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Tutor profile: Ethan B.

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Ethan B.
German/Spanish tutor with 3 years experience
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Questions

Subject: Spanish

TutorMe
Question:

What's the difference between 'ser' and 'estar'?

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Ethan B.
Answer:

Well, for starters, they both mean 'to be'. But 'ser' is used when it's something much more permanent and 'estar' in situations that are more temporary or changing. Quite simply, 'ser' is permanent and 'estar' is temporary'. 'Mi padre está en el coche.' My dad's in the car. He's only temporarily in the car, though. He won't be there for ever. So, 'estar' is used. Meanwhile, 'mi padre es inglés'. My dad's English. He's always been English, he's going to always be English. That's permanent. So, we use 'ser'. Yes, of course, there are some situations where people change nationality in their lives, but Spanish sticks to the most obvious idea. Nationality is permanent. Dad being in the car is not. Let's practise with a few more sentences, shall we? See if it makes more sense.

Subject: German

TutorMe
Question:

What are the cases in German?

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Ethan B.
Answer:

There are four cases in German: nominative, accusative, genitive and dative. And they all serve different purposes. Nominative is used for the subject of the sentence. It's the standard one which you'll find when you look words up in dictionaries. 'Der Mann singt.' 'Der Mann' is the subject. It's in nominative. You'll use accusative for the direct object of the sentence. 'Der Mann singt das Lied'. 'Das Lied' is the direct object, so it's in the accusative case; it is having something directly done to it - the man is singing it. Genitive quite simply shows possession. You could simply translate it as 'of'. 'Die Chef meines Freundes'. Or the boss of my friend. My friend's boss. 'Meines Freundes' is in the accusative because it is after the 'of', using the 'boss of my friend' logic. Dative is used for the indirect object. 'Ich gebe dem Hund seine Leine' (I give the dog his lead). You are giving the lead to the dog. You're giving the lead, so that's accusative - that's a direct object, but you're giving it to the dog, so he's the indirect object. Follow? Let's try one using all of them in one sentence: 'Ich gebe dem Hund die Leine meines Freundes'. Ich = nominative, I am the subject. Die Leine is being given to the dog. It's the direct object. So, it's accusative. Dem Hund is to whom the lead is being given. He's the indirect object and is in the dative. But, it's my friend's lead. The lead of my friend. So, 'meines Freundes' is in the genitive. We'll practise a few times more before we get you going on your own for a bit.

Subject: English as a Second Language

TutorMe
Question:

How do you form superlative and comparitive adjectives?

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Ethan B.
Answer:

If your adjective (word that describes a noun) only has one syllable, usually we just add 'er' to make the comparitive and 'est' to make the superlative. For example: cold -> colder -> coldest. If there is a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) followed by a consonant, we often double the consonant, as is the case here: big -> bigger -> biggest. If it ends in 'e', we don't need to add another 'e', just the 'r'. Large -> larger -> largest. 'Y' often changes to 'i', if it comes at the end of the adjective. Dry -> drier -> driest. However, some adjectives that are one syllable have to take 'more' plus the adjective, like right -> more right -> most right (not right, righter, rightest). That is generally the rule for adjectives with two or more syllables too. Careful -> more careful -> most careful. Expensive -> more expensive -> most expensive. However, some two syllable adjectives can also take 'er' or 'est'. Take 'clever', for instance: clever -> cleverer -> cleverest or clever -> more clever -> most clever. Like with everything in English, there are always exceptions. These you just need to learn: good -> better -> best; bad -> worse -> worst; much -> more -> most; far -> further -> furthest; little -> less -> least. Don't worry if you don't follow all that right now. We'll do some practice first before setting you off on your own.

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