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It seems... (with our five senses!)
Last week, one of you sent me a message asking me to explain a point that she thought was difficult.
It wasn't... but I then realized that there were a few more explanations to be given...
The English verb, "to seem" is complex and expresses several aspects that, sometimes, it is
difficult to distinguish;
The following sentence: The children seemed tired. is only giving very little information about
my perception of the kids' tiredness and how I could judge that state.
If I have reached that conclusion, (They seemed tired), is it because I can see them slouching on
the couch, motionless? [Here, I'm helped by my sight] Is it because they didn't move when I stroke
their cheeks very gently? [Here, I'm helped by my sense of touching] Is it, on the contrary, because
these noisy kids are now silent and no longer heard at all? [I'm helped by my sense of hearing].
In English, there are "sense verbs" which are directly applied to our five senses and thus provide
additional direct information.
to feel (touch)/ to look (sight)/ to smell (smelling)/ to sound (hearing)/ to taste (taste).
1) These "sense verbs" may be followed by an adjective:
To feel/ look/ smell/ sound/ taste + adjective.
That sounds interesting! ... and this tastes sweet!
- This news really sounds interesting. (The news has been heard)
- This coffee tastes weird. (We have tasted it!)
- This cheese smells really bad. (What a terrible smell!)
2) These "sense verbs" may be followed by a noun or a nominal group:
To feel/ look/ smell/ sound/ taste + like + nominal group.
It tastes like chicken... but is it real chicken?
- She sounds like her mother. ( she has the same voice as her mother)
- This tastes like chicken... (when you eat it!)
- This material feels like velvet. (when you touch it!)
3) These "sense verbs" may be followed by a clause (verbal group):
To feel/ look/ smell/ sound/ taste + as if/ as though + clause (verbal group).
- You sound as if you've had a bad cold.
- It looks as though we'll have to wait for a long time. (the line is really long!)
- You look as though you've just seen a ghost.
In American English, you'll keep hearing:
You look like you've just seen a ghost.
Please, do not imitate in exams (or competitive exams) or in a formal conversation in GB.
Without even realizing it, we need to keep our senses alive and alert!
Please, keep them alert for the following test, at least... Keep faith!
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