Monday, March 27, 2017

I before E, at times

English is a very difficult language, even for native English speakers. There are so many things that are only correct because that is how they are and there is not a rule to guide you and even if there is, it still may not apply, such as the letter 'i' before 'e' unless preceded by a 'c'. It almost doesn't apply more often than it does.

Take the above sentence and the phrase so many things that are only correct because that is how they are... I had to check if 'so many things' was any sort of collective noun and I should use 'is' instead of 'are' but even if that small part was a collective noun, I would still type what sounded correct to my ears.

Here is another from a blog post. I seem to spend a lot of time changing sentences. I expect many of you get them right the first time.

I think they were all Asian students lining the walkway to the QV shopping centre.

It occurred to  me that there is more than one walkway to the shopping centre, so I added one of the walkway, but then I had to add an 's' to make it right.

I think they were all Asian students lining one of the walkways to the QV shopping centre.

Better and more accurate.

Of course I could say, One of the walkways to the QV shopping centres was lined by who I think were Asian students. That probably reads better, but does it sound better? I try to keep my blog writing a bit conversational, rather than a work of literature.

I am not sure where I was going with this very old post, so I will just publish as is.

26 comments:

  1. It is a difficult language. And when you add inconsistent/quirky/weird pronunciation to the mix it gets worse.
    Your final Asian students on the walkway sentence just sounds wrong to me.

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    1. EC, yes, I don't like that last sentence at all.

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  2. Anonymous8:53 am

    "One of the walkways to the QV shopping centres was lined by who I think were Asian students.:" Better to say ...'was lined by people I think were Asian students.'
    (I presume you think they were students and not think they were Asians which should be obvious.)
    At least you don't write 'the book was returned back to the library' which means that you, unlike far too many these days, know what the word returned means. - Ian who can't stop being a journo even when retired.

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    1. Ian, the who is a superfluous word. I do at times pick that sort of word up in my writing and delete it.

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  3. I learned grammar in primary school by being whacked on the back of the legs with a ruler (if there were errors. Not often, let me add quickly). But that means that I cannot tolerate stupid grammatical errors in school children today. I don't mind which verb they use with collective nouns but "off of" or "we is" both sound infantile.

    Other languages are worse :( Hebrew requires a feminine verb after a feminine noun, something this generation of children can not be bothered worrying about.

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    1. Hels, I take the view that everyone should try to write, regardless of the skills, but there are some basics that I am sure children know but choose to ignore. That young people here are even learning Hebrew is a little surprising.

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  4. The English language ensures we, at all times, should dot our "T's" and cross our "I's".

    I sometime cross my eyes.

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    1. Lee, and no doubt frequent roll your eyes too, especially when reading my blog.

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    2. And more particularly when I noticed I left the "s" of the end of "sometime"!!

      I grit my teeth and roll my eyes when I make typos.

      I can pat my head and rub my stomach simultaneously, too....while also rolling my eyes or crossing them! :)

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    3. Sometime is acceptable. Less acceptable is that I left out the entire word 'you' in my response and perhaps an 'ly'.

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  5. Perhaps changing 'lining the walkway' to 'lining a walkway' would have been the simplest change of all?

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    1. You are quite correct Victor. 'A walkway' is perfect.

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  6. Victor has it right. Simple is often the best.
    With your final sentence possibility you could say "One of the walkways to the QV shopping centres was lined by students who appeared to be Asian.
    I remember helping immigrants from other countries with their English while working in the factories. They had learned "proper" English and were being confused with the Australian version they heard daily. Slang in particular had them befuddled. Helping them turned out to be fun for them and me.

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    1. Snort, River. There are such dangers in the written word for us all. One misplaced comma can wreak havoc. You may not remember, but I used to teach English to a Polish immigrant couple. Some of the questions they asked about English caught me off guard. The worst question was, why?

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  7. D'Oh! I got it wrong too. "Asians who appeared to be students" is what I meant.

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    1. Isn't it duh, pronounced d'oh.

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    2. Channelling Homer Simpson here.

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    3. Yep, and I am ignorant it in my knowledge of The Simpsons.

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  8. I do the same Andrew, I throw everything I want to say down and then go through changing most of it 😊 I'm almost 100% sure I do many things that would annoy the socks off a literary purist 😀

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    1. .....what might that be, Grace.......

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  10. English gives me fits too, Andrew. There's always something that's questionable and not clear cut.
    (Ha! I had to instead of too in the original sentence.)

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    1. Sandra, don't worry, I had to change a their to there in comments.

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  11. English - they say it's a hard language to learn.
    How it's changed over the years though by people of course, who else would change it!

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    1. Margaret, I cannot understand how anyone who is not born and brought up with English can ever possibly understand its nuances.

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