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I need help with English usage and Syntax!

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Ponce de Leon View Drop Down
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    Posted: 15 Nov 2010 at 04:21
Hey guys long time no see!

I am in a bit of a pickle. I am trying to get a position to teach English abroad in S. Korea but I need to pass an interview first before getting accepted into a school. As part of the interview I am presented 12 questions concerning usage and syntax. Being a native English speaker I can sound out in my head what sounds correct and what does not. However, I am finding a hard time explaining WHY I chose that answer. I want to see if any masters of the English language can help me out...

Here are the questions (I will underline the mistake in the sentence):

1. Seldom does the flight depart on time, despite constant complains by the passengers.

2. As it turned out, the police did not have enough evidences to build a solid case against the man, but he confessed anyway.

3. Carrie ought to have beaten Jasmine in that race; she's been practiced harder and been more conscious of her diet.

4. Audrey is the person whose going to be taking care of all catering arrangements for this Thursday's get-together.

5. Joy is an avid reader and can conversate for hours on a wide variety of topics.

6. If I had known you wanted to go to the mall, you could have went with Tina and Bobbi.

7. The lecturer was covering some key information at to fast a pace for me to take adequate notes.

8. Just follow the simplistic instructions on page one of the manual and your new computer will be ready to go!

9. Throughout today's seminar, I'll be talking about ways you can maximize your efficiency in your business and work less hours -No error

10. Once you are done using the equipment, please return it to it's proper place -No error

11. Try as he might, the safecracker, who had had so many successes in the past, oculd not get in this particular safe.

12. Although she works patiently and creatively, Joyce never gets frustrated by minor setbacks.

If you can help me define the rule for each correction it would be greatly appreciative!
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Ponce de Leon View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ponce de Leon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Nov 2010 at 04:46
If I can get the answers before 11 am EST that would be wonderful as well
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gcle2003 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Nov 2010 at 11:24
Originally posted by Ponce de Leon Ponce de Leon wrote:

Hey guys long time no see!

I am in a bit of a pickle. I am trying to get a position to teach English abroad in S. Korea but I need to pass an interview first before getting accepted into a school. As part of the interview I am presented 12 questions concerning usage and syntax. Being a native English speaker I can sound out in my head what sounds correct and what does not. However, I am finding a hard time explaining WHY I chose that answer. I want to see if any masters of the English language can help me out...

Here are the questions (I will underline the mistake in the sentence):

1. Seldom does the flight depart on time, despite constant complains by the passengers.
Complicated. 'constant complaints' (with a 't') would be correct enough for most purposes, but 'frequent complaints' would be better (because complaints are made one at a time, not continuously. Best would be 'constant complaining' because 'complaining' is the gerund - the word that means the activity of making complaints.
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2. As it turned out, the police did not have enough evidences to build a solid case against the man, but he confessed anyway.
Evidence is not a thing that can be pluralised: the mistake is like saying 'not enough lands to build on'. 'Pieces of evidence' is allowable, but it should be 'enough evidence'.
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3. Carrie ought to have beaten Jasmine in that race; she's been practiced harder and been more conscious of her diet.
'Practicing' (Or 'practising' in English English.) See the note about 'complaning'.
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4. Audrey is the person whose going to be taking care of all catering arrangements for this Thursday's get-together.
'Whose' is the genitive case of 'who' - 'the person whose umbrella wouldn't open'. Here you need the abbreviation "who's" for 'who is'.
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5. Joy is an avid reader and can conversate for hours on a wide variety of topics.
Simply a wrong word - it shoudl be 'converse'. 'Conversate' doesn't exist - it is a back formation from the word 'conversation'.
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6. If I had known you wanted to go to the mall, you could have went with Tina and Bobbi.
The past participle of 'go' is 'gone': the simple past tense is 'went'. 'I go', 'I have gone', 'I went'.
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7. The lecturer was covering some key information at to fast a pace for me to take adequate notes.
Simple confusion of two spellings. 'To' is a preposition implying direction. The word meaning 'more than enough' is spelt 'too'.
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8. Just follow the simplistic instructions on page one of the manual and your new computer will be ready to go!
'Simplistic' means over-simplified and naive. The word should just be 'simple'.
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9. Throughout today's seminar, I'll be talking about ways you can maximize your efficiency in your business and work less hours -No error
Yes there's an error, a very common one. It should be 'fewer hours' not 'less hours'. You can't use 'less' in referring to denumerable things, only to quantities. 'Less beer' but 'fewer bottles.'
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10. Once you are done using the equipment, please return it to it's proper place -No error
Again yes there is. That should be 'its' not "it's". See 'whose' and 'who is' above. You only write "it's" where you would otherwise write 'it is'.
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11. Try as he might, the safecracker, who had had so many successes in the past, oculd not get in this particular safe.
'Had had' is perfectly OK. However it whould be 'into' not 'in'. 'In' is static, movement inwards requires 'into'.
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12. Although she works patiently and creatively, Joyce never gets frustrated by minor setbacks.
In some ways this is not an error, it just makes no sense. 'Although' is used to contrast two situations  'Although she is normally calm, sometimes she works herself into a frenzy.'
Here working patiently and creatively is perfectly compatible with never getting grustrated, so 'although' is not justified.
Better to just say 'Joyce works patiently and creatively, and never gets frustrated by minor serbacks.
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If you can help me define the rule for each correction it would be greatly appreciative!
SmileThumbs Down You would be appreciative. It would be appreciated.


Edited by gcle2003 - 15 Nov 2010 at 11:28
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hugoestr View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Nov 2010 at 13:15
As gcle can attest, I am no English maven, but thanks to my troubles with the language, I have thought through them. This is not specific answers but overall principles that seem to govern usage in English:

1. Using words with the correct meaning. That was violated in example 1 of your list.

2. Using the correct grammatical form, either the right case for pronouns, the right tense for verbs, etc. Example 3.

3. Using language in a logical manner according to the meaning of the words that you are using. Example 9. Prepositions are often a tricky area here, since regional idiomatic usage really makes no logical sense if you think through it.

4. Follow parallelism when writing. I didn't see any example, so I will make one up: "I like dogs, cats, and walking on the beach." The problem is that I am listing nouns and then I throw a gerund at the end.

The fun part is that knowing principles and applying them are two different things Have fun!
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Ponce de Leon View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ponce de Leon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Nov 2010 at 14:10
Thanks so much for your help guys!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Nov 2010 at 14:30
Rules? As Graham points out we are not discussing the rules of grammar here but simple mistake and misuse.
 
Example 1: spelling mistake--entering a verb form (complains) in place of the plural noun (complaints). The summation presented by Graham lies in the realm better stylistic construction. After all the gerundial eliminates the need to place an article as well" : "despite the constant complaints".
 
Example 2: Evidence (synonym: data), what is "seen" is inherently a plural. However, the sentence itself would appall any lawyer! The police compile evidence but it is an officer of the court who determines whether the evidence is sufficient, the far more appropriate modifier than "enough". Syntactically this construction stands indicted at all levels. By the way, a "confession" does not constitute "evidence".
 
Example 3: What can one say other than "ugh!! Beginning with the misuse of ought, which implies obligation or even logical consequences more than probability (the better term here would be "should")--we will not even comment on the awkwardness of "to have beaten" and the rule of simplicity--and concluding with inappropriate verbal verbiage that is encapsuled by the warnings against the passive voice in stylistic usage, the sentence is an abomination! E.g. Carrie should have beaten Jasmine in that race for she had practiced harder and been more conscientious of her diet. Yes, this latter term has the implication of discipline in fulfilling rather than just simple "awareness".
 
The remainder simply reflect repetition and violate one cardinal rule in writing and speaking: Avoid awkward constructions!
 
4: Audrey is the person whose going to be taking care of all catering arrangements for this Thursday's get-together.
 
Audrey is in charge of the catering for this Thursday's get together! [or is Audrey the plant from The Little Shop of Horrors!Evil Smile]
 
5. Joy is an avid reader and can conversate for hours on a wide variety of topics.
 
As an avid reader, Audrey can converse for hours on many topics. Variety carries the sense of things within a particular group rather than the implied multiplicity.
 
6. If I had known you wanted to go to the mall, you could have went with Tina and Bobbi. 
 
Had I known you wanted to go to the mall, you could have gone with Tina and Bobbi. The subjunctive clause is all wrong in terms of circumstances since it leaves open the implication of not going!
 
7. The lecturer was covering some key information at to fast a pace for me to take adequate notes.
 
Placing aside the fact that the notes taken were either adequate or inadequate (the implication here is of insufficiency) reason should prevail: The lecturer covered some key information at too fast a pace for me to make adequate notes. "Take" rather than make is too colloquial since the former carries the implication of manual rather than mental grasping.
 
8. Just follow the simplistic instructions on page one of the manual and your new computer will be ready to go!
 
Perhaps a reading of Mark Twain on adjectives is needed? Instruction may be simplistic, and in that sense totally wrong for the task at hand, but they are never simple (after all there is "manual" involved! and we are talking about computers!). Just follow the instructions on page one of the manual and your new computer will be ready to go!  You will later determine whether these instructions were easy (simple) to follow or not.
 
9. Throughout today's seminar, I'll be talking about ways you can maximize your efficiency in your business and work less hours.
 
Throughout today's seminar, I will be presenting ways to maximize business efficiency and work fewer hours.
 
10. Once you are done using the equipment, please return it to it's proper place
 
Please return the equipment to its proper place once you are finished.
 
11. Try as he might, the safecracker, who had had so many successes in the past, oculd not get in this particular safe.
Despite his many past successes, the safecracker, try as he might, could not get into this particular safe.
 
12. Although she works patiently and creatively, Joyce never gets frustrated by minor setbacks.
 
Joyce never get frustrated by minor setbacks because she works patiently and creatively.
 
Recommendation: Latest version of Fowler on usage.


Edited by drgonzaga - 11 Apr 2011 at 15:14
Honi soit qui mal y pense
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Nov 2010 at 20:44
Good luck in Korea. Might I recommend the marmot's hole as a good starting blog, should you get the job. (rjkoehler.com) You'll find a few threads on English teachers, plus numerous comments, that should be of interest. Also, if you end up residing near Itaewon, might I recommend the '3 Alley Pub' in the back alley behind the Hamilton hotel, and the New Philly if you end up further away from the strip. Both are good neighborhood places to unwind, attract as many Commonwealth types as Yank, as well as a fair number of Koreans.

If Korea doesn't pan out, and you're interested in Vietnam, PM me on this site if you're willing to do some time in Dalat.
Phong trần mài một lưỡi gươm, Những loài giá áo túi cơm sá gì
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Akolouthos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Nov 2010 at 03:08
Good to see you again, Ponce; we've missed you. I hope you have fun in South Korea. Would you care for a tomato? Wink
 
-Akolouthos


Edited by Akolouthos - 29 Nov 2010 at 03:08
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drgonzaga View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Dec 2010 at 21:12
Wonder if the phantom "Moderator" wanted a tomato?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dolphin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Apr 2011 at 07:40
Is this spamming a 'bot', does anybody know, or is there some unfortunate / degenerate that has to copy paste this stuff manually?


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Seko- Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Apr 2011 at 14:26
It's a Chinese spammer.
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