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Thread: Literally

  1. #1
    edmondjanet is offline Member
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    Literally

    I am an ignorant person so I want to say something literally.

    I am small fish who is swimming playfully in the sea.
    Is this sentence correct or not?
    Thank you.

  2. #2
    5jj's Avatar
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    Re: Literally

    Quote Originally Posted by edmondjanet View Post
    I am an ignorant person so I want to say something literally.

    I am small fish who is swimming playfully in the sea.
    Is this sentence correct or not?
    Thank you.
    It is literally correct only if you are a small fish. I doubt if you are - fish of any kind, large or small, do not write to this forum.

  3. #3
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Re: Literally

    The "misuse" of the word "literally" has received a lot of attention lately. I put "misuse" in quote because there are those who feel strongly that unless you are, in fact, what is said, it's wrong. (I happend to be in that group.)

    But there are others who feel equally strongly that no one could possibly think the person is really a fish, that his head really exploded when he was faced with a difficult math question, or that he really ate 1,000,000 M&Ms, and therefore, it's simply a colloquial but acceptable intensifier.

    When someone says "When I saw that math problem, my head literally exploded" or "My God, was Sarah a pig. She ate, like, literally, 1,000,000 jelly beans!" I do wince. It's as bad as "very unique" to me. Many other people have no problem with it.

    In your academic and formal writing, certainly avoid it. It's a personal choice how you handle it in speech.
    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
    edmondjanet is offline Member
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    Re: Literally

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    It is literally correct only if you are a small fish. I doubt if you are - fish of any kind, large or small, do not write to this forum.
    I am very much sad with this answer because in my language,(malayalam) We are using such type of sentence to show how we are ignorant or how we are small in this world. In my language such type of sentence is powerful in speech and oration.
    Thank you.

  5. #5
    freezeframe is offline Key Member
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    Re: Literally

    Quote Originally Posted by edmondjanet View Post
    I am very much sad with this answer because in my language,(malayalam) We are using such type of sentence to show how we are ignorant or how we are small in this world. In my language such type of sentence is powerful in speech and oration.
    Thank you.
    It is a great sentence. Except it's metaphorical, not literal (you're not an actual aquatic animal with gills and fins).

  6. #6
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Re: Literally

    Quote Originally Posted by freezeframe View Post
    It is a great sentence. Except it's metaphorical, not literal (you're not an actual aquatic animal with gills and fins).
    I agree -- we do use metaphors frequently in English. They paint a story more vividly than literal details in many situations.
    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.

  7. #7
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Re: Literally

    Quote Originally Posted by edmondjanet View Post
    I am an ignorant person so I want to say something literally.

    I am small fish who is swimming playfully in the sea.
    Is this sentence correct or not?
    Thank you.
    You're possibly confusing "literally" with "literarily; in a literary manner, ie. figuratively"
    They mean the opposite.

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Literally

    Quote Originally Posted by edmondjanet View Post
    I am very much sad with this answer because in my language,(malayalam) We are using such type of sentence to show how we are ignorant or how we are small in this world. In my language such type of sentence is powerful in speech and oration.

    But it may lose its power in translation. Without telling people or giving clues in the context, it may not be clear that your sentence refers to ignorance of surroundings. I wouldn't have guessed the meaning from the sentence alone.

  9. #9
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Re: Literally

    We do, by the way, have the expression "He's just a big fish in a small pond" to mean someone is important, but only in a very limited scope. The star athlete on a high school team in a tiny town may be a big fish in a small pond.

    But then, when he goes to university where there are many other athletes and most are better than him, he finds that he's just "a small fish in a big pond." He's not very important at all, when considered against the rest of the world.

    So we have a similar expression, but it has a different meaning.
    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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