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talk politely to people

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by platypuck, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. platypuck

    platypuck Senior Member

    Zamora, Spain
    Spain Spanish
    After so many years and so many changes I don't know what to believe anymore. for years I've been telling my kids to say "I speak good English" but "I speak English well" (the difference between adjective and adverb placing) and now I have just found "I always talk politely to people" in a text book. Is it grammatically correct or am I right in thinking that an adverb of manner should always be placed after the direct object?
     
  2. Tazzler Senior Member

    Maryland
    American English
    Hello. It's not the direct object. Direct objects are never introduced by "to". I don't know what to call it specifically, but "to people" functions as an adverb. You could switch it with "politely" and get the same meaning as well.
     
  3. platypuck

    platypuck Senior Member

    Zamora, Spain
    Spain Spanish
    Thanks for such a quick answer. I'm not overly concerned with it being strictly a "direct" object. What I meant was that the verb "to talk" has a much more direct link to the recipient of the action than to the manner in which you do it. In much the same manner as you would say "I was in Madrid/with her for three days" but "I spent three days in Madrid/with her").
    Thanks a lot.
     
  4. Tazzler Senior Member

    Maryland
    American English
    Oh, I see, well it's still an adverbial and placement of adverbials is relatively free.
     
  5. Milton Sand

    Milton Sand Modómano, 'mano

    Bucaramanga, Colombia
    Español (Colombia)
    Hola:
    Creo que se trata del tipo de verbo: En «to speak English», el verbo es transitivo e «English» es su direct object. En cambio, en «to talk to people», el verbo es intransitivo y «to people» es el indirect prepositional object . Otro ejemplo:

    I sing a jingle loudly to you.<—Verbo transitivo. La ejecución de la acción me incluye a mí y al jingle; después, decimos cómo; tú eres un destinatario.
    I sing loudly to you. <—Verbo intransitivo. La acción me incluye a mí solo; después, decimos cómo; tú eres un destinatario.

    Saludos,
    ;)
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
  6. SevenDays Senior Member

    Spanish
    Yes, you are right in that adverbs of manner should be placed after the direct object, but "to people" is not a direct object. "To people" is a prepositional phrase functioning as complement to the intransitive verb "talk." Adverb placement is flexible because adverbs modify just about everything (verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, sentences), so you can move "politely" based on the intended emphasis, so you can say I always talk politely to people (emphasis on "talk") or I always talk to people politely (emphasis on "to people"). Adjectives, however, are fixed in their placement: they come before nouns (with some rare exceptions), which is why we say I speak good English.
     
  7. srb62 Senior Member

    Scotland
    British English
    SevenDays - I hope what I'm about to say doesn't come across as 'picky' or 'one-upmanship' - I say it only because your English is very good and my comment might be interesting.

    In my view, in the sentences above, I don't think 'talk' and 'to people' would usually be emphasized.
    Rather, I feel either 'always' (the most likely) or 'politely' would be emphasized.
    My rational is that for something to be emphasized it must be comparable/worthy of noting.
    I'd be interested to see if others felt the same.
     
  8. srb62 Senior Member

    Scotland
    British English
    SevenDays, I forgot one other possibility would be to stress the 'I', giving you these possibilities:
    I always talk politely to people (contrasting the fact that you do talk politely, but others don't)
    I always talk politely to people (stressing that this is something you always do)
    I always talk politely to people (emphasizing your politeness - perhaps in response to some suggesting you can be rude)

    Of course, it's possible to emphasize more than one element in the same sentence - but not usually, I would say, the two options you suggest.
    Hope that's useful - stress/emphasis is one of the most difficult elements for non-native speakers, but also very important for speaking good, natural-sounding English.
     
  9. SevenDays Senior Member

    Spanish
    I've thought about your suggestions, and, well, I can't disagree. In fact, just the opposite; I'm glad you've added that native-perspective, which is very useful.
    Cheers
     

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