Tutor profile: Dora M.
Is it really as hard as they say to learn Mandarin?
Actually, no! Starting to learn Mandarin is pretty easy, as the basic grammar of Chinese is very simple. You only need a few characters to get started, and it's easy (and quite satisfying!) to speak in complete sentences from the start. It does get a bit more complicated once you start building your vocabulary and have to remember tones, but by that stage you will already be in love with this amazing language. Writing isn't a huge obstacle, either: nowadays you can easily type characters on your computer or phone, so you won't need to remember all he strokes that make up your character.
How do I do noun-adjective agreement in Italian?
Adjectives always agree with the nouns they define in Italian. If the noun is singular feminine, the adjective will be too, such as in "una bella casa" or "una lunga strada". Many times the ending will tip you off: "bella" and "casa" both end in "a", the typical singular feminine ending. However, you shouldn't always rely on endings, as they can be tricky. It is important to learn the gender of each noun you learn first, so you know that even words like "mano" are actually feminine, and you can agree them correctly ("una mano tesa"). Also, not all adjectives change based on the gender: adjectives like colors ("blu", "verde"), certain indefinites ("ogni", "qualunque") or composite adjectives ("antimacchia") remain the same regardless of the noun they're couples with. Exceptions are many in the Italian language but don't worry: it's just a matter of practice and habit!
Subject: English as a Second Language
Why are everyday words in English so different from scientific or literary terms? And why do we use different words to mean the same thing? For example, why do we say "hand" but for things done by hand we say "manual"?
Because English is originally a Germanic language, but it inherited lots of foreign, mainly Latin-based vocabulary when Rome conquered Britain in the first century AD. When Romans invaded, they established Latin as a prestigious common language, but the locals kept on using their local languages also. This way, Germanic words such as "hand" remained to indicate the everyday thing they named, but the Latin counterpart such as "manus" was used to indicate things relative to hands.
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