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Saturday, June 9

10 Questions, 10 Answers











I recently joined an online forum on the Net, where questions about English (grammar, Vocabulary etc.) are discussed.



It’s a very unique experience because there are so many people that gather there from all over the world, including native speakers - whether to ask a question or to volunteer an answer. Of course if you add your opinion, you have to give enough support to it. 




Because different people have different views, you find that your answers might be effective for some people but a little different for others. You learn to communicate your ideas better and make them stronger.



For most of my readers here, that forum might be a bit difficult though. So I’ll just give you some examples of the questions that were asked there and my answers:
                         




                                                                                                             
      1.        Q: Is there a word to describe someone who owes a debt, specifically money, or does it vary depending on where the money is owed to? If a person who collects debt is a debt collector, perhaps a debt collectee?


           A: We call that person a "debtor." (You can use this with companies too). And I think you should use "creditor" for the other person.





2.        Q: What is the meaning of like growing up in the following sentence?

Now, you grew up in Southern California. What was it like growing up on the beach in the summer?


A: You should cut the meaning chunks this way:


What was it like + growing up on the beach?



     The expression "What is it like?" is used to ask "How is it?"
Ex.
What's he like?
What's the new place like?
What's it like having a lot of kids?



3.      Q: Which of the following are correct and which are wrong?

  • The 2000-year-old computer
  • The 2000 year-old computer
  • The 2000 year old computer
  • The 2000-years-old computer
  • The 2000 years-old computer
  • The 2000 years old computer

         In a documentary, BBC4 used the title The 2000 year-old computer, which I believe to be wrong. Am I right?   



           A: I'd say only the first one is correct.

         A book called "English Grammar in Use" is British, and it would put hyphens on both sides of "year."
      
       The last three are definitely unacceptable 'coz once a bunch of words precedes a Noun, they are no longer Nouns but an Adjective. And Adjectives can't become plural in English.

           So:
He's 6 yearS old. But... He's a 6-year-old boy.
It's 5 thousand dollarS. But... It's a 5-thousand-dollar bag.
It's 2 hours. But... It's a 2-hour trip.


           Similarly, we say "apple tree" but not "apples tree."
           
           Personally, I believe this is also the reason why they're strung up together like that - to become just one unit describing the Noun (in this case, "computer").




4.          Q: What's the difference between "he's going to start walking" and "he's going to walk"? Are there any shades of meaning here?

A: Both sentences mean either (A) a decided action or (B) a future happening based on the current situation.
(Of course if you're talking about a toddler, it's not A)


              "He's going to start walking" also puts emphasis and focus on the 
              commencement of the act.

Ex. 
He's tired and he's sitting on the park bench. But he's going to START WALKING soon.


On the other hand, "He's going to walk" doesn't have the same particular meaning and just refers to the act of walking as a whole.
Ex.
He missed the last bus. He's going to WALK.


          Similarly, if a toddler has never taken a step previously:
He's going to START WALKING.


          And if I notice a more advanced (toddling-wise) kid is about to take a step:
He's going to WALK.



        5.        Q: Which one is correct? 
I don't need to know where you work at.
I don't need to know where you work.




A: When we use the Interrogative Pronoun "Where," we normally don't include the Prepositions, whether it's in the form of Questions, Noun Clauses or Noun Phrases.
Ex.
Where are you going? (no "to")
Where do you live? (no "in")


          Compare these with:
WHICH restaurant are you going TO?
WHAT city do you live IN?


          Except when we ask about origins:
Where are you FROM?





6.      Q: Which one is correct? And why?
I think "worth it" is an adjective phrase. So what is "worth" then?
Sample,
You should try spending money on her. It worths it.
You should try spending money on her. It worth it.
You should try spending money on her. It is worth it.
Which one is right? The last 2 is not condemned by grammar checker.



      A: Only the last one is correct.
"Worth" is classified as an Adjective and used as one. (Although it also acts differently from all of the Adjectives.)
In your particular example, "worth" is used as an Adjective but acts as a Preposition. That's why it's normally followed by a Noun, a Pronoun or a Gerund.
Ex.
It's worth a try.
It's worth it.
It's worth trying.





7.       Q: I can not understand this sentence because of this one: all year long.

Oh, it sounds like it's raining all year long in Belgium. Which season is actually the nicest one?

                 Can any one explain it?

A: First, you should be familiar with these expressions:
all day, all week, all night, all month etc.
They don't have to be exact, as in 24 hours for "all day" or 7 days for "all week." Just follow your feeling or the situation when you use them.
Ex.
(It seems as though) I have been studying all day.


           Next, if you wanna add emphasis or make your sentence stronger you can say:
all day LONG, all week LONG, all night LONG etc.




8.     Q: I find myself unsure which one of the following is more correct: 

please let me know what do you think 
Or
 please let me know what you think

                     My gut feeling tells me that it's the latter...

                     Or are both incorrect and there is a better way to say the same thing?

A: The latter is correct and the former is definitely wrong.
When you construct questions in English, you follow this pattern: V + S, that's why you have the Helping Verb "Do" there.


But when you construct sentences, it's the opposite, you have to follow: S + V. And if you add any other Noun Clauses or Noun Phrases to your sentence, whether they were originally in question form, they cannot follow the "V + S" question pattern.


          Take a look:
What are you thinking? = Question
Please tell me what YOU ARE thinking. = Sentence
Notice that I switched the Verb and the Subject in the original question.


          In the same way:
What do you like? = Question
Please tell me what you LIKE. = Sentence
Where did you go? = Question
Please tell me where you WENT. = Sentence

·         "Do" and "Did" as Helping Verbs are normally used only in Questions and Negative sentences, not positive sentences

This topic also encompasses Direct and Indirect Questions





9.       Q: Which is the correct usage when I tell someone that I am back?
I am back to [some city]
Or
I am back in [some city]
           A: The word "back" should fit in there in a way that it would still be Ok even if it was removed:
I am to the city. = X
I am in the city. = Ok
I have come to the city. = Ok
I have gone to the city. = Ok

     We then return "back" and we have:
I am back to the city. = X
I am back in the city. = Ok
I have come back to the city. = Ok
I have gone back to the city. = Ok



         10.    Q:    For the following example:
·         I had seen many beautiful shops in UK, when I was walking down the street years ago.

I'm not sure if the phrase "years ago" at the end of this sentence is correct. Should I put it before the start of the sentence?

      A:     I'm not sure whether you're asking about the use of the Past Perfect (Had P.P.) or just the position of "years ago" in this question.
It seems to me that the matter of how the Had P.P. was applied is more important.
It would be enough to just say:
"I SAW many beautiful shops in the UK when I was walking down its streets years ago."

The "Had P.P." signals an action that happened even earlier than an already past action. So, your example above could mean:
"I HAD SEEN many beautiful shops in the UK when I was walking down the streets (of Cairo) years ago. So I didn't appreciate Cairo very much."




But of course if you added the Past Action differently in your context, your Had P.P. would be right.
e.g. I didn't enjoy Cairo very much. I HAD SEEN many beautiful shops in the UK when I was walking down its (UK) streets years ago."





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