Help with English

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

  1. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    Take off = do well: "Business has really taken off!"

    I seldom come across "take off" is being used in this sense. Sounds weird to me.
     
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  3. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    put down to = to think something is caused by a factor: "The failure can be put down to a lack of preparation."

    Can I say:
    The failure can be caused by the lack of preparation. (the instead of a?)
     
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  5. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    The past participle of Strike is Struck or Stricken? Or both?
     
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    People use this term to make themselves look smart, but they usually use it wrong and make themselves look stupid. I would avoid it. It literally means "face to face" but no one uses it that way in English any more. They usually use it to mean "compared to," and that sounds not just pretentious, but ignorant. Don't criticize someone who uses it because he will defend himself, but please don't talk that way yourself!
    This is police language, usually abbreviated M.O. We use M.O. as slang all the time. But to say the entire Latin phrase, modus operandi, is pretentious and should be avoided, unless you're a police officer or an attorney.
    It's okay to use this in its legal definition, a temporary or practical agreement or arrangement between two people who disagree, which allows them to work together. But it's pretentious to use it simply for lifestyle, manner of living, or way of life.
    You don't need "more vivid" English words. Just use English words, period.
    No, unless you're speaking in a more scientific way: The only way to lose weight is to take in fewer calories than you burn off.

    The complete list of meanings from Dictionary.com:
    • a. to permit to enter; admit.
    • b. to alter (an article of clothing) so as to make smaller.
    • c. to provide lodging for.
    • d. to include; encompass.
    • e. to grasp the meaning of; comprehend.
    • f. to deceive; trick; cheat.
    • g. to observe; notice.
    • h. to visit or attend: to take in a show.
    • i. to furl (a sail).
    • j. to receive as proceeds, as from business activity.
    • k. (chiefly British) to subscribe to: to take in a magazine.
     
  8. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    1. A broken friendship is difficult to start anew once misunderstanding has been created.
    2. Our friendship starts afresh after a third person acting as mediator between us.


    Anew and afresh, are they common in use by today's writers?
     
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    24,690
    "Start anew" would not be anyone's first choice in this sentence. We usually talk about mending, saving or salvaging a broken friendship or other kind of relationship. Or various other words. But "start anew" isn't the way we usually talk about it.
    You're still completely befuddled by English verbs.
    Our friendship will be salvaged (or saved, or mended) when/after/once a third party acts as mediator. ("Between us" is unnecessary because it's obvious.)​
    Your original sentence needs a verb in the same clause, and all you have is a gerund. You could put it in the past tense if it's already happened:
    Our friendship was salvaged after a third party began acting as mediator.​
    If you really want to put it in the present tense, remember that in English we usually use the present progressive for a specific instance of an activity, rather than a habitual recurrence.
    Our friendship is healing now that we recruited a friend to act as mediator.​
    If you put it in the present indicative, you have to say (and mean) something like:
    Our fragile friendship always heals whenever we can find a third party to act as mediator.​
    "Anew" is even used in speech. The phrase "start anew" is a cliche. "Afresh" is a little odder. Although everyone understands it, I don't think you'll encounter it very often.
     
  10. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    3,352
    Our friendship will be restored when/after/once a third party acts as mediator.
     
  11. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    1. I will not forgive him if and only if he apologizes to me.
    2. I will not forgive him unless he apologizes to me.

    Do both mean the same?
     
  12. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    Aging or Ageing?
     
  13. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    Abstruse or obstruse?
     
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    The meaning of that sentence is clear and you might put it that way in writing if you're trying to make a subtle point. But in speech I don't think anybody would say it that way, at least not an American.
    Of course not, and I'm surprised that it's not obvious to you.

    "I will not do X if he does Y" means that if he does Y, then you will not do X. Right? So your first sentence means that if he apologizes to you, you will not forgive him.

    You meant to say, "I will forgive him if and only if he apologizes to me." This is equivalent to your second sentence. If you say only, "I will forgive him if he apologizes to me," it leaves open the possiblity that there might be something else he could do to earn your forgiveness, such as doing your laundry for a month or giving you a brand-new Jaguar.
    Both are correct. "Aging" is more common in American writing.

    When a G falls before a silent E and is soft (J in joke rather than G in give), then omitting the E from the gerund and adding the -ing ending will automatically keep it soft, so there is no confusion. So we omit the E just as we do in "loving" or "making."

    However, with a verb such as "singe," we have to leave the E in and spell it "singeing." Otherwise it comes out "singing," the same as the gerund for the verb "to sing," which does not have a soft G. We automatically pronounce "singing" with a hard G.
    "Obstruse" is not a word. Do you know how to use dictionary.com??? It has the answers to many of the questions you ask. Hint: just click on that URL.

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  15. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    You are right : "I will forgive him if and only if he apologizes to me."

    I wrongly wrote my sentence.
     
  16. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    1. I want to search for dinosaurs in the internet.
    2. I want to search for dinosaurs on the internet.
     
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    "I wrote my sentence wrong." We try not to use the awkward adverb "wrongly" unless it's unavoidable.
    We say "on the internet." Don't look for logic. This is just how we do it.
     
  18. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    3,352

    1. Jesus suffered the penalty of death for me.
    2. Jesus suffered the penalty of death on behalf of me.
    3. Jesus suffered the penalty of death for the sake of me.

    All mean the same?


     
  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    This one is the most correct. However, we never say "the penalty of death"-- at least in America. We say "the death penalty." And the problem with that is that it's a legal term that's often used these days because of the controversy over capital punishment, so people don't like to use it in a religious context. They usually just say, "Jesus died for me." (I'm not a Christian so if someone knows more about this, feel free to jump into the discussion.)

    However, we do use a similar phrase in a different context.
    You are prohibited from passing secret information to an enemy of the United States, under penalty of death.
    But this phrase is more commonly used as a humorous exaggeration.
    Parent to child: "I order you not to go to the movies until after you've completed your schoolwork, under penalty of death."​
    We shorten that to "on my behalf." We'd only use the longer construction in a more complicated situation, such as, "I want to thank you for your donation to our charity on behalf of the thousands of people who will benefit from your generosity." There's no convenient way to shorten that.
    Same comment: "for my sake." Again, if it's a longer construction you have no choice: "For the sake of everyone who plans on visiting Disney World next year, I hope that the hurricane bypasses Florida."

    We almost never use "of" with a pronoun, because the genitive case of the pronoun makes the sentence shorter: my instead of "of me," thy instead of "of thee" (although no one talks that way in the 21st century except the Quakers), his/her/its/our/your/their instead of "of him/of her/of it/of us/of you/of them."
    I will go to his house after dinner. Not: "I will go to the house of him after dinner."​
    Of course this only applies if the "of" is literally used to signify possession. If it's idiomatic rather than literal, then it's not just okay, but usually mandatory, to use it.
    I have a vague memory of her. Not: "I have her vague memory." That sounds like you're talking about your mother: "She had a terrible memory and I seem to have inherited it because mine isn't very good either."​
     
  20. River Ape Valued Senior Member

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    1,099
    Returning to the original subject matter . . .
    Glawster, spoken in my part of the world, furnishes the speaker with
    (in expression of diminishing values of p):
    tiz, oyreckon, spexo, praps, nah, bollux and tent
    Some authorities dispute the order of the last two terms,
    but traditionalists insist that tiz (p=1) and tent (p=0) retain first and last places.

    Oh that the world's other major tongues were as expressive!
     
  21. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    You're obviously not very well acquainted with Chinese.
     
  22. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    I don't know what are you talking about?

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  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    In the Gloucester (pronounced GLAW-ster) dialect of British English, they have several words that can be used to express varying degrees of certainty. They function more or less like "maybe" and "probably." I haven't heard most of them before, but some are easy to figure out.

    Tiz is spelled 'tis in formal writing. It's a contraction of it is, like "it's" only a little older. I don't know exactly how these words are positioned in a sentence, but apparently if you start a sentence with tiz, you're saying that the probability of it being true is 100%.

    Oyreckon is a regional accent pronunciation of I reckon, which is British Midland and Southern US dialect for "I think" or "I suppose." (Cowboys talk that way in "Western" movies.) If you start a sentence with this word you're saying that you're reasonably certain, but not 100%.

    Spexo -- I never heard this one but it's obviously a contraction of I expect so. You're not quite as certain as you would be if you said "I reckon."

    Praps is obviously a contraction of perhaps. We've covered this already, it means "maybe." Maybe true, maybe false, the probability is somewhere in the range of 50:50.

    Nah -- I can't figure this out. Since it's in the lower probability range, and since it starts with N, it probably means something like "not very likely."

    Bollux is a variation of ballocks, vulgar British slang for testicles. (It's a diminutive form of "balls," and in America we just say "balls.") In British English (but not American) it means "nonsense," "preposterous," "impossible," etc. A very strong negative: the probability is zero.

    Tent -- He lost me on this one. "Tent" can be a slang word for "pay attention," but I don't see how it would fit in this list. The probability at this end of the list should be less than zero, if that made any sense. We would expect the word in this position to mean something like "This is so impossible that only an idiot would even think of it."
     

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