Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    iZicci's Avatar
    iZicci is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    37

    Question What's wrong with the definitions?

    I tried to find some idioms about 'sell' on usingenglish.com and here I got one:

    The definition of 'sell your birthright for a mess of pottage' is--

    If a person sells their birthright for a mess of pottage, they accept some trivial financial or other gain, but lose something much more important. 'Sell your soul for a mess of pottage' is an alternative form.

    I think there's something wrong with the words used in the definition.

    This is not the only case I found here.

    Could someone correct them all?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    31

    Re: What's wrong with the definitions?

    I see nothing wrong. It is a pity that you didn't say what you thought was wrong here, so I am guessing.

    Perhaps you are confused by the use of 'they' and 'their' for a single person.
    If so, then rest assured that it is perfectly normal and much better than saying '...if he or she ...'

    Eg:

    A: There's someone knocking on the door.
    B: Ask them what they want.

  3. #3
    iZicci's Avatar
    iZicci is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    37

    Question Re: What's wrong with the definitions?

    Quote Originally Posted by leonwool View Post
    I see nothing wrong. It is a pity that you didn't say what you thought was wrong here, so I am guessing.

    Perhaps you are confused by the use of 'they' and 'their' for a single person.
    If so, then rest assured that it is perfectly normal and much better than saying '...if he or she ...'

    Eg:

    A: There's someone knocking on the door.
    B: Ask them what they want.
    I'm sorry but I don't quite agree on that though I am not a native English speaker.

    I do think there would have been a better definition than that one above, which can be less confusing.

  4. #4
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    25,679

    Re: What's wrong with the definitions?

    Quote Originally Posted by iZicci View Post
    I'm sorry but I don't quite agree on that though I am not a native English speaker.

    I do think there would have been a better definition than that one above, which can be less confusing.
    What are you disagreeing with - the use of a singular "they" or the definition of "Selling your soul ..."?

  5. #5
    iZicci's Avatar
    iZicci is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    37

    Exclamation Re: What's wrong with the definitions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    What are you disagreeing with - the use of a singular "they" or the definition of "Selling your soul ..."?

    The first one!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    31

    Re: What's wrong with the definitions?

    Are you advocating that dictionaries should not use 'they' for a person singular because you have problems understanding it? Just imagine how English would degenerate if dictionaries had to avoid all problem areas that you have in understanding. Maybe if you write a dictionary for non-native learners who are beginners you can adapt alot and add lots of pictures. I suggest you simply learn from this real English.

  7. #7
    iZicci's Avatar
    iZicci is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    37

    Cool Re: What's wrong with the definitions?

    Quote Originally Posted by leonwool View Post
    Are you advocating that dictionaries should not use 'they' for a person singular because you have problems understanding it? Just imagine how English would degenerate if dictionaries had to avoid all problem areas that you have in understanding. Maybe if you write a dictionary for non-native learners who are beginners you can adapt alot and add lots of pictures. I suggest you simply learn from this real English.

    This real English?
    Ok, I take it!
    Thanks!

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    74,120

    Re: What's wrong with the definitions?


  9. #9
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    25,679

    Re: What's wrong with the definitions?

    I agree with Tdol's position.
    Yes, this is real English, but it is comparatively new English, and might not have found its way into all grammar books yet.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •