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Thread: Someone

  1. #1
    Allen165 is offline Key Member
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    Default Someone

    "At our store, someone asks for an iPod approximately four times a day."

    To me, the above sentence gives the impression that one person asks for an iPod four times a day, not four different people. Do you share this view?

    I'm trying to translate something, and in the source language "someone" is used. "People ask" would be a better translation, I think.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Bennevis's Avatar
    Bennevis is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Someone

    I agree. I know the passive voice is something most people wince at, but it may come in handy in your context:

    "At our store, an iPod is asked for approximately four times a day."

    Or you can use "people" or "customers".

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Someone

    Quote Originally Posted by Bennevis View Post
    I agree. I know the passive voice is something most people wince at, but it may come in handy in your context:

    "At our store, an iPod is asked for approximately four times a day."

    Or you can use "people" or "customers".
    I'm not sure that this solves the problem. It simply moves the ambiguity to the iPod. There is one specific iPod that is asked for four times a day.
    How about: "At our store, we get four requests for iPods every day."

    Anyhow the original is fine. The form "In Florida, an elderly person dies every five minutes" is great for jokes, but there's usually no ambiguity when it's used in real life.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Someone

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I'm not sure that this solves the problem. It simply moves the ambiguity to the iPod. There is one specific iPod that is asked for four times a day.
    How about: "At our store, we get four requests for iPods every day."

    Anyhow the original is fine. The form "In Florida, an elderly person dies every five minutes" is great for jokes, but there's usually no ambiguity when it's used in real life.
    I agree.

    In addition to your version,

    At our store, customers ask for iPods four times a day.

  5. #5
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Someone

    Quote Originally Posted by Bennevis View Post
    I agree.

    In addition to your version,

    At our store, customers ask for iPods four times a day.
    That could still be ambiguous, suggesting that each one of those "customers" asks for an iPod four times a day.

    The only way I can see it being not ambiguous would be to use "Approximately four customers each day ask for one specific model of iPod."

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Someone

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    That could still be ambiguous, suggesting that each one of those "customers" asks for an iPod four times a day.

    The only way I can see it being not ambiguous would be to use "Approximately four customers each day ask for one specific model of iPod."
    Approximately four customers each day ask for one specific model of iPod.

    I like the beginning of this version. But here the part in bold is ambiguous. It makes one think only that model is in demand.

    Approximately four customers each day ask for iPods.

    I'm simply amalgamating your two versions into one. I hope this one will work.

  7. #7
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Someone

    Quote Originally Posted by Bennevis View Post
    Approximately four customers each day ask for one specific model of iPod.

    I like the beginning of this version. But here the part in bold is ambiguous. It makes one think only that model is in demand.

    Approximately four customers each day ask for iPods.

    I'm simply amalgamating your two versions into one. I hope this one will work.
    I agree. Apologies - on looking back I see that the sentence "There is one specific iPod that is asked for four times a day" on which I based my answer, was posted by Raymott, not by the OP. I thought the OP had said it was one specific model of iPod. On that basis, I would say:

    Approximately four customers each day ask for an iPod.
    or
    Approximately four customers each day ask for iPods.

    (With the second, I would say there is still a little ambiguity because it suggests that each customer asks for more than one iPod.)

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen165 View Post
    "At our store, someone asks for an iPod approximately four times a day."

    To me, the above sentence gives the impression that one person asks for an iPod four times a day, not four different people. Do you share this view?
    Not really- it's a possible meaning, but I tend to assume the more likely meaning instead of the less likely one. People may phrase things sloppily, but is it more likely that four people ask or one person asks four times? If it were the latter, then the speaker would probably express the idea more clearly- we get one guy who asks for a iPod four times a day or something similar. Raymott's four requests solves the problem neatly IMO.

    BTW I would probably use about rather than approximately with a number that low.

  9. #9
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Someone

    Quote Originally Posted by Bennevis View Post
    I know the passive voice is something most people wince at, but it may come in handy in your context:
    I have never understood this- you're right that people do, but I think they're wrong to do so. The passive voice exists for a very good reason- it can be misused but so can adverbs or the active voice, and trying to get rid of it makes no sense to me at all. It's like trying to get rid of the conditionals on the grounds that they can describe things that aren't real so they're a dishonest grammatical form.

  10. #10
    Afit is offline Member
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    Default Re: Someone

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen165 View Post
    "At our store, someone asks for an iPod approximately four times a day."

    To me, the above sentence gives the impression that one person asks for an iPod four times a day, not four different people. Do you share this view?

    I'm trying to translate something, and in the source language "someone" is used. "People ask" would be a better translation, I think.

    Thanks!
    How about this:
    At our store, an iPod is asked for (by customers) four times each day.
    ?

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