Mistaken Textbook English
I checked my daughter’s summertime English homework. This comes in the form of a 30-page workbook of grammar exercises that she had to complete and then self-check using an answer template. But I wanted to go over the work with her before she checked the answers herself, and I found a number of errors. They were mostly minor mistakes, but some of them recurring, such as the improper use of the letters “s,” “es,” and “ies” on third person, singular, present tense verbs; more confusion with third person, singular, present tense verb esses when converting from statements like, “His father plays tennis,”to questions, “Does his father play tennis?” The auxiliary verb “do” disappears in the declarative form, but is used in the interrogative form.
It is a common mistake among Japanese students, and it is a common device used in junior high school English textbooks. They flex the grammar by having students convert from affirmative-to-interrogative sentences and the reverse, or positive-to-negative verbs and the reverse. They do it with singular subjects, then with plural subjects. They do it using common or proper nouns for the subject and also with pronouns in place of the nouns to check that the students are paying attention, I guess.
Not unexpectedly, my daughter had some trouble understanding Count and Non Count nouns; plus, I found at least one error printed in the answer template. One page practiced the present tense of the irregular verb “to be.” She had to write positive and negative answers to “Are you…?” questions, and then she had to rewrite positive declarative sentences as negative declarative sentences. Finally, she had to translate Japanese sentences - declarative and interrogative - using the verb “to be” with first and second person singular pronouns, and their answers into English.
Q) _________ you Hanako, right?
I looked at it and immediately thought that it was a typo. The question is,
“You are Hanako, right?”
and the answer would be something like,
“Right,”or “Yes,” or “Yes, I am.” Or, perhaps negative, “No,” or “No, I’m not.” But in this case the object was in part to practice using the word “right,” so the answer was intended to be positive.
The question made no sense with a blank space before the word “you” but with no verb “are” between “you” and “Hanako.” So I checked the answer template right away and was angry to see the answer printed as
Q) “Are you Hanako, right?”
The trouble with situations like this, when the official book is wrong, is that all the student sand teachers must conform to the error in order to pass. No one - not the teacher or a native English speaker such as myself - has the authority or credibility to contradict or override the approved book’s material.