【Relearning English】ALWAYS – “”Discovering the Multiple Meanings of a Familiar Word””

Hello, everyone. This is “MANA, the cat” from MANABICATION.

I am MANA.

This is our first article for “”Discovering the Multiple Meanings of a Familiar Word”. (Please read this article for details about our concept for this serial article.)

Our “Word of the Day” is… “always“. Let’s take a look at an example from our FUN ENGLISH level-check session with our student, Mr. Y. (Mr. Y, thank you for your generosity to accept our offer to introduce your session at this blog : ) )

The other day, Mr. Y was having a conversation with our FUN ENGLISH teacher, Ms. Leslie. Mr. Y told us that he was interested in bicycles recently and they had the following conversation:

Ms. Leslie:”Did you always like riding bicycles?”
Mr. Y: “Yes, I ride on a bicycle everyday to my workplace.”

I believe most of you can see that Mr. Y seemed to misunderstand Ms. Leslie’s question. We also noticed that he was misunderstanding the question. Therefore, after letting the conversation go for a while and when the conversation on this topic was over, we decided to discuss about this “always”-included chat.

Then, it was revealed that Mr. Y had misunderstood the question as “Do you always ride (on a) bicycle?” If so, we can regard that his answer had no problem : )

This mistake happens a lot for Japanese English speakers. It is because in Japanese English classes at school, we are taught that “always” mainly means “all the time”. But, I (MANA, the cat) noticed that in actual English conversations we hear a lot of “always” used in the meaning “at all times in the past”. Hence, Japanese people are not used to hear the word “always” in past tense sentences. They feel some unnaturalness in those sentences and that is probably why Mr. Y unconsciously regarded that Ms. Leslie’s question was present tense and thought she asked “Do you always ride (on a) bicycle?” We explained this to Mr. Y and he totally agreed with our explanation.

For native English speakers, it might be hard to notice how one word is used in many ways and meanings. But for ESL learners, we encounter the word’s meaning one by one and we accumulate them one by one. So, I wish this serial article will be useful not only for gathering some clues to teach Japanese English learners but also to realize once again how rich all English words are.

Lastly, we will introduce two examples with “always” used in the meaning of “at all times in the past”.

“I have always lived in Nishi-eifuku.”
“I have always wanted to see MANA, the cat.”

I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Thank you and see you again!!!