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  1. #1
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    Default Mathematics is not an opinion

    Both are OK- some grammars say we use the present perfect with 'recently', but we do use the past, though less so in the negative. If this is an exercise, I imagine they are looking for the present perfect as an answer.-tdol 01.04.2006
    Unfortunately, the difference between "must" and "have to" is a bit more complicated than that. This is one of the trickier points about modal verbs in English, and causes no end of problems.-rewboss 08.04.2006
    It depends on whether you see them as two separted things or a single unit, so different users might use the singular and plural differently.-tdol 08.04.2006
    It's not a strict rule, it's just that weather forecasters usually use "will", because that is how we normally make predictions. "Going to" is used to indicate that something is definitely going to happen (see, I had to use it there). Sometimes the meanings overlap, because if we say that something is going to happen, that is also a kind of prediction.-rewboss 09.04.2006
    In short, what speakers say and what the grammar tells us they should say will differ, but given a test situation, "going to" suits the grammar here: "The weather forecast says [indicates] that it is going to rain." -casiopea 11.04.2006
    So it's normal for a weather forecaster to say, "It will rain...", but other forms are possible
    My question is:Shouldn't there be strict rules in grammar?I mean,it's okay in literature to have many views but I thought grammar was different.In Mathematics you can use different methods to solve a problem but the final solution is always the same.
    Mind you,I'm not questioning your answers(that's nice,eh?) -I'm just trying to understand.
    And by the way,I love today's quote(or should I say 'quote of today???) :"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
    Aristotle

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Mathematics is not an opinion

    Quote Originally Posted by queenbu
    Shouldn't there be strict rules in grammar?I mean,it's okay in literature to have many views but I thought grammar was different.
    Mathematics is easy. If you have two apples, and add two more, then you will have four.

    But language isn't like that. Language is a living thing; it evolves and changes over time, and it wasn't designed to be mathematical. Grammar is a way of looking at patterns that regularly crop up in a language and describing these patterns -- but there's no reason why there should be strict rules.

    There are some languages with strict rules. Computer languages, for example. But some human languages have been invented with very regular and strict rules; one of them is Esperanto. In theory, it's a perfect language: the phonetics are very easy, the grammar rules are very simple and very regular. Yet few people speak it; for all that it is far easier to learn than English or French, it never became popular. Apart from anything else, it lacks a history, it lacks any culture, and it is a very sterile, boring language.

    Real languages aren't invented by people sitting around saying, "Let's invent a language!" If you want to learn a language like that, you can learn Esperanto or even Klingon, but you won't be able to talk to many people. Real languages grow organically, and the people who speak them don't consciously follow rules. So we have lots of strange things, like the past tense of "to go" being "went" -- "went" comes from the old verb "to wend" which meant the same thing but is now only found in the phrase "to wend one's way". How did this happen? It just did -- for some reason we can only guess at, "to wend" fell into disuse, except for its past tense form.

    Saying that grammars should always have strict rules is like saying that all trees should be exactly the same size and have perfectly straight branches. It simply doesn't happen that way.

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    Default Re: Mathematics is not an opinion

    OK,rewboss-you made yourself very clear. It was just a question.I just had the idea that grammar was something with rules.I know that a language,like Science,is a living thing.To say the truth,it's a relief to find that the English language is very elastic because I'm always afraid to commit mistakes.As it is I always have a leeway.Let's say, if I write cancelling or canceling it's ok?Even if it is a British English exam?

    As regards,'Mathematics is easy' try doing it at university level or else try asking millions of students!

    No offence meant!

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Mathematics is not an opinion

    British exams that I know, like those from UCLES (First Certificate, CAE, etc), accept American spelling. The rules say that it should be used consistently, so you should stick to one system, but there would be no deductions made for writing 'canceling' or 'center'.

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    Default Re: Mathematics is not an opinion

    Thanks tdol.
    My recent outburst in 'Maths (or Math?) is not an opinion' was more a result of personal frustration than a criticism of the English language/grammar and I'm sorry if I have been misinterpreted.I have friends who are studying the English language here in Italy and often ask me for help.As you yourself had answered in my first question re present perfect/past simple : If this is an exercise, I imagine they are looking for the present perfect as an answer.
    Again,when in a test they are asked to give the -ing form of travel I'm sure they are expected to give a particular one.I always stick to British English.
    In a world of uncertainties it's good to have a reference point.

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Mathematics is not an opinion

    If you're being taught BrE, then use it in the answer. The example you give is not a question that is really fair on the student.

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