Friday, November 30, 2007

Adjective Opposites

When do you use "dis-", "un-", "in-", "im-" or "-less" to form the opposite of an adjective? Do you say "unhonest" or "dishonest"?

You know the right answer partly from your reading and general experience of English. But now I can introduce you to a very useful tool: The Virtual Language Center in Hong Kong.

The VLC has a web site which enables you to search a large body of text for examples of English words and expressions as they are really used. You type in a search word, specify the body of text which you wish to search - and the computer will display all occurences of the word down the middle of the screen with the context sentence displayed to either sode of the word.

Here's an example. I went to the VLC and set my word specification, "starts with", then typed in "dis".

arents' Association for Pre- school Disabled Children, the Spastics Associa
said he recognised the defendant's dishonest business partner had left him
recover $82,000, the amount of a dishonoured cheque for one month's rent.
is large enough to accommodate disinfected items such as a telephone,
rested two men and three women for disorderly conduct, resisting arrest,
left the scene in a confused and disorganised fleet. It is the Crown's ca
byline} By JIMMY LEUNG A DISQUALIFIED contestant in this year's
establish a right for appeal for dissatisfied clients; {para} guarantee
Of course, you will have to search through a lot of words beginning with "dis" that are not opposite adjectives, but that is a useful test for you!
And you may make some new discoveries. For example, we teach that the plural of "person" is "people". But does "persons" exist? Go to the VLC and find out.
And as always please please leave a comment!
Post-scriptum for Level 4:
This follows last Thursday's lesson on page 74. It'son the BBC web site. Read it and leave a comment.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

Seeing into the VLC website it seems that the "persons" word can be used in a lot of cases. Please see below:

ian government office for displaced persons, about 10 per cent of the populati
2 n had been caused when well- known persons agreed to support one candidate but
3 telephone calls from unidentified persons and had ``no option but to move''.
4 ra} The company, Outstanding Young Persons' Association, has sought a declarati
5 t news about the handover of wanted persons by China can be made public,'' he s
6 nd Article 11 set out the rights of persons charged with, or convicted of, crim
7 he PR company tried to do. Disabled persons have the basic human right to enter
8 ges. {para} ``Assuming the old age persons' home is responsible, there is very
9 charge of endangering the safety of persons in a vessel by an unlawful act. {pa
10 s and requirements of all the other persons involved in the litigation.
See you tomorrow,
Rossella 4b course