Midterm Elections

Midterm Elections

midterm elections

A Black person discusses midterm election problems with her friend. The English grammar covers Complementation and Focus and Emphasis on sentence elements.

Tatiana: “I want to vote.”
Haley: “Are you registered?”
Tatiana: “Yes, I did that two years ago.”
Haley: “No problem, then.”
Tatiana: “Can you go with me?”
Haley: “I haven’t registered yet.”
Tatiana: “That’s not hard to do.”
Haley: “I’ll go with you after I’m registered.”
Tatiana: “I don’t have that much time.”
Haley: “Well, either that or you go alone.”
Tatiana: “Sometimes nutjobs harass you, though.”
Haley: “Don’t worry about it. You’re not Black, like me.”


Nutjob is slang for a crazy or eccentric person. See online Idioms Dictionary.

Suggested Topic for Comments: Complementation

“I want to vote.” The verb “to want” takes an infinitive complement and the logical subject of the infinitive can be either the subject or the object of the main clause:

I want to vote. “I” is the subject for both clauses.
I want (for) him to vote. In this case, “him” is the subject of the infinitive complement.


New Idioms are “Find out” and “Blown away.” The Grammar covers Focus and Emphasis on certain sentence elements.

Pranav: “The Democrats pulled it out of the hat yesterday.”
Farid: “Right you are! They’re talking about it everywhere.”
Pranav: “Makes you wonder what polls to trust.”
Farid: “I know, everybody was totally blown away at the election results.”
Pranav: “Sure, was it going to be the economy? Abortion? Immigration or climate change? What was going to dominate people’s thoughts?”
Farid: “It’s a good question. What was the real story that determined the election results?”
Pranav: “You can’t say only one particular thing. There were many concerns.”
Farid: “We can see that even now, since we may not find out who controls Congress until the run-off in Georgia. Such a close fight!”
Pranav: “Well, it surprised everybody, that’s for sure.”
Farid: “I guess that’s what democracy is about sometimes.”
Pranav: “Sometimes one party depends on the other not showing up to vote.”
Farid: “I think this time everybody voted, especially young people.”


Pull it out of the hat means to find sudden or unexpected success in a situation that seemed otherwise hopeless or likely to fail. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Blown away means thoroughly impressed, overwhelmed or excited by something. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Find out means to learn something. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Run-off refers to a voting system where a second round of voting is used to elect one of the two candidates receiving the most votes in the first round. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Show up here means to appear or arrive. See online Idioms Dictionary.

Suggested Topic for Comments: Focus and Emphasis

In informal conversation in English, speakers may want to emphasize one thing or another, and there are ways to do that: 1) phonological (adding stress or special intonation), 2) adding special words and phrases to their speech, and 3) syntactically, through special word constructions. (Biber, Larsen-Freeman).

One approach is to front a sentence with a predicate adjective or noun. We see this technique in the first example from the dialogue: “Right you are!” This is a common expression with a fronted predicate adjective, adding emphasis to the preceding statement about the Democrats. Predicate nouns can also be utilized in this way, for example: “A doctor he was, but not a very good one.”

Certain amplifying emphatic adverbs such as “totally, utterly, and really” can also achieve the desired effect. In our dialogue we have the clause Everybody was totally blown away by the election results, producing the statement with the “totality” adverb intensifying the idiom “blown away.”

Our third instance of focus and emphasis in this short dialogue is achieved by stress (intonation) on a particular word in the sentence: “What was the real story that determined the election results?” The speaker need only accent “was” (or even “real”) to draw attention to “story” and achieve the desired emphasis. This is the phonological approach. We may not hear this especial pronunciation from the AI recording, but this is a popular and well-known approach to put the focus on one element in the sentence or another.

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