I have some questions

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Re: I have some questions

Postby Naava » 2018-04-25, 18:31

linguoboy wrote:In your humble opinion, Naava, which is the most helpful dictionary of English for a learner?

First of all, I might not be the best person to ask this because I rarely use dictionaries. Sanakirja.org is my trusted friend, and it seems there's an English version of it as well. Why I like it:

- it's free
- you can save language pairs (eg. I have English-Finnish, Finnish-English, Russian-Finnish, Finnish-Russian, Finnish-Estonian, and Estonian-Finnish saved) so you don't need to search for the correct language every time you want to check a word
- it has quite many languages to choose from
- it gives you the pronunciation in IPA and/or an audio file (though not with every word)
- it tells if the word is an adjective, verb, noun or something else
- it gives you a definition (not with every word)
- it gives you examples (not with every word)
- it gives you declination/conjugation (not with every word)
- it gives you alternative spellings/synonyms (not with every word)
- it has slang etc, not just standard language

If I want to know which preposition to use, I usually just google "adamant on or about" or "adamant at or in" and you can be sure you'll find your answer. That's how I found Merriam-Webster and Vocabulary.com. If I don't know if something I'm about to say is actually English or Finglish (or if I'm feeling suspicious of Sanakirja.org*), I google it with "quotation marks" and see if natives have used the same phrase.

*homonyms and near-synonyms, oh how I hate you!

Urban dictionary is great with acronyms and slang.

If I want to know how a word is pronounced, I usually go to Cambridge Dictionary. They use IPA + audio files.

In short, I don't think there's one dictionary that'd be better than the others. Imo it's best to use multiple sources for different purposes.

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2018-04-25, 19:31

Naava wrote:In short, I don't think there's one dictionary that'd be better than the others. Imo it's best to use multiple sources for different purposes.

I agree. Thanks for the detailed answer!
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Re: I have some questions

Postby Naava » 2018-04-25, 19:32

Np! :)

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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-04-26, 17:44

linguoboy wrote:Ah, I see what you're going for now. "Must" still sounds very odd here. Perhaps it's because you've led off with "I suppose" so it's already clear that you're introducing a supposition. That makes it seem like "must" should be interpreted deontically otherwise it would be redundant. Do you see what I mean?

Yes! In fact, I thought that "I suppose" would work like a kind of an introductory word. So it was supposed to reduce the tension of the sentence. I think that without it "must" would inevitably be interpreted deontically. But when I try to look at a simpler example "I suppose you must be his brother?" I see why it sounds redundant. (Probably "suppose" isn't a best word here? Maybe that sentence could sound better with "assume" or "think" or "guess" or "it seems"?)

linguoboy wrote:There are all kinds of places to learn new words and expressions. I've learned a lot by interacting with people, both in real life and online, but probably most of my vocabulary has been picked up from reading. Reading also helps give you an ear for what sounds idiomatic and what doesn't.

Yes, I think that on this forum I've learned a lot of important words and idiomatic expressions or different ways to turn a sentence and still sound more or less natural, and that's great!
Could you please recommend me a book or an author to read? You know, the problem here is to choose. The reason is, there's not a huge variety of foreign English literature in Russian shops, though there are thousands of books in an ordinary shop (which makes me wonder why the percent of the English literature is so low).
Maybe you know some bestsellers or works of a famous author that are likely to be sold outside of the US?
As you might have noticed, I've read to a lot of Agatha Christie novels because I thought that detective stories would be easier than novels to read. But I think that her works represent a standard British English half of which is obsolete now. But what I'm going for is the American English. I have a couple of Stephen King books, but I think it's 20th century.
Do you think there are books that can help get used to the contemporary American English?

linguoboy wrote:The issue is that "tell" in this context is like "know", i.e. it reflects a mental state more than an action. So the progressive here is as awkward as "how would they be knowing".

This is pretty interesting. I thought that "tell from" meant something like "to see a difference", "to differentiate" which, in my opinion, can be used progressively.

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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-04-28, 16:53

I also have two questions about translation. I was asked to translate some sentences from Russian into English for a forthcoming exhibition in China. They are all about clothes.
I'm not sure about some sentences so could you please help me rephrase them if they're incorrect?

"What is the minimal batch to make an order?" Is this correct? You know, some shops only allow you to buy their stuff only if the amount of things you buy is above a specific threshold. For example, you can order 50 t-shirts or more, but if you want 49 or less you won't be able to make an order. Is my question correct by this meaning? By "batch" I mean "the amount of goods", but I'm not sure this is the right word. I just want to phrase it in a simple way.

"How many things by color or size should I buy to make an order?" Another kind of condition sellers usually make is that you can order a batch if you buy a sufficient amount by size or color. For example, you need to but at least 50 goods of any size (and the minimal batch is 150 things), so you can buy 50 XXLs, 50 XLs and 50 Ls and it's okay. But if you buy 200 XXLs and 40 Ls then you won't be allowed to make an order because you have to reach the threshold of 50 goods by size, and the amount of Ls doesn't fit this. How would you phrase this?
Sellers will be Asians, so I think that probably simpler sentences would work better and avoid miscommunications.

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Re: I have some questions

Postby Dormouse559 » 2018-04-29, 17:42

Here's what I would say:

What is the minimum order? / What is the minimum number of items per order?

What is the minimum number of items I must buy in a given color or size?
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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-05-05, 18:25

Thanks.
Today I'd like to discuss a small topic based on your typical corrections of what I usually write here. *
I've decided to learn to sound more natural as possible at my level, so I'll be asking such questions more often.
I've noticed that some things that I think are okay are corrected here. And since I use them pretty often I want to finally understand whether I can use them in this way or not and never doubt again.
As I've noticed, when I use "probably" in the beginning of a sentence, it's always corrected. Is such usage wrong? I don't know why I got used to it, but it's probably due to the fact that some adverbs are used in the beginning of a sentence. Like "Aslo, I wanted to point out that...", "Seemingly it's the first thing...", "Almost by the end of the year...", etc etc.
And I though that "probably" could also be used like that with the meaning of "maybe" (which I think is its common meaning). So why doesn't it work?

"Probably you have to tell me the truth if you want me to believe you".
"Probably I won't understand it because I'm not so good at math, but tell me about this equation".
"Probably he was asleep, he would have answered the phone otherwise".
"Probably things are getting complicated, at least that's what I can tell looking at statistics".
"Probably you'll come and see me? I really need to tell you something".
"Probably it's the only way to do it?!"
"Probably I will. Or I won't. Well I don't know yet".


Are all these incorrect? If yes **, how can one understand which adverbs can go in the beginning and which can't? Or is it only learned through experience? Probably I need to put a comma after the adverb (which I think doesn't seem possible in the 6th example), so it would sound natural then, or make a pause after it if speaking?

* I know that that sentence is extremely awkward, especially the second part of it. How would you say it?
** Is it possible to say "If so" in such contexts instead of "If yes/no"? (I wonder if "If yes" is grammatical at all, maybe it should be "If the answer is yes"?)

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Re: I have some questions

Postby Dormouse559 » 2018-05-08, 4:26

LifeDeath wrote:Thanks.
Today I'd like to discuss a small topic based on your typical corrections of what I usually write here. *
I've decided to learn to sound more as natural as possible at my level, so I'll be asking such questions more often.
I've noticed that some things that I think are okay are corrected here. And since I use them pretty often I want to finally understand whether I can use them in this way or not and never doubt again.
As I've noticed, when I use "probably" in at the beginning of a sentence, it's always corrected. Is such usage wrong? I don't know why I got used to it, but it's probably due to the fact that some adverbs are used in the beginning of a sentence. Like "Also, I wanted to point out that...", "Seemingly it's the first thing...", "Almost by the end of the year...", etc etc.
And I thought that "probably" could also be used like that with the meaning of "maybe" (which I think is its common meaning). So why doesn't it work?

"Probably you have to tell me the truth if you want me to believe you".
"Probably I won't understand it because I'm not so good at math, but tell me about this equation".
"Probably he was asleep, he would have answered the phone otherwise".
"Probably things are getting complicated, at least that's what I can tell looking at statistics".
"Probably you'll come and see me? I really need to tell you something".
"Probably it's the only way to do it?!"
"Probably I will. Or I won't. Well I don't know yet".


Are all these incorrect? If yes **, how can one understand which adverbs can go in at the beginning and which can't? Or is it only learned through experience? Probably I need to put a comma after the adverb (which I think doesn't seem I don't think is possible in the 6th example), so it sounds / will sound natural then, or make a pause after it if speaking?.

* I know that that sentence is extremely awkward, especially the second part of it. How would you say it? It actually sounds fine to me.
** Is it possible to say "If so" in such contexts instead of "If yes/no"? (I wonder if "If yes" is grammatical at all, maybe it should be "If the answer is yes"?) "If yes" and "if so" are both correct; the latter is maybe slightly more common. "If the answer is yes" is also okay, but I'd mainly use it if I'd previously used the word "question".

Beginning a sentence with "probably" isn't wrong. But putting it before the verb is more common, for reasons I don't know. Whatever the reason, as a result of that tendency, putting "probably" at the beginning of a sentence emphasizes it more strongly than is necessary most of the time.
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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-05-08, 15:53

Okay.

How do we phrase a sentence when we're taking about moving to one of compass' directions?
Which of these are correct?

"You must go south"
"You must go to south"
"You must go southward"
"You must go to southward"

What is the difference between "south" and "southward" if two similar phrases are correct (both with or without "to")?

When I was trying to find answers on the internet, I saw people use "southwards" in such contexts. So what's the difference between "southward" and "southwards"?

If I have a specific place in mind, can I add it at the end of a sentence?
"You must go south to the river" (the meaning intended is that 'the river' is located farther at south and my listener should go southward until he bumps into it (= finds it?)). Maybe it's best to use "towards" instead of "to" here?

If a destination is shifted further at the beginning of a sentence, which preposition do we have to use with "south"?
"You must go towards the river which is at/in south and then you must go along the river for two days till you enter the town."
So is it "at" or "in" or what? Also, is there an adverb with 'south' root that I can use there to replace this "at/in south" structure as a whole?

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Re: I have some questions

Postby Dormouse559 » 2018-05-09, 7:54

LifeDeath wrote:Okay.

How do we phrase a sentence when we're taking about moving to in one of the compass' directions?
Which of these are correct?

"You must go south"
"You must go to south"
"You must go southward"
"You must go to southward"

The first and third sentences are correct. The second can be corrected by adding a definite article: "You must go to the south".

LifeDeath wrote:What is the difference between "south" and "southward" if two similar phrases are correct (both with or without "to")?

It's similar to the difference between "to" and "toward". The former implies greater directness than the latter.

LifeDeath wrote:When I was trying to find answers on the internet, I saw people use "southwards" in such contexts. So what's the difference between "southward" and "southwards"?

There is none, meaning-wise. Most if not all words suffixed with "-ward" have a variant with "-wards" (toward-towards, forward-forwards, backward-backwards). There might be some perception that the "-wards" forms are more casual.

LifeDeath wrote:If I have a specific place in mind, can I add it at the end of a sentence?
"You must go south to the river" (the meaning intended is that 'the river' is located farther at south and my listener should go southward until he bumps into it (= finds it? both work)).

Yes, you can.

LifeDeath wrote:Maybe it's best to use "towards" instead of "to" here?

"Towards" implies that the listener must go in the direction of the river, but it doesn't mean he needs to reach it. "To" implies that he also needs to reach the river.

LifeDeath wrote:If a destination is shifted further at toward the beginning of a sentence, which preposition do we have to use with "south"?
"You must go towards the river which is in the south, and then you must go along the river for two days till you enter the town."
So is it "at" or "in" or what? Also, is there an adverb with 'south' root that I can use there to replace this "at/in south" structure as a whole?

Not that I know of. You can delete "which is".
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Re: I have some questions

Postby md0 » 2018-05-15, 6:34

I have some question, regarding the order of adjectives I think:
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periodical community publication :hmm:
community periodical publication :shock:
community periodical :para:

My professor banned the use of the word "magazine", so I have to use something else.
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Re: I have some questions

Postby Dormouse559 » 2018-05-15, 14:17

md0 wrote:I have some questions, regarding the order of adjectives I think:
Served as volunteer co-editor and typesetter of a periodical community publication


periodical community publication :hmm:
community periodical publication :shock:
community periodical :para:

All of these are correct, and they mean nearly the same thing, so which one you pick is a matter of emphasis and style. The first is a community publication that is published periodically. The second is a periodical publication meant for the community. The third is the same as the previous one, just shorter. I think "periodical" is more common than "periodical publication", but there's nothing wrong with the latter.
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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2018-05-15, 14:35

I'm quite used to substantivised "periodical", but I'm not sure if that sounds jargonish outside of a library setting.
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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-05-29, 13:49

Hello.
I hear an example of using tenses by a Russian teacher on the internet. I'm not sure if the aspect is chosen correctly.
Here it is:
"You've been late for 5 minutes. Next time I won't let you in".
So the meaning is that some students were late (in? to? at? other?) their classes. The teacher allowed them to present (attend? come in and sit down?) but the condition he made (is "made" correct?) was that if they are late at his next lecture he won't let them in.
My question is, is the perfect used here correctly? I guess that the common way tho phrase a sentence when talking about lateness is "You're X time late", isn't it? So it should be "You're 5 minutes late. Next time I won't let you in". Right?

What about different context? "You're 5 minutes late. So we('ve?) had to start the lecture without you."
What would you use here? I think it's more likely to use the perfect here than in the first sentence because the second part of this sentence is some kind of a consequence which is only possible if the first part is true, which it is. So one is the result of the other.
By the way, what do you think is the common difference between "You're X minutes late" and "You've been late for X minutes"? I think the latter sounds overloaded.

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2018-05-29, 16:12

LifeDeath wrote:I heard an example of using tense usage by a Russian teacher on the internet. I'm not sure if the aspect was chosen correctly.Here it is:
"You've been late for 5 minutes. Next time I won't let you in".
So the meaning is that some students were late (in? to? at? other?)to their classes. The teacher allowed them topresent (attend? come in and sit down?) but the condition he made (is "made" correct?) was that if they are late atto his next lecture he won't let them in.
My question is, is the perfect used here correctly? I guess that the common way tho phrase a sentence when talking about lateness is "You're X time late", isn't it? So it should be "You're 5 minutes late. Next time I won't let you in". Right?

Correct.

I'm trying to think of a context where I would spontaneously say "You've been late for five minutes" and failing. As you say, it sounds "overloaded".

LifeDeath wrote:What about different context? "You're 5 minutes late. So we('ve?) had to start the lecture without you."
What would you use here? I think it's more likely to use the perfect here than in the first sentence because the second part of this sentence is some kind of a consequence which is only possible if the first part is true, which it is. So one is the result of the other.

I wouldn't use the perfect here. The causal relationship between the two sentences is perfectly clear without it.

LifeDeath wrote:By the way, what do you think is the common difference between "You're X minutes late" and "You've been late for X minutes"? I think the latter sounds overloaded.

The only time a perfect sounds natural to me here is when the action has been repeated, e.g.:

"You've been five minutes late every day this week. Maybe it would help if you set your clock ahead?"

For some reason, that sentence works with "five minutes" but if you make it "for five minutes", it sounds awkward.
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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-06-20, 16:32

Alright.

What is the correct answer for "I don't do it" if you know that the person saying that is wrong.
Should it be "No, you do!" or "Yes, you do!" Or are both possible?


I was playing a yes-no game with a friend of mine in English and we got struck by how to say that he has a specific word on mind as it's my turn to guess and so that I can begin. We were choosing among "I came up with a word", "I found a word", "I created a word". What would you say in this case?
What if we use the word "riddle" in a sentence? "I designed a riddle", "I came up with a riddle", "I created a riddle", "I riddled a riddle" and so on. What will you say if a riddle appears on your mind? Maybe "make" is a verb that should be used with "riddle"?


Now that I've improved my understanding of the English tenses a little I'd like to clarify one thing. I've asked already about modal verbs used with the perfect. But I've read that the verb "can" is used with perfect when negated.
So "He can't have been here" is a perfectly natural sentence while "He can have been here" is awkward.
Is it really so? I think that we use this structure for expressing that NOW we're supposing that something happened in the past.
Like in this context:
"It's such a mess in your room!"
"My brother can have been here. So he did all this mess."

Like in the moment of speaking we express the possibility that a (someone's) brother was there in the past and did it.
Am I right?

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Re: I have some questions

Postby Ciarán12 » 2018-06-20, 16:47

LifeDeath wrote:Alright.

What is the correct answer for "I don't do it" if you know that the person saying that is wrong.
Should it be "No, you do!" or "Yes, you do!" Or are both possible?


"Yes, you do!" is the correct response. "No, you do!" is possible, but strange and would require heavy use of intonation to make it sound less strange.

LifeDeath wrote:I was playing a yes-no game with a friend of mine in English and we got struck by stuck on how to say that he has a specific word on in mind as it's it was my turn to guess and so that I can could begin. We were choosing among "I came up with a word", "I found a word", "I created a word". What would you say in this case?


"I thought of a word".

LifeDeath wrote:What if we use the word "riddle" in a sentence? "I designed a riddle", "I came up with a riddle", "I created a riddle", "I riddled a riddle" and so on. What will would you say if a riddle appears on your came to* mind? Maybe "make" is a the verb that should be used with "riddle"?


"I came up with a riddle" (which implies you invented it).

*Should probably be "if you think of a riddle"

LifeDeath wrote:Now that I've improved my understanding of the English tenses a little I'd like to clarify one thing. I've asked already about modal verbs used with the perfect. But I've read that the verb "can" is used with perfect when negated.
So "He can't have been here" is a perfectly natural sentence while "He can have been here" is awkward.
Is it really so? I think that we use this structure for expressing that NOW we're supposing that something happened in the past.
Like in this context:
"It's such a mess in your room!"
"My brother can have been here. So he did all this mess."

Like in the moment of speaking we express the possibility that a (someone's) brother was there in the past and did it.
Am I right?


You can use the version with "can't", not the one with "can". In your example, it would be "My brother could have been here." Which means there's a possibility that your brother was there.

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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-06-21, 7:58

Is it theoretically possible that we use "can" in its positive form with the perfect? What would it mean to you semantically? (I doubt if I can use this word when referring to a grammatical tense but not to a sentential element, like a word or compound.)


I've noticed that sometimes in English adjectives are formed by connecting a few words together. I was trying to make an adjective for describing a person who is looking for love or a love partner. I got "love-seeking person" and "love-searching person". At least these two seemed to me most natural of what was coming to my mind. What adjective would you invent?
Like: "I know he's a love-seeking person, but it'd be better if he was trying to find someone on appropriate websites than here on a travel topic."
I think there're simple adjectives for what I mean. But forming one with a participle makes it sound more processive and thus more expressive, I guess.

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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-06-21, 8:09

Ciarán12 wrote: In your example, it would be "My brother could have been here." Which means there's a possibility that your brother was there.

I thought this reffered to a point which is further in the past. Like, if after a couple of days and more someone asks me "Why was such a mess in your room" I can say "He could have been here". But if we have this conversation in the present moment then this "could have" construction would sound strange. That's what I thought about it.

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Re: I have some questions

Postby Ciarán12 » 2018-06-21, 8:45

LifeDeath wrote:
Ciarán12 wrote: In your example, it would be "My brother could have been here." Which means there's a possibility that your brother was there.

I thought this reffered to a point which is further in the past. Like, if after a couple of days and more someone asks me "Why was such a mess in your room" I can say "He could have been here". But if we have this conversation in the present moment then this "could have" construction would sound strange. That's what I thought about it.


The "could have been" expression doesn't depend on the length of time it has been since the incident occurred, but it does require that it was in the past at some point (which, if the room is already in a mess then the theoretical incident involving your brother would have to have been in the past). Though to be honest, I'd be much more likely to say "he might have been here".


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