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  1. #1
    pinbong is offline Junior Member
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    Default Are these Sentences Grammatically Wrong??

    Hi, teachers:

    I'm a chinese and I'm getting myself prepared for the spoken language lately. And I've noticed that Americans tend to use adjectives as adverbs. Maybe I'm wrong. Being a foreigner I can not tell if they're grammatically correct. The following are some examples: (The sentences in the brackets are what I think should be the correct usage according to grammar)

    He's doing real good. (Me: He's doing really good )

    He's doing terrible. (Me: He's doing terribly.)

    .....

    oh, there were a lot of examples in my head. How come all of a sudden I can think of only two?? Anyways, I wonder do British speak the same way??(I mean using adjectives and adverbs?) Are these expressions grammatically correct or not?? Or they're just acceptable in everyday speaking? Can I use them in formal writing??

    Also, I've noticed that native speakers tend to omit "if" when saying an "if" clause, don't they?. Such as:

    "you do that again I'm gonna beat you." (Me: If you do that again I'm going to beat you.)

    Will update this post when I think of more examples.

    Thanks for all the answers in advance.:)
    Last edited by pinbong; 11-Nov-2010 at 04:49.

  2. #2
    pinbong is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Are these Sentences Grammatically Wrong??

    oh, another one just occured to me.

    Back in middle school, I was taught an expression "If I were you...". Using "were" instead of "was" is subjunctive mood. So I was taught.

    But in real life, I've heard many Americans say:"If I was you..." (when the mood intended was obviously subjunctive)

    And when I said "If I were you...." I got corrected by native speakers all the time. Now I almost tend to think my old grammar knowledge is outdated and the new rule is "If I was you..."

    Would like to have a professional explanation on this. Thanks a lot.:)

  3. #3
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Are these Sentences Grammatically Wrong??

    I consider the real/terrible examples wrong on any type of exam or in any type of writing more formal than an email to your friends. I don't speak that way, my children don't speak that way, and my colleagues don't speak that way.

    While we are losing the subjunctive in sentences like "If he was serious" instead of "If he were serious," I have never heard anyone, American or others, say "If I was you." Ever. Are you sure you've heard that? Or could it have been "he was" statements instead?
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  4. #4
    pinbong is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Are these Sentences Grammatically Wrong??

    Thank you, Mr./Ms. Barb_D.

    I heard the real/terrible sentences all the time from Americans. Because this summer vacation I had a job and needed to communicate with a lot of Americans.

    Actually I've never heard one of them say "it's really good." . I could be wrong though. Maybe they just pronounce "really" similar to "real". Maybe it's just another example of American slurring. But some of them exchange emails with me and they write "real good" in emails too.

    About the "If I was you...", when I said "If I were you I would have...." I got corrected by one of my American clients. He did say he was not very good with grammar. But I thought he was a native speaker after all and could be relied on for everyday speaking.

    And "He is doing terrible" was from an American sitcom Friends I just watched last night. It was spoken by Monica's father(edited to add: Season 3 Episode 1, 19:18 When Monica said "How's he doing?" Her father answered "He's doing terrible."). Similar "adjectives as adverbs" examples abound in that show, making me think these adjectives are now taking place of adverbs, at least in American English. (I'm less familiar with British accents. Not sure if Brits speak the same.) When I say "really good", the message I read from Americans' eyes seems to be "you're too formal. We native speakers don't speak that way."

    I admit my listening ability is far from good. But on the question of "real/terrible", I think I caught them right. Having been exposed to so many "real good"s, I myself now use "real" a lot. It almost becomes habitual.

    You're a writer and maybe your close ones all tend to be stricter with your daily speeches?? I do want to learn correct English. But I also don't want to sound too formal like a FOB foreigner (even if I am.)

    Would love to hear your advice.
    Last edited by pinbong; 11-Nov-2010 at 04:56.

  5. #5
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are these Sentences Grammatically Wrong??

    Mr.? Seriously? That's what the avatar looks like?


    There's nothing wrong with using correct English. Shall and whom (except right after a preposition) are just about dead, but the correct use of adverbs and the subjunctive is alive and well.

    Your English is amazing and I would not have known you were not a native speaker. Don't compromise just because the people around you do.

    I say really good, doing terribly, and if I were. No one thinks it's weird.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  6. #6
    pinbong is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Are these Sentences Grammatically Wrong??

    Haha, thanks for the compliment, Ms. Barb_D.

    About the avatar, many Chinese netizens use avatars of the opposite sex. Few disclose their true gender.

    My English is not as good as you think. I still have problems with listening, even with reading. There're too many slangs and idioms in English.

    My English is considered by native speakers comparatively better than most of my classmates. But I can not score higher than many of them, which is frustrating.

    There're now many foreigners in China. Most of the spoken English teachers in my college come from USA. I don't have many problems communicating with them(grammatical errors are often made though.) I write better because it's slower-paced and I can think as I write. When speaking I can not.

    According to many Chinese students abroad, native speakers tend to speak way faster in their home countries than in China. I don't know if there're Chinese around you. As far as I know, few Chinese students can communicate freely with native speakers even if they score high in GRE and Toefl.

    I just want to improve my listening ability. But I've realised it's the hardest part. There're too many background knowledge to learn.

  7. #7
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are these Sentences Grammatically Wrong??

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    I have never heard anyone, American or others, say "If I was you." Ever. Are you sure you've heard that? Or could it have been "he was" statements instead?

    As pnibong said: "You're a writer and maybe your close ones all tend to be stricter with your daily speeches?"

    I have to report that I frequently hear "if I was you", even from educated people and teachers (not necessarily the same thing)

  8. #8
    riquecohen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are these Sentences Grammatically Wrong??

    Quote Originally Posted by pinbong View Post
    Thank you, Mr./Ms. Barb_D.

    I heard the real/terrible sentences all the time from Americans. Because this summer vacation I had a job and needed to communicate with a lot of Americans.

    And "He is doing terrible" was from an American sitcom Friends I just watched last night. It was spoken by Monica's father(edited to add: Season 3 Episode 1, 19:18 When Monica said "How's he doing?" Her father answered "He's doing terrible."). Similar "adjectives as adverbs" examples abound in that show, making me think these adjectives are now taking place of adverbs, at least in American English.

    .
    It seems that you've been associating with the wrong Americans. I, like Barb, have never uttered anything like yor examples, nor have I heard anything like that from anyone I know. Don't expect to hear "correct" English on American sitcoms.

  9. #9
    MrRubik is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Are these Sentences Grammatically Wrong??

    Definitely don't compromise for the sake of others' ignorances, just have more confidence in yourself because you obviously have very good English. In the presence of foreigners, natives, even ones less versed in issues of grammar, always try to correct foreigners' grammar. It's normally nothing more than what sounds natural to them and what doesn't, not anything based on knowledge of grammar. RE Barb_d: Are you just referring to American English in regards to 'shall'? because 'shall' is very much prevalent in British English.

  10. #10
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are these Sentences Grammatically Wrong??

    Quote Originally Posted by MrRubik View Post
    RE Barb_d: Are you just referring to American English in regards to 'shall'? because 'shall' is very much prevalent in British English.
    Yes, the original post was about Americans' use of English. Broadly speaking, shall lives on (here) only in questions ("Shall we...?") and in contract language ("the Parties shall..."). I've never heard an American say "I shall send that to you in the morning." I never use it in an affirmative statement.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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