Reading "Botchan" by Natsume Soseki, one sentence at a time

To be fair, though, ChatGPT is bad at explaining grammar. Trying to learn languages with a general language model is not a good idea. It can tell that the things it writes adhere to the norms of the language, but it can’t tell you why. It’s pretty easy to break it (examples are my own):

What are the tenses of the verbs in “avaient volé”?
“Avaient volé” is the passé composé tense of the French verb “voler”, which means “to steal”. …

I don’t think that’s exactly right, as “avaient” is not in the present tense.
You are correct, I apologize for my mistake. “Avaient volé” is actually in the imparfait tense of the French verb “voler”. …

What’s the difference between “j’ai préparé” and “je suis préparé”?
… “Je me suis préparé pour la fête” means “I got ready for the party” or “I prepared myself for the party.” In this case, “je suis préparé” does not require an object to be grammatically correct because the subject is the one who has prepared themselves. …

Your example has the object “me” in “je me suis préparé,” which contradicts your statement in the last paragraph.
You are correct, my previous response was not accurate. The sentence “je me suis préparé” does indeed have an object, which is the reflexive pronoun “me”. I apologize for the confusion. …

Can you explain tone sandhi in Mandarin?
… The most well-known example of tone sandhi in Mandarin is the third tone sandhi. The third tone in Mandarin is a low-rising tone …. However, when the third tone appears before another third tone, it changes to a second tone …. This change is known as the “third tone sandhi.” Here’s how it works: …

  • 他好吗? (tā hǎo ma) - “Is he good?”
  • When 他 (tā) precedes 好 (hǎo), the third tone of 好 changes to a second tone … due to tone sandhi.

I’m not even sure this example is relevant because you claim this rule applies to consecutive third tones, yet your choice only includes one word (好) with a third tone.
You are absolutely correct, and I appreciate your thoroughness in pointing out the oversight. The example I provided was indeed not ideal, as it didn’t involve consecutive third tones. I apologize for the confusion caused by this error. …

You can get ChatGPT et al. to tell you pretty much anything you want about grammar just by giving them a leading question. It’s funny when you’re aware of it, but it’s not so funny when you’re actually trying to learn. I suppose that’s why human teachers are still important (for now …).

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