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coward/cowardly

 
 
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 08:35 am
“Stupid coward/cowardly cat!” John laughed as he criticised the cat, which he ill-treated.

I was told by a native that 'coward' should be used. I was taught to use 'cowardly' in such context. Have I been taught wrongly?

Many thanks.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 08:39 am
@tanguatlay,
No, you have not. The word "stupid" is an adjective, and the word "cowardly" is an adjective--both words modify cat by description. The word "coward" is a noun, and should not be used to modify another noun by description.

That being said, it is not uncommon to see such a usage by speakers of English.
tanguatlay
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 09:41 am
@Setanta,
Many thanks, Setanta, for your help.

I'm surprised that even natives make such a mistake, as you have pointed out.

Best regards.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 09:42 am
@tanguatlay,
You're welcome. Many native speakers don't consider their idiosyncratic speech habits to be a mistake.
tanguatlay
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 10:03 am
@Setanta,
Thanks again, Setanta.

I always thought all native speakers make major errors, not minor ones like the the word 'cowardly'. What you said is news to me.

I'm Very Happy to have you and the other experts on this forum who have unselfishly guided me.
JTT
 
  2  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 11:36 am
@tanguatlay,
Two dictionaries list 'coward' as both a noun and an adjective.

===================
M-W:
Main Entry:
cow·ard Listen to the pronunciation of coward
Pronunciation:
\ˈkau̇(-ə)rd\
Function:
noun
Etymology:
Middle English, from Anglo-French cuard, from cue, coe tail, from Latin cauda
Date:
13th century

: one who shows disgraceful fear or timidity
" coward adjective

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/coward

===================

AHD

coward
SYLLABICATION: cow·ard
PRONUNCIATION: kourd
NOUN: One who shows ignoble fear in the face of danger or pain.
ETYMOLOGY: Middle English, from Old French couard, from coue, tail, from Latin cauda.
OTHER FORMS: coward "ADJECTIVE

http://www.bartleby.com/61/63/C0706300.html

=========================

tanguatlay
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 12:27 pm
@JTT,
Hi JTT

Can I conclude that you mean both coward cat and cowardly cat are correct in Standard English?

Many thanks.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 01:18 pm
@tanguatlay,
There is no hard and fast line between standard and nonstandard English, Tan.

For your purposes, which mainly seems to be helping your son in advancing his English grades, a noble cause to be sure, stick with what you've been taught. Why? Because the powers that be, in Singapore or Malaysia or where ever you might be, will decide what's "correct/incorrect", "standard/nonstandard".

English speakers use this form just as they use other nouns as adjectives - I just noticed another one as a thread title here at A2K - something like, "How long will juicer juice stay fresh?".

You determine a word's form by how it is used in a sentence.
tanguatlay
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 01:27 pm
@JTT,
Many thanks, JTT, for your response.

I'll use 'cowardly' as advised by Setanta and because that was what I was taught.
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JTT
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 02:07 pm
@Setanta,
Quote:
Many native speakers don't consider their idiosyncratic speech habits to be a mistake.


They'd be in good company. But I'd go further, saying "almost all native speakers".
0 Replies
 
 

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