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How Do You Explain this?
« on: November 27, 2018, 07:50:27 am »
A few students came to me and asked how the two sentences can have different verb tenses at the end, and I didn't have an answer. The two examples they showed me were:

The cat was lying down with its eyes open.
The cat was lying down with its legs crossed.

How come you can't say "cross?" Any decent explanations would be greatly appreciated as this will most likely be something they will argue with their teachers over if it gets marked incorrect.


  • kyndo
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 5111

    • March 03, 2011, 09:45:24 am
    • Gyeongsangbuk-do
Re: How Do You Explain this?
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2018, 08:02:38 am »

In this sentence, "cross"is dynamic  . It's an action that happens in a moment. This moment has already happened, therefore past tense is used.

In this sentence, "open" is stative: it describes an ongoing state, therefor present tense is appropriate.


Also, both "open" and "crossed" are acting as adjectives in these sentences, so different tense laws apply.


Re: How Do You Explain this?
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2018, 08:41:59 am »
Yep, the same reason why we say 'the shop is open' and 'the shop is closed.' Different adjective forms.


  • rep300
  • Veteran

    • 116

    • March 24, 2011, 08:10:25 am
    • Northern Japan
Re: How Do You Explain this?
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2019, 12:53:24 pm »
agree with above

eggieguffer
Teach Hard!


Re: How Do You Explain this?
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2019, 04:00:42 pm »
I think the simplest way to express what's going on in the two sentences would be to say that open can be an adjective as well as a verb (like the dictionary tells us), so when we want to express the state of something being open, we don't need to change it, and can just put the state-of-being verb in front of it the way it is.

On the other hand, cross (as in 'to cross one's legs') is only a verb, but we need an adjective in order to express the state of something being crossed. The meaning of the adjective cross (as in 'upset' or 'angry') does not seem to be related to the verb cross, and has entirely the wrong meaning for our purpose anyway.

However, past tenses past participles of verbs often function as adjectives when no other adjective with that particular meaning is available, so in order to express the state of something being crossed, we simply put it in the past tense participle and put the state-of-being verb in front of it.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 04:06:31 pm by yuryeong_hwoesa »