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My Japanese student asked me the following questions. His English level is not that good so I'm wondering about how to give him an answer that will help him understand more easily.

1)If you can say "on the weekend" then can you say “on next weekend” in “the seminar is taking place next weekend”? If not then why not?

2)Why do you say “The seminar is taking place this weekend” instead of “this seminar has taken place this weekend”? Is “the staff” the subject if so does that mean “the staff is taking place this weekend”?

I'm not sure about the 1st question myself beside it just not being common to add "on" when it comes to adding "next/last/etc" in front of the word "weekend".

As for the second one, "to be taking place this weekend" and "has taken place this weekend" are obviously different. But I'm not sure how to explain this, specifically when it comes to the subject and the tense.

Any help will be deeply appreciated.

  • I don't think "this weekend" looks back ever: it's always the coming weekend. The one that's gone is "this past weekend". – Kris Jun 25 '18 at 13:08
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I'm still pondering question 1 (perhaps something about a specified, individual weekend versus a general tendency for weekend occurrence?). But I think I may be able to help with question 2.

My ESL experience with Japanese students does include some struggle with verb tense, but that may not be what's hindering comprehension here. Your student's incorporation of "staff" seems to hint that he is interpreted "taking" as a verb and "place" as a direct object (as in "Please take your place at the podium.") He may be visualizing the conference as physically taking up a space on a calendar. In that sense: once we schedule the conference, it has already taken place.

For me, the confusion over staff supports this interpretation. After all, it is technically the staff who take up space on the calendar. The Conference is merely the indirect object they use to fill in those two previously unoccupied days.

I could be wrong; second-language help can be such guesswork. But I would try explaining "take place" as a verb phrase, then swapping it out in front of him with "occur" to see if he turns "The conference is occurring this weekend" with "the conference has occurred this weekend."

  • I think you are right because the student mentioned 受動態(passive voice) (he said he thought it would be passive voice which is why the subject is the staff which makes the tense confusing for him, at least from what I understood). It sure is guesswork... Okay, I'll give that a try. Thank you! – Anna Jun 25 '18 at 9:52
  • Any time. Glad to be of use. – Prince of Rhetoric Jun 25 '18 at 9:55
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Q:1. If you can say "on the weekend" then can you say “on next weekend” in “the seminar is taking place next weekend”? If not then why not?

Though saying "on the weekend" is grammatical, it doesn't specify any particular weekend, whereas saying "next weekend" does. Thus, it's better to say: the seminar is taking place next weekend (not upcoming/forthcoming weekend, if you don't refer to the ongoing week).

Q:2. Why do you say “The seminar is taking place this weekend” instead of “this seminar has taken place this weekend”? Is “the staff” the subject if so does that mean “the staff is taking place this weekend”?

Either of the following sentences (that you given) are grammatical, according to their different situations and tenses:

  1. “The seminar is taking place this weekend” [it indicates the future shedule of seminar].

  2. “this seminar has taken place this weekend” [here the seminar just has finished on the ongoing weekend].

In case of including the phrase "the staff", would be regarded incorrect grammatically. Think that how can the staff can take place, actually they are the body of employees, instead say:

“the seminar is taking place this weekend” [this indicates upcoming weekend of present week]

  • Thank you! I might ask you another question about Q2 but I think I'm completely clear on Q1. – Anna Jun 25 '18 at 9:53
  • @Anna: Which question? – Ahmed Jun 25 '18 at 9:57
  • Okay so here is the question (my student asked it today after I explained it the way you did): English has 5 main structures, SV, SVC, SVO, SVOC, and SVOO. The structure in the sentence "Could you give me an application form to attend the seminar taking place next weekend?" doesn't apply to any of the 5 structures. Doesn't that mean an auxiliary verb is necessary? – Anna Jun 26 '18 at 7:07
  • @Anna: Off course, saying "Could you give me an application form to attend the seminar taking place next weekend?" doesn't apply to these 5 structures: SV, SVC, SVO, SVOC, and SVOO, because "could" is used as imperative sentence here, while the 5 structures (SV, SVC, SVO, SVOC and SVOO) are affirmative or declarative, not imperative. If you talk about syntax and negation in imperative sentences, these type of sentences use different syntax (words pattern) than declarative or other types of clauses. – Ahmed Jun 26 '18 at 11:39
  • @Anna: ...and, there is no doubt that auxiliary verb is necessary, as it is used almost in majority of the sentences in English; be it imperative, declarative or affirmative. – Ahmed Jun 26 '18 at 11:42

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