Does it sound right?

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Does it sound right?

Postby Woods » 2020-10-28, 7:40

"the one that" - referring to an uncountable noun?

"Listen to the advice that pisses you off, not to the one that makes you happy."

Can this be said?
Last edited by Woods on 2021-01-13, 21:19, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "the one that" - referring to an uncountable noun?

Postby linguoboy » 2020-10-28, 9:29

Woods wrote:"Listen to the advice that pisses you off, not to the one that makes you happy."

Can this be said?

Sure it can. It’s confusing, though, since “the one” sounds like it refers to a person giving the advice, not the advice itself.

The more idiomatic way to phrase this world be “…not (just) what makes you happy.” The clearest way to phrase it would be simply to repeat “advice”.
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Re: "the one that" - referring to an uncountable noun?

Postby Woods » 2020-10-28, 10:46

linguoboy wrote:
Woods wrote:"Listen to the advice that pisses you off, not to the one that makes you happy."

Can this be said?

Sure it can. It’s confusing, though, since “the one” sounds like it refers to a person giving the advice, not the advice itself.

The more idiomatic way to phrase this world be “…not (just) what makes you happy.” The clearest way to phrase it would be simply to repeat “advice”.

Thanks :)

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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby Woods » 2021-01-13, 21:20

less of + plural ?

It makes them feel less of losers. - Is that okay English?

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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby linguoboy » 2021-01-14, 3:46

Woods wrote:less of + plural ?

It makes them feel less of losers. - Is that okay English?

I would say it's fine in colloquial English, but I'm not sure it works in a higher register. It's odd because "less of a loser" works in any register (well, "loser" is rather colloquial, but replace this with, say, "soldier" and you could use it anywhere) but I can't think of an corresponding plural form that does. I'd be inclined to substitute "less like losers".
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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby Woods » 2021-01-14, 11:51

linguoboy wrote:
Woods wrote:less of + plural ?

It makes them feel less of losers. - Is that okay English?

I would say it's fine in colloquial English, but I'm not sure it works in a higher register. It's odd because "less of a loser" works in any register (well, "loser" is rather colloquial, but replace this with, say, "soldier" and you could use it anywhere) but I can't think of an corresponding plural form that does. I'd be inclined to substitute "less like losers".

Thanks :P

Well, the text mixes all registers from the most upper-class to the lowest kind of slang. But if it's totally non-idiomatical and it's the first time you see it as a construction, maybe it's a bad idea?

"Less like losers" is slightly different cause it focuses more on them feeling like losers, whereas the author wants to put the emphasis on them being it.

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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby linguoboy » 2021-01-14, 16:30

Woods wrote:Well, the text mixes all registers from the most upper-class to the lowest kind of slang. But if it's totally non-idiomatical and it's the first time you see it as a construction, maybe it's a bad idea?

I don't know if it's the first time I've seen it, but it's definitely not the first time I've heard it, which is why I say it'd be fine in a colloquial register. (There's a number of constructions like that which I probably hear almost every day but look odd if I ever write them down. A good example is "Did you used to go there?" Neither that or "Did you use to go there?" looks quite right, but I use that construction all the time in speech.)
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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby Woods » 2021-01-15, 0:20

lingoboy wrote: A good example is "Did you used to go there?"

Well, that one is pretty horrible!

If you compare it to that, I definitely shouldn't use it :)

Have you heard this and my phrase from natives?

"Did you use to go there" sounds right to me though - is it not very good? Is there a better way of saying it?

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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby linguoboy » 2021-01-15, 0:57

Woods wrote:
lingoboy wrote: A good example is "Did you used to go there?"

Well, that one is pretty horrible!

If you compare it to that, I definitely shouldn't use it :)

Have you heard this and my phrase from natives?

"Did you use to go there" sounds right to me though - is it not very good? Is there a better way of saying it?

This gets complicated, because used to is in the process of being grammaticalised. When used to express habituality, it's not pronounced the same as it is otherwise (such as in this very sentence). That is:

This is the knife I used to slice the cheese. It needs washed.
This is the knife I used to slice with. Now it's only good for stabbing.

do not sound the same in my dialect (or in the English of most other fluent speakers I know). In my speech, the first is approximately [ˈjʉʊ̯zd̥tə] and the second is [ˈjʉʊ̯stə]. And this is true regardless of its position in the sentence. That is:

I [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] go there. Did you [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] go there too?

Since they have the exact same pronunciation, it would make sense to use the same spelling. But using an what looks like a marked past tense form after did violates basic principles of English grammar and orthography, so it looks all wrong. But the spelling use to doesn't look better because it suggests the pronunciation [ˈjʉʊ̯zˈtʉʊ̯], which would be absolutely jarring in this context. There simply is no good solution. (Using an innovative spelling such as usta--similar to hafta, coulda, etc.--would work, but no one does this yet so it looks worse than the other alternatives.)

So my point is there are a lot of things fluent speakers say that aren't frequently written or don't have widely-accepted conventional written forms. When reproducing colloquial speech, speakers will vacillate between different possibilities, and may avoid using them at all. (Like I might just right "Did you got there too back in the day?" or something in order not to have find a solution for how to write [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] here.)
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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby Woods » 2021-01-17, 11:55

linguoboy wrote:This gets complicated, because used to is in the process of being grammaticalised. When used to express habituality, it's not pronounced the same as it is otherwise (such as in this very sentence). That is:

This is the knife I used to slice the cheese. It needs washed.
This is the knife I used to slice with. Now it's only good for stabbing.

do not sound the same in my dialect (or in the English of most other fluent speakers I know). In my speech, the first is approximately [ˈjʉʊ̯zd̥tə] and the second is [ˈjʉʊ̯stə]. And this is true regardless of its position in the sentence. That is:

I [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] go there. Did you [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] go there too?

Since they have the exact same pronunciation, it would make sense to use the same spelling. But using an what looks like a marked past tense form after did violates basic principles of English grammar and orthography, so it looks all wrong. But the spelling use to doesn't look better because it suggests the pronunciation [ˈjʉʊ̯zˈtʉʊ̯], which would be absolutely jarring in this context.

That's a very interesting observation, I wouldn't have noticed the difference! I probably would have voiced the "s" if there was a vowel after it ("I used it"), but pronounced both as with an unvoiced /s/ whether it's the knife I used to slice a piece with or the one I used to slice with. I guess I assimilate everything with the following "t" (when used to...).

Also I would've assimilated the voice behind the "s" into the "t" in the past: "Did you use to go there" (Did you [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] go there). Maybe if I say "This is the knife I use to slice the cheese", I could put some voice behind the "s" is I say it slowly or emphasise it, but if I say it fast probably not. Would you?

But after all, isn't the pronunciation supposed to follow the grammar and not vice-versa? So shouldn't we just write "Did you [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] go there too?" as "Did you use to go there" and let the speaker pronounce in the way that's most natural to them? After all both "used to" (the thing I used to do that with) and "used to" (do something) come from the same place, and are the same word - why would we adapt grammar to match its two divergent pronunciations?

When you're saying that "used to" is in the process of being grammaticalised, does that mean that it wasn't very common to use it in any other forms than a basic affirmative?

By the way, I just noticed you write the -ise verbs with the British ending even though you are from the US - is there a reason for that or is it your personal preference?

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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby linguoboy » 2021-01-17, 18:12

Woods wrote:Also I would've assimilated the voice behind the "s" into the "t" in the past: "Did you use to go there" (Did you [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] go there). Maybe if I say "This is the knife I use to slice the cheese", I could put some voice behind the "s" is I say it slowly or emphasise it, but if I say it fast probably not. Would you?

I might, but there's still a difference in the length of the stressed vowel. So simple past used to and non-past use to fall together, but both remain distinct from past habitual used to.

Woods wrote:But after all, isn't the pronunciation supposed to follow the grammar and not vice-versa?

The point is that the underlying grammar is changing, and the pronunciation reflects that. The problem is that we have (in careful speech) three different pronunciations but only two conventional spellings to choose from.

Woods wrote:So shouldn't we just write "Did you [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] go there too?" as "Did you use to go there" and let the speaker pronounce in the way that's most natural to them? After all both "used to" (the thing I used to do that with) and "used to" (do something) come from the same place, and are the same word - why would we adapt grammar to match its two divergent pronunciations?

That's begging the question. The divergent pronunciations suggest that we are, in fact, not dealing with "the same word". Habitual use to clearly originates in a combination of use and to, but it doesn't have the same meaning as other collocations of use and to, and that is reflected in the pronunciation.

Woods wrote:When you're saying that "used to" is in the process of being grammaticalised, does that mean that it wasn't very common to use it in any other forms than a basic affirmative?

Whether it was or not, I'm using "grammaticalise" as a term of art specific to linguistics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammaticalization.

Used to has some features in common with the class of modal verbs in English, despite the fact that it expresses aspect and not modality. It's not a true modal, however, since it can't be used interrogatively without do-support. (I.e. *"Used he to live here?") Its usage most closely resembles that of have to/got to/have got to, which has largely ousted the true modal must in colloquial speech. It probably makes the most sense to class it as an aspectual construction in which use plays the role of an auxiliary verb. (For a bit more on this construction and its usage, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_markers_of_habitual_aspect#Used_to.)

Woods wrote:By the way, I just noticed you write the -ise verbs with the British ending even though you are from the US - is there a reason for that or is it your personal preference?

Personal preference.
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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby Woods » 2021-02-06, 9:00

"raging teeth"

"regardless of the people who will show they raging dog teeth at you" - that sounds pretty unpolished to me, the idea is to compare a group of people to some angry dogs growling and showing their teeth at someone - can we make it sound better?

I was thinking of replacing "dog teeth" with "canines," but I'm not sure it will be understood (from the picture below, that seems to be how they call the two big teeth at the sides of a dogs' snout:

"regardless of the people who will show they raging canines at you"

Image


"feel worthwhile"

And one more: is it possible to say that someone feels worthwhile?

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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby Woods » 2021-02-23, 11:04

"Have good time! " - is that correct English?

I read a few opinions on the Internet suggesting it should be used with the indefinite article, but "time" in this context does not seem like a countable object to me.

What about "she had hard but rewarding time"?

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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby linguoboy » 2021-02-23, 12:31

Woods wrote:"Have good time! " - is that correct English?

I can’t think of an occasion where I would ever say that.

Woods wrote:I read a few opinions on the Internet suggesting it should be used with the indefinite article, but "time" in this context does not seem like a countable object to me.

Why not?

Woods wrote:What about "she had hard but rewarding time"?

Same deal. I’m hard-pressed to come up with an example where “time” is qualified by an adjective without also taking an article. (I feel like there must be an example from physics but I can’t think of it.)
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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby Woods » 2021-02-23, 18:50

linguoboy wrote:
Woods wrote:"Have good time! " - is that correct English?

I can’t think of an occasion where I would ever say that.

So if you hear that phrase as a goodbye or something you would be surprised? And would you rather have it with the article? The meaning being "goodbye / see you later and enjoy what you're about to do."


linguoboy wrote:
Woods wrote:I read a few opinions on the Internet suggesting it should be used with the indefinite article, but "time" in this context does not seem like a countable object to me.

Why not?

Cause it's not like "you will do this three times," but about all the "time" you're going to spend there (it hasn't been said how long but probably a few hours) - can't count it, like "would you like some water" - I mean, how could you count "time" in this case?


linguoboy wrote:
Woods wrote:What about "she had hard but rewarding time"?

Same deal. I’m hard-pressed to come up with an example where “time” is qualified by an adjective without also taking an article. (I feel like there must be an example from physics but I can’t think of it.)

So how does that phrase sound to you? And would you add an indefinite article to it?

The phrase is about an ongoing process that took years. Nobody says how many. How could that be countable?

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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby linguoboy » 2021-02-23, 19:28

Woods wrote:So if you heard that phrase as a goodbye or something you would be surprised? And would you rather have it with the article?

The conventional form is "Have a good time!" and this is a very common thing to say. If I heard it without the article, I'd assume the speaker was a non-native speaker of English or trying to imitate one.

Woods wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
Woods wrote:I read a few opinions on the Internet suggesting it should be used with the indefinite article, but "time" in this context does not seem like a countable object to me.

Why not?

Cause it's not like "you will do this three times," but about all the "time" you're going to spend there (it hasn't been said how long but probably a few hours) - can't count it, like "would you like some water" - I mean, how could you count "time" in this case?

Because it's bounded in a way that "water" is not? You're not talking about all of time in the abstract but a specific period of time. It's exactly parallel to saying "Have a nice day!" (Note that, in other contexts, "day" is uncountable, e.g. "Night and day, he's there at his computer arguing on the Internet." And you can count "water" when you're talking about specific bounded amount of it, e.g. a serving of water in a restaurant.)

And we do say "We had some great times there". ("We had three great times there" would be unusual, but I can certainly imagine contexts where it would be idiomatic.)

Woods wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
Woods wrote:What about "she had hard but rewarding time"?

Same deal. I’m hard-pressed to come up with an example where “time” is qualified by an adjective without also taking an article. (I feel like there must be an example from physics but I can’t think of it.)

So how does that phrase sound to you? And would you add an indefinite article to it?

I would. It's absolutely unidiomatic without one (unless--as I said earlier--you're deliberately trying to sound non-native).

Woods wrote:The phrase is about an ongoing process that took years. Nobody says how many. How could that be countable?

Because it's finite and bounded. You also say "She had a hard but rewarding life".

I think you're getting too hung up on the terms "countable" and "uncountable"[*]. These are generalisations which reflect the syntactic behaviour of nouns (such as whether or not they take indefinite articles). The divisions aren't strict ("Three waters, please, and one strong tea!") and there exist idiomatic usages, as with every other category in English.

I'm telling you what fluent native speakers of English actually say on a daily basis. Take that information and do with it what you will.

[*] I actually prefer the terms "count noun" and "mass noun" myself.
[**] BTW, I did come up an example from physics: "linear time". But this is a pretty specialised use of the noun "time".
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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby Linguaphile » 2021-02-24, 4:01

Woods wrote:I read a few opinions on the Internet suggesting it should be used with the indefinite article, but "time" in this context does not seem like a countable object to me.

They aren't only opinions... dictionaries agree with them, too. The word "time" has various meanings. In a phrase like "have a good time" it isn't actually referring to "all the time you're going to spend" but rather a specialized meaning of the word "time" referring to an experience, especially an experience that a person has during a particular occasion or period of time. Some dictionaries list this special usage separately (and, relevant to this discussion, they list it as a countable noun).
As for opinions, as a native English speaker I can add that "have good time" would not sound correct in my opinion.


Definition #9 of "time" from Oxford Learners Dictionaries:
[countable] an event or occasion that you experience in a particular way
Did you have a good time in Spain?
They're having a hard time dealing with her illness.
I had an awful time in the hospital.
Mike and I shared some really good times.


Definition #3a of "time" from Macmillan Dictionary:
COUNTABLE an experience
a good/bad time: It’s my job to make sure the guests have a good time.

Definition #11 of "time" from Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
a person's experience during a specified period or on a particular occasion
a good time
a hard time


Definition #4 of "time" from Wiktionary
(countable) An experience.
We had a wonderful time at the party.

Wiktionary also gives the phrase "have a good time" its own entry:
have a good time (idiomatic) To enjoy oneself.

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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby Dormouse559 » 2021-02-24, 4:10

linguoboy wrote:
Woods wrote:What about "she had hard but rewarding time"?

Same deal. I’m hard-pressed to come up with an example where “time” is qualified by an adjective without also taking an article. (I feel like there must be an example from physics but I can’t think of it.)

Well, it's the difference between "time" as the chronological unfolding of events and "time" as a specific experience, isn't it? Off the top of my head, Taylor Swift uses the former meaning with no article in one of her songs; she talks about "glorious time".
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