Common grammar slips we commit when using English- Part II

Friday, August 15, 2008

Native English speakers do commit grammatical errors even though it's their first language. Being an American, British, or Australian doesn't guarantee a flawless English. Sometimes, even native English speakers tend to be careless, forsaking the rules that make up the language.

Any language consist of a grammar rule, or a syntax. As a computer scientist I know many programming languages, and they too have certain constructs, a rule, a syntax and a semantics rule so that the computer can understand what we tell them to do, in a way we want them to!

Well, syntax is there for a reason. But this post is not to explain that. I've come up with a post about the common misuses in the English language, part two. I am not a linguistics expert, but I do know English as a second language. Having said that doesn't really make me a qualified authority, let me share you the most common errors I observe anyway.

We've been out of school too long ago and we became too lax. I think our English skills have seriously deteriorated from a lack of proper use. Who corrects our errors anyway? Unless we work in a publishing or information company, we know that we can always get away with the small lapses. As you are reading this, you might have observed some. LOL

As a math major, I only had a total of 15 units of English related courses in the university. These are: three units of English grammar, three units of communication skills in writing, three units of speech communication, three units of literature and three units of scientific writing. Now, that's a problem if I am going to enroll in a law school next year.

Well, the only link was that all my subjects were taught in English so I still had something to write occasionally in a semester. In a school like UP, even Math, Programming, Physics or PE subjects have essays and written reports. Mind you, even NSTP (National Service Training Program) required us to write an essay on a win-win conflict resolution of the Moro armed struggle in Mindanao and it should be no less than ten pages, font number 10, 1.5 spacing. Guess what, it's longer than my English language courses' requirements. And of course, I had to write and defend my manuscript in English too!

English certainly has it's quirks but isn't it what makes it interesting?

Too much introduction by the way, but here they are:

Part one? click here

Prepositions of Time: On, In, At

On

We use on with
a. days of the week: Mondays, Tuesdays... Sundays
Example: I will be seeing my dentist on Saturday.
b. precise date: August 14, 2008, May 28, 1st of October
Example. My mother was born on August 3, 19xx
c. seasons

In

In is used for broad rather than specific
a. years, decades, centuries
In 1898, Emilio Aguinaldo was proclaimed the first Philippine president.
b. months
We will be moving out to our new apartment in December.

at

At is used for specific rather than broad
a. specific time of the day
Example: Please call me at 8:30.
b. specific time expressions: night, noon

Prepositions of place: in/at/on

In
a. commonly used for broad rather than specific (countries, or broad areas in context)
Example: In the Philippines, the weather is hot all year round.
b. referring to closed spaces (ex. building)
c. bodies of water (Ex. in the sea)


at
a. specific rather than broad (i.e. : address, specifying a town or city)
ex. I live at Apartment 231, Narra St., Davao City.
We have been living at Kanagawa prefecture.
b. referring to open spaces (ex. parks, zoo, etc)

on

a. surfaces (desk, table, floor)
b. street
ex. Turn left on Main Street...
c. directions (left, right)
c. small islands

to - to indicate a movement from one place to another
Ex. I will go to the movie theater.
Let us go to the office

Note: article "the" denotes "building"

Modals: can/could/might/must/shall/may/should

Correct usage of Modals
a. No 's in third person singular
ex. He can speak Italian.
b. Use not to make it negative
ex. cannot, should not, will not
c. can, must, should don't have future of past forms
I will can sing in the future (wrong)

might -
a. something you cannot decide at the moment
b. something that is possible to happen to you if you are not careful (ex. accidents)
c. something that is likely, you need to be prepared just in case

should
a. asking for suggestions
ex. Should I leave him or not?
b. giving advice
ex. I think you should leave him now or regret it later.
c. making decisions
ex. Should I buy this one or that one?

could
a. asking somebody's permission to ask for his help
Could you please do me a favor?
b. expressing ability in the past
I could swim before.


may - asking for permission

I will try to explain these things next time:

lie, lay - lay/lain

you/you're/your

this/these

their, they're/there

well/good

that/which

irregardless
effect/affect

who/whom

I/me

If I was/were

amount/number

through/threw/thru

program/programme

imply/infer

I have got to/ I have to immediate/later

Yet vs Already

Some sources:

http://www.englishpage.com/modals/modalintro.html
http://esl.about.com/od/beginningenglish/ig/Basic-English/Prepositions-of-Place.htm
http://www.eslgold.com/grammar/explanations.html

Other interesting reads for common English blunders

http://listverse.com/literature/10-common-english-language-errors/
http://www.bartleby.com/141/strunk3.html

12 comment(s):

Nyl said...

thanks for the English lesson...

very good entry!

pchi said...

@nyl

oh, looks like an English lesson?

hehe *wink* ;)

lei said...

coppied! thanks.

ako problem ko lagi yung your and you're lalo na kung nagmamadali ako. saka yung mga tenses.. kaya my blog is in tagalog kase laging madalian na posting.. pati comments.. tulad ngayon.. kase most of the time pag iniisip ko pa ang sasabihin ko in english tapos iki-click ko na yung publish your comment.. toink! error message na the page cannot be displayed.. :(

not sure kung yung site ang may problem or yung internet connection ko.

hala! napahaba na tuloy comment ko.. wish ko lang this time ma-publish. hahaha

pchi said...

@lei

thanks ate lei sa comment... sorry nahirapan ka tuloy sa pagpublish

ako nga kahit tagalog minsan nagkakamali din... taga-Davao kasi

PROSETITUTE said...

dapat ito e binabasa ng mga high school students. sabi nga ni prof. danton, we own english. and like a shirt, we must wear it proud- and well.

pchi said...

thanks prosetitute

teacher mo si danton remoto? he was one of my literature teacher's favorite

pagawa kaya ako ng t-shirt na "I am proud I own English"

haha, thanks ulit... greatly appreciated ang comment

Gumer said...

Este puesto es muy informativo. Lo siento que no soy buena que en Inglés. No sé las normas que así :)

pchi said...

@gumer...

oh, spanish, that's something new...

i am guessing by clues that what you said means

"very informative English lesson"

haha, am I right?

Gumer said...

more or less ganun... he he he
eto yun :
This post is very informative. Sorry I'm not that good in English. I do not know the rules well :)

hindi ako magaling sa spanish oi, meron lang kaming elective na subject noong high school pa ako (ganyan na ako katanda)

pchi said...

@gumer

ahahaha... oh, as old as my mother?

hehe... wow, that's nice... i would have wanted more foreign language know-how

sibubukan kong magjapanese, ang hirap! hehe

Pastilan said...

I'm 37, inabotan ko pa yung last batch ng college na may subject na spanish. At noong high school ako (184-1988) meron kaming elctive subject na spanish kaya medyo nakakaintindi ako ng spanish. Mama at Papa ko rin marunong konti.

pchi said...

ahhh, i see

i wish naabutan ko din yan..

pwede man ako kumuha ng spanish elective sa college by my profs were against language courses, di nila inaaprove

kaya puro math related tuloy yung electives ko

na-guess ko nga yung age mo... because of your ym

;)

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