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Thread: Common grammar mistakes!

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Han Solo View Post
    I was always taught that it is XX and I, and me and XX.

    Me and XX is an informal use in conversation, but not correct grammatically.

    Han Solo
    I is correct if I am the subject, ie. the doer. Me is correct if I am the object, ie. the doee. So I and other posters can post as we like, but you can ban me and other posters if we break the rules.

    Subject verb object
    I love me

  2. #42
    Senior Member sniffles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pannonian View Post
    Aren't them and they used as third person, indefinite gender? That's what I've been told in the past anyway.
    That's the common usage, but when I was growing up it was considered improper grammar.
    你看这些云彩,聚了又散,散了又聚,人生离合也是一样。

  3. #43
    Moderator Suet Seung's Avatar
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    Okay. Even I occasionally become confused about grammar sometimes.

    Calling Ken, HYS, or any English grammar experts.

    For this sentence:

    My parents car was in the autoshop.

    or

    My parents' car was in the autoshop.

  4. #44
    Moderator Suet Seung's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suet Seung View Post
    Okay. Even I occasionally become confused about grammar sometimes.

    Calling Ken, HYS, or any English grammar experts.

    For this sentence:

    My parents car was in the autoshop.

    or

    My parents' car was in the autoshop.
    Nevermind. I found an explanation online: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1320897

  5. #45
    Senior Member HuangYushi's Avatar
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    This following is not a grammar question per se, but with reference to Suet Seung's post #43, I would like to ask:

    1. Do people who grow up in places (countries) where English is the first language tend to find it easier to learn English grammar?

    2. Do these people (as stated in #1 above) tend to learn the basic forms of English grammar by using the language, or by sitting in a class and memorising things like "how to use 'a/an/the'", etc, etc?


    The reason for my questions: I grew up in an English-speaking home (my mother is a trained teacher who spoke and taught Queen's English), but I still had to memorise grammar forms, according to the way it was taught to schoolchildren in those days. Personally, I don't find grammar difficult (not even when I had to memorise it as a kid), so sometimes, it's a bit hard for me to empathise with my students who struggle with it.

    I would appreciate it if Ken Cheng, Suet Seung and other forum members who are involved in teaching and/or otherwise using English grammar in significant way (e.g. writers, editors, etc) can offer their personal views on/insights to these questions.

    Many thanks in advance.

    Yushi Huang
    Jin Yong's Ode to Gallantry [侠客行].
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  6. #46
    Moderator Suet Seung's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuangYushi View Post
    This following is not a grammar question per se, but with reference to Suet Seung's post #43, I would like to ask:

    1. Do people who grow up in places (countries) where English is the first language tend to find it easier to learn English grammar?

    2. Do these people (as stated in #1 above) tend to learn the basic forms of English grammar by using the language, or by sitting in a class and memorising things like "how to use 'a/an/the'", etc, etc?


    The reason for my questions: I grew up in an English-speaking home (my mother is a trained teacher who spoke and taught Queen's English), but I still had to memorise grammar forms, according to the way it was taught to schoolchildren in those days. Personally, I don't find grammar difficult (not even when I had to memorise it as a kid), so sometimes, it's a bit hard for me to empathise with my students who struggle with it.

    I would appreciate it if Ken Cheng, Suet Seung and other forum members who are involved in teaching and/or otherwise using English grammar in significant way (e.g. writers, editors, etc) can offer their personal views on/insights to these questions.

    Many thanks in advance.

    Yushi Huang
    I remember reading the first chapter in English Grammar: Language as a Human Behavior by Anita K. Barry and she does discuss what you've brought up in question here.

    1. Why Study English Grammar?

    Native Speakers and Grammar Study. Standard English. Judgments about English. The Legacy of the Eighteenth Century. Reflections.

    http://www.pearson.ch/HigherEducatio...-as-Human.aspx

    I suggest you find the book and read it because it would give you insights on what you've asked.

    The people with English as their first language have the advantage of learning to speak English and have more exposure to how sentences/phrases are structured, but not all of them have perfect English grammar without being formally taught. Being able to speak English does not give them the ability to teach English to others. They wouldn't be able to explain English grammar and how it works. Because I think we learn the majority from hearing first because we're taught to read aloud to determine if it sounds right or not.

    Last year, I took an English grammar class and I found out even native English speakers make mistakes. There's a classmate of mine who's English is a second language for him, but he was more familiar with English grammar than most of us native English speakers. Because when he learned to speak English, he also had to strictly learn the English grammar too.

    My basic grammar was okay. But after taking that class, I realized there's a lot of things I forgot or wasn't really paying attention when I was taught it the first time. And then there were things I learned that wasn't formally taught in class before.

    I think people who had the advantage of speaking English as one of their first languages takes it for granted.

    HYS, I think I'll have to continue after lunch. I'm running low on energy and thinking hard to remember what I read and learned from Barry's book is making me hungrier.

    Be back after lunch!
    Last edited by Suet Seung; 09-20-09 at 01:52 PM.

  7. #47
    Senior Member junny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuangYushi View Post
    This following is not a grammar question per se, but with reference to Suet Seung's post #43, I would like to ask:

    1. Do people who grow up in places (countries) where English is the first language tend to find it easier to learn English grammar?

    2. Do these people (as stated in #1 above) tend to learn the basic forms of English grammar by using the language, or by sitting in a class and memorising things like "how to use 'a/an/the'", etc, etc?


    The reason for my questions: I grew up in an English-speaking home (my mother is a trained teacher who spoke and taught Queen's English), but I still had to memorise grammar forms, according to the way it was taught to schoolchildren in those days. Personally, I don't find grammar difficult (not even when I had to memorise it as a kid), so sometimes, it's a bit hard for me to empathise with my students who struggle with it.

    I would appreciate it if Ken Cheng, Suet Seung and other forum members who are involved in teaching and/or otherwise using English grammar in significant way (e.g. writers, editors, etc) can offer their personal views on/insights to these questions.

    Many thanks in advance.

    Yushi Huang
    1. When you're constantly exposed to a language, your chances of picking it up are much better. However, even native speakers can struggle with grammar, because grammar can be dry and people don't always want to understand the whys and hows of a language. Getting down to the nitty-gritty of a language isn't for everyone, especially when we aren't really speaking Queen's English these days.

    2. Both. You can't just sit in a classroom trying to pick up the intricacies of a language. You have to be exposed to it constantly, be it by reading, speaking, listening to audio tapes or English songs, or watching English-language films.

    You must also realise that not every one has a flair for languages. Some people struggle while others find it a breeze. I had the benefit of English tuition (because I grew up in a Mandarin/dialect-speaking environment) and my love of reading helped immensely, so I did not struggle as much for my English-related subjects as some of my classmates. Moreover, I am in a profession where sufficient fluency is a requirement, and that really helps when mastering a language.

    When you reach a stage where you command a language with ease, it is easy to forget that others may not have the same gift or are not exposed to the same sort of circumstances you had when learning a language. What is familiar to you is new to someone else. Also, international students already have ingrained another language structure that may be vastly different from English and that can be difficult to surmount. I had trouble twisting my brain around to Italian conjugations because I tended to think in English before translating over to Italian. That may be the case for your students as well. Outside of class, they may have little or no opportunity to practise their newly-acquired language skills, so what they have learnt in class today may not be retained until the next class.
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  8. #48
    Senior Member mawguy's Avatar
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    Before I reply, Yushi, I just want to point out that I'm only an English-as-my-first-language speaker -- no ties to teaching, writing, editing, or any form of advocation of the language.

    Quote Originally Posted by HuangYushi View Post

    1. Do people who grow up in places (countries) where English is the first language tend to find it easier to learn English grammar?
    Yes, most definitely. When you are immersed in a culture and environment where you come in contact with that language both academically and practically, it's definitely much easier to pick up the structure of the language and be able to use it. Of course, there is the danger of also picking up bad habits and incorrect/lazy rules that aren't necessarily "taught" in school but just part of everyday lingo. For example, "I could care less" is a very common mistake that, unless it was pointed out and corrected by someone in the know, is easily perpetrated in common speech because so many people make the same mistake that it becomes "the norm" and, supposedly, correct. Others that are unknowingly grammatically incorrect include "spitting image" (the correct form is "spit and image"), "irregardless" (double negative), "nuculer" (damned George W. Bush et al), and the detestable "could/would/should of" (which I've already ranted about in a previous post).


    2. Do these people (as stated in #1 above) tend to learn the basic forms of English grammar by using the language, or by sitting in a class and memorising things like "how to use 'a/an/the'", etc, etc?
    I learned it several ways: (1) formally through school, (2) speaking it outside of school with friends, (3) watching television, and (4) reading books that were both part of the school curriculum and as pleasure reading. Each method reinforces the others until the grammar rules become second nature.

    I have great sympathy for those for whom English is a second (or third) language. Being such a hodge-podge of grammar rules, it's sometimes very hard to know how to construct a correct sentence. And if they don't get a chance to apply the (very dull and boring) myriad of (sometimes) complicated rules, they have a harder time remembering them. Learning a language needs to involve hearing others speak it, to have it in some sort of practical context. You could be an expert on dissecting each part of "The cat sat on the mat", but if you don't use the rules beyond the classroom, you won't necessarily be able to put the components together properly when confronted with the need to do so -- hence the variations like "The cat sitted on the mat".

    It most certainly does NOT help that many "artists" (*cough*rappers*cough*) are purposely using improper grammar and spelling. Then, there are the abominations known as "text speak" and "LOLcats". (/rant)
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  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuangYushi View Post
    1. Do people who grow up in places (countries) where English is the first language tend to find it easier to learn English grammar?

    2. Do these people (as stated in #1 above) tend to learn the basic forms of English grammar by using the language, or by sitting in a class and memorising things like "how to use 'a/an/the'", etc, etc?


    Personally, I don't find grammar difficult (not even when I had to memorise it as a kid), so sometimes, it's a bit hard for me to empathise with my students who struggle with it.
    Junny and Mawguy pretty much said what I want to say. English is my second spoken language but my first reading/writing language. Throughout my school years I struggled with English. I don't know why I had such a hard time even though I started learning the language at the age of five.

    Question 1: The answer is yes.

    Question 2: Initially, I learned the basic forms of English grammar by listening to others speak it, be it friends, or people on television or the radio. The drawback is I pick up improper English. I find that learning and memorizing the grammar rules and putting them to use are the best way to learn the language. English is still not second nature to me. If I'm concerned about speaking and writing properly, I actually have to think about those grammar rules.

  10. #50
    Senior Member sniffles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by junny View Post

    You must also realise that not every one has a flair for languages. Some people struggle while others find it a breeze.
    This is a very important point. We just aren't all "wired" the same way.
    --------------------
    On a tangent from the topic of common grammar mistakes: For some reason today I was thinking about some posts I saw some time ago about people speaking "lazy" Chinese. It occurred to me that there's plenty of "lazy" English spoken, as well. A great many people don't pronounce words correctly. Just a few examples I can think of:
    "Comfterble" instead of comfortable
    "Wensday" instead of Wednesday
    "Twenny" instead of twenty
    Lots of other slurred words like "gonna" (going to), "wanna" (want to), "didja" (did you). Things like this have got to make it a challenge for non-English speakers to learn English.
    你看这些云彩,聚了又散,散了又聚,人生离合也是一样。

  11. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suet Seung View Post
    Last year, I took an English grammar class and I found out even native English speakers make mistakes. There's a classmate of mine who's English is a second language for him, but he was more familiar with English grammar than most of us native English speakers. Because when he learned to speak English, he also had to strictly learn the English grammar too.
    Why can't the English learn to set a good example to people whose English is painful to your ears? The Scotch and the Irish leave you close to tears. There even are places where English completely disappears. In America, they haven't used it for years. Why can't the English teach their children how to speak? Norwegians learn Norwegian; the Greeks are taught their Greek. In France every Frenchman knows his language fro A to Z. The French never care what they do, actually, as long as they pronounce it properly. Arabians learn Arabian with the speed of summer lightning. And Hebrews learn it backwards, which is absolutely frightening. But use proper English you're regarded as a freak. Why can't the English learn to speak?

  12. #52
    Senior Member mawguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pannonian View Post
    Why can't the English learn to set a good example to people whose English is painful to your ears? The Scotch and the Irish leave you close to tears. There even are places where English completely disappears. In America, they haven't used it for years. Why can't the English teach their children how to speak? Norwegians learn Norwegian; the Greeks are taught their Greek. In France every Frenchman knows his language fro A to Z. The French never care what they do, actually, as long as they pronounce it properly. Arabians learn Arabian with the speed of summer lightning. And Hebrews learn it backwards, which is absolutely frightening. But use proper English you're regarded as a freak. Why can't the English learn to speak?
    great, now you've got that song stuck in my head!
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  13. #53
    Senior Member balikpapan's Avatar
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    From experience, tenses that is regularly used in conversation are:
    1. Past Progressive
    2. Past tense
    3. Present tense
    4. Future tense
    others are just occasionally.

    .

  14. #54
    Senior Member sniffles's Avatar
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    At least twice during the past week I have shouted at my television because a voiceover announcer said, "Could've never" instead of the correct "Could never have".
    你看这些云彩,聚了又散,散了又聚,人生离合也是一样。

  15. #55
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    I'm guilty. sometimes i really don't notice it. especially when people have to write a sentence that includes the word "like" 50 times.

  16. #56
    Senior Member sniffles's Avatar
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    I hate tv shows and movies with historical settings in which the characters speak in modern colloquial English. It means the writers assume the audience members are too ignorant to understand dialogue that isn't full of bad grammar and slang.
    你看这些云彩,聚了又散,散了又聚,人生离合也是一样。

  17. #57
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    One word used by some forum members is 'stuffs'. It always puts a smile on my face.

  18. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by sniffles View Post
    I hate tv shows and movies with historical settings in which the characters speak in modern colloquial English. It means the writers assume the audience members are too ignorant to understand dialogue that isn't full of bad grammar and slang.
    Chinese equivalent: Red Cliff.

    Bloody horrible.
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    I never learned the correct way to say these kinds of sentences... is it, "It's Sally and I's house", "It's my and Sally's house" or are neither correct, in which case, what would be the correct wording/sentence structure? Clearly, I could say "our house", but what if I'm speaking to a third party and Sally is not physically present?

  20. #60
    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skylee View Post
    I never knew the correct way to say these kinds of sentences... is it, "It's Sally and I's house", "It's my and Sally's house" or are neither correct, in which case, what would be the correct wording/sentence structure? Clearly, I could say "our house", but what if I'm speaking to a third party and Sally is not physically present?
    There are always ways around this.

    Here's how I would do it: "Sally and I share this house."

    See? Problem solved; you just need to think outside one set sentence structure.

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