Hey everyone! The last topic was on health, and some interesting stuff came up so I wanted to post some notes and tips based on that lesson today!
Part of Speech: intransitive verb
Definitions: slowly/gradually become/change
Example Sentence: Because he didn’t go to the doctor to get treated, his cold developed into bronchitis.
We talked about getting check ups, and the students mentioned that a lot of Japanese people don’t go to the doctor regularly to get check ups. It’s important to do this because often an illness that seems minor can develop into something major.
Not all illnesses happen immediately. Sometimes, over a long period of time, a person goes from being healthy to slowly becoming sick.
Be Held Responsible For vs. Take Responsibility For
We talked about smoking, cigarettes and tobacco companies a little. One question that was brought up was “Should tobacco companies be held responsible for people’s addiction?” One student asked what the difference between be held responsible and take responsibility is.
Let’s look at the two terms a little more closely: be held is a passive verb, but take is an active verb. What does this mean? Well, the conjugation is different of course. But more importantly, a passive verb means the subject isn’t doing anything. The opposite is true: something is being done to the subject. An active verb means the subject is doing something.
So when someone takes responsibility, what are they doing? They are deciding that they are responsible for something. No one is forcing them.
When someone is held responsible, what is happening? Other people have decided that they are responsible for something. They are being forced to take responsibility.
Let’s consider a situation. Person A puts a glass on a table. Person B later bumps into the glass, it falls down and breaks. Person A says “oh, that’s my fault. I shouldn’t have put it there.” In this case, Person A is taking responsibility for the broken glass.
But let’s say Person B says “I’m sorry, I should have been more careful. I’ll pay for the glass.” Now Person B is taking responsibility.
But let’s say Person A says “You broke the glass! You have to pay for it” and Person B says “You’re right. I’m sorry about that.” Now Person B is being held responsible AND taking responsibility for the broken glass.
Finally, let’s say Person A says “You broke the glass! You have to pay for it” but Person B says “It’s not my fault! I didn’t see it there.” Now, Person B is being held responsible for the broken glass but is not taking responsibility for it!
Keep Up vs. Keep On
Another common pair of phrasal verbs I see often confused are keep up and keep on. Both have to do with doing something more than once, but they are a bit different.
Keep Up means maintain or do s/t regularly.
Keep On means continuously do s/t or do s/t without breaks or rest.
For example, if you want to build muscles you have to keep up your exercise. But while you are doing your exercise, don’t give up, keep on doing them until you finish them.
- Keep up the good work and you’ll probably get a promotion soon.
- If you want to get a good grade keep up your studies.
- Don’t give up, keep on trying.
- The Seattle Mariners keep on winning every game, can’t anybody beat them?
Unnatural English: Overuse of Passive Form
I often hear English learners make sentences like “I was taught…” or “I was told…” or “I was given…” and other similar things. These sentences are called passive sentences. Like the passive form “be held responsible” mentioned earlier, they are sentences in which the subject does not do anything, but instead is affected by another action.
While such sentences are grammatically correct and make sense, they sound very unnatural to native English speakers. Native English speakers generally use the active form as much as possible, and only use the passive form in special cases. There are a few reasons why Japanese people often use the passive form, one of them is because in the Japanese language, the subject is often unknown or unimportant. In English, however, the subject is important. When a person or people do the action, it sounds much more natural to use the active form.
So what if you don’t know or don’t remember exactly who did the action, or how many people did the action? The solution is simple: use the pronoun they.
Now, you might be thinking “but they is plural! It means more than one!” This is usually true, but not always! They is also used when we don’t know exactly how many people we are talking about (maybe one, maybe more) or when we don’t know the gender of the person! It’s a very useful pronoun. So instead of the passive form, try using “they” and the active form next time.
- I was given a present. X
- They gave me a present. O
- I was taught English in school. X
- They taught me English in school. O
- I was operated on at a hospital. X
- They operated on me at a hospital. O
Does that make sense? I hope so! If not, feel free to send me a comment or message and let me know if you have any questions! See you all next time.