Michel Thomas' straight and broken lines | Specific language questions | Forum
September 19, 2011
I'm currently listening to Michel Thomas' Italian lessons (again) and I'm having a bit of trouble wrapping my brain around something. When he's discussing the past tense, he mentions that there is (what he calls) a straight line into the past and a broken line into the past. For whatever reason, I don't think I really understand the difference between the two. Apparently English doesn't really differentiate between the two. I've listened to it a few times, and I hear the words, but it just won't sink in.
Is there anyone who could rephrase the straight and broken line analogy for me? I just feel so dense.
Experienced Language Hacker
July 22, 2011
Try to think about points on a time line…
His dot in the past is something that happens not for a prolonged period of time… so our timeline looks like this:
And this ^ Is where something happened.
A straight line in the past is where something happened for a prolonged period of time, for example: 'I was working there for some years.' or 'I was doing it yesterday.'
It's something that happened for a while. Whereas 'I did it yesterday.' as regards to a conversation doesn't imply the idea of it taking a lot of time…
It relates to what you're trying to imply in your conversation. If you want to suggest you were taking time to do something, it's a line, but if the time that you did it for is irrelevant to the conversation it becomes a dot.
Is cainteoir dúchais Gaeilge mé. Same with English. Zacząłem uczyć się polskiego, y ahora, he dejado aprender el castellano.
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