Friday, June 3, 2011

To marry or to get married?

On April 29th the future king of Great Britain got married to the beautiful Katherine Middleton in a magnificent ceremony that was broadcast to millions (some even say billions) of viewers all over the world. I told my students to write a composition on the topic of the Royal Wedding and when it came to marking, I realized that they didn't know how to use the verb to marry correctly. The problem comes because in Spanish this verb is constructed with the preposition con (with) and so my students wanted to translate word for word and they would write sentences like: *“ Prince William married with Kate Middleton”, which is wrong and sounds awful in English. Consequently, I decided to write a blog post on the matter.
Image:  'Royal kiss'
The verb to marry is mostly used as a transitive verb in English, which means that it must be followed by a direct object. So, in the previous example, we could say:
Prince William married Kate Middleton,
            subject        verb       direct object
The direct object is never preceded by a preposition, that's why the sentence my students wrote is incorrect.

On the other hand, it can also be used as an intransitive verb, in which case, there is no need for the direct object. “They married in London”. However, in this case, to get married is preferred: The couple got married in London”.
To get married can also be used with an object, but the preposition to is needed:
Prince William got married to Kate Middleton”.

A synonym is to wed, which is mostly used in newspapers: “Supermodel to wed pop star”.
There are also idiomatic expressions with the same meaning:
  • To get hitched: “The couple had been together for a long time and intended to get hitched by the end of the year”.
  • To tie the knot: “We'll show you how to tie the knot in this tough economy”.

But before getting married, William had to ask Kate to marry him, that is, he proposed to her, or more colloquially, he popped the question and she didn't refuse him, so they became engaged and they were no longer boyfriend and girlfriend but he was her fiancé and she was his fiancée. William gave her the engagement ring that his mother used to wear and they fixed a day for their marriage.
Image in: 
On the wedding day, Kate was the bride and William was the groom or bridegroom. They walked down the aisle of Westminster Abbey accompanied by the best man, William's brother, Harry, and the bridesmaid, Kate's sister, Phillippa. After making their marriage vows, the Archbishop declared them husband and wife, and then, the newlyweds rode in a beautiful carriage that took them to Buckingham Palace, where they saluted the crowds that had gathered to witness an unforgettable historical event.

In the following video taken from one of the funniest films about weddings that I can remember,”Four Weddings and a Funeral”, an inexperienced priest (Rowan Atkinson) is reading the vows to the couple and gets confused with their names and even with the Holy Ghost, which he calls “Holy Goat”! 

Finally, check the new vocabulary with this hotpotatoes exercise:

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