I have some questions

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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-10-06, 19:04

linguoboy wrote:I don't understand the meaning of the second clause in this sentence. What about what other people have thought and said?

What I was trying to mean is that other people may think whatever they want, agree or disagree with quotes that they're reading in the book because that quotes are thoughts of some other people that were considered interesting and worth being written in the book. So those who don't like them have to admit them anyway.


Can we compare a comparative form of an adjective? I read about it on the internet and people said that one can't because a comparative adjective in itself has a form of comparing (that's why called so).
But I thought that maybe there could be instances where it's reasonable enough (or, at least, not incorrect) to indicate comparativeness even of such adjectives.
Here's the example that I thought of:
"I guess things went worse than you expected?"
"It could have been twice as worse had I retained my desire to start using those dangerous medications".

So the part that I'm talking about is in the second sentence. I think "twice as worse" is a comparison and we're used to seeing common forms of adjectives here: "twice as bad". But i think that the latter do not fully express the intended meaning. Can I consider the state of "being worse" than expected as something that might have been changed into even worse or a better state. Like "a little worse" than expected, "too much worse", etc. What do you think? Can you come up with a situation or a context where it would work or even a mere thought of it strikes your mind as utterly unidiomatic and incorrect?


In the Gary Moore song "Still Got the Blues" there's this sentence: "So many years since I've seen your face". When I listened to this song couple of years ago I didn't notice anything strange, maybe because I was less experienced. But now as I look at it, I find that I don't really understand why the perfect aspect is used in the present tense in the second part of the sentence. Don't you have the same feeling? I think that a pretty common structure of English sentences is: "It's been a period of time since something happened". I suppose that we can certainly rephrase the first part like this "It's been so many years", I guess the perfect is implied there but was omitted as obvious to save the size and rhythm.
So shouldn't the simple past be used here? It's like he "saw her face" and after that moment so many years have been (passed). I think that when we talk about a period of time in the present perfect that we need a moment to "push" our narrative from. and it's obvious that it should be an instantaneous action (a fact) in the past. Like:
"It's been five years since I entered this university".
"It's been four months since I first met her".
"It's been so many years since I bought this apartment".

And if we use the present perfect here it sounds quite strange, because there's no moment in the past that we count time from. So it sounds kind of paradoxical to me. What do you think?

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Re: I have some questions

Postby Dormouse559 » 2018-10-07, 6:17

LifeDeath wrote:Can we compare a comparative form of an adjective? I read about it on the internet and people said that one can't because a comparative adjective in itself has is? a form of comparing (that's why it's called so that).
But I thought that maybe there could be instances where it's reasonable enough (or, at least, not incorrect) to indicate comparativeness even of such adjectives.
Here's the example that I thought of:
"I guess things went worse than you expected?"
"It could have been twice as worse had I retained my desire to start using those dangerous medications".

So the part that I'm talking about is in the second sentence. I think "twice as worse" is a comparison and we're used to seeing common forms of adjectives here: "twice as bad". But i think that the latter do not fully express the intended meaning. Can I consider the state of "being worse" than expected as something that might have been changed into even worse or a better state. Like "a little worse" than expected, "too much worse", etc. What do you think? Can you come up with a situation or a context where it would work or does even a the mere thought of it strikes your mind you as utterly unidiomatic and incorrect?

Your phrasing sounds like something a child would say, but I suppose there are ways of expressing what you want. "Doubly worse" is an option. I haven't used it myself, but I guess it came to mind for a reason, and Google tells me people use it. If you don't mind being imprecise, you've already used the first phrase that came to me, "even worse".


LifeDeath wrote:In the Gary Moore song "Still Got the Blues" there's this sentence: "So many years since I've seen your face". When I listened to this song couple of years ago I didn't notice anything strange, maybe because I was less experienced. But now as I look at it, I find that I don't really understand why the perfect aspect is used in the present tense in the second part of the sentence. Don't you have the same feeling? I think that a pretty common structure of English sentences is: "It's been a period of time since something happened". I suppose that we can certainly rephrase the first part like this "It's been so many years"; I guess the perfect is implied there but was omitted as obvious to save the size and rhythm.
So shouldn't the simple past be used here? It's like he "saw her face" and after that moment so many years have been (passed). I think that when we talk about a period of time in the present perfect that we need a moment to "push" our narrative from. And it's obvious that it should be an instantaneous action (a fact) in the past. Like:
"It's been five years since I entered this university".
"It's been four months since I first met her".
"It's been so many years since I bought this apartment".

And if we use the present perfect here it sounds quite strange, because there's no moment in the past that we count time from. So it sounds kind of paradoxical to me. What do you think?

No, the present perfect doesn't sound strange. It doesn't necessarily work in your example sentences, but it certainly can sometimes be an option after "since".

Thinking about "So many years since I've seen your face", I get the sense that the speaker used to regularly see the listener's face. If I change it to "So many years since I saw your face", it sounds like he only saw the listener's face once, or at least is only talking about one time.

Your example sentences may not fit with the present perfect because of a few reasons. The first and third sentences describe events that tend to happen just once, so an implication of habituality sounds odd. (The first might allow the present perfect if we take "enter" to simply mean "go into" rather than "enroll in".) The second sentence includes "first" which, in that usage, normally triggers the simple tenses, and you can only meet someone for the first time once.
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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-10-07, 8:32

Alright. The second question turns out to be a pretty tough case for me.
Dormouse559 wrote:Thinking about "So many years since I've seen your face", I get the sense that the speaker used to regularly see the listener's face. If I change it to "So many years since I saw your face", it sounds like he only saw the listener's face once, or at least is only talking about one time.

Even you say "used to regularly see". Those who learn Englsih as a second language are always taught that "used to" relates only to past events that no longer take place in the present. So that's why, I suppose, we can tell that those "seeings" are completely in the past. But the present perfect implies that the action is still relevant in the present moment, doesn't it?
Well, I know that another use of the perfect aspect is to indicate a resultant state of a past action. But what kind of result can be in this case? For example, in the sentence "I have broken the teapot" the result is clear: breaking happened in the past but the teapot is still broken in the moment of speaking, which is especially relevant when it comes to making tea. So I guess that the whole perfect structure "I have broken" can be divided into two sentences keeping the intended meaning "I broke the teapot", "It is still broken".
So if this is the reason the perfect was used in the song, then it's easier for me to understand. Like there's an action in the past (seeing her face) which has a bearing on the present moment (that's why the perfect), and another action that we count from the first one - amount of time.
The only thing that I can't understand about this option, is what kind of result may a "seeing someone's face" bear? It's obvious with "breaking" and similar verbs, but with "seeing" I can't think of any.

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2018-10-08, 16:43

LifeDeath wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I don't understand the meaning of the second clause in this sentence. What about what other people have thought and said?

What I was trying to meansay is that other people may think whatever they want, agree or disagree with quotes that they're reading in the book because thatthose quotes are thoughts of some other people that were considered interesting and worth being written in the book. So those who don't like them have to admitaccept them anyway.

I think what expresses that is "but thatthey are what other people have thought and said".

LifeDeath wrote:Alright. The second question turns out to be a pretty tough case for me.
Dormouse559 wrote:Thinking about "So many years since I've seen your face", I get the sense that the speaker used to regularly see the listener's face. If I change it to "So many years since I saw your face", it sounds like he only saw the listener's face once, or at least is only talking about one time.

Even you say "used to regularly see". Those who learn English as a second language are always taught that "used to" relates only to past events that no longer take place in the present. So that's why, I suppose, we can tellsay that those "seeings" are completely in the past. But the present perfect implies that the action is still relevant in the present moment, doesn't it?

That's a popular explanation of the present perfect, but it's not a very useful or sensible one. If the action isn't relevant in the present moment, then why are you talking about it at all?

For me, one difference is that "So many years since I've seen your face" is something I can imagine saying while looking someone in the face whereas "So many years since I saw your face" would sound awkward in that situation without an adverb, e.g. ""So many years since I last saw your face". This places the time of that seeing firmly in the past, differentiating it from the seeing which is currently happening.

That's not relevant to the song lyric, though, since the context ("So long, it was so long ago, but I've still got the blues for you.") indicates that the speaker is not currently looking at the person in question. I have to agree with Dormouse that the most plausible implication is that "seeing your face" was something iterative rather than a one-time thing. (Which is a relevant distinction here since there are plenty of lovesongs addressed to people the singer has seen only once.)

Does it help to think of the perfect as putting the focus on the experience as opposed to the action? We frequently use the perfect to indicate having undergone a certain experience, e.g. "I've been to Brazil", "I've never had a Manhattan before", "She's been a department head and a member of the faculty senate". If you want to frame this in terms of "result", you could say that experiences change us: I'm a different person now that I've visited Brazil. The experience changed something in me. She has skills and views from having been a department head and a member of the faculty senate that she didn't have before and that other people who haven't done those things don't have.

So "having seen your face" makes me a different person from the person I was before who had never had that experience. I saw your face many times when I knew you (actions) but what's important here is not any of those individual times. I'm missing you because seeing your face was something that I was able to do and I'm not able to do it now. That's not something that would ever have happened if I'd never met you.
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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-10-09, 17:08

Okay, now it makes more sense as I think of it as of experience. But it turns out that the perfect can be ambiguous in English. Whether you're talking about an experience of a finished action or whether you're indicating the relevant state of an action that's still ongoing in the present moment. I guess those two are called "resultative" and "continuative". And their usage can be context-depending (to be able to tell one from the other).



I have one little question for today: can we use the subjunctive mood with "want"? I tried to google but I haven't found anything useful on it. I thought of this example:

"Why did you so much want to talk with me?"
"I just wanted that we talk everything over so that there's no miscommunications between us".


Do you think this one is correct? Maybe "I just wanted that everything be talked over ..." sounds better.

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2018-10-09, 17:23

LifeDeath wrote:Okay, now it makes more sense asif/when I think of it as of experience. But it turns out that the perfect can be ambiguous in English. Whether you're talking about an experience of a finished action or whether you're indicating the relevant state of an action that's still ongoing in the present moment. I guess those two are called "resultative" and "continuative". And their usage can be context-depending (to be able to tell one from the other).

That makes them...just like every other TAM combination in English.

LifeDeath wrote:I have one little question for today: can we use the subjunctive mood with "want"? I tried to google but I haven't found anything useful on it. I thought of this example:

"Why did you so much want to talk with me?"
"I just wanted that we talk everything over so that there's no miscommunications between us".


Do you think this one is correct? Maybe "I just wanted that everything be talked over ..." sounds better.

Neither of those sound idiomatic to me. I would prefer an infinitive clause in both cases (as would most speakers of English):

"I just wanted us to talk everything over..."
"I just wanted everything to be talked over..."

In contemporary usage, I've only seen a want + irrealis finite clause in Indian English, where it may be an archaicism or a case of interference from an Indian language:

"Achuthanandan wanted that he be included in the party state secretariat, a demand rejected by the central committee[.]" (Indian Express)

Other verbs can take an irrealis clause here, just not want:

"We ask/request/demand that you be on time." (But "We expect you to be on time".)
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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-10-09, 18:48

Thanks.

linguoboy wrote:That makes them...just like every other TAM combination in English.

Umm... Does "TAM" have anything to do with... tense/aspect/mood maybe?

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2018-10-09, 19:04

LifeDeath wrote:
linguoboy wrote:That makes them...just like every other TAM combination in English.

Umm... Does "TAM" have anything to do with... tense/aspect/mood maybe?

That's exactly correct.
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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-10-13, 13:30

Is the following sentence correct "Your eyes shining blue is what I like about you"?
I'm not really sure how to describe someone's eyes in a metaphorical way as if they "shine" with a particular color? I suppose an adverb should be used here, but what's the adverb for "blue"? Or any other color? I've googled "bluely" but when I say "Your eyes shine bluely" it sounds very weird to me. But maybe I'm wrong. Is the structure "shine + color" correct?

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2018-10-15, 14:35

LifeDeath wrote:Is the following sentence correct "Your eyes shining blue is what I like about you"?

It is.

LifeDeath wrote:I'm not really sure how to describe someone's eyes in a metaphorical way as if they "shine" with a particular color?. I suppose an adverb should be used here, but what's the adverb for "blue"? Or any other color? I've googled "bluely" but when I say "Your eyes shine bluely" it sounds very weird to me. But maybe I'm wrong. Is the structure "shine + color" correct?

It is. Colour adverbs with -ly sound quite literary to me. Here's an example from Keats:
Ah! see her hovering feet,
More bluely vein'd, more soft, more whitely sweet
Than those of sea-born Venus, when she rose
From out her cradle shell.

This is a tricky construction so I asked for some help with it. One friend suggested analysing it as a "dual predicate", with eyes being both the subject of the verb shine and the predicate adjective blue. That presents some difficulties, but so do the other possibilities (e.g. treating shine as a copular verb or treating blue as an adverb).
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Re: I have some questions

Postby voron » 2018-10-15, 18:39

linguoboy wrote:This is a tricky construction so I asked for some help with it. One friend suggested analysing it as a "dual predicate", with eyes being both the subject of the verb shine and the predicate adjective blue. That presents some difficulties, but so do the other possibilities (e.g. treating shine as a copular verb or treating blue as an adverb).

Can it perhaps be analyzed as a small clause?

Also, do you think these examples are similar?
to smell good
to grow big
to stay healthy

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2018-10-15, 19:52

voron wrote:Can it perhaps be analyzed as a small clause?

I think that's possible, too. I'm not sure why my consultants (who are better at parsing syntax than me) didn't discuss that possibility. (It could be that they don't consider "small clauses" a well-defined syntactic entity but just a cover term for a difficult-to-explain phenomenon. As the article notes, not all theories of syntax recognise the existence of "small clauses" as such.)

voron wrote:Also, do you think these examples are similar?
to smell good
to grow big
to stay healthy

"Smell" and "stay" are usually included on lists of what I've called "copular verbs" and what other sources call "link verbs", "linking verbs", "semi-copulas", or "pseudo-copulas". "Grow" is less prototypically part of this class but it often functions similar to "become", which is prototypically copular (to the point that it is used suppletively in several languages which lack copular forms in certain tenses).

"Shine" strikes me as somewhat like "grow" in that there is a certain confusion between process and result. If you say something "shines bright", you are saying that it is shining and it is bright. But aren't you also saying that there is something in the process of shining which produces brightness? Isn't it something like "talking loud(ly)", where the way in which someone talks produces a loud result?
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Re: I have some questions

Postby Antea » 2018-10-22, 12:24

Is it correct to say: “If you are free sooner, just tell me” ( si estás libre antes, dímelo). :hmm:

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Re: I have some questions

Postby ceid donn » 2018-10-22, 13:44

Antea wrote:Is it correct to say: “If you are free sooner, just tell me” ( si estás libre antes, dímelo). :hmm:


Yes, that's fine and sounds natural. If you want to avoid the risk of sounding too demanding, you can say, "If you are free sooner, let me know." That is a slightly more casual, less assertive register of speech than "just tell me."

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Re: I have some questions

Postby Antea » 2018-10-22, 15:41

ceid donn wrote:
Antea wrote:Is it correct to say: “If you are free sooner, just tell me” ( si estás libre antes, dímelo). :hmm:


Yes, that's fine and sounds natural. If you want to avoid the risk of sounding too demanding, you can say, "If you are free sooner, let me know." That is a slightly more casual, less assertive register of speech than "just tell me."


Ok, thanks!

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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-10-25, 16:57

Can the word "kind" be used in the following context: "You belong to the kind who don't need to learn because you understand everything in a heartbeat"? I think "those" would work fine instead, but I want to know about "kind" particularly, not "kind of people".
And if it can, can I start the sentence like "You are one of the kind who..." or even "You are of the kind who..."?

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2018-10-25, 17:00

LifeDeath wrote:Can the word "kind" be used in the following context: "You belong to the kind who don't need to learn because you understand everything in a heartbeat"? I think "those" would work fine instead, but I want to know about "kind" particularly, not "kind of people".
And if it can, can I start the sentence like "You are one of the kind who..." or even "You are of the kind who..."?

It's perfectly understandable, though I doubt I'd ever use that phrasing in my own speech.

Google "one of the kind who" (with those quotes) and you'll find plenty of native-speaker examples.
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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-11-05, 17:13

linguoboy wrote:Google "one of the kind who" (with those quotes) and you'll find plenty of native-speaker examples.

That's what I sometimes do to check if a sentence that I have doubts about is correct or at leas idiomatic. But the problem is, I am usually not sure if the examples I find are reliable. You see, there are countries which population is one of the hugest in the world so there are a lot of internet users form there who apply English as a language for communicating. I'm not saying I have anything against these people, not at all, what I'm trying to say is that their English is not always perfect so I may go astray once I've taken their examples as a standard for a sentence that I want to use myself. I'm not at that level yet where I can be easily able to tell native-speaker usage from a fluent, yet still slightly ungrammatical usage of people whose native language is not English. That's why I sometimes ask you here about plain sentence structures because I'm pretty sure that you can give me the most competent answer.


I have a little question for today: I listened to the song "Strangers in the Night" by Frank Sinatra and a couple of lines seemed weird to me. The lyrics are pretty simple but there's these sentences: "Love was just a glance away. A warm embracing dance away." look strange. I don't understand what they mean in this context. According to wiktionary "glance away" describes an action of a very brief look to a side while looking at something and then looking back at it (especially someone's eyes). So I don't really understand why "love" can be described by this process. The next sentence is even more complicated. I suppose we all know what "dance" is, but how can it be warm and embracing? And how can it get "away"? When I hear "dance away" I imagine that someone's waking away from another person while dancing, especially waltz, not in his normal pace. So, what do those actually mean?

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-05, 17:37

LifeDeath wrote:That's what I sometimes do to check if a sentence that I have doubts about is correct or at least idiomatic. But the problem is, I am usually not sure if the examples I find are reliable. You see, there are countries whichwhose population is one of the hugest in the world so there are a lot of internet users from there who applyuse English as a language for communicating. I'm not saying I have anything against these people, not at all, what I'm trying to say is that their English is not always perfect so I may go astray once I've taken their examples as a standard for a sentence that I want to use myself. I'm not at that level yet where I can be easily able to tell native-speaker usage from someone fluent, yetfrom the still slightly ungrammatical usage of people whose native language is not English. That's why I sometimes ask you here about plain sentence structures because I'm pretty sure that you can give me the most competent answer.

I wasn't suggesting Googling as a substitute for asking here, I just thought it might be helpful for you to see how that expression is used in context.

LifeDeath wrote:I have a little question for today: I listened to the song "Strangers in the Night" by Frank Sinatra and a couple of lines seemed weird to me. The lyrics are pretty simple but there's these sentences: "Love was just a glance away. A warm embracing dance away." looks strange. I don't understand what they mean in this context. According to wiktionary "glance away" describes an action of a very brief look to aone side while looking at something and then looking back at it (especially someone's eyes). So I don't really understand whyhow "love" can be described by this process.

"Glance away" is formally ambiguous here, but I think it's pretty clear which meaning is intended and it's the not the one you chose.

"Away" can be used with measure words to indicate distance from a point:

"Novonikolaevsk is two versts away."

By extension, it can also be used with the amount of time typically required to covers this distance. (The means may be specified or it may be assumed based context.)

"We're an hour away from LA." [I.E. it will take us about an hour to drive to LA from where we are now.]
"That's forty minutes away on foot so we'd better take the train."

And the metaphor can be extended further to cover acts which will bring a person in contact with another person, event, or idea:

"Motivation is just a click away on Pinterest."

So the meaning is: There is a person in the room with whom you could fall in love. All you have to do is glance at them. That is, the action of glancing is all the separates you from love.

LifeDeath wrote:The next sentence is even more complicated. I suppose we all know what "dance" is, but how can it be warm and embracing?

Have you not seen couples dancing? Many of the holds resemble and embrace and having two bodies in close contact creates warmth.

LifeDeath wrote:And how can it get "away"? When I hear "dance away" I imagine that someone's waking away from another person while dancing, especially waltzing, not inat his normal pace. So, what do those actually mean?

Again, "away" is being used here to indicate metaphorical distance: All that separates you from falling in love is a warm and embracing dance with someone.
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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-11-06, 18:45

Thank you.
linguoboy wrote:
LifeDeath wrote:So line fron a Queen song "The Miracle": "We are having the miracle on earth". Why is "are having" used? I heard the the verb "have" is not used in the progressive form, because when one says "have" it's obviously understood that the action is not just a moment.

As mentioned above, it's a question of emphasis. Using the progressive here stresses that the miracle is something which is present at the very moment of speaking and which might not last. Using the simple present could imply a habitual meaning instead.

I just thought of it, isn't having a miracle something that is likely to be considered as a habitual action rather than something that is present at the very moment of speaking? A seizure of any disease can, as we discussed, or something that may have a passive/habitual state (lurking) and an active state (manifesting) and is used with no aspect at all or with the progressive aspect respectively. But a miracle either exists or doesn't at all. Or maybe if you want to stress the action there's probably better ways of doing it, by using different more appropriate verbs, for example. Like "We're experiencing/expecting/watching/beholding/etc a miracle".
Do you totally disagree?


And I've remembered another interesting question about articles from the same song. There's a line in it: "It's a miracle we need, the miracle". I suppose it's some kind of linguistic play or something that a non-native speaker can hardly understand. In simple words: I don't understand why they used the word with the indefinite article and then right away with the definite one. As we've discussed many times, one of the functions of the definite article is to show to your listener that you expect them to know exactly what noun you're taking about. So it's like Queen first introduced that there's a miracle that people need, and then they made it clear about what one exactly they're talking about, so it's like I should instantly understand what thing/process/event is meant by it. But the problem is I don't, I can only guess from the context.
Or maybe this usage is even more complicated. I'm not even sure if I'll be able to word and explain it clearly, but maybe when a person knows that his listener does not know about a noun he's [*] going to use and he uses the definite article with it, he's like trying to make the listener think as if the listener knows this exact word, and the first one that he remembers or comes to his mind is going to be the one, even if, in fact, it's not what the speaker actually means. And both sides of conversation are aware of and understand this concept. It's like saying: "Alright I know you're not stupid, that's why I'm gonna use a word with the definite article so you'll instantly come up with what it stands for, and whichever one you choose is going to be correct". I think this kind of semantics/connotation will lack if the indefinite article is used. Anyway that's very difficult for a non-native mindset. But what do you think about it? Does my last supposition make any sense? Maybe not in this case, but in other.

[*] Is it okay to use the third-person "they" here? It's funny that I mentioned two persons, that's why using "they" could imply that I was referirng to them both. If the sentence was "When a person knows a noun they're going to use..." I'd have used "they".
I'm interested, how would you understand it, as a common pronoun for "a speaker and a listener" or as a third-person plural pronoun for only "a speaker" in the given context?


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