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    #1

    Which word to use

    Dear teachers,

    If someone is talktive or childlike etc. do we say he has a good or bad personality? And if someone is kind and unselfish we we say he's got good quality?


    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang


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    #2

    Re: Which word to use

    Hello jiang,

    You are asking a difficult question, because being ‘talkative’ or ‘childlike’ are not necessarily ‘good’ or ‘bad’ characteristics… Whether they are considered ‘good’ or ‘bad’ personality traits… well, it would depend on the circumstances. For example, a reporter would regard a ‘talkative’ interviewee as a responsive subject, whereas a ‘talkative’ neighbour could be seen as a tiresome (gossipy) person.

    As for your second question, I think that if someone is kind and unselfish, you could say; he or she has charitable characteristics.

    Doris

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    #3

    Re: Which word to use


    Dear Doris,

    Thank you very much for your explanation. I used to think 'talkative' is a derogatory term. Now I see we should put a word in a context.

    Could you please explain the difference between 'personality' and 'characteristics'? In other words, when you said 'good' personality can I replace it with characteristcs?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang
    Quote Originally Posted by Doris
    Hello jiang,

    You are asking a difficult question, because being ‘talkative’ or ‘childlike’ are not necessarily ‘good’ or ‘bad’ characteristics… Whether they are considered ‘good’ or ‘bad’ personality traits… well, it would depend on the circumstances. For example, a reporter would regard a ‘talkative’ interviewee as a responsive subject, whereas a ‘talkative’ neighbour could be seen as a tiresome (gossipy) person.

    As for your second question, I think that if someone is kind and unselfish, you could say; he or she has charitable characteristics.

    Doris


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    #4

    Re: Which word to use

    Hello Jiang,

    You're asking very good questions... I just hope I’m supplying you with the ‘right’ answers.

    Anyway, a person’s personality is made up of his or her characteristics. --- Characteristics can be emotional, behavioural, physical, etc., (Whether a person is calm or nervous, extrovert or introvert, tall or short, talkative or reticent, …these are their characteristics.)

    Although characteristics make up one’s personality (characteristics = personality), if I had to replace the word personality, I would replace it with the word character. He/she has a pleasant (or good) personality. = He/she has a pleasant (or good) character.

    Doris


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    #5

    Re: Which word to use

    Hi,

    I did not think 'talkative' is a derogatory term.
    But perhaps "garrulous" is.

    From dictionary.com
    1. Given to excessive and often trivial or rambling talk; tiresomely talkative.
    2. Wordy and rambling: a garrulous speech.

    Please correct me if I am wrong about "garrulous" being
    derogatory.

    Thanks

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    #6

    Re: Which word to use

    I would agree that "kind" and "unselfish" are almost always used in a positive sense. (They can also be used ironically, of course.)

    Also, I'd agree that the significance of "child-like" and "talkative" depends on context. But it may be fair to say that, on the whole, "talkative" is usually at least slightly negative; while "child-like" is often positive, but sometimes "positive with reservations".

    MrP

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    #7

    Re: Which word to use


    Dear Doris,

    Thank you very much for your explanation. Now I see.

    Jiang
    Quote Originally Posted by Doris
    Hello Jiang,

    You're asking very good questions... I just hope I’m supplying you with the ‘right’ answers.

    Anyway, a person’s personality is made up of his or her characteristics. --- Characteristics can be emotional, behavioural, physical, etc., (Whether a person is calm or nervous, extrovert or introvert, tall or short, talkative or reticent, …these are their characteristics.)

    Although characteristics make up one’s personality (characteristics = personality), if I had to replace the word personality, I would replace it with the word character. He/she has a pleasant (or good) personality. = He/she has a pleasant (or good) character.

    Doris

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    #8

    Re: Which word to use

    Hi,
    I think dictionaries are reliable.

    Best wishes,

    Jiang
    Quote Originally Posted by englishstudent
    Hi,

    I did not think 'talkative' is a derogatory term.
    But perhaps "garrulous" is.

    From dictionary.com
    1. Given to excessive and often trivial or rambling talk; tiresomely talkative.
    2. Wordy and rambling: a garrulous speech.

    Please correct me if I am wrong about "garrulous" being
    derogatory.

    Thanks

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    #9

    Re: Which word to use

    &
    Dear Mrpedantic,

    Thank you very much for your explanation. I have another question:
    I got confused by what you said, that is, "kind" and "unselfish" can also be used ironically. Could you please explain the following:
    1. In what context they are used this way.
    2. When I hear people use then how can I know whether they are used positively or ironically.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang
    Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic
    I would agree that "kind" and "unselfish" are almost always used in a positive sense. (They can also be used ironically, of course.)

    Also, I'd agree that the significance of "child-like" and "talkative" depends on context. But it may be fair to say that, on the whole, "talkative" is usually at least slightly negative; while "child-like" is often positive, but sometimes "positive with reservations".

    MrP

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    #10

    Re: Which word to use

    Sorry for the confusion, Jiang!

    Here's an example (modified from Google) of the non-ironic use of "kind":

    1. How very kind it was of Mark to give up his Sunday to show us round the town!

    i.e. "Mark was very kind: he spent his Sunday showing us the town".

    And here's an example of the ironic kind (again, modified from Google):

    2. How very kind of him to try to destroy the morale of our soldiers.

    Literally, this means "he is very kind: he is trying to destroy the morale of our soldiers". However, the statement is ironic: the speaker doesn't think it "kind" at all (naturally, he would not want the morale of the soldiers to be "destroyed").

    Usually, ironic statements of this kind are spoken in a special "ironic" tone of voice. For instance, sentence #1 would have a generally "upward" intonation, to denote "pleased surprise and gratitude". However, sentence #2 would have a generally "downward" intonation.

    If the statement is written, however, only the context will tell you if it is ironic or not.

    (Moreover, native speakers often misinterpret ironic statements: sometimes the speaker will have to point out the irony!)

    All the best,

    MrP

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