Help with English

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Saint, Aug 24, 2011.

  1. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    Maybe, perhaps, possibly, probably
    Do they mean the same thing and can be interchaged?

    1. Maybe it is going to rain.
    2. Perhaps it will rain in one hour time because the sky is dark.
    3. It is possibly to rain today because of the dark cloud in the sky.
    4. Probably it will rain very soon because humidity is high. :D
     
  2. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

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    4,641
    pretty much . The sky lines of 2 sounds English over there . Or elitist . 1 is the common person in America . 3 sound like a foreigner because of the Possibly to rain. That would sound more American if you worded more like < It is possible it could rain , or It is possible rain today . That would work to . But for Me I would say " Might rain " and leave it at that
     
  3. Misty155 Registered Senior Member

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    You have explained those words exactly. Thanks. I have learned and can distinct all of them now.
     
  4. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    22,696
    No. "Maybe," "perhaps" and "possibly" have the same meaning, but "probably" is different. The first three mean that it could happen or it could not happen, and you're making no statement about which outcome is more likely. But when you say "probably," that means at the very least that the probability of it happening is > 50%, so it is more likely to happen than not happen. But the way most of us use it most of the time, it means that the probability is much greater than 50%. There is a chance that it won't happen, but it's a small chance so we'll be surprised if it does not.
    This sentence is grammatically correct. But if you're using an informal word like "maybe" instead of a more formal word like "perhaps," it would be more consistent to use the more informal contraction "it's" instead of the formal expression "it is." Try to be consistent.

    And then, of course, if you are trying to be formal, you should use the more formal construction "will rain," instead of the informal phrase "is going to rain."

    So choose: "Maybe it's going to rain," or "Possibly it will rain."
    This is not correct. You have to say either, ". . . it will rain in one hour because . . . ." or ". . . . it will rain in one hour's time because . . . ." There's no rule for this, you just have to copy what we say.
    This is very wrong. "It is possible that it will (or may) rain today. . . ." or "It may possibly rain today . . . ." are both correct.

    Also, "cloud" should almost certainly be plural, "clouds." If I see only one dark cloud in the sky, that is not enough evidence to predict rain, unless it is so big that it fills the entire sky.
    This is incorrect. "Humidity" is not one of the many nouns that can be routinely used without the definite article. You have to say "the humidity is high" in most cases. There are other cases where you don't need it, but I'm not going to write an entire article here. ;)

    Putting "probably" first is not exactly wrong, but it's awkward. We would say "It will probably rain . . . ." It would be okay to put "maybe" first: "Maybe it will rain. . . ." This is another one of those cases where there is no rule to explain the difference, you just have to mimic the way we speak.

    If you want to stress the fact that you think it is almost certain that it will rain, then you could put "probably" first, but since you would stress the word in speech (say it loudly), you should stress it in writing by putting in a comma: "Probably, it will rain very soon. . . ."
     
  5. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    The words maybe and might be, what's their difference?
     
  6. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    So my correction:
    1. Based on the wind blow and cloudy condition, maybe it will rain afterwards.
    2. Perhaps it will rain in one hour's time because the sky is very dark now.
    3. Possibly it will rain today because of the dark clouds hovering in the sky.
    4. Probably it will rain very soon because the measured humidity is very high at this moment.
     
  7. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

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    4,641
    1 blowing wind
    2 take off the now at the end of the phrase
    3 is o.k. for a weirdos. The "hovering" was over the top. The usage of Possibly is fine
    4 probably just don't sound right to Me . Can't tell you why . The word Perhaps instead of Probably . O.K. I got it . You would transpose the it and Probably . So 4 would say . It Probably will rain . Now your starting to talk Bastard American Saint

    So all the usage was right except number 4 and the transposed " It and Probably
     
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    22,696
    They convey the same meaning, but they serve different grammatical roles.
    • "Be" is a verb and "may/might" are two inflections of an auxiliary verb. So you can say, "He may be here," or "He might be here," and that is a complete sentence.
    • "Maybe" is an adverb. Every complete sentence must have a verb. (We don't always speak and write in complete sentences, but that's a topic for another time.) So if a sentence contains the adverb "maybe," it must still have a verb which the adverb modifies."He maybe here" is not a correct sentence. "Maybe he has already arrived," or even "Maybe he is here" is a correct sentence. "He maybe here," is not.
    In other words:
    maybe does not = may be.
    • "On" is a preposition, so its object has to be a phrase that is not a complete clause, which means it can't contain a verb. A gerund would be okay: "Based on the wind blowing..." But you can just as easily say, "Based on the wind..."
    • When we talk about the weather we always talk about "conditions," in the plural, not "condition."
    • "Afterwards" is wrong here. You can say "later," or you can just eliminate the word entirely since we know what you mean.
    Based on the wind blowing and the cloudy conditions, maybe it will rain later."

    But even though that is grammatically correct, it is still awkward.
    • Based upon the wind and the clouds, I think it will rain later.
    • The wind and the clouds probably mean that it will rain.
    That's okay, but it's a little formal. How about, "Maybe it will rain in an hour because the sky is very dark." You don't have to say "now" because it's obvious. And "in one hour's time" is extremely formal. If you're not making a formal speech, just say, "in an hour."
    This isn't quite right. For one thing, dark clouds forecast rain more often than not, so "probably" is a better choice than "possibly."

    For another, "because" makes it sound like the dark clouds will be the cause of the rain. Perhaps they are, and if you're a meteorologist I suppose you could put it that way. But I think what you really want to say is, "I think it will rain today because there are dark clouds in the sky." The clouds are the reason you think it's going to rain.

    And yes, I agree that "hovering" is an unusual word to use with clouds. It's not wrong, but it will certainly let everyone know that English is not your native language. ;) You can just say "dark clouds in the sky."

    I think it will rain today because I saw dark clouds in the sky.
    It's better to put "probably" after the verb instead of at the beginning of the sentence. Furthermore, the correct phrase is "relative humidity," not "measured humidity." Finally, you don't have to say, "at this moment" because it's obvious.

    It will probably rain very soon because the relative humidity is very high.

    I can see that you're influenced by Chinese syntax. You feel compelled to add words indicating time, since Chinese verbs do not have tenses. In English we don't need time words because our verbs include the information that the event took place in the past, takes place in the present, or will take place in the future.
    • The relative humidity was high.
    • The relative humidity is high.
    • The relative humidity will be high.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2011
  9. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    2,623
    Thanks,
    why English is so subtle and difficult to learn?
    In Mandarin, it is very simple to express what we want to say.
     
  10. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    2,623
    How to use comma in a long sentence?

    1. He came to my house to return my books and did revision of history (together) with me for an hour and watched a video with me for another one and half hours. [with & together with are similar?]

    Or can I write,

    2. He came to my house to return my books, spent an hour to do revision of history with me and after that watched a video with me for another one and half hours. Is it better to use comma in the sentence?
     
  11. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

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    4,641
    The only reason I use it is because it is the only one I kind of got a grip on , or I would probably use another language all together . Like instinctual animal magnetism of the beast. Take off your close woman , lets get naked kind of language , but with my eyes instead of with Me mouth . Well I might use my mouth too , but not for talking . Grunts and groans work good when you use that language . Maybe that one is universal
     
  12. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    2,623
    A list of the students' name.
    Of
    A list of the students' names.
     
  13. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    2,623
    I am also confused about:

    Many types of fruits
    OR
    Many types of fruit.

    There are many kinds of cell phones to choose.

    Or

    There are many kinds of cell phone to choose.
     
  14. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    I help him to do his homework.

    Or

    I help him doing his home work.

    Or

    I help him do his homework.
     
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    22,696
    No:
    Why is English so subtle, and difficult to learn?

    In a question, the subject comes after the verb, not in front of it. In most questions we use an auxiliary verb: "Why did you say that?" Not "Why said you that?"

    But if the verb is "to be," then we use it by itself. "How is he?" "Why are you happy?" "Where am I?" "Who was she?" "Were we early?"
    We have just as much trouble with your language as you have with ours. And we would both be totally frustrated by Japanese.
    There is more than one name, right? So it's a list of the students' names.
    Cell phones.
    This is a difficult question because "fruit" is one of many nouns that can be a countable noun ("only three fruits are grown in this county") or an uncountable noun ("I eat a lot of fruit every day"). Other nouns that fall into both categories include "language," "territory" and "direction."

    I think most Americans would say, "many types of fruit," but I would not swear to that without taking a poll first.
    This is not wrong, but most people would not say it this way.
    This is wrong. "Help" is an auxiliary verb so it must be followed by an infinitive, not a gerund.

    You could say "I help him in doing his homework, but that is too complicated. You could make it a more formal expression by saying "I assist him in doing his homework."
    This is best for most purposes.
     
  16. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    15,058
    One more thing:

    We were taught this scale at school

    might < may < could < can

    to express the degrees of possibility.
    "Might" is less posible than "may;" "could" is more possible than "may," but less than "can."

    "I might go to the library tomorrow" mand that I am less certain than if I say "I may (could or can) go to the library tomorrow."
     
  17. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    15,058
    Because it is your native language, while English is not.
     
  18. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    Alone and Only.

    1. Studying hard alone will not guarantee you good results.
    2. Good results are not guaranteed by hard work only.

    Which expression is better?

    Does alone and only always mean the same?
     
  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    22,696
    Many people would understand this sentence to mean "studying hard by yourself, without anyone else to help, will not..." The sentence is ambiguous. It would be better to say, "Just studying hard will not guarantee..."

    You forgot to include "just": it has a similar meaning to "only" and "alone."

    While all three words have similar meanings, they are not really synonyms since their meanings are not absolutely identical. When used in a phrase about a person, "alone" usually means that the person is literally alone, not in anyone's company. This is why I thought your sentence refers to you being alone while you study.
    In this case "alone" would be better. We don't like putting "only" at the end of a sentence, whereas we do like putting "alone" there. And by changing the gerund "studying" to the noun "work," you have reorganized the syntax of the sentence, thereby removing the ambiguity about who or what is "alone."
    Do alone and only always mean the same thing? You have two subjects, so the verb must be in the plural inflection: "do" instead of "does." Furthermore, when you're writing about a word it's best to put it in quotation marks: Do "alone" and "only" always mean the same thing? Otherwise the sentence is very hard to read.

    But to answer the question, No! They often mean the same thing, but not always.

    If you don't have a good English dictionary, just refer to Dictionary.com . It aggregates definitions from several different dictionaries, and it also includes notes on proper usage, as well as etymologies.
     
  20. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    2,623
    Yes,
    my first sentence actually means "Just studying hard will not guarantee...", I was ambiguous :D.
     

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