Exceptional Expressions For Everyday Events
Being attentive, or focusing on the task at hand, is an important aspect of learning. Some tasks require all of our attention, some do not. Degrees of attentiveness vary. We may be fully engaged in an activity, or only somewhat aware of what is occurring. We may attend closely to a phone conversation, or we may be reading email or watching a football game while we are talking.
- How is being absorbed in a book different from reading a book?
- Is sending books or flowers to a sick friend considered thoughtful?
- What would it mean if someone asked you to be considerate of his or her feelings?
- What does it mean to be “all ears”?
The Spanish Connection
The word attentive is from an Old French word, atendre, which means “to direct one’s mind or energies.” But atendre is based on the Latin word attendere. The Spanish cognate of attentive, atento(a), is also based on the Latin word attendere. A look at the Latin root word shows that the original meaning of the word attend was “to focus on a task.”
- Two similar definitions exist for attentive. One definition is to focus on a task or on a person. A student may be focused on, or attentive to, a science experiment. An exciting chapter in a novel might grab our full attention.
- A second definition for attentive is to be mindful of another person’s needs. Someone who is consoling a sad or tearful friend may anticipate the need for tissues and have them available.
- Being attentive carries a sense of anticipation. A student who is attentive during story time is anticipating the unfolding of the story. This anticipation shows up in many of the idioms for attentive. Visualize the idiom “on the ball,” and you may imagine a person bouncing or standing on the balls of their feet, eager and alert.