Tricky Words in this week's OVI
Some tricky grammar this time - reported (indirect) speech in English. Let's say we "know the rule" that we shift the verb tense back into the past. "I am sure the
cooperation has become more intensive" shifts to: He said he was sure the cooperation had become more intensive. The verbs shift into the past to maintain the sequence of events as they really
happened, because in the spoken sentence they are reversed. In reality, first the cooperation became more intensive, and only later he said he was sure it had (ešte predtým) become more
It's the same with past conditionals: If I had known = Keby som bol vedel (ešte predtým, než som otvoril ústa)… But reporting speech about the future is different. "I
hope we will continue to work together" shifts to: He expressed the hope that they would continue to work together. "Will" changes to "would" because reported speech is less certain than direct
speech. Hope is always about the future, so the Slovak version is still: "vyslovil nádej, že huta i obec budú naďalej spolupracovať".
The question this week is about short English words that sound alike, e.g. "to land" and "to lend", or "lend" and "lent". The first issue is how to cope with them in
speaking, and my answer is: Focus on the length of the vowel sound (dĺžka samohlásky). It's like the difference between "súd" and "sud" in Slovak (Vychodniari, please try harder!). Say "la-and",
but say "lend", and (relatively) say "le-end", but say "lent".
Luckily we don't often have to say these words close together - maybe only if the hotel beds are really bad (say ba-ad). The second issue is the meaning of the words,
and here the answer is to learn TWO Slovak translations for each English word - so "lent" means "požičal(a)", but "Lent" means "pôst", forty days to Easter. Then think about the CONTEXT. Please
send questions about English language habits to email@example.com, and I will choose one to answer each week.