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  1. #11
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    Default Re: A common error that is driving me nuts!

    Quote Originally Posted by Humpy View Post
    Whilst we're obviously in picky-city on this topic, may I say that I wonder whether the senctence "There is/are a hundred." could be considered a whole sentence. A Hundred what? Bananas, pound coins, pound note..?
    Well, grammatically it is a complete sentence; it has a subject and a predicator. It may well be an elliptical sentence, which is to say that part of it is only implied -- it is actually there, it's just not pronounced or written.

    But consider this dialogue:

    "How many hundreds of ball-bearings would you say there were?"
    "Oh, I think there is/are only one hundred."

    We're not counting ball-bearings any more; we're counting hundreds.

    Just considering the monetary examples here, I would favour:

    There are a hundred pound coins [on the table].
    There is a hundred pound note [in my pocket].
    That's because in the first sentence, "a hundred" modifies "pound coins", whereas in the second, "hundred-pound" modifies "note". There are many coins -- 100 to be exact -- but only one note. And strictly speaking, you should write "hundred-pound note" with a hyphen, as here. Watch what happens when we translate your sentences in German:

    Es gibt hundert Ein-Pfund-Münzen.
    Es gibt einen Hundert-Pfund-Schein.

    "Die Insel hat der Taifun glücklicherweise nicht zerstört."


    Word for word,
    "The island had the typhoon luckily not destructed.", but actually meant
    "The typhoon had luckily not destructed the island."

    Reading it and taking it into my english head I interpreted it the first way (incorrectly), which made me very confused - I couldn't imagine how an island could or could not distruct a typhoon!
    You get used to it eventually. Generally speaking, Germans tend to put new information nearer the beginning of the sentence:

    Wen hast du gesehen?
    Peter habe ich gesehen.

    In modern English, we have to completely change the structure and introduce a relative clause:

    It was Peter [whom] I saw.

    This ensures that "I" stays in front of the main verb "saw".

    One letter difference!
    Back on the subject of common mistakes in English, watch how and even smaller alteration -- the subtle repositioning of an apostrophe -- can alter the sense of this sentence:

    I was very impressed by the pupil's entrance.
    I was very impressed by the pupils' entrance.

    The first sentence expresses admiration for the way in which a certain pupil arrived. The second expresses admiration for the design of a door intended for use by the pupils.

  2. #12
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    Default Re: A common error that is driving me nuts!

    I think he couldn’t have been earnest, he said it to impress listeners and kick off a lively discussion.

  3. #13
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    Default Re: A common error that is driving me nuts!

    Oh, I commented on what Michael Swan said, sorry.

  4. #14
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    Default Re: A common error that is driving me nuts!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I saw Michael Swan give a talk in Japan, and he kicked off with something like 'Between you and I, there's two things I'd like to say about grammar', which caused palpitations in his audience of Japanese English teachers. He then went on to look at the issues he had raised in his opening.
    "Between you and *I*"?! Ack! :::stamping feet in frustration::: That's as aggravating as the current trend I see in US reporting where folks will say "between you and myself." For heaven's sake, don't they teach the proper use of pronouns in schools today?! (I won't even start to discuss the use of "snuck" as a past tense of "sneak", because my blood pressure is high enough as it is.....)

  5. #15
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: A common error that is driving me nuts!

    Quote Originally Posted by Humble View Post
    I think he couldn’t have been earnest, he said it to impress listeners and kick off a lively discussion.
    He did. He then showed that Shakespeare (Merchant of Venice) used subject pronouns after a preposition (Between you and I, all debts are paid) and that the singular/plural issues go back further. It was, however, a superb start- the room was packed full of Japanese teachers and lecturers of English and he kicked off with two deadly errors to wake them up. Michael Swan is a very entertaining speaker.

  6. #16
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: A common error that is driving me nuts!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ouisch View Post
    "Between you and *I*"?! Ack! :::stamping feet in frustration::: That's as aggravating as the current trend I see in US reporting where folks will say "between you and myself." For heaven's sake, don't they teach the proper use of pronouns in schools today?! (I won't even start to discuss the use of "snuck" as a past tense of "sneak", because my blood pressure is high enough as it is.....)
    Anyways, between you and I myself, we snuck into... (ouchthathurt)

  7. #17
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    Default Re: A common error that is driving me nuts!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ouisch View Post
    (I won't even start to discuss the use of "snuck" as a past tense of "sneak", because my blood pressure is high enough as it is.....)
    "Snuck" has been recorded in written American English since the end of the 19th century, so it's at least 100 years old. It is interesting because it bucks the trend; usually grammar rules are regularized (e.g. "learnt", "burnt" and "dreamt" have largely been dropped in favour of "learned", "burned" and "dreamed"). Since "snuck" is now used by many professional writers and educated speakers in the US, it is now regarded as standard American English; just as "learned", "burned" and "dreamed" are.

  8. #18
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    Default Re: A common error that is driving me nuts!

    As I live and breathe, the past tense of "sneak" will always be "sneaked." ::::shaking fist Scarlett O'Hara style::::



    ...also cyberkicking Tdol, who loves to live dangerously... <evil laugh>

  9. #19
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    Default Re: A common error that is driving me nuts!

    Come on chaps, get a life

  10. #20
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: A common error that is driving me nuts!

    Should a curmudgeon encourage people towards life?

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