英会話ワンポイントレッスン27. トーク・アベニュー新宿 Nouns which are always plural

For most nouns in the English language, adding an "s" to the end of the singular version of a noun creates a plural version. In this way, one dog becomes two dogs...one shirt becomes three shirts...etc. It is a very basic concept of any language to indicate specifically when you have more than one of something by changing the noun's form.

Some commonly used clothing nouns, however, have no singular/plural forms. They are used in an uncountable way naturally and as such appear in only a form which appears plural. For example:
  • clothes
  • pants
  • glasses
  • shorts

The above nouns can be made plural by adding a counter, i.e. 2 pairs of pants, 4 boxes of pants, etc. However, one cannot say that they have five clothes, two pants, one pant, etc. These would all be incorrect grammatically and would likely not be understood by the person to whom you are speaking.

It is, however, very common to hear non-native speakers talking about their "clotheses", or "pantses". Be aware that this is wrong, and remember that if you do want to make them plural, you must add a plural counter, such as "pairs", "items", "units", "boxes", etc.

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英会話ワンポイントレッスン26. トーク・アベニュー新宿  "A" vs "The"

"A" vs. "The"

Many English students have trouble with when to use "a", and when to use "the". It seems like a small thing to worry about, but there is a very big difference and misuse can result in confusion in conversations.

"A" is used to introduce a noun into a conversation for the first time. "A" indicates a single noun, whereas if the noun is plural, "a" is not used. For example:
I bought a new camera.
I bought two new cameras.
"A" also becomes "An" when places before words that begin with a vowel sounds (a,e,i,o,u).
I bought an orange at the supermarket.
I spent an hour watching television.
"The" is used in place of "a":
After the noun has been introduced to the listener and is being referred to a second time. Example: I took a camera with me to the top of the mountain, but the camera didn't have batteries.
With nouns of which there is only one. Example: I want to clean up the environment on the moon.
With nouns which represent a larger institution or concept for a place. Examples: the post office, the hospital, the army, the park, the beach
With many location names and in the names of countries which have a plural feeling. Examples: The United States, The Phillipines, The Mediterranean Sea, The Cayman Islands
Here are some more examples which show the proper uses of "a" and "the":

I ate at a restaurant in Shibuya. (First time being introduced, and the listener does not know which restaurant precisely)
I at at the restaurant in Shibuya near your house. (First time introduced, but the listener likely knows exactly which restaurant this is.)

I want a new phone. (Non-specific about what type of phone; listener does not know which model. Perhaps the speaker has not decided which model yet.)
I want the new model of phone from Sony. (Specific, and the listener likely knows which model is being talked about.)

Using "a" and "the" correctly is an important step to becoming an effective English communicator. Do your best, and remember that it is an important difference!

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英会話ワンポイントレッスン25. トーク・アベニュー新宿 ”Bare vs. Barely”

"Bare" and "Barely" might look like they are similar words, but they actually have very different meanings.

"Bare" can be used as a verb or an adjective, and it is related to the idea of something being "exposed", "nude", or "uncovered". For example:
  1. Be careful not to touch the bare electrical wires after you open the power box.
  2. Women are not allowed to bare their heads in public in some countries of the world.
  3. The scientist spilled a chemical on his bare skin and quickly washed it off.
Barely, however, has an entirely different meaning. Barely means that something happened, but it almost didn't happen.

For example: "I barely missed the train" might mean that you were running up the stairs as the train doors close. Perhaps you were ten seconds too late, and missed the train. You barely missed the train

We use barely in a way that makes it the opposite of "almost".

For example: "I almost missed the train" means that you were close to missing the train, but you did not. You were maybe five seconds early, and entered the train as the door was closing behind you. You almost missed the train, but didn't.

"I barely missed the train" means the opposite. It means that you did miss the train, but were close to being on time.

Be careful with words such as bare and barely, which may look similar, but which in fact are very different from each other in meaning.

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