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Discussion #1 - Writing English

 

Did you know that by practicing your writing skills, you can improve your spoken English?

 

It's true! Writing follows the rules of spoken English. By practicing written English, you can strengthen your grammar and sentence structure (which is syntax and word order). And with this greater understanding, your speaking skills will get stronger - and then, you gain more confidence in your English language abilities.

 

With that, let's practice our writing skills!

 

The following was written by a NATIVE English speaker:

 

so the rice I made didn't make as much as I hoped it would :/ so I hope everyone at lease gets a scoop LOL i'm also bring a bunch of plastic utensils

 

GRAMMAR CORRECTIONS with explanation:

1) Let's start by correcting the obvious: "so" should be "So". Each sentence in English starts with a capital letter; in this case, capital-s (S). The next correction, that may not be too obvious, is the missing comma. The word "so" is NOT part of the actual thought of the sentence; rather, it is being used to 'break the silence'. Thus, the comma (,) should be right after the introductory word (So,). There are no other corrections needed until after the word "I". Thus, we have

 

                    So, the rice I made didn't make as much as I


2) "Hoped" in this sentence is simple past, which signifies a past event that is NOT relevant to the here-and-now. Since the writer is telling us that she didn't make enough rice, but, thought that there was enough rice, the use of simple past tense is INCORRECT. Why? Because there is a specific tense and aspect of a verb that is used solely for the purpose of ordering events in a chronological manner that will give past events current relevance: past perfect. The "perfect tense" gives verbs a past tense feel, while also bringing the importance of the past event to the here-and-now; think of it as doing something in the past in order to get to another thing in the future.


For instance, the following sentences have two different meanings:

A) I hoped for the best.

This sentence merely signifies a past fact; it is done and over with (completed) and has no bearing on the here-and-now.


BUT,


B) I had hoped for the best.

This sentence signifies the past fact of hoping, but also signifies that there is an unspoken explanation or reason for the person to hope. Or, simpler put, that there were chronological events that happened between the past and the present, in order to give the sentence current relevance. Let's expand the thought to


                    I had hoped for the best when I finished my exam.


This new sentence signifies that the writer had to finish her exam BEFORE she could begin to hope for good results; ie, first, take the exam and then, second, begin to hope. Thus, the sentence shows chronological steps toward a future outcome that has relevance to the here-and-now.


Going back to our original sentence, the writer should have used "had hoped" instead of just "hoped". The auxiliary (had) provides the past tense and the verb (hoped) provides the "action" that is relevant. The last thing to consider about this sentence is how to end it. To end sentences in English, a period is always needed. By adding a period to the sentence and making the newest corrections, the sentence becomes


                    So, the rice I made didn't make as much as I had hoped.


3) The second sentence, again, needs a capitalized first letter; in this case, it is the capital-s (So). However, unlike the first sentence, "so" isn't used to make a 'break in silence'; rather, it is used to further express the writer's intent. With this new use of intention, a comma is not necessary. Moving forward, though, we run into a spelling error: at lease, which should be "at least". Then, of course, we need to add a period (.) to the end of the sentence. The second sentence would become


                    So I hope everyone at least gets a scoop.


4) The third sentence, of course, needs to start with a capital. In this case, the capital would be the "I" - not just because it is the first letter of a sentence, but also because "I" is always capitalized. The rest of the sentence, however, is a bit more complicated because of the construction "am also bring". "Am" plus "bring" is a broken construction of the present continuous (also known as the present progressive). But, for it to be correct, "bring" must have the ending of -ing (bring + -ing = bringing). That said, another construction could be feasible: "am also bring" could be changed to "will also bring" in order to keep the integrity of the original verb (bring). Of course, we can't forget to end the sentence with a period. So, the sentence can be written as


                    I'm also bringing a bunch of plastic utensils.

                                                  OR

                    I will also bring a bunch of plastic utensils.

 

Without knowing the writer's true intention and meaning, it is hard to determine which sentence better conveys her thoughts. However, in my professional opinion, I believe the first sentence to be closer to her meaning. This is because she purposely used "I'm" (I am) and not "I'll" (I will). Remember: "I am" and "I will" have two totally different meanings, so be careful when you use them.

 

Now that we have all of our corrections done, let's look at the 3 new sentences and compare them with their originals:

 

So, the rice I made didn't make as much as I had hoped. So I hope everyone at least gets a scoop. I'm also bringing a bunch of plastic utensils.

 

                                                       VS.


so the rice I made didn't make as much as I hoped it would :/ so I hope everyone at lease gets a scoop LOL i'm also bring a bunch of plastic utensils

 



One last point to make!

The corrections that I made were based on standard English grammar only, and not syntax (word order) or pragmatics (meaning). Taking syntax and pragmatics into account, a better way to write the very same 3 sentences would be

 

So, I didn't make as much rice as I would have hoped; so I hope everyone gets at least one scoop. Also, I'm bringing a bunch of plastic utensils.

 


 

What do you think?

If you have any questions, please reply to this discussion and I will answer them ASAP. :) By all means, let's start talking about it!

 

 

THANKS for reading and GOOD LUCK with your English study!!

                                                                                               ~Bre

 

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Comments

First off, Thank you. That was most informative.
Moving on however, I think a point should be made of the emoticons and acronyms. You've excluded the :/ and LOL yet they can be quite useful. They can be used to denote action by the writer or to emphasis a point (or emotion). For example: "...[it] didn't make as much as I hoped it would :/" is trying to say that the original author is concerned about the lack of rice. If we try to write this out (without sounding ridicoulous) we may get something like "...[it] didn't make as much as I'd hoped it would, I'm worried that everyone won't get at least a scoop." The LOL serves as a desperate laugh at a bad situation, this is much more difficult to write in words without it sounding strange and in this situation I don't think you could.

Anyways, nice article.

 

 

 

Hi, Chris!

I don't translate emoticons and such because I'd have to guess at what the person is trying to say. Also, I may use emoticons in my messages but, personally, they don't mean anything; they are what they are: a smiley face, or a frown, etc. I guess, they can give a physical element to my emotive words - like a thumbs-up sign. I do appreciate you looking into emoticons as you do; it shows that you are truly trying to discover a person's ultimate thought. However, when trying to teach Standard English, translating the concept of emoticons isn't "important" and could prove quite problematic to English-learners. I will say, though, that analysis of emoticons could be a subject all of its own. I think it could be a fun and rewarding adventure. Can you imagine learning more about human emotion through the study of emoticons?! I'm very glad to have you as a member. I'm sure we'll have a lot of fun here!

Thank you all

It is useful discusion

In fact, that is very true, if we pay attention to our writting, we mechanize our thoughts. And then we can automatically apply those improvement to our speaking.   

can you explain why the sintax was wrong?

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