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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    stock phrases

    Hi, everyone. I'm a newcomer with a lot of questions about English ... hoping anyone here could help me out of them ... ^^

    In my country, the examination authority released a report about students' performance of the latest public exam. She said students used a number of "stock phrases" (referred to the phrases students memorized without knowing how to use them). For example, "Last but not least", "Be that as it may", "In a nutshell" and "it is crystal clear that" were used inappropriately. But she never tells us how to use them appropriately ... Can anyone here teach me how to use them? I mean in what context are they used? Any representative examples?

    Also, the use of 'moreover', 'furthermore', etc are sometimes said to be used only in formal situations. Is that true? And are they used to introduce new ideas or complement the idea mentioned?

    Many thanks.

  2. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: stock phrases

    Quote Originally Posted by kwntn View Post
    Hi, everyone. I'm a newcomer with a lot of questions about English ... hoping anyone here could help me out of them ... ^^

    In my country, the examination authority released a report about students' performance of the latest public exam. She said students used a number of "stock phrases" (referred to the phrases students memorized without knowing how to use them). For example, "Last but not least", "Be that as it may", "In a nutshell" and "it is crystal clear that" were used inappropriately. But she never tells us how to use them appropriately ... Can anyone here teach me how to use them? I mean in what context are they used? Any representative examples?

    Also, the use of 'moreover', 'furthermore', etc are sometimes said to be used only in formal situations. Is that true? And are they used to introduce new ideas or complement the idea mentioned?

    Many thanks.
    It would be much easier for us to help you if you posted some examples of how you think they should be used.

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    #3

    Re: stock phrases

    Quote Originally Posted by kwntn View Post
    hoping anyone here could help me out of them
    "Hoping someone here could help me out with them."

    Can you access "Google" or other search engines? A search for the phrases will find many examples of their use.

    But I agree with teacher that you should provide your own examples here, for comment.

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    #4

    Re: stock phrases

    1 You can get lots of examples of words and phrases in actual use from sites like British National Corpus (BYU-BNC) and Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) which have hundreds of millions of words (grammatically tagged) to search through, using real texts.

    2 One problem I often find when reading learners' writing is the overuse of such phrases. Some seem to try to drop them in every sentence in a clear attempt to fish for marks and the result is a rather stilted and unnatural style. You come across texts where virtually every sentence begins with However/Furthermore/Nevertheless as if doing this will result in a top mark. The Google search for 'in a nutshell' for our entire site comes up with just 52 examples, which suggests that it's not a phrase people are always trotting out. Use such phrases only when you need to and not in an attempt to score points.

  3. Newbie
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    • Join Date: Sep 2010
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    #5

    Re: stock phrases

    Thank you all for replying to me ... According to what you said, I roughed out a number of sentences, hoping you could help me out with them.


    (Space research costs a country a large amount of public money, placing a huge strain on its fiscal system. Be that as it may, it is still worth conducting as ... )Are there any problems with the use of "be that as it may"? In this case, are the adverb, 'however', and the phrase, 'be that as it may', interchangeable?


    (It is crystal clear that space research does more harm than good; therefore, I oppose it.) After I mentioned several drawbacks to space exporation, if I put it in the conclusion, does that sound natural?


    I was told by my tutor that using those adverbs (moreover, furthermore, also) can make our essay clearer and more structural, so whenever I wrote an essay, I used those adverbs to separate different points like (Space research costs a country a large amount of public money ... Moreover, space research only fulfills our curiorsity but does nothing to improve the lives of the poor ... Furthermore, to conduct space research, a lot of precious natural resources are wasted ... Last but not least, the return of space research is not obvious ... ) Is that ok?

    To me, learning vocabulary items, we have to use them frequently. But the problem is there is not a clear line (at least in my country) about how to use those phrases properly. Teachers only keep saying that "be that as it may", "it is crystal clear that" etc are stock phrases and that we should not use them. it seems to me that we cannot use them as too many people are using them ... and the authority did not give us clear guidance on the proper use of those phrases ...

    There are lots of reference books out there in my country, but they have different versions of how to use them ... I don't know who to trust and that's why you see me here ...

  4. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: stock phrases

    Quote Originally Posted by kwntn View Post
    Thank you all for replying to me ... According to what you said, I roughed out a number of sentences, hoping you could help me out with them.


    (Space research costs a country a large amount of public money, placing a huge strain on its fiscal system. Be that as it may, it is still worth conducting as ... )Are there any problems with the use of "be that as it may"? In this case, are the adverb, 'however', and the phrase, 'be that as it may', interchangeable? Yes, "be that as it may" is correctly used and yes, you could use "however" instead.


    (It is crystal clear that space research does more harm than good; therefore, I oppose it.) After I mentioned several drawbacks to space exploration, if I put it in the conclusion, does that sound natural?


    I was told by my tutor that using those adverbs (moreover, furthermore, also) can make our essay clearer and more structural, so whenever I wrote an essay, I used those adverbs to separate different points like (Space research costs a country a large amount of public money ... More over "moreover" is one word, space research only fulfills our curiosity but does nothing to improve the lives of the poor ... Furthermore, to conduct space research, a lot of precious natural resources are wasted ... Last but not least, the return of space research is not obvious ... ) Is that OK? Yes, it's OK.

    To me, learning vocabulary items, we have to use them frequently. But the problem is there is not a clear line (at least in my country) about how to use those phrases properly. Teachers only keep saying that "be that as it may", "it is crystal clear that" etc are stock phrases and that we should not use them. it seems to me that we cannot use them as too many people are using them ... and the authority did not give us guidance on those phrases, which has been confusing me for years ...

    There are lots of reference books out there, but they have different versions of how to use them ... I don't know who to trust and that's why you see me here ...
    .

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    #7

    Re: stock phrases

    I was told by my tutor that using those adverbs (moreover, furthermore, also) can make our essay clearer and more structural, so whenever I wrote an essay,
    They can, but overuse can make it artificial and actually end up being detrimental to the flow of the writing. Ask yourself whether you're putting them in to connect/contrast ideas and text or because you think it will make your assessor happy. If it's the former, then go ahead.


    George Orwell's recommendation that "If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out" is worth bearing in mind with connectors and other textual devices IMO. (George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language," 1946)

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