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Why is the comparative structure of "not" so much harder for ESL learners than the "-er/more/less than"?

asked 2018-11-25 12:33:21 -0400

Ali Robertson gravatar image

I'm doing an investigation into typological markedness and have found, in my teaching experiences, that students have an extremely difficult time understanding and acquiring the "not" structural comparison compared to the "more/less/-er than" structure. For example, the student will almost always say "Brazil is warmer than Canada" rather than "Canada is not as warm as Brazil". Why is this? Why does it seem like the former example is unmarked and the latter is marked? Thanks in advance for any help!

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answered 2018-11-26 04:24:25 -0400

Filip gravatar image

Hi there,

From your question, I can only suggest one logical solution: positive (affirmative) and negative sentences. Probably your students are not used to negative structures, thus they automatically avoid creating such sentences in their minds. I cannot see what your students' native language(s) is/are, but what I can tell from my personal experience is that some people tend to use affirmative and others negative sentences. This might also be a cultural feature, which could then explain their choice of an affirmative structure.

Hope this helps!

Regards, Filip

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Asked: 2018-11-25 12:33:21 -0400

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Last updated: Nov 25 '18