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Thread: Please guess

  1. #1

    Please guess

    Please guess the correct meaning of this sentence:

    (He is an English teacher)

    Does it mean that his nationality is English OR he is a teacher of English language?

  2. RonBee's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Feb 2003
    • Posts: 16,551

    Re: Please guess

    In my country (USA) if we say "He is an English teacher" it means that the person is a teacher of English. I suppose there is a possibility that it means that the person is a teacher from England, but it is not likely.


    • Join Date: Dec 2006
    • Posts: 42

    Smile Re: Please guess

    Yeah, from this I would deduce that the person teaches English, however I see that there is a small possibility that the phrase could be relating to the nationality of the person rather than his profession. I would say that the person teaches English! Daizee

  3. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970

    Re: Please guess

    It's ambiguous.
    There are two meanings.

    Spanish teacher works better:

    [a] He's a Spanish teacher. <He teaches Spanish.>
    [b] He's a Spanish teacher. <He's from Spain and he teaches P.E.>

    All the best.

  4. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
    • Posts: 1,552

    Re: Please guess

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    In my country (USA)
    This is actually a very important point. It does depend a lot on context, and that can include what country you are in, but also the wider context of the sentence. Consider:

    Paola is a Spanish doctor, Helmut is a German train-driver and Sid is an English teacher. [Sid is from England, and he is a teacher.]

    Mike is a physics teacher, Jane is a history teacher and Maggie is an English teacher. [Maggie teaches English.]

    When we are speaking, we stress the words slightly differently:

    Sid is an English teacher.
    Maggie is an English teacher.

    In writing, you can't tell the difference, but the context will (usually) make it clear. If the context doesn't help, you might want to recast the sentences:

    Sid is a teacher from England.
    Maggie teaches English.

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