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    #1

    Lack of naturalness

    Hi there

    Just wrote this mail:

    A quick question:

    I would just like to know how to store your sent mails, so that you can see your sent mails in your outbox. At the moment the the site is set not to store sent mails, so how to change this?


    But I just think that it lacks that naturalness of a native speaker of English, can you follow me? And how would you (a native speaker) have expressed this?

  1. Gnome's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Lack of naturalness

    Quote Originally Posted by lo2 View Post
    Question:

    I would like to know how to store your sent mails, so that you can see your sent mails in your outbox. At the moment the the site is set not to store sent mails, but I don't know how to change this. How do I change the settings?
    I'm not a teacher.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Lack of naturalness

    Quote Originally Posted by lo2 View Post
    Hi there

    Just wrote this mail:

    A quick question:

    I would just like to know how to store your sent mails, so that you can see your sent mails in your outbox. At the moment the the site is set not to store sent mails?


    But I just think that it lacks that naturalness of a native speaker of English, can you follow me? And how would you (a native speaker) have expressed this?
    I'd suggest, "I would just like to know how to store my sent mails, so that I can see my sent mails in my outbox."
    (assuming that's what you mean).

    "so how to change this"
    Look, this really isn't right. It never has been, no matter how often it's passed over here. It's wrong. It's not English.
    There are no proper English sentences that go:
    How to do this? How to say 'phthysis'? How to write a good essay?

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    #4

    Re: Lack of naturalness

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I'd suggest, "I would just like to know how to store my sent mails, so that I can see my sent mails in my outbox."
    (assuming that's what you mean).

    "so how to change this"
    Look, this really isn't right. It never has been, no matter how often it's passed over here. It's wrong. It's not English.
    There are no proper English sentences that go:
    How to do this? How to say 'phthysis'? How to write a good essay?
    Thanks for the help!

    I am however not exactly sure what you mean by "How to do this" and the other sentences not being proper English, so could you please elaborate? I am quite certain I have heard that particular phrase used over and over.

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Lack of naturalness

    Quote Originally Posted by lo2 View Post
    Thanks for the help!

    I am however not exactly sure what you mean by "How to do this" and the other sentences not being proper English, so could you please elaborate? I am quite certain I have heard that particular phrase used over and over.
    Yes, I'm quite certain you've heard it over and over too. But it would be rather boorish to complain every time it occurred - or would it?
    "How to do this" does not have a finite verb. It's a dependent clause with no main clause. It's not a sentence.
    More importantly for learners, no native speaker of English would use this type of phrase (except, I've been told, multi-partial-lingual speakers in Singapore who perhaps speak no language fluently.
    It's no more correct than the non-sentences, "Where to go", "Who to speak to", etc.

    Here are some sentences which are English:
    "Please tell me how to do this."
    "Can you tell me how to do this?"
    "How does one do this?'
    "How do you do this?"
    "How should I do this?"
    "How is this done?"
    ...

    PS: Where have you heard it?

  4. wq.denis's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Lack of naturalness

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnome View Post
    I'm not a teacher.
    Great one

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    #7

    Re: Lack of naturalness

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Yes, I'm quite certain you've heard it over and over too. But it would be rather boorish to complain every time it occurred - or would it?
    "How to do this" does not have a finite verb. It's a dependent clause with no main clause. It's not a sentence.
    More importantly for learners, no native speaker of English would use this type of phrase (except, I've been told, multi-partial-lingual speakers in Singapore who perhaps speak no language fluently.
    It's no more correct than the non-sentences, "Where to go", "Who to speak to", etc.

    Here are some sentences which are English:
    "Please tell me how to do this."
    "Can you tell me how to do this?"
    "How does one do this?'
    "How do you do this?"
    "How should I do this?"
    "How is this done?"
    ...

    PS: Where have you heard it?
    Yeah well I see.

    So part of the problem is that there is no subject in this collection of words, that do not make up a sentence?

    I am not sure where I have heard it, it might have been something that I have misunderstood, which has lead to me thinking it was proper English.

    I think I have been "inspired" by sites like eHow | How To Do Just About Everything! | How To Videos & Articles where to me it seems like you can say "How to do x" where you can replace x with almost any verb.

  5. Raymott's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Lack of naturalness

    Quote Originally Posted by lo2 View Post
    I think I have been "inspired" by sites like eHow | How To Do Just About Everything! | How To Videos & Articles where to me it seems like you can say "How to do x" where you can replace x with almost any verb.
    That's headline or telegraphic language. Yes, you can label a chapter of a textbook, How to solve differential equations.
    That doesn't make "How to solve differential equations?" a legitimate English question.
    Those headings mean "Here is how to do X"; "This article explains how to do X."

    Are Danish book and article titles and headings, etc. written in sentences? Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that "Hvordan man gør dette" is a heading, but "Hvordan gør man det?" is a question, and a legitimate sentence.
    Last edited by Raymott; 24-Feb-2011 at 17:39.

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    #9

    Re: Lack of naturalness

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    That's headline or telegraphic language. Yes, you can label a chapter of a textbook, How to solve differential equations.
    That doesn't make "How to solve differential equations?" a legitimate English question.
    Those headings mean "Here is how to do X"; "This article explains how to do X."

    Are Danish book and article titles and headings, etc. written in sentences? Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that "Hvordan man gør dette" is a heading, but "Hvordan gør man det?" is a question, and a legitimate sentence.
    Yeah I suppose you are right about that. So I can and hopefully you too can conclude that one can use the phrase "How to do x" when is it a heading, but you cannot use it as a question where instead it would be something like "How do you do this?"

    And how come the Danish? Do you know Danish? Or is it just Google Translate?

  6. Raymott's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: Lack of naturalness

    Quote Originally Posted by lo2 View Post
    Yeah I suppose you are right about that. So I can and hopefully you too can conclude that one can use the phrase "How to do x" when is it a heading, but you cannot use it as a question where instead it would be something like "How do you do this?"
    Yes, exactly.

    And how come the Danish? Do you know Danish? Or is it just Google Translate?
    The Danish is simply to demonstrate that this is not a peculiarity of English. You also (apparently) cannot use a dependent clause as a sentence in Danish either. Sometimes, English doesn't seem so strange when you can see that grammar behaves exactly the same in your own language.
    No, I don't speak Danish. It was an educated guess based on Google Translate and a superficial knowledge of the comparative grammar of European languages.
    R.

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