Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 12

    • Join Date: Mar 2005
    • Posts: 23
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #1

    "owe to" or "refer to"

    Hi!
    I've recently passed a test and here is the example of one question from it:

    Many people …………Gray’s success to his intelligence and hard work.
    a. subject
    b. owe
    c. refer
    d. contribute

    the test key says, it is inappropriate to use "refer to" here. but i can't understand why? as far as I know one of the meanings of "refer to" is ascribe to. isn't it? may be it is something wrong with the test? or the test is ok and something wrong is with my English?
    looking forward to any help!
    thank you!

  1. Hayseed's Avatar

    • Join Date: Nov 2005
    • Posts: 65
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #2

    Lightbulb Re: "owe to" or "refer to"

    Personally, I`d use the word "attribute" instead of the others. But that`s just me.

  2. Dippit's Avatar

    • Join Date: Oct 2005
    • Posts: 54
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #3

    Red face Re: "owe to" or "refer to"

    Hi leta,
    Based on the answer key 'contribute' is the correct answer - the answer key does not allow 'refer to', only 'refer'. 'Contribute' is the only word that stands on its own and makes sense in this sentence.
    Hayseed's suggestion of 'attribute' is also fine.

    Not too sure this has helped. The English language has so many unwritten 'rules' that makes it really difficult to learn, but you're doing great (and congratulations on the exam!) so keep at it.

    Dippit


    • Join Date: Mar 2005
    • Posts: 23
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #4

    Re: "owe to" or "refer to"

    Thank you for your replies, Hayseed and Dippit!

    Actually one of my colleges has said the same- the word attribute would best match the sentence here as it would be more "in English". But still, Hayseed, the test gives only these options.

    And as for your reply, Dippit, the word "contribute", I’m sure, is not appropriate here as it means "to make some input into something" and has no meaning of "to be the reason of someone's success". If i'm wrong i would be thankful if you could give me the example with the context where "contribute" would have such meaning.

    And I would still wonder about the key difference between “refer to” and “owe to”…. Could anybody explain me?

  3. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #5

    Re: "owe to" or "refer to"

    Many people ______ Gray’s success to his intelligence and hard work.

    a. subject
    b. owe
    c. refer ( near synonymous with assign X to, attribute X to)
    d. contribute

    Quote Originally Posted by leta
    The test key says, it is inappropriate to use "refer to" here.
    In other words, the author is saying that "refer to X" is different from "refer X to":

    "refer X to" ("near" syn. attribute), but awkward:
    EX: ?Many people refer Gray's success to his intelligence . . .

    "refer to X" (syn. turn)
    EX: Many people refer to a dictionary when they don't know a word.

    "refer to X" (syn. call, name)
    EX: We refer to it as a "biosalve".

    And there are more meanings:

    1. To direct to a source for help or information: referred her to a heart specialist; referred me to his last employer for a recommendation.
    2. To assign or attribute to; regard as originated by.
    3. To assign to or regard as belonging within a particular kind or class.
    4. To submit (a matter in dispute) to an authority for arbitration, decision, or examination.
    5. To direct the attention of: refer him to his duties.

    v. intr.
    1. To pertain; concern: questions referring to yesterday's lecture.
    2. To make mention or reference.
    3. To have recourse; turn: refer to a dictionary.

  4. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #6

    Re: "owe to" or "refer to"

    Quote Originally Posted by leta
    And I would still wonder about the key difference between “refer to” and “owe to”…. Could anybody explain me?
    As for "owe" and the context we're dealing with, it means, be indepted or be obliged for, and it's reflexive; e.g., I owe my good fortune to . . . ; They owe their good fortune to . . .

    EX: *Many people owe Gray's success to his intelligence and hard work.
    EX: Many people owe their success to their intelligence and hard work.

    Note that, "owe reflexive X to" is near synonymous with "refer/attribute reflexive X to".

    EX: Many people ?refer/attribute their success to . . .
    EX: Many people owe their success to . . .

    1. To be indebted to the amount of: He owes me five dollars.
    2. To have a moral obligation to render or offer: I owe them an apology.
    3. To be in debt to: We owe the plumber for services rendered.
    4. To be indebted or obliged for: owed their riches to oil; owes her good health to diet and exercise.
    5. To bear (a certain feeling) toward a person or persons: You seem to owe your neighbors a grudge.
    6. Archaic. To have as a possession; own.

    v. intr.
    To be in debt: She still owes for the car.


    • Join Date: Mar 2005
    • Posts: 23
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #7

    Re: "owe to" or "refer to"

    Thank you Casiopea for your detailed explanation. But still I’m not satisfied with it. as I guess that the test is actually correct in this sense and “refer” is not the correct option in this example while owe is one. I didn’t mean that the author says “refer to X” is different from “refer X to”. My question was as we have these 4 given options and only one should be correct, why in this test the option “owe” is correct and “refer” is not. To be exact why “owe” is “more correct” maybe.
    And maybe I need consultation of some English native speaker… (please, if any, could you help?)
    Look, if you print the phrase “refer my success to” in Google search engine, you will get only 2 links to sites, but after printing “owe my success to” you’ll be shown more than 13 000 links. This is a kind of proof that “owe someone’s success to something” is more useful in English, in correct English, than “refer someone’s success to something”. The latter phrase might even be incorrect. That is why I wonder what peculiarity of these words usage difference is meant here….

  5. Hayseed's Avatar

    • Join Date: Nov 2005
    • Posts: 65
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #8

    Question Re: "owe to" or "refer to"

    Quote Originally Posted by leta
    And maybe I need consultation of some English native speaker…
    Uh, leta, isn`t that what you`re getting here?
    Casiopea ain`t exactly chopped liver, ya know...

  6. Dippit's Avatar

    • Join Date: Oct 2005
    • Posts: 54
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #9

    Re: "owe to" or "refer to"

    Hi,
    'Contribute' is totally acceptable in this context - to help to bring about a result.

  7. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #10

    Re: "owe to" or "refer to"

    Quote Originally Posted by leta
    I guess that the test is actually correct in this sense and “refer” is not the correct option in this example while owe is one.
    I agree. "refer", "refer to (X)", and "refer (X) to" are not options. (That's correct)

    More clearly, "refer (X) to", even though near synonymous with "attribute", is semantically awkward in this context: (Note, the symbol "?" represents a semantically awkward construct.)

    EX: ?Many people refer Gray's success to his intelligence and hard work.

    Cf: *Many people refer to Gray's success to his intelligence and hard work.

    (Note also, "refer to" is ambiguous. Does it mean, "refer (X) to" or "refer to (X)"? The two are sematically different.)

    As for "owe", it's reflexive;e.g., to owe one's (own) success, not "to owe someone else's success".

    Does that help?

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Grammar "related to" versus "relating to"
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 21-Jan-2004, 22:14
  2. use of "refer" v/s "refer to"
    By ajithramuk in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 11-Dec-2003, 10:21

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

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