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Stephanie F.
English, Spanish, and ESOL tutor
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Spanish
TutorMe
Question:

What is the difference in usage between the past tense in spanish (preterito) and imperfect tense (imperfecto)? When should you use each tense in Spanish conversation? ex.) yo comí. (preterito) yo estaba comiendo (imperfecto)

Stephanie F.
Answer:

The past and imperfect tenses in Spanish are comparable to the past and past progressive tenses in English. In Spanish, just like in English, we use the past tense to refer to an event in the past tense that happened once, and finished in the past. ex.) yo comí. - I ate. It has no continuous action, nor does it have an effect in the future or present tense. However, we use the imperfect tense in Spanish similarly to how we use the past progressive in English. ex.) yo estaba comiendo. - I was eating. We use the imperfect tense to refer to a continuous action in the past that was INTERRUPTED or stopped by another action. For example, I could say " I was eating when you called." Notice how I use a continuous action in my first verb, and then use a past tense in my second usage of the verb. This is the same idea in Spanish. In other words- preterito- an event that happened in the past, once, and is now over. It has no continuous action or effect in the future. (kind of like a picture that you took yesterday) imperfecto- a continous action in the past that is interrupted by something else. (kind of like a video that you took yesterday)

Writing
TutorMe
Question:

Which of the following thesis statements would create a stronger essay for an argumentative paper? 1.) Soccer is the most widely played sport on the international level, making it the best and most important sport in the world. 2.) Children who get involved in team sports from a young age are more likely to have greater self-confidence and form better interactive relationships with others in adulthood.

Stephanie F.
Answer:

Of the two essay thesis statements, the second would create a much stronger and tighter argument than the first. The reasons are as follows: 1.) There is no need to discuss or prove that soccer is the most widely played sport on the international level, since it is generally well-known that soccer is more popular than other sports around the world. When creating an argumentative essay (especially for a classroom setting), it is not a feasible goal to prove or disprove well-known facts or fallacies. 2.) Using the word "best" and "most important" or actually rather weak words when given a limited page number or word count (which is usually the case academically). You will notice in the second thesis statement, there are very specific and attainable argument points (greater self-confidence and interactive relationships) that can be proven in a shorter amount of time. In order to "prove" that soccer is the "best" sport, you would need more than an academic paper can provide. 3.) The more limited the topic, the better the argument. In other words, discussing the positive effects of team sports on children is a MUCH smaller target than ALL the sports in the world against soccer. When we have less material to focus on, we can find the clearest and most effective points to prove our point.

English
TutorMe
Question:

What is the difference between the use of the word "reading" in the following three sentences? 1.) Reading is my favorite hobby. 2.) Johnny was reading on the porch. 3.) Reading quietly, the student wasn't listening to his classmate.

Stephanie F.
Answer:

It is important to have a correct grammatical understanding of not only the parts of speech in a sentence, but also the function of those parts of speech. In the three sentences provided, the same word, "reading" (which, if left on its own, would almost always be considered a verb) actually has three separate functions. 1.) Reading is my favorite hobby. In this case, the word "reading" is actually functioning as the SUBJECT of the sentence, and NOT the verb. In this special case, we have what is called a "verbal", or more specifically, a gerund. This is a verb form ending in -ing which is used as a noun in the sentence. This is an example of when we would use this traditional verb "reading" as a noun. 2.) Johnny was reading on the porch. This is probably the easiest and most traditional use of the word "reading." In this sentence, "reading" is being used as a verb. It is actually in the past progressive tense, which is when we would use the -ing ending along with the past helping verb. 3.) Reading quietly, the student wasn't listening to his classmate. In this example, the best way to explain the function of the word "reading" is to determine what its purpose is in the sentence. In this sentence, "reading" is referring to the student who isn't listening to his classmate. In other word, while it does refer to the action of reading, it is actually DESCRIBING a noun. What else describes nouns? That's right, adjectives! In this instance, we have another verbal. More specifically, we would call this a participle, which is a verb form used as an adjective. Participles most often end in -ing, -ed, or -en.

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