Could you switch the TV off, please?

kapika

New Member
Slovak
Hello,

could you help me, please? I have found this sentence in an english classbook and it says it´s wrong, but I can´t figure out why...

Could you switch the TV off, please? - wrong

It was an excercise for phrasal verbs and separating the phrasal verb - a particle. I need the explanation and a rule according to BrE. I thought I can say it like that according to the rule - if the object is a pronoun, the particle must go after it. But in that sentence it isn´t a pronoun but an object....so...? Thank you.
 
  • Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    The error is "could" because that is not a request, so no "please". In real life, of course, it is used as a request.
     

    User With No Name

    Senior Member
    English (U.S. - Texas)
    The error is "could" because that is not a request, so no "please". In real life, of course, it is used as a request.
    Even in the very strange world of multiple-choice language exams, I have trouble imagining that "Could you switch the TV off, please?" would be considered incorrect.

    Are they going for "switch off"?

    (In the U.S., "turn off the TV" would be much more common.)
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    You can think of "off" as part of the verb phrase "switch off," in which case the two words should be kept together - but you can also think of "off" as the state to which the TV should be switched. In that case there is no reason to keep the two words together. Apparently the writers of this question only thought about the first possibility. (Perhaps they were influenced by the fact that it appears in a unit on phrasal verbs.) However, the second way of thinking about it is just as valid.

    If you got this wrong and it might affect your grade in a course, show this thread to your teacher.
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    ...

    Could you switch the TV off, please? - wrong

    It was an exercise for phrasal verbs and separating the phrasal verb - a particle. I need the explanation and a rule according to BrE. I thought I can say it like that according to the rule - if the object is a pronoun, the particle must go after it. But in that sentence it isn´t a pronoun but an object....so...? Thank you.

    I think the "rule" you describe says the following:

    (a) Could you switch off the TV, please? (correct according to your book)

    (b) Could you switch the TV off, please? (incorrect according to your book)

    (c) Could you switch it off, please? (correct according to your book)

    (d) Could you switch off it, please? (incorrect according to your book)


    In British English a, b, and c are correct. d is incorrect. The rule doesn't work in this case.
     

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    English - SSBE Standard British
    This 'rule' seems to be the product of some kind of spurious reasoning along the lines of: "Fish can swim in water. Cats can climb trees. Fish can't climb trees. This animal is cat. I therefore conclude that this animal can't swim."

    Sometimes grammar books try too hard to make iron-clad binary-style rules. Someone looked at some sentences like these and tried to make a rule about separable phrasal verbs:

    1. Could you switch it off? :thumbsup:
    Fact: We use the verb+object+particle pattern with pronouns :tick:

    2. Could you switch off it? :thumbsdown:
    Fact: We can't use the verb+particle+object pattern with pronouns :tick:

    3. Could you switch off the TV? :thumbsup:
    Fact: We use the verb+particle+object pattern with 'full' nouns :tick:

    Assumption:

    We can't use the verb+object+particle pattern with 'full' nouns :cross:


    The fact that verb+particle+object pattern is used with the 'full' noun (3) and can't be used with a pronoun (2) does not necessarily mean that the verb+object+ particle pattern can only be used with pronouns. Just as it's possible for an animal to be able to both climb trees and swim, it is possible for 'the TV' to be used with both patterns:

    4. Could you switch the TV off? :thumbsup:

    I can only assume the textbook writer, in a misguided attempt to make things simple for students and to avoid them making errors, presented the separable verb 'rule' as a cut-and-dried "fish swim: cats climb" situation. I can see the logic in this: if students always use verb+particle+object with full nouns and verb+object+particle with pronouns, they're not going to get it wrong. That's all well and good ... until you meet a swimming cat.
     
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    kapika

    New Member
    Slovak
    Thank you all for your replies...ok, so you´ve just assuared me that it´s correct...but I am the teacher so I do not know how to explain this to my students...shall I say that there is a mistake in an Oxford classbook??? :confused: :eek: haha I cannot afford to do that...:rolleyes: I do not understand that...there are given examples and grammar rules about separating phrasal verbs in their classbook:

    John switched on the radio.
    John switched the radio on.
    John switched it on.
    John switched on it. - only this one is stated as incorrect

    But then in that excercise in their workbook is this sentence : "Could you switch the TV off, please." stated as wrong...hm...:confused:
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    ... shall I say that there is a mistake in an Oxford classbook?...

    John switched on the radio.
    John switched the radio on.
    John switched it on.
    John switched on it. - only this one is stated as incorrect

    But then in that excercise exercise in their workbook is this sentence : "Could you switch the TV off, please." stated as wrong...hm...:confused:

    Sometimes there are errors in text books. It happens quite a lot. What is the name of this book? Do you have a link to the text in question? It is quite possible that someone has already notified this error to the publishers and, if you go on their website, you may find corrections that have been made.

    P.S. Note the spelling of "exercise"
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    Thank you all for your replies...ok, so you´ve just assuared me that it´s correct...but I am the teacher so I do not know how to explain this to my students...shall I say that there is a mistake in an Oxford classbook??? :confused: :eek: haha I cannot afford to do that...:rolleyes: I do not understand that...there are given examples and grammar rules about separating phrasal verbs in their classbook:

    John switched on the radio.
    John switched the radio on.
    John switched it on.
    John switched on it. - only this one is stated as incorrect

    But then in that excercise in their workbook is this sentence : "Could you switch the TV off, please." stated as wrong...hm...:confused:
    What are the students supposed to be practicing in that exercise? If the students are supposed to practice the idea of keeping both parts of a phrasal verb together, then one could say that in that exercise where they are practicing phrasal verbs it's not the right answer for that exercise.
    I can imagine that it would be good first to understand phrasal verbs by keeping the two parts together before progressing to the alternative of separating them.
     

    kapika

    New Member
    Slovak
    Sometimes there are errors in text books. It happens quite a lot. What is the name of this book? Do you have a link to the text in question? It is quite possible that someone has already notified this error to the publishers and, if you go on their website, you may find corrections that have been made.

    P.S. Note the spelling of "exercise"
    The name of the classbook is English Plus 3 - Sheila Dignen, Oxford, there is a printscreen attachced from an online library of those Oxford classbooks...and thank you for your help and correction of my mistake...:)
     
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