who and which it is sometimes necessary, if the sense is to be clear, to make a change in the position of the 'adverbs.' For example, in the statement, I will go with the man who is here now, now seems to say something about 'the man.' To give the sense, 'I will go now,' the 'adverb' would have to be placed after go, to make clear that its connection is with the first part of the statement.
What is used for 'the thing which,' as in I see what is wrong.
QUESTIONS AND EXAMPLES
In the statement, "I will give good, clear, short rules to you," take out one or more of the 'adjectives' with the help of which.
Two whiches may be joined by and. Put which in two places into They have an old monkey, and it is able to get a lock open with a key.
Do you see an 'adjective' which would make it possible to say Here is some water which is at 100 degrees C.
in 5 words?
Make the necessary changes in the statement, This is the cat who was the property of the man which is dead.
Put who or which into the spaces in this story:
There was a story in the newspaper yesterday about a woman . . . . is secretary of a hospital for babies . . . . is on an island. She was at a meeting . . . . was very important, when there was a sudden burst of wind . . . was the cause of the trouble. The records are still in the sea because the only rods . . . . were in the hospital were not long enough to get the papers back.
5. HOW, WHEN, WHERE, AND WHY
We have seen from our simple example of word-order (page 147) that the safe rule for normal 'adverbs' is to put them at the end of a statement or of a part of a statement complete in itself (page 163). But there are some special 'adverbs' whose sense makes it necessary for them to be placed differently. These are of 5 sorts:
1. 'Adverbs' of degree, which come before the word or group of words with which they are used -- it is almost six; I was quite ready; we are very happy. But -- I am old enough.
2. Not (see page 139), which comes after be or the auxiliary- -- I was not happy; he will not come; it was not cold.
3. Joining 'adverbs,' which, like who among the 'pronouns,' are used in making complex statements. These naturally come between the two parts of the statement to which they give the necessary connection -- this is HOW the apparatus is put together; there is a reason WHY he is sad; take this coat WHEN you go; this is WHERE the fire was. For the use of these words in forming questions, see page 166.
4. 'Adverbs' of place which are the names of certain positions in relation to some point, and so are not complete in themselves. If the point in mind is quite clear from the rest of the statement, then there is no need for it to be named, and the 'adverb' is used by itself, as in Do not go far (the sense of far being naturally taken as "far from where you are"). But if it is necessary for the point to be named, then the name of a direction has to be put after the 'adverb' --- from after far (London is far from Tokyo), to after near (We are near to a tea-room), and of after out (They go out of the house).24
5. The two 'adverbs' of time, still and ever. Still, like other such words, may be put at the end of the statement, but when used with be, will, and may, it generally comes after these words, and with the simple past and present of every other 'operation-word' it frequently comes before it : she is still here : I still have this : he will still have that. Ever is generally used with not or in questions. When used with not, it comes after the not wherever this may be. In questions it is placed after the person or thing doing the act -- I do not ever go : have you ever been?
24. Naturally such 'adverbs,' like other 'adverbs,' may have their sense limited by names of directions and so on giving further details of the place or time in question. For example, the boys go out into the street, or far up the mountain, in the same way as events take place early in the morning or late at night. But such additions are clearly different from those noted here as necessary to the sense of the 'adverb.'
QUESTIONS AND EXAMPLES
How would you put these two statements together with the help of an 'adverb':
I have an interest in fiction; there is a reason.
It is time; I will have a meal.
Put almost and near in their right places in the statement : It will be dark when we get to the house. Do the same with quite and enough in : We are happy if we are warm.
Put still and ever where they make the best sense in the statement:
If I have money I will be a friend to the boy.
Put ever and not into the statement:
You take sugar.
Make it into a statement with still.
Quite may be used in two senses. You are quite right = You are completely right. The book is quite good = The book is good but not very good.
What is the sense of : This is quite the wrong answer? Take note of the word order.
Though near and far are opposites in sense, they are not quite parallel in form, because near has a use as a 'preposition,' which far has not. In place of near to we may make use of near by itself : the table is near (to) the wall, the ships go near (to) the land, but we have to say the house is far from the town, the boys will go far up the mountain.
- 166 -
A simple statement using any form of be, will, may, or have, may be made into a question by changing the order in this way : Is sugar sweet? May I have the sugar? 25
With all other names of operations, questions are formed by putting do (or did for past time) before a statement.
Do you take sugar?
Do you come here frequently?
Did they give you a full account of the play?
How, when, where, and why may be put in front of any such question, to get an answer about the way, the place, the time, or the reason of any fact, act, or event.
Why is sugar sweet?
Where is the station?
When will he get the news?
How do you get there?
How frequently do you go?
Who is used for questions about persons.
Who is that?
Who will you give that to? 26
What (or which, when the things are limited to some special group) is used for questions about things.
What is that strange thing?
What will you put in the box?
Which apple will you take?
Which of these is your book?
QUESTIONS AND EXAMPLES
Put in the form of questions:
The ink is dry.
You give money very freely.
They will go tomorrow.
If you have two cats and one of them has been poisoned, would it be right to say:
What is dead? Which is dead ? or Who is dead ?
Here is a story :
On the way to the office in an automobile in the morning, it was necessary to 27 put on the brake suddenly because a man was in the road.
To what questions, then, might these be the answers:
1. Because a man was in the road.
2. On the way to the office.
3. In an automobile.
5. In the morning
6. The brake.
7. A man.
25. The rule is equally true for be and have used as 'auxiliaries' (see pp.171-73) : Have the boxes come ? Were they sent today ?
26. Here we might have put whom (see p. 170), but it is a form which is going out of use.
27. For this use of to, see pp. 208-10.
< Back Next >