Ben went into a restaurant to have a quiet dinner

Bassim

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Would you please correct the mistakes in my sentences?

Ben went into a restaurant to have a quiet dinner, but soon found himself in the middle of the fierce row between a couple who could not agree on what wine to order with their meals. He left the place hastily, still chewing the food as he hurried down the street.
 

emsr2d2

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Would you please correct the mistakes in my sentences?

Ben went into a restaurant to have a quiet dinner, but soon found himself in the middle of [STRIKE]the[/STRIKE] a fierce row between a couple who could not agree on what wine to order with their [STRIKE]meals[/STRIKE] meal. He left the place hastily, still chewing [STRIKE]the[/STRIKE] his food as he hurried down the street.

See above. You still write as if you're writing a novel (and you told us you're not).

Here's a more colloquial version:

Ben went to a restaurant for a quiet dinner but quickly realised the couple at the next table were having a massive row about what wine to order. Ben paid and ran. He was still chewing his last mouthful when he left!
 

Rover_KE

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I fail to see why Ben ran out. Most of us would enjoy listening to the row.
 

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emsr2d2,

I really do not write a novel. This is the way how I write. I am posting these sentences just to see if they are grammatically correct, and if they sound natural in your ears. I see a word in a dictionary, or in some text, and from that word I am trying to form my own sentences. As you can see, sometimes I succeed, and sometimes not, but I have to write them down to know where I make the mistakes. If were to write some text about science my sentences would certainly be different, but in the sentences I post on this forum I am describing ordinary things, trying to describe the scene in the best possible way I can.
 

emsr2d2

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And that's fine but as we discussed in a previous thread, the word "natural" is a loaded one. Your writing would sound natural to me if you were writing a novel. It would not sound natural to me if you were my mate sending me an email simply describing a situation you'd encountered.
 

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emsr2d2,
If I met you in the street I would tell you, "Ben paid and ran." But if I wrote you a letter to tell you what I have experienced one evening, I would write, "Ben left the restaurant hastily." And then I would add more details to picture for you the scene I have witnessed. I am trying mostly to learn English people use in their writing, which is of course different from colloquial speech. But of course, if I lived in an English speaking country, my writing would be probably different and I would use more colloquial language.
 

emsr2d2

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Then it's a cultural difference. I don't change what words I say depending on whether I'm speaking or writing. I change them depending on my audience. I use the same words to speak to/email/text/FB message/Whatsapp a friend. I would use different words to speak to/email/text my boss.
 

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emsr2d2,
I agree with you that you change what you say depending on your audience. But for me writing a sentence is conveying a message. I want to convey it in the clear way so that a reader receives a picture which I want to give him, without the message being distorted. My problem in this moment is that I am not always sure if the words I have used convey that message as I want it. This is one of the reasons why my sentences sometimes sound odd. I use one "wrong" word, and the message becomes garbled. Of course, you as a native speaker have heard those words and phrases thousands of times, and you know how and where to use them, but I have to learn them from the beginning.
 

andrewg927

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Why don't you try to write a little less formal paragraphs using the words that you have just learned? Think of writing an email to a friend. Here is my suggestion:

You know Ben? He told me he went out last night for dinner but this couple kept squabbling on what to order. He said he left with his food in his mouth.

(BTW, you don't expect a quiet dinner in a dinery)
 

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andrewg927

With all respect, I can't write the way you have written the above sentences. I can't lie to myself and pretend that I am something what I am not. I have written in this way all my life. When I went to primary and secondary school in Yugoslavia, many decades ago, my Serbo-Croatian teacher used to give us home assignments in which we should describe different situations and places, like a restaurant, a market, a street, a concert and different scenes from everyday life. We should use adverbs, adjectives, verbs, dialogues and also figures of speech. So as a child I used to write in such a way, and I can't change myself more then 40 years later. I am one person when I am talking , but when I am writing I turn into another person. For me, writing is a sacred thing, and therefore I am trying to do as best as I can. I am aware of my limits, errors and the enormous task I have in front of me, but I can't stop and leave the job unfinished.
 
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andrewg927

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My question is who is your audience? Do you just write these sentences for yourself or do you hope to write to a friend who is a native English speaker? I understand you want to improve your English but do you hope maybe someday to live in an English speaking country or you just like to learn English in your free time? I think knowing what your goals are helps us understand what you are looking for and perhaps adjusts our expectations.
 

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My goal is to learn to write English so well that one day I can offer my books to a literary agent in the UK. Just now my level of English is insufficient. And that means that if I wrote a novel or any other book, I would need a professional proofreader and an editor to correct all the grammar and other mistakes. That would cost me at least 2000 pounds with no guarantee that my book would be published because a literary agent receives hundreds of books every year. Not to mention that I would spend at least one year writing a novel, which would probably end in my drawer. I had already written a novel seven years ago, paid to a proofreader and then sent my novel to a dozen literary agents without any success. I spent a year writing it, and all that energy and money resulted only in a disappointment. At least if I wrote better English, I could avoid to send my text first to a proofreader and I could send it instead to an editor to hear what he has to say. But now I am like twice handicapped.

As I have already written on a few occasions, I am writing my sentences for myself, just as an exercise.
 

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Very well, so your end goal is to publish a book. That is great. Though I can tell you that you will need an editor regardless (who usually does both proofreading and editing, at least in the US). I have a friend who is a professional writer who has published a few books. She went through a publisher at first but decided for a few later books to self-publish and self-promote since the overboard costs were more than what she was willing to pay. Of course, we can't edit your book for you on this forum. We will keep your goals in mind when we help you with your English.
 

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I do not expect that anyone on this forum will edit my book. If I ever wrote a book, it would be edited by a professional editor in the UK, who is specialised in editing fiction, because not all editors can edit works of fiction. I am using this forum to ask teachers specific questions and to see if my sentences are grammatically correct, and not to ask them to edit my book. People on this forum are volunteers.
 

emsr2d2

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I would say that if you don't learn how to construct casual friendly emails in English, then you are leaving the job half-finished. Most learners of a second language start by learning how to write very careful, grammatically correct sentences. That's great for passing exams and impressing other non-native speakers. However, the next step is to learn how to "sound like a native". That's achieved by learning colloquialisms, slang, contractions and learning how to speak and write like native speakers speak to each other.

Even if you do get to publish a book in English, you'll still need to communicate with, for example, your editor or proofreader. They will be a native speaker. If you want to have a natural connection with them, you actually will need to learn to use the kind of language we've been trying to show you. Even if it's a professional relationship, once you've been in touch a few times, you won't be expected to be overly formal. Let's imagine you are emailing your editor. You actually will be expected to send emails like "Hi Jen. How are you? Just wondering how you're getting on with Chapter 11. Let me know if you need anything. Thanks. Bassim."

If, after you've been in contact for a while, you're still writing "Good afternoon, Jennifer. May I ask you how you are this fine day? I wonder if I might enquire if there has been any progress with Chapter 10 which I successfully emailed to you one month ago. I would be delighted to hear from you should you require any further information. Best regards. Bassim", your editor is going to wonder why you're still being so formal!
 

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emsr2d2,

Thank you for your post. But I have to tell you that when I had my novel proofread by a native proofreader, I have communicated with him just as you have mentioned in your example. "Hi. How do you do?... " He was sending my text back to me in instalments so we communicated all the time using spoken English. Now what I am going to tell you is beyond the original post, but I went to the UK twice with the goal to spend there months just to learn colloquial English, and my both trips ended in a disaster. I went first time in 2009 and planned to stay for six months, but left after only one week. I paid two monthly rents, but could not stay in my flat because of the noise. I have become so sensitive to noise that I experience it as torture. The second trip ended in a similar way four years later, and I returned to Sweden after two weeks, again because of the bad housing. People told me before about the bad housing in the UK, but I could believe it was so bad until I saw it with my own eyes. I know I have to travel to the UK again, because I need to speak with native people if I ever wish to speak English properly, but those two trips have left me almost traumatised. Just to learn proper English have already cost me money, energy, nerves and time, that I am wondering how I can still have energy to go on, but my will to learn the language has not lessen a bit.
 

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I think "How do you do" is formal even in British English. I could be wrong.

I'm sorry to hear about your bad experiences in the UK. Unfortunately, I can't help you much in that regard since my travel experience has been very limited. It's not a language question but I think our British members would not mind offering some advice on those housing issues. Ultimately, I think you just need to be better prepared for future trips like making sure the apartment you are going to stay in does have a noise policy or knowing what happends if there is too much noise, will they be able to relocate you to another unit, etc.
 

emsr2d2

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"How do you do?" is the formal greeting used when you are introduced to someone, usually said as you are shaking hands with them. It is not used in written English (unless in reported speech, of course).

Bassim, I'm sorry to hear of your bad experiences. I can't comment knowledgeably on the accommodation situation for foreign language students visiting the UK. I would only say that if you come to the UK to study with a reputable English school, they should arrange decent accommodation for you. If you come as an independent visitor, it's probably difficult to be absolutely certain that your accommodation will meet your standards but it sounds like you had a poor start. I hope you choose to come back sometime.

Going back to your original post (and the others you have posted). We want to be led by you with regard to what you want us to do with your sentences. You always ask us to correct the mistakes in your sentences. As you now know, we comment on them and edit them differently depending on what we think they're for. Up until now, most of us had been under the impression that you were writing for some kind of formal situation, or for a novel, because of the language and style you used. However, we now know these sentences are purely for practice and that you don't really have a context for them. We've established that there's a difference between how you would describe something to a friend in a casual email and how we would do it. That fact isn't going to change.

I will happily carry on dealing with your posts but you will probably end up with two sets of edits - one for your formal, convoluted language and one in which I suggest how I, as a native speaker, would word it.
 

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emsr2d2,
Regarding my learning English, I think that my goal is not unrealistic. I want to be able to write, read and communicate on the same level as a well-educated native English person do. That means to be able to clearly convey the ideas, views and messages and read books and other literature without looking up in a dictionary all the time. For example, this morning I was reading a text written by the Indian writer Khushwant Singh. He writes: "Many representations were made to the management to sack me, the journal was blacklisted by many institutions and irate parents wrote to tell me that they were embarrassed to leave it lying about the house lest their children were corrupted by its contents." I didn't see before the phrase "make representations", and I had to look up in my dictionary to find out that that phrase means make a complaint. Of course, I understood from the context what the author wanted to say, but I would never be able to use that phrase myself. Any well-educated English man or a woman would immediately understand the phrase, and you would probably use it yourself if you wrote a formal letter.
After I have managed to get a good grasp of English, I can dedicate my time and energy to my writing and try to publish some books. Of course, I am writing short stories and other text even now, but I see them rather as exercises than an accomplished product. Life is seldom fixed. Everything changes with the time and the way I am writing will probably change in the future. For me it is important that I have the will and energy to learn, which are still strong despite the failures I experienced in the past.
 

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Any well-educated English man or a woman would immediately understand the phrase ["make representations"]....

That's an excellent example. In fact, I can imagine an educated Indian person might understand it as intended. To me it reads as one of the many fossilized phrases that persist in India but are long forgotten, if they ever existed, in the rest of the Anglophone world. I understood it only from context.
 
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