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Apr 21, 2014
This week's theme
Words to describe people

This week's words
tractable

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is.

Sheila is tall. Neil is tired. In English we use the same word "is" to describe the two conditions even though one is a permanent attribute while the other is temporary.

Or consider the statement: Joan is quiet. What does that mean? Is she quiet by nature, an introvert, or is she being quiet today?

In Spanish, there are two verbs to describe the idea of being. Ser and estar both mean "to be" but with a big difference. Ser describes something that's inherent while estar is temporary.

If you want to say someone is tall, you'd go with ser, but if you want to say someone is tired, estar is the one to use.

Each language is a different way of describing the world. This week we'll feature five words to describe people. Whether these are temporary conditions or not, is left as an exercise for the reader.

tractable

PRONUNCIATION:
(TRAK-tuh-buhl)

MEANING:
adjective: Easily handled, managed, or controlled.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin tractare (to handle), frequentative of trahere (draw). Earliest documented use: 1504.

USAGE:
"'I don't want to go there,' said Sharina, who was normally such a tractable child."
Susan Palwick; Hhasalin; Fantasy & Science Fiction (Cornwall, Connecticut); Sep/Oct 2013.

See more usage examples of tractable in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
In nothing does man, with his grand notions of heaven and charity, show forth his innate, low-bred, wild animalism more clearly than in his treatment of his brother beasts. From the shepherd with his lambs to the red-handed hunter, it is the same; no recognition of rights -- only murder in one form or another. -John Muir, naturalist, explorer, and writer (1838-1914)

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