Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

Adjectives and nouns

One of the things Amy has trouble with in English is expressing that two things have the same degree of a certain quality.

That’s because in German, you use an adjective comparison, while in English, you usually use the associated noun: meaning you have to learn two words. And the noun isn’t used as often as the adjective, so they’re less likely to be in her active vocabulary.

To explain what I mean, consider two boys, John and Paul, both of whom are 1.68 m tall. You could say that “John is as tall as Paul” (using the adjective “tall”), but if you want to use “same”, then it becomes “John and Paul are the same size” (using the noun “size” instead).

In German, the first sentence would be “Hans ist genauso groß wie Paul” and the second would be “Hans und Paul sind gleich groß”.

The second way feels more natural to me in German, but it’s structured differently from the English example: it doesn’t use an adjective (“same”) but rather an adverb: a bit like saying “John and Paul are equally tall”—which is possible in English, but doesn’t feel as idiomatic to me.

So whereas in German, you simply learn one adverb (“gleich”) and can then say “equally tall, equally fast, equally far, equally heavy”, in English, you need separate nouns for everything: “the same size, the same speed, the same distance, the same weight”.

Tags: amy, language
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