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    #1

    How to ....?

    In colloquial English, is it acceptable to start a sentence like:

    How to spell the word 'Singapore'? RATHER THAN How do you spell the word 'Singapore'?

    Thank you.

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    #2

    Re: How to ....?

    1. How to spell the word 'Singapore'?
    2. How do you spell the word 'Singapore'?

    #1 is not a complete sentence whether written or spoken.

    not a teacher

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: How to ....?

    Quote Originally Posted by jiaruchan View Post
    In colloquial English, is it acceptable to start a sentence like:

    How to spell the word 'Singapore'? RATHER THAN How do you spell the word 'Singapore'?

    Thank you.
    It depends. If you were using it as the title of an article, for instance, you could use your first sentence:

    HOW TO SPELL THE WORD "SINGAPORE"

    In this article, I am going to explain why some people find it difficult to spell Singapore...... etc etc.

    However, it is not suitable as a sentence on its own within a piece of writing.

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    #4

    Re: How to ....?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    It depends. If you were using it as the title of an article, for instance, you could use your first sentence:

    HOW TO SPELL THE WORD "SINGAPORE"

    In this article, I am going to explain why some people find it difficult to spell Singapore...... etc etc.

    However, it is not suitable as a sentence on its own within a piece of writing.
    My cousin told me that his English teacher would say 'How to spell it?' when she ordered the students to spell a word for her as a learning practice. I told him she should have used 'How do you spell it?' instead. Do you think I am right in this case?

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: How to ....?

    Quote Originally Posted by jiaruchan View Post
    My cousin told me that his English teacher would say 'How to spell it?' when she ordered the students to spell a word for her as a learning practice. I told him she should have used 'How do you spell it?' instead. Do you think I am right in this case?
    I totally agree with you. The teacher could either ask "How do you spell.....?" or, as an order "Spell.......", but "How to spell it?" is incorrect!
    Can I assume his teacher was not a native English speaker?

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    #6

    Re: How to ....?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    I totally agree with you. The teacher could either ask "How do you spell.....?" or, as an order "Spell.......", but "How to spell it?" is incorrect!
    Can I assume his teacher was not a native English speaker?
    The teacher is Chinese like me.

    When I asked my cousin to spell a word for me, I said 'how do you spell...?', and he told me his teacher did not say it the way as I did. It was just 'how to spell...?'. That prompted me to post this thread. Thank you for the help.
    Last edited by jiaruchan; 18-Apr-2010 at 14:47.

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: How to ....?

    Quote Originally Posted by jiaruchan View Post
    The teacher is Chinese like me.

    When I asked my cousin to spell a word for me, I said 'how do you spell...?', and he told me his teacher did not say it the way as I did. It was just 'how to spell...?'. That prompted me to post this thread. Thank you for the help.
    I had a recent campaign about this.
    The fact is that "How to do something?" is a common "question" here, but is not proper English. It is so common that it probably doesn't register to some readers as being wrong.
    A native speaker would never say/write "How to use <word>" unless, as emsr2d2 says, it's a heading. But in that case, it's neither a question nor a sentence.

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    #8

    Re: How to ....?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I had a recent campaign about this.
    The fact is that "How to do something?" is a common "question" here, but is not proper English. It is so common that it probably doesn't register to some readers as being wrong.
    A native speaker would never say/write "How to use <word>" unless, as emsr2d2 says, it's a heading. But in that case, it's neither a question nor a sentence.

    You are correct. That is why I told my cousin not to pose a question using the 'how to' pattern even if his English teacher does that in class.

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    #9

    Re: How to ....?

    "How to do something?" is a common "question".
    This is actually a literal translation from Chinese. It is also common in Malaysia and Singapore.

  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: How to ....?

    Quote Originally Posted by tedtmc View Post
    This is actually a literal translation from Chinese. It is also common in Malaysia and Singapore.
    Yes, it is probably gaining currency in Malaysian and Singaporean English. Perhaps I should say that a monolingual native speaker would never say it.

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