This is a forum to discuss the gray areas of the English language for which you would not find answers easily in dictionaries or other reference books. You can browse through the latest questions and comments below. If you have a question of your own, please submit it here.
Search Pain in the English
I want to play a Star Wars video review as listening practice for an EFL student. However, it contains a strange construction that I can’t figure out how to explain: “Now, the question most likely on your mind, be you Jedi or be you Sith, is...”
I know that it would be easy enough to say, “It means ‘whether you are Jedi or Sith,’” but I wonder if there’s a better explanation.
I’ve noticed that “haitch” is becoming more common than “aitch” when it comes to pronouncing “H”. Why is this, and what is the thinking on which pronunciation is preferable (or even correct)? My mind goes back to my 4th year high school Latin teacher who was very fond of rendering what he obviously considered witty quotes about “Arrius and his haspirates“.
I have often noticed that in Scotland quite a few people tend to confuse words like:
- amount / number: e.g. Amount of people
- much / many: e.g. Too much eggs
- less / fewer: e.g. Less eggs
There are possibly others in this category.
Has anyone noticed this in other areas?
Has someone decided that some prepositions and conjunctions are no longer required, and that dates shall no longer be denoted by using words like first second and third?
Is this just another step toward abbreviating speech and writing to the level of English used on mobile phone text messages?
Is there something wrong in saying, or writing, the following:-
‘December the third (or 3rd.)’ as opposed to ‘December three (3).’
‘The third (3rd) of December.’ » ‘Three (3) December’
‘I’ll see you on Wednesday’ » ‘ I’ll see you Wednesday’
‘In a conference on Monday..’ » ‘In a conference Monday...’
‘One hundred and twenty’ » ‘One hundred twenty’
For instance: “We need to do everything we can prevention-wise.”
Other similar words: taxwise, money-wise, property-wise, food-wise
I realise there has been resistance to indiscriminate usage; the question is really about what constitutes “indiscriminate”?
Secondly, why the prejudice against what is a productive and concise suffix, when the alternative phrases are cumbersome and pretentious.
In my opinion, the greatest pain in the English language is the so-called Tenses.
Generation after generation, grammarians and linguists have been trying to use the term for describing how English Verb System works writing more and more wise books on the subject, without any visible results.
Millions of ESL/EFL learners find Tenses to be hopelessly tangled, confusing and totally incomprehensible. So do a great number of ESL/EFL teachers.
And it is no wonder, because describing English grammar as having only past and present is like trying to describe a car as having three wheels.
I think that English can do perfectly well without “Tenses” because it is a meaningless and therefore useless term.