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英語の文法と語法の質問〜3

英語を勉強している方のためのフォーラムです。練習のために英語の文章を投稿してもかまわなく、英語の文法・語彙に関する質問をしてもけっこうです。

Re: 英語の文法と語法の質問〜3

Postby NileCat » Wed 10.21.2009 2:05 pm

I was wondering if I could ask you a question. Please allow me to revive this thread.

His last words were "I love you". <--- It seems fine to me. But I have no idea if the following sentences sound ok.

a) His last word was "ok".
b) His last words were, "ok".
c) His last words was "ok".
d) His last words were, only "ok".
e) His last words were, actually it was only a word, "ok".
.....
z) He only said "ok" as his last words.

(The listener has been already informed about his death.)
(The dead guy was known as a strange person.)

Can I convey the meaning by using one of those sentences?
I'm not a last word freak though.
Thank you.


EDIT:
Let me explain. Reviewing it, I found my question seems too weird.

Recently, a forum member's opinion made me feel I needed to study the basic English grammar again. Then, I took a look at a textbook for beginners. The first example sentences in the book were:

"This is a pen."
"These are pens."

I found out that I didn't understand the concept of the plural properly.
I thought, maybe wrongly, like this:

If I deliberately say: These are pen.
I could mean: These are some products that each of them is usually called a pen.

If I deliberately say: It is pens.
I could mean: It is a group comprised of some pens.

Then, I got hopelessly lost. I looked for some learning materials for my questions in vain. In the course of the search, I came across the expressions "a last word in an argument" and "someone's last words".
The former means a group of words, not a single word, and the latter also means a group of words. But the meanings of those two expressions are different. Because they are idiomatic expressions. I understand the concept. However, what would happen if the group was comprised of just one single word? The latter can maintain the original meaning or not? That is my question.
Any advice would be highly appreciated. If I'm totally wrong, please just tell me so.
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Re: 英語の文法と語法の質問〜3

Postby becki_kanou » Wed 10.21.2009 7:03 pm

NileCat wrote:I was wondering if I could ask you a question. Please allow me to revive this thread.

His last words were "I love you". <--- It seems fine to me. But I have no idea if the following sentences sound ok.

a) His last word was "ok".
b) His last words were, "ok".
c) His last words was "ok".
d) His last words were, only "ok".
e) His last words were, actually it was only a word, "ok".
.....
z) He only said "ok" as his last words.


Wow, this is a really difficult question.
The discrepency between singular and plural makes all of them seem off. I would say that while they all sound kind of weird, e is the best of a bad lot.

I would probably rephrase it all together and say something like: "The last thing he said before he died was "ok"."
そうだ、嬉しいんだ、生きる喜び!
例え胸の傷が痛んでも。
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Re: 英語の文法と語法の質問〜3

Postby Hyperworm » Wed 10.21.2009 7:24 pm

I think I would accept b.
It is tricky though.

e is a reasonable workaround, though I'd use "one" instead of "a", and I'm not sure about the punctuation.
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Re: 英語の文法と語法の質問〜3

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 10.21.2009 8:10 pm

I don't see what's wrong with "a" -- to me, "ok" is one word.

I think also there may be a problem here because "last words" can be taken as sort of idiomatic; I don't see anything wrong with (d) because I read that as "last words" being taken not necessarily as literally multiple words, but just the concept of last words.
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Re: 英語の文法と語法の質問〜3

Postby becki_kanou » Wed 10.21.2009 8:46 pm

Hyperworm wrote:I think I would accept b.
It is tricky though.

e is a reasonable workaround, though I'd use "one" instead of "a", and I'm not sure about the punctuation.


I agree with this. "One" sounds much better than "a" here.
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Re: 英語の文法と語法の質問〜3

Postby JaySee » Thu 10.22.2009 1:50 am

I agree with Yudan about the phrase having become somewhat idiomatic. While (a) is obviously grammatically correct, it does sound a bit strange because the phrase is 'last words', not 'last word'. If you assume that 'last words' has become so much of a set phrase that it doesn't necessarily have to be the case anymore that more than one word is spoken, (b) would also be ok. In fact, thinking about it, to me (b) probably sounds better than (a). (c) sounds incorrect because of the incongruence in number between the verb and the subject.

I agree with Becki though that if you want to avoid changing the 'idiom', it's probably best to rephrase the sentence altogether.
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Re: 英語の文法と語法の質問〜3

Postby NileCat » Fri 10.23.2009 4:08 pm

Thank you everyone.
I think I need some time to digest them. (Maybe it would take a year or so, at least.) But your answers are priceless. :)
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Re: 英語の文法と語法の質問〜3

Postby Infidel » Sat 10.24.2009 2:01 pm

Interesting. Of course this also made me think of the phrase, "He always has to have the last word." which is, of course, talking about an entirely different kind of last word.

But maybe not, as the last word can be the final word of agreement as well. So this could also be an excerpt from a discussion about a guy that always has to have the last word in an argument. Who literally won't shut up until the other person gives up and remains silent.

a - this is wrong for punctuation reasons and may be a simple typo on NileCat's part.

So if I saw this on a test because of the missing comma in a, I'd choose e. But by ear, a is the best sounding. e- the change of emphasis to "words were" to "a word" does happen, but most people if emphasizing the singular would stress the "a" or use "one" instead. E.g, "His last words were, actually it was only one word, 'ok'." or "His last words were, actually it was only a word, 'ok'." So without the stress in e, and with a comma in a, I'd choose a.
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さっぱりわからん。
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