get down to studying

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get down to studying

Post by dante » Sun Jan 17, 2010 7:06 pm

Hello,

I know that the phrase "get down to work" is very common so I'd like to know if I can use it with "studying" instead of "work" as in the following sentence:

"I can't go to the cinema with you.I need to get down to studying,the exam date is drawing near."

I'm seeking for the meaning "start studying hard" so any rephrasing is welcome.Judging by the google results I got, "get down to" with "studying" is not a natural choice for a native speaker, or is it combined with any other gerund I tried(get down to working/fixing/cleaning..).

Thank you for the help
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Re: get down to studying

Post by russcable » Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:35 pm

dante wrote:I'd like to know if I can use it with "studying" instead of "work" as in the following sentence:
Why did you pick "studying" as the alternative to "work(no -ing)"? Try your process again with "study" instead of "studying".
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Re: get down to studying

Post by Bobinwales » Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:41 pm

'Studying' would be acceptable in British English, in fact it is easier on my tongue than 'study' even though it is not at all wrong.
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Re: get down to studying

Post by dante » Sun Jan 17, 2010 10:36 pm

Thanks for the answers guys.
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Re: get down to studying

Post by hsargent » Mon Jan 18, 2010 3:44 pm

A common expression is "to get down to business and start studying."

I have not heard "to get down to studies/ying." That implies that studying is a low or degrading activity.

My expression implies to eliminating other activities.
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Re: get down to studying

Post by trolley » Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:32 pm

To me, the phrase "get down to..." just means to stop messing around and do something in earnest. You can get down to work, down to business, down to studying. You can even get down tonight. Oh, right. That's something else.
Do a little dance...make a little love........
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Re: get down to studying

Post by hsargent » Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:26 pm

I can also go with "get down to work." But get down to study seems to you have lowered your standards. It may be just me since I have never heard of get down to study.
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Re: get down to studying

Post by Bobinwales » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:39 am

hsargent wrote:But get down to study seems to you have lowered your standards.
I think it is probably a case of I say tomato, you say tomato!
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Re: get down to studying

Post by PhilHunt » Tue Jan 19, 2010 1:31 pm

Being British, I'm with Bob on this.
However, to give it a language school angle; 'to get down to' is a transitive phrasal verb. This means it requires an object. If we use a verb as an object it is more usual to use a gerund (studying). 'down to' is also a preposition combination and it is quite standard to use a gerund after a preposition (that is not part of the infinitive).
Some examples:
I'm looking forward to going on holiday.
What do you think about watching a film?
How about getting a pizza?

I also understand the transitive phrasal verb 'to get down to [something]' as meaning to begin and to stop procrastinating.
This is different to the intransitive phrasal verb 'to get down', which requires no object, or the transitive verb+preposition combination 'get down to your level'
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Re: get down to studying

Post by dante » Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:41 pm

Hello again,

I agree with your analysis of this difficult point in english grammar Phil.(I'd only use the Quirk's term "phrasal-prepositional verb for verbs like "get down to").I've had problems with many grammar points but if you ask me to point out the single most difficult point in the english grammar for me it would be the part with parsing sentence patterns with prepositional verbs.Modern grammarians totally abandoned traditional grammar concepts which is best reflected in this part I guess.Even a firm form-function distinction which is in the very core of traditional grammars is abandoned and I'm a little confused with the revisions.If there's someone on WW or anywhere on the net willing to help me clear the confusion,here are the sentences given in Quirk's grammar as an illustration to his concepts of prepositional verbs type I and II and corresponding concept of the prepositional object:

Prepositional verbs type I (monotransitive pattern):

Look at these pictures.
I don't care for Jane's parties.
We must go into the problem.
Can you cope with the work.
I approve of their action.
His eyes lighted upon the jewel.

Prepositional verbs type II (ditransitive pattern)

The gang robbed her of her necklace.
He deprived peasants of their land.
This clothes will protect you from the worst weather.
Jenny thanked us for the present.


After reading on this in Huddleston&Pullum's "Student's introduction to English Grammar" I understand that the patterns given as ditransitive in the examples above, explained by the concepts of prepositional verbs type II and prepositional object,H&P interpret as monotransitive with the prepositional phrases named "prepositional complement" in the analysis of the sentence structure.
I'd like someone gives their interpretation of this point here on WW.
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Re: get down to studying

Post by PhilHunt » Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:32 pm

Hi Dante,
As I work in the field of teaching English as a foreign language, I use very different tools to, say, Phil White, who classifies things more like Quark. I've also come to think of things in terms of my own classifications, so as to make it easier for my Italian students, who may not even understand grammar terms in Italian, to understand them.

When I use the term Phrasal Verb, which is quite a traditional term in EFL teaching, I mean verbs which combine with prepositions or particles to create new verb concepts. Some simple examples are:

Count = to add things up.
Count on somebody = to rely on someone.

The combination of the verb and preposition completely changes the meaning of the original verb.

For me, a verb+preposition (or prepositional verb) is one where the basic meaning is not changed by the addition of the preposition.
An example of this might be:

I'm thinking.
I'm thinking about something.

The addition of 'about' has not changed the meaning of the verb.

There are also verbs combined with prepositions where the preposition is not essential to the verb and is only a preposition of movement or direction, thus it is not a prepositional verb.
An example of these:

I looked up the stairs.

'up' indicates the direction I looked in and could be replaced with another preposition of direction. Thus, it is not dependent on the verb and vise-versa. In contrast 'think' always takes 'about' or 'of', and neither of these indicate movement or position.

The example above is not to be confused with the 'phrasal verb': I looked up her name in the phone book. In this case, the addition of the preposition has modified the meaning of the verb to that of 'searching for something'.

Now, within the catagory of Phrasal Verbs there are three main groups.

I: Intransitive, inseperable
II: Transitive, seperable [I look sth. up]
II: Transitive, inseperable [He got away with sth.]

The verb you started this thread with 'get down to sth.' would be a type three Phrasal Verb, for me.

This is different from the groups you mentioned in your previous post, as these are prepositional verbs (for me) which belong to two groups. Type I take only one object. Type II take two objects. In this group the preposition is placed after the pronoun or person [I'm hesitant to call this the indirect object].

This is my analysis based on this whole thread and your last point. It's only my point of view and I await the more learned response from other members.
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Re: get down to studying

Post by dante » Thu Jan 21, 2010 11:28 am

Thank you for the discussion Phil.
I found yesterday this interesting text (thesis) http://eprints.ucl.ac.uk/18714/1/18714.pdf, dealing with the subject of ditransitive verb complementation.I haven't read it all but looks interesting.
I'm aware that there are hundreds of different methods in teaching english,loads of theories and many points of contention among the language professionals.Finding the right way of learning the English language today is quite a problem I guess.I think it's clear that there isn't any language theory or method which doesn't fall short of satisfying some elementary logic when it comes to explaining more intricate language points.I think also that finding the right way in communicating and organizing the bulk of any language lies somewhere between giving learners the directions in learning by explaining the basic grammatical skeleton of the language and in the same time letting them to think "out of box", beyond mechanical thinking.Finding the right combination between the two poles requires pretty much ingenuity I guess.At some point, grammar niceties become useless from the viewpoint of the ESL learning,and can be only a nice pastime of solving logical puzzles that any language is abundant with.On the other hand,starting without any grammatical guidance,explaining the language by showing people flashcards with pictures of cows,bicycles and things,forcing the vocabulary into people's heads without any point of orientation would be the other extreme in my opinion.Thinking in terms of grammatical rules,verb tenses,subjects,objects and occasional check of grammar rules is indispensable for less advanced learners.With making progress towards fluency,when speaking the language is starting to be an unconscious habit for a learner,he will use grammar points less and less until he gets rid of thinking of grammar completely,and only occasionally find some usage point useful to read about it.

Let me be allowed to correct the spelling of "sepereble" and "insepereble" in your post Phil with "separable" and "inseparable" :)
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Re: get down to studying

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:03 pm

This is probably as good a moment as any to remind everyone contributing postings to a website of the value of using browser-based spell-checking tools. Details of some of these gratis tools can be found in my posting at http://www.wordwizard.com/phpbb3/viewto ... 22&t=20515.

A possible alternative is, of course, to compose any but the shortest posts in a word processing program that offers spell-checking (as almost all of them do nowadays), and to copy and paste the final result into your browser's composition window; and only then to hit the Submit button.

Whichever approach you adopt, the majority of those who read your posts will appreciate the pains you take. (And I'm pleased to say that in this regard, almost all the visitors to our site produce far better postings than the contributors to most of the other websites I have visited that accept comments.)
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Re: get down to studying

Post by dante » Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:22 pm

Thank you for the suggestion Erik.I'll try to make my writing here as correct as possible and I'll try to remember to pay attention to browser's spell checking features as of now.I hope though that you people here will have tolerance for ESL learners in that regard.
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Re: get down to studying

Post by PhilHunt » Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:24 pm

Thank you for pointing out my short-comings Dante. Can I excuse myself by saying that I was writing in a terrible hurry late at night. ;)

As to your comments about teaching methods verses grammar rules; every student of English has to learn grammar rules and some terminology to help them along the way; terms such as 'subject' 'object' or 'preposition' helps students identify structures and come to use them better. However, it can also be counter productive to teach students of language a second 'coded' language of terminology. Terms such as transitive are easily explained as 'a verb which requires an object', but teaching a student a term such as monotransitive or ditransitive is really only for the student of high levels, and/or those studying grammar. For most students of a language their main objective is to communicate in that language, not take it apart and name all the individual parts. Your approach is somewhat unusual as you are interested, not only in communicating in English, but communicating about English. I do feel though that you are somewhat confused by the difference between a phrasal verb and a prepositional verb, as you started this post off with a phrasal verb and then went on to discuss prepositional verbs (and, BTW I would personally not class 'go into' as a prepositional verb, but a phrasal verb). to this end, I hope that my post explained in some way the difference.

Finally, don't knock the flash card method so much. In most English speaking countries that is the way children learn to read and write for the simple reason that English spelling does not always bear relation to it pronunciation. This is vastly different to how students learn to read and write in Italy where you can spell-read a word.
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