2月 28

okinawa_feb28“My grandfather is very old.”

“We drove past my old school.”

Is “old” a gradable adjective or not? It must be, because it has “very” before it in the first sentence above. However, it isn’t gradable in the second sentence. The school might be a very new school, but when you have moved to a different school it is now your “old school”. Here “old” has a different meaning: “former”.




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2月 25

feb25trooperAlthough “trooper” originally refers to a military or police rank, it has also acquired another meaning: someone (not necessarily police or military) who overcomes a tough situation, or who does something tedious or strenuous without complaining. It’s often a compliment about someone’s strength of character. Example: The boy endured the 4-hour medical procedure without crying once. What a trooper.

Trooper (兵士)は、元々は軍や警察の階級ですが、もうひとつの意味ができました。それは、(軍人や警察でなくても)文句を言わずに辛い状況を乗り越える、もしくはつらい仕事を成し遂げる人という意味です。品性についての褒め言葉です。(例)少年が一度も泣かずに4時間の手術を我慢した。なんて我慢強い子なんだ。

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2月 21

okinawa_feb21“My wife uses an electronic dictionary, but I prefer a paper dictionary.”

Here “electronic” and “paper” are used as adjectives. They show which category the dictionaries belong to. Because a dictionary cannot be “just a little bit electronic”, these adjectives are not gradable.



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2月 18

feb18bluffThe word “bluff” has different meanings, but as a verb it usually means when a person lies or deceives, often about his or her ability or willingness to do something. This verb is often associated with the card game “Poker,” as sometimes players will bet money to try to fool others into thinking they have high-value cards.

Bluff という単語には色々な意味がありますが、動詞として使う場合は、人が自分の能力や、これからの行動についてウソをついたり騙したりすることです。また、トランプのポーカーに関する単語で、いいカードを持っていると思わせようとして掛け金をつりあげることです。

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2月 14

okinawa_feb14“My wife is pregnant.”

“This cicada is dead.”

You can’t be only a little bit pregnant. Generally, you are either pregnant or not. You also can’t be “very dead” or “just kind of dead”. Since it isn’t normal to put words like “very” or “a little” in front of these adjectives, they are non-gradable.




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2月 07

okinawa_feb7“Wow, your house is really big. It’s huge!”

“Big” is a gradable adjective. Something can be kind of big, or really big. “Huge” is not gradable. “Huge” means “extremely big” already, so the “grade” is built in. If it’s big enough to be huge, then it is huge. If it’s not quite big enough to be called “huge”, it’s just not huge.



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2月 04

feb4Remember last week, when we defined what a toll is? There’s an expression commonly used in English that uses the word “toll”. We might say that something that causes damage, suffering, or even death “takes its toll” or “takes a heavy toll” on something else. Example: Heavy smoking and drinking will usually take its toll on a person’s health.

先週、 toll という単語をご紹介しましたよね?英語ではこの単語を使った表現がよくあります。「損害」「痛み」「死」を引き起こすことを takes its toll (打撃を受ける)または takes a heavy toll (多くの犠牲を出す)といったように表現します。(例)タバコやアルコーは健康に悪影響を及ぼします。

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