Help with English

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

  1. Saint Valued Senior Member

    Not bad vs. good. Do they mean the same?
    If you think it is really good, why not just say good instead of "not bad"?

    Is this cookie tasty? Not bad! Or Good! ???
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  3. Saint Valued Senior Member

    1. I have hope in God that he will deliver me.
    2. I have hope on God that he will deliver me.

    3. I believe Jesus vs. I believe in Jesus, got difference in meaning?
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  5. Saint Valued Senior Member

    " I give you the benefit of doubt" means what?
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    You have written so much that is difficult for me to understand. -- or -- ... that I am having difficulty understanding.
    No. I only have a B.S. and it is in accounting. But I have been studying languages and linguistics since 1954, when I was 11. Many (perhaps all) of our Moderators in the "hard science" subforums (Physics, Biology, etc.) are professionals in their fields with advanced degrees. But that's not true in all of the other discussion topics.

    I'm also the Moderator of Arts & Culture. I don't have a degree in any of the arts, although I am a part-time non-career professional musician.
    This sentence is not really incorrect, but we would almost always say, "He has no friends other than me."

    "Me" is correct, rather than "I." When a pronoun follows "than," you have to look back in the sentence and find the first word in the comparison.

    "He is taller than I." "He" is the subject of the sentence, so it is in the nominative case. Therefore "I" must also be in the nominative case. This is true even if the subject is a noun; nouns are not inflected for case like pronouns: "My wife is smarter than I."

    However, this grammatical rule is often broken, especially in speech. Most people say, "My wife is smarter than me." In writing, I strongly recommend that you learn to use the words properly and say "smarter than I." Learn correct English first, then you can experiment with colloquialisms and slang.

    Back on topic, your sentence starts with "He has no friends..." "Friends" is the object of the verb "to have." Since it is a noun it is not inflected for case, but you are comparing it to a pronoun. The pronoun must be in the accusative case because it is also acting as an object of the verb. So, "He has no friends other than me."
    First off, pay careful attention to the difference between:
    • Beside. Meaning: at the side of, alongside, near. When I take my dog for a ride in the car he sits beside me, rather than sticking his head out the window as some dogs do.
    • Besides. Meaning: in addition to, other than. Besides rock and roll concerts, I also go to hear symphonies and chamber music. This restaurant offers a full menu, besides our award-winning cakes and pies.
    So: "He has no friends besides me." Again, we would say "friends" instead of "friend." I would only put it in the singular when using an idiomatic expression: "I have no idea why Alex isn't here yet, besides the possibility that he's stuck in traffic." "Melinda has no talent besides the ability to always look beautiful."
    They don't mean the same at all. You need to focus on the difference between an opposite and a negative. My dog is not small, but at 20lb/9kg he is not big either. A small dog weighs ten or twelve pounds (4-5kg), a big one weighs at least 40lb/18kg. (Standards vary from one culture to the next; in France a dog probably has to weigh less than 5lb/2kg to be called "small."

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    When we say something is "not bad," that is almost a colloquialism. We could mean literally that it is merely not bad, but there's no way we would classify it as good. "This food is not bad: it won't make you sick." But it's also a way of giving a grudging compliment: "I can tell that you've finally gotten serious about studying your math lessons. Your score on the last test was not bad."

    Finally, there's what we call damning with faint praise.
    Professor, what did you think about my children's musical performances?
    Rose, Aidan and Neal were very good!
    Okay, but how about little Casey???
    He was not bad.​
    You have hope "in" someone or something, not "on" him or it. However, your sentence is very awkward.
    I have hope in the future. I believe that one day there will be no war, hunger or racism.​
    You can say, "I have hope in God. I believe he will deliver me." But most people would say "faith" instead of "hope," when they're talking about a person, whether it's a real person or a mythological person.
    I have faith in George and his crew. I'm sure they will finish painting the house long before the rainy season.​
    Gigantic difference.
    • To believe someone means that you trust what he says. You think he's an expert in his subject, or at the very least you don't think he's a liar.
    • To believe in someone is quite different; it has several slightly different meanings.
      "I believe in Atlantis (or King Arthur)." This means I believe that it was a real place (or that he was a real person).
      "I believe in President Obama." This means I trust him: I think he's an honorable man who will try to do what he promised.
      "I believe in the Texas Rangers." This means that even though they lost the World Series this year, I have faith in their coaching and team spirit, and might win next year. (I'm making this up, I know nothing about baseball and had to use Google to even find out who played in this year's World Series.

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      "I believe in democracy." This means that I think that democracy is the best way to provide people with freedom and good government.
      "I believe in Mayor Gray." This means that even though the police keep discovering illegal things he's been doing, I still think he'll do a good job of running the city.​
    To believe someone means you think what they say is correct. To believe in someone is to have faith in their existence, honor, skill, etc. You can also believe in a place, a thing, a concept, etc.
    "I give you the benefit of the doubt." This means that I don't have enough information to decide for sure whether you are correct/honest/skillful, etc. But I will err in your favor and assume that you are.

    This is the basis of the U.S. (and other countries') legal system. If you are prosecuted for a crime, the government must present evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty, before it can convict you and punish you. Otherwise, even if it looks very likely that you commited the crime, that's not enough to convict you: you get the benefit of the doubt.

    However, we do not limit the use of this phrase to the legal system.
    • Susan, I see that your husband is installing the new spa. I thought you were going to hire a contractor?
    • I was, Sharon, but Keith said he could do it.
    • But Keith has no experience with that kind of work, does he?
    • I know. But he did a pretty good job building our doghouse.
    • A doghouse? A spa is a much bigger project. Besides, doghouses don't have plumbing! How can you trust him?
    • He's my husband, Sharon! I have to give him the benefit of the doubt. Besides, the city inspector will come and look at it before we're allowed to invite you and Roger over to use it. If there's something wrong it will be the inspector who accuses Keith of doing bad work, not me!
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2011
  8. Saint Valued Senior Member

    Thank you for your long explanation.
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Actually, that was several short explanations. I was responding to five of your posts.

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  10. Saint Valued Senior Member

    Should I say I believe God or I believe in God?
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Re-read my last post:
    If you say you believe in God, that means you think God is an actual living being, not a metaphor. If you say you believe God, that means you think that anything God says is true.
  12. Saint Valued Senior Member

    If I mean both, then how should I say it? "I believe and believe in God"?
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    That's pretty awkward. If you were writing it, you could write (including the italics), "I believe in, and believe, Winnie the Pooh." But if you were saying it aloud, you'd have to pause where the commas are and speak the words in italics with more emphasis. You'd be saying that you believe Winnie the Pooh is real, and also that the things he says in A. A. Milne's famous books are true. (Or in the more recent Walt Disney animated cartoons.) Pooh is kind of silly so it would be easy to not take his words seriously, even if you were a small child who believes he's real.

    But that's a very dramatic way to use the language. You have to be a good speaker to pull it off. Most people would just say, "I believe in Winnie the Pooh, and I also believe him."

    People who believe in God believe that he is infallible and trustworthy. So they have no reason to say that they also believe him. That goes without saying.

    But the opposite is not true. It's possible to believe God, in the sense of believing that the words attributed to him in the Bible and other holy books are true, without actually believing that God is real. Shakespeare's characters say a lot of really useful, important things that can be accepted as truth, even though many of them are fictitious. So does Winnie the Pooh, for that matter.

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    So your original statement (slightly reworked to be less awkward and easier to say), "I believe God and I also believe in him," makes sense. You're saying, "I believe the things God says in the Bible are true, but I also happen to think that he is real and not just a fictional character like Winnie the Pooh."
  14. Saint Valued Senior Member

    This is an agreement between you and me to keep this secret forever.

    OR you and I ?
  15. Saint Valued Senior Member

    terrible, terrific, terrifying, different meanings?
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    These days many native speakers get it wrong, so you can be better than a native speaker by getting it right.

    If "you and I" or "she and I" or "you and he" or any combination of pronouns are the subject of the sentence, then they must be in the nominative case: I/thou/he/she/we/they.
    • You and I are friends.
    • She and I went to the concert together.
    • They and we are fighting over possession of this house.
    • He and thou will never be admitted to Heaven if you don't start behaving better.
    But if they are the direct object of the sentence, or the object of a preposition, then they must be in the accusative case: me/thee/him/her/us/them. ("You" and "it" are the same in nominative and accusative, although "ye" used to be the nominative case of "you.")
    • John's angry remark hurt both you and me.
    • This agreement is between her and me; your opinion doesn't matter.
    • The judge issued a surprise decision and ruled against both them and us.
    • After all the crimes you committed, I suspect that God dislikes both him and thee.
    "Between" is a preposition so any noun(s) or pronoun(s) that follow it are automatically its object(s), so they must always be in the accusative case. "Between you and I" is NEVER correct. When you hear Americans speak that way, you can feel smug because you can speak better English than they do.
    Very much. I keep telling you to start using, but apparently you're not using it.

    Why not??? You'll master English a lot faster by looking up definitions in the dictionary whenever you need them, instead of getting just a few from us during the course of a week. If you want to become a good speaker of English you'll have to do some work. Only little children can learn a foreign language without trying very hard.
    • "Terrible" means "very bad." But the adverb "terribly" has lost its power and is now used to mean almost the same thing as "very," just a little bit stronger. A singer with a terribly good voice sings a little better than one with a very good voice. Still, "terribly" can also have its original meaning, "very badly." My mother drives terribly; I never ride with her. Joseph sings terribly; he should stick to the piano.
    • "Terrific" has, ironically, developed a quite opposite meaning: extremely good. The concert was terrific. I got a terrific deal on my new car. I had a terrific time with Sheila last night. This is a terrific meal for ten dollars.
    • "Terrify" means "to frighten," so "terrifying" means frightening, scary, alarming, spooky.
    They all are derived from Latin terrore, "great fear," which is a noun formed from the verb terrere, "to frighten." It comes from the Proto-Indo-European root tre- which means "to shake." If you're scared, you might start to shake with fear.
  17. Saint Valued Senior Member

    I have 3 children, 2 boys and 1 girl.

    When there are adults, would I say " I have 3 children, 2 men and 1 woman." ?

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  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    You should always spell out any number less than 21: "I have three children, two boys and one girl." This rule is not always respected in informal writing such as this forum, but I'm teaching you how to write correctly for situations where it's important. Obviously it also doesn't apply in science, math, economics, etc., or when a decimal point is used.
    I don't have any children, but I've never heard anyone say that. To your mom you're always a little boy, so even when she's 90 and you're 65, she'll probably continue to say, "I have three children, two boys and a girl." Either that or just omit the gender: "I have three children." If the other person is curious about their gender, this dumps the problem on him! Is he going to ask, "How many boys and girls? How many men and women? How many of each sex? How many have an X chromosome?"

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    If the other person is really interested he'll ask a question that isn't quite so specific about gender, such as, "Tell me about them." Then the mother can say, "Well, Henry is a lawyer, Mary is a graduate student, and Bob is a loser who is sleeping on my sofa."

    Of course, these days in America it's a fad to give children names that don't provide any hint about their sex, like Morgan and Taylor. And because we are a Melting Pot, many children have names that designate gender in their parents' language but mean nothing to us, like Nikita (a Russian male name) and Parvathi (an Indian female name).

    In Latin America it's common to name children after religious objects, even if the gender doesn't match. A boy can be named Cruz ("cross"), a noun with the feminine gender, la cruz. I once knew a lady named Rosario ("rosary"), a noun with the masculine gender, el rosario. That is very confusing!

    And then there are names like Erin, Jo and Frances (girl's names) and Aaron, Joe and Francis (boy's names) that are spelled differently but pronounced the same!

    So a mother who wants to be kind to you would say, "My son Dweezil is a rock star, my daughter Loquanda is a social worker, and my other daughter Henry is in the army."

    When I was a manager my staff included one worker who was transgender: Born male but had the surgery and lived as a female. When anyone asked her parents how many children they had, they replied, "We have five kids. Half are boys, half are girls." Don't we all wish our parents had been so accepting of our choices?
  19. Saint Valued Senior Member

    The mother may say "two sons and one daughter".
  20. Saint Valued Senior Member

    1. Riding bicycle was very popular at my father's time but it is not so common at my time.

    I try to say about the time when my father was young, is the sentence clear about this?
  21. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    • Bicycle-riding was very popular in my father's time, but it is not so common today.
    • Riding bicycles was a very popular activity in my father's day, but it is less common now.
    • Many people rode bicycles when my father was young, but fewer do it today.
    • Bicycles were popular during my father's youth, but not as many people ride them today.
    • Bicycling is not as popular today as it was when my father was my age.
    Is this true in Malaysia? In the USA bicycles are everywhere. People try to save money on gasoline, clean up the environment by producing less exhaust smoke, conserve petroleum, and get more exercise to stay fit. Many of our cities have special lanes for bicycle traffic.

    Bikes are much more popular than they were when I was a kid in the 1950s. We all rode them because it wasn't as common for teenagers to have cars as it is today, but very few adults were bicyclists. Cars were cheap, gasoline was cheap, "the environment" was an unknown concept, the supply of petroleum appeared to be infinite, nobody worried about being fat, and in the consumer culture following World War II everyone wanted to have a beautiful big fast car to show how prosperous he was.
  22. Saint Valued Senior Member

    Yes, nowadays we see less bicycle than the past.
    Only people who are fond of cycling will buy bicycle.

  23. Saint Valued Senior Member

    We often use could in a question to ask somebody to do something. The use of could in this way is fairly polite (formal):

    1.Could you tell me where the bank is, please?
    2.Could you send me a catalogue, please?

    Can replace could with "can"?
    Or "may" is more polite?

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