How to explain this grammar question...
Sorry my English student asked this question but I dont know how to answer... help?
"...Food was generally eaten by hand, meats being sliced off in large pieces held between the thumb and two fingers... "
why is it in large pieces instead of by large pieces?
This probably isn't the best way to explain it but just a thought (not an original one):
Prepositions are largely arbitrary when not being used in a literal, spatial sense.
So while "in" makes the most sense there in English, in their native language "by" might make more sense. Taking the preposition in the literal sense, the meat isn't being cut "in" pieces (of meat). It's being cut in a room, or in the kitchen, etc.
Another example "We spoke about that." Though it's not used this way in American English as much, "about" more or less means "around." But if you said "We spoke around that" it would sound weird, or imply you almost the opposite of "we spoke about that."
In italian or spanish, if i remember correctly, you'd rather say "we spoke of that."
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