Siegfried the Dragon Slayer – Vocabulary and Grammar Notes

dragonmandala
at Irp

This episode contains many descriptive phrases with “be” verb plus noun, “be” verb plus adjective and some “there is” existence phrases. Existence and description are the foundation of a story. The events follow in sequence with individual verb phrases.

Look at the verb phrases from the story:

Verb Phrases

there was a great warrior
his name was Siegfried
came from the low countries.
was a beautiful young man
had long hair and fair skin and a brave heart.
was very strong and brave but he was not arrogant.
was quiet and modest in his personal manner.
was not a braggart.
did not boast
was the best of men
was the wisest and the strongest and the best looking.
was also the most honest and the kindest.
had a lot going for him.
had a strong sense of fair-play
was loyal
had a good sense of humour
was the perfect man
lacked one thing
did not have a wife
was lonely
had many adventures.
fought many knights.
was always the winner.
killed a dragon.
Everybody knew about Siegfried
was famous
Everybody had heard about him.
His strength and his wisdom and his kindness and tolerance and good nature were famous.
He was known as the best of men.
He was a real hero.

Siegfried traveled around Europe and had many experiences.
He always learned from his experiences.
He was a good student of life.

While he was traveling in the mountains Siegfried came upon two brothers.
They were arguing.
They lived in a cave.

It was full of gold.
Siegfried looked inside.
He saw the immense hoard of gold.
He listened to the brothers.

The two dwarf brothers attacked Siegfried.
He fought them.
He defeated them both.

After he defeated the two brothers he became the king of the dwarves.
The dwarves were called “the Nibelungs” and they were his servants.
All of their gold belonged to him.
He was rich beyond his wildest dreams.

Siegfried was wise and strong and handsome and he was also rich and he had a great sense of humour but he was still lonely.
He did not have a wife.
He did not have a mate.
His heart longed for the love of a woman.

Lets look at the verb phrases in groups and analyse them:

Existence, Naming and Origin

there was a great warrior
his name was Siegfried
came from the low countries.

“There was …” proclaims the existence of the great warrior.

“His name was …” announces his name.

The giving of a name in religion is called baptism.

“He came from …” informs us of his origin.

Now we know that there is a warrior and what his name is and where he comes from. This is a good formula to keep in your mind for the entry of a character to any story.

To Have and To Be

was a beautiful young man
had long hair and fair skin and a brave heart.

The fundamental difference between:

the state of being something
the state of having something.

To Be and to not Be

was very strong and brave but he was not arrogant.
was quiet and modest in his personal manner.
was not a braggart.

Let’s look at the first one:

He was strong. He was very strong so he was confident that he could beat anybody and that he had nothing to fear.

But no matter how strong one is, he will always meet someone who is stronger. If one forgets this, one becomes over-confident. One can move in this scale:

insecure
shy
confident
very confident
overconfident
arrogant

Siegfried did not do this. He maintained balance. He was strong but not arrogant.

He was strong although he was not arrogant.

He was strong, but quiet and modest (rather than arrogant, brash, overbearing, overconfident or arrogant)

Adjectives and Nouns

strong – strength
brave – courage/bravery
modest – modesty/humility
quiet – quietness/serenity
arrogant – arrogance/self-importance

Each nominal quality (noun) has an adjective which moves it towards the verbal end of the noun-verb scale as it requires a “be” verb to stand alone.

Noun and Verb

braggart – to brag

A braggart is a person who boasts or brags.

boast – brag

To Be and to Do

did not boast
was the best of men

The first one is a normal verb in present simple tense.

The second one is a “be” verb with a noun phrase. We see the action of boasting/to boast although Siegfried does not boast so the verb is in the negative.

Then we see the state of A being B. Siegfried IS the best of men.

To be and to Have – Objects and Actions

was the wisest and the strongest and the best looking.
was also the most honest and the kindest.
had a lot going for him.
had a strong sense of fair-play
was loyal
had a good sense of humour
was the perfect man

We see two fundamentally different ways of regarding something; of regarding it as an action or as an object.

All of these adjectives (which describe objects or nouns) are prefixed by “be” verbs:

was wise
was strong
was good-looking
was honest
was kind
was loyal

The adjectival quality of each is necessarily prefixed by a “be” verb. We must say:

“He was honest.”

We do not say

“He honest.”

“He wise. He good. He honest” sounds like baboon language.

Do you want to sound like a baboon?

We call these qualities “adjectival qualities” or “qualities of description” but “description” is a noun and “quality” is a noun.

In the other phrases we compound the qualities of honesty, kindness, wisdom, strength and good looks into one noun phrase:

a lot going for him

“He had a lot going for him” means:

he had a lot in his favour
he had a lot of benefits and advantages
he was blessed.
he was favoured by the gods
he was in an extremely good situation

It is very general and very powerful and inclusive though a little informal in style.

The Metaphor of the Battle

Arm yourself with this power word.
Put it into your armory.
Use it as one of your weapons.
Use it as one of your weapons in the great battle.
Use it as one of your weapons in the great battle against nothingness.

the battle for meaning
the struggle for meaning

the battle against nothingness
the struggle against nothingness

Not Having – Being Without

lacked one thing
did not have a wife

Here are two ways to describe not having:

to lack – to not have

Emotions, Experiences and Actions

was lonely
had many adventures.
fought many knights.

The emotion (loneliness) is described by an adjective (lonely).

The adventures are a series of actions but each series of actions is objectified as a noun or an experience.

The battle with one particular knight is an action that has its own verb: to fight, which it is conjugated with “do”.

Being and Doing

was always the winner.
killed a dragon.
Everybody knew about Siegfried
was famous

was strong – be plus adjective
was the winner – be plus noun
killedverb conjugated with do/does/did
knewverb conjugated with do/does/did

Past Experience – Past Perfect Tense

Look at the past simple tense (were famous) and the past perfect tense (had heard) in the two sentences below:

Everybody had heard about him.
His strength and his wisdom and his kindness and tolerance and good nature were famous.

In a series of events, past perfect tense is used to show the earliest event, in the event of doubt.

If there is no doubt we slip into past simple tense because it is shorter and easier and we are lazy. When we use language, we look for the easiest way, like water.

Passivity and Control

Look at the interplay between to know and to be known.

He was known as the best of men.
He was a real hero.

In this case it is actually to be known as which is almost a set phrase

to be known as a thief
to be known as a crook
to be known as a liar

to be known as an honest man
to be known as a fine upstanding member of the community

Being, Having and Doing

Siegfried traveled around Europe and had many experiences.
He always learned from his experiences.
He was a good student of life.

He was a student.
He traveled.
He had experiences.

Being strong (having strength) is seen an action or a condition, a state.
To travel is an action. (a verb with “do”
To have experiences is to summarise each series of actions into one objectified experience or adventure.

Our logic of action becomes meaningless as actions become objects and these objects simply describe a series of actions.

The notion of object and action or noun and verb is a vital grammatical distinction but we see that it is an arbitrary one.

Why is one thing an action?
Why is another than an object or a thing?

The answer is that it simply is. This is how it is. That is simply how English is.

You will notice that it is different from your language.

Make a note of differences between your language and English and write them in the “comments” section at the bottom of this page.

For example:

I had an experience.
I made an experience.

Which form do you use in your language? Note that the second one is wrong in English.

Simultanaeity – Two Things Happening at the Same Time

Look at the two types of verb phrases:

While he was traveling in the mountains Siegfried came upon two brothers.
They were arguing.
They lived in a cave.

was traveling
came upon
were arguing
lived

“Came upon” is a phrasal verb.
“Lived” is past simple tense.

“Were arguing” and “was traveling” are the descriptive tense: Past Continuous Tense.

We use it to describe what was happening when the events of the story began.

It is a like a clock. It gives us a general description of the situation and relationships and scenery in which the events of our story are about to take place.

It is a general, descriptive, continuous, ongoing tense. We contrast it with past simple tense.

Past simple tense is used to describe short actions or events.

When two events happen at the same time, the longer or more ongoing one is called:

past continuous tense: he was traveling

and the shorter or more immediate one is:

past simple tense: he came up on two brothers.

When he was traveling, he came upon two brothers.

Being and Doing

It was full of gold.
Siegfried looked inside.
He saw the immense hoard of gold.
He listened to the brothers.

The cave was full (adjective and “be” verb)

Siegfried looked/saw/listened (verbs that need “did not” for negative)

A Battle A Series of Events or Actions

A battle is a noun but you can also say “They battled”.

A war is a series of battles.
A battle is a series of simultaneous fights or skirmishes.

It all comes down to fighting. Look at this sequence:

The two dwarf brothers attacked Siegfried.
He fought them.
He defeated them both.

Successive and Simultaneous Events

Look at the sequence:

they fought.
he became the king

These events are successive, not simultaneous!

After he defeated the two brothers he became the king of the dwarves.

Passive and Active in Past Simple Tense

The dwarves were called “the Nibelungs” and they were his servants.

Ownership

All of their gold belonged to him.

This is another way to say:

He owned all the gold.

He owned the gold.
The gold belonged to him.
The gold was his.

Wealth – an idiom

He was rich beyond his wildest dreams.

Contrast

Siegfried was wise and strong and handsome and he was also rich and he had a great sense of humour but he was still lonely.

Lack and Longing

He did not have a wife.
He did not have a mate.
His heart longed for the love of a woman.

He did not have a wife.
He lacked a wife.

He did not have a mate.
He lacked a mate.

He did not have the love of a woman.
He lacked the love of a woman.

Is that natural?

Vocabulary

These adjectives are formed from nouns:

truth – truthful
beauty – beautiful

Articles – Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Note that “a heart” is countable but “hair” and “skin” are “mass nouns” or “non-count nouns” or “uncountable nouns”.

long hair
fair skin
a brave heart

“A hair” would be just one strand of hair.
“A skin” would be the whole thing like the skin of an animal after it has been killed.

Adjectives for Describing People

adventurous
arrogant
boastful
brave
competitive
courageous
dim-witted
evil
funny
good-looking
honest
impractical
kind
lonely
lonesome
loyal
modest
naive
practical
quiet
rude
strong
stupid
wise

Adjective Noun Combinations

adventurous – adventure
arrogant – arrogance
boastful – boasting
brave – bravery/courage
courageous – courage/bravery
competitive – competition
dim-witted – dim-wittedness/stupidity
evil – evilness/malevolence
funny – humour
good-looking – good looks
handsome – handsomeness/good looks
honest – honesty
impractical -impracticality/lack of …
kind – kindness
lonely – loneliness
lonesome – lonesomeness
loyal – loyalty
modest – modesty/shyness
naive – naivete/stupidity
practical – practicality/presence of mind
quiet – quietness/serenity
rude – rudeness/bad manners
stupid – stupidity
strong – strength
wise – wisdom

Comparative Variations of Adjectives for Describing People

adventurous – more adventurous – less adventurous
arrogant – more arrogant – less arrogant – more humble
boastful -more boastful – less boastful – more humble
brave – braver – more courageous – less courageous – not so brave – cowardly
competitive – more competitive – less competitive – less aggressive
courageous – more courageous – braver – less courageous – a chicken – a coward
dim-witted – more dim-witted – dumber- more stupid – less stupid – more intelligent – cleverer – more clever
evil – more evil – less evil – better – worse
funny – funnier – less funny – not as funny – not so funny
good-looking – more good-looking/better-looking
honest – more honest/honester – less honest – dishonest
impractical – more impractical – less practical
kind – kinder – more kind
lonely – lonelier more lonely
lonesome – more lonesome – lonelier/lonesomer – less lonely/less lonesome
loyal – more loyal – less loyal/less trustworthy
modest – more modest – less modest – less humble
naive – more naive – less naive
practical – more practical – less practical
quiet – more quiet – less quiet
rude – ruder – more rude – less rude
strong – stronger – more strong – less strong/weaker
stupid – stupider/more stupid.
wise – wiser – more intelligent – less intelligent

Superlatives

adventurous – the most adventurous
arrogant – the most arrogant
boastful – the most boastful
brave – the bravest
competitive – the most competitive
courageous – the most courageous
dim-witted – the most dim-witted
evil – the most evil
funny – the funniest
good-looking – the best looking
honest – the most honest
impractical – the most impractical
kind – the kindest
lonely – the most lonely/ the loneliest
lonesome – the most lonesome/ the lonesomest
loyal – the most loyal/ the most trustworthy
modest – the most modest
naive – the most naive
practical – the most practical
quiet – the quietest/the most serene
rude – the rudest
strong – the strongest
stupid – the stupidest/the dumbest
wise – the wisest/ the most intelligent


The Questions – with Tenses

Present Perfect Tense

Have you ever been to Belgium or the Netherlands?

Present Simple Tense

Is the truth always beautiful?

Present Simple Tense

Is courage important?

Present Simple Tense – Tag Question

Arrogance is distasteful, isn’t it?

Present Simple Tense

Are you loud and boastful in your personal manner?

Present Simple Tense – third person singular

Is your boss a braggart?

Present Simple Tense – with gerund

Is being good-looking important?

Present Simple Tense

Which do you value more, honesty or kindness?

Present Simple Tense

Do you know any funny jokes?

Present Simple Tense

Do you suffer from loneliness?

Present Simple Tense

Are you an adventurous person?

What did you do last night?

Present Simple Tense

Are you very competitive by nature?

Present Simple Tense

Do you know the story of St George and the Dragon?

Present Simple Tense

Is your sister good-natured?

Present Perfect Tense

Have you learned more from “the university of life” than from school?

Present Perfect Tense

Have you ever slept in a cave?


Past Simple Tense

Did they stop arguing?

Did he fight them both at the same time or first one and then the other?

Present Simple Tense

Does wealth come only from gold and silver?


Present Continuous Tense

Are you wearing any gold jewelery at the moment?

Present Simple Tense

Are you lonesome tonight?

Present Simple Tense

Do you feel alright?


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3 Responses to “Siegfried the Dragon Slayer – Vocabulary and Grammar Notes”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Paschoal Mario says:

    This lessonI is very useful mainly in the answers. This, becsome ause you have to make some considerations about you manner of life. For instance, I read the two books of yours: The water car and Kenji Takeushi. Theses two books are very didatics and they’re very easy for understand all the dialogs in them.
    I agree you for more this lesson. Thank you
    P. Mario

  2. satyamrajavali says:

    dear pearson,

    this lesson LOVE AND DEATH part2 is usefull one.this covered many aspects grammer.helping toframe sentences in past tense.furher it has explianed many facets of verb BE and phrsel verb of tobe, and not tobe.i am sure it helps many to frame sentences and use the same in daily conversations. Great work. expect still more to follow in this way.

    somehow i haven’t recieved the part1 of this lesson
    thankyou

    satyam-sindhanur-india

  3. satyamrajavali says:

    dear pearson,

    this lesson LOVE AND DEATH part2 is usefull one.this covered many aspects ofgrammer.helping toframe sentences in past tense.furher it has explianed many facets of verb BE and phrsel verb of tobe, and not tobe.i am sure it helps many to frame sentences and use the same in daily conversations. Great work. expect still more to follow in this way.

    somehow i haven’t recieved the part1 of this lesson
    thankyou

    satyam-sindhanur-india

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