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#51 2007-11-19 18:35:55

Shadow Rider
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

"am + ing" does not indicate an intention to do something.  It indicates that the subject of the sentence is doing something, right now.

"was + ing" indicates the subject was doing something.

"will" OR "am + going to" indicates the subject intends to do something in the future.

C: What should we have for dinner?
K: I don't know?  How about pasta?
C: Alright.  Can you make it?
K: Ok.  You just take a rest.  I'm cooking. => I'll cook. OR  I'm going to cook.

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#52 2007-11-19 19:21:07

scout
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

I guess that does sound a bit out of place given the context.  Excluding the cases when you're referring to physically doing something right now, 'I'm cooking (tonight)' or 'I'm buying this' sounds more like you're explaining something.  (So it's a bit odd in the dialog above, since you already know he's going to cook.)

I can imagine someone saying "I'm cooking tonight (so don't get something to eat on the way home)" or maybe pointing to an ad and saying "I'm buying this" to indicate that they're going to sometime soon, even though they aren't physically in the process of doing that right now.

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#53 2007-11-19 19:24:04

taniwha
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

The "I'm cooking" does work, and is something I would say. In fact, your "I'm going to cook" feels wrong. "cook" isn't a destination. I interpret "I'm going to work tonight" as "I'm going to [my place of work] tonight".

"What are we eating tonight?" is something I have said a lot. "what are we going to eat tonight" sounds 'off' to me.
"I'm working tonight" is also something I've said often.


Leave others their otherness. -- Aratak
There is no can't. -- Duun

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#54 2007-11-20 07:42:37

modernic2008
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

Shouldn't it be "I'm finishing dinner"?


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#55 2007-11-20 14:51:11

bubblebath
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

A short question.
Can the phrase, "I love the apple" work as a general statement?


Please correct my English.

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#56 2007-11-20 14:55:11

richvh
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

It can (sounds rather literary or lyrical - I could see it being used in a song, or in an essay titled "The Apple" or some such.)  In normal conversation, it would usually be "I love apples."


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#57 2007-11-20 15:15:23

modernic2008
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

If what they said is true, this can't work because the word "apple" is the object of this sentence.


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#58 2007-11-20 15:52:41

hasen
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

bubblebath wrote:

A short question.
Can the phrase, "I love the apple" work as a general statement?

No .. you have to say "I love apple". I think "I love apples" also works ...
If you insist on using "the", you can say "I love the kind of fruit that's called apple"

P.S. In Arabic you have to say "I love the apples"

Last edited by hasen (2007-11-20 15:53:11)


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#59 2007-11-20 16:14:11

bubblebath
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

richvh wrote:

It can (sounds rather literary or lyrical - I could see it being used in a song, or in an essay titled "The Apple" or some such.)  In normal conversation, it would usually be "I love apples."

I hypothesize about the reason why "when I write the general statement," doesn't function as a general statement but "I love the apple" does, both of the is an object though.
It would spring from the difference of the process for generalizing something between a vs the.

That is,
1) the way to generalize something by using "a" is to pick up a member of a category who has representative characters for the category. We imagine a concrete existence with its individuality.

2) the way to generalize something by using "the" is to recall the schema which can be applicable to the members of the category.
We imagine a abstract concept. Then I assume this is the reason why "the" sounds more accademic than "a" does.

If this is the case, the reason is obvious. We can write a text about the concept of a general satement but cannot write the concept iteself. On the other hand, we can love the concept of apple itself.

Last edited by bubblebath (2007-11-20 16:15:09)


Please correct my English.

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#60 2007-11-20 16:24:02

Kscnoko
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

“A" seems to be representing the unknown infomation. 新情報. It introduces a concept.
"The" seems to be representing the known infomation. 旧情報。It refers back to a known concept.

Bubblebath-san, "a" is as academic as "the" is. Both of them are used in formal writing.

Last edited by Kscnoko (2007-11-20 16:27:43)

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#61 2007-11-20 16:35:09

bubblebath
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

Bubblebath-san, "a" is as academic as "the" is. Both of them are used in formal writing.

Please pay attention to these opinions from the native speakers of English.

It can (sounds rather literary or lyrical

If someone said this out of the blue in a casual conversation though, it would sound a bit too stilted, unless we were having some sort of scholarly debate or something.

The traffic accident is an all too common event on our roads.
Traffic accidents are all too common on our roads.

Both are equally legitimate, but the first one would sound incredibly out of place in conversation.


Please correct my English.

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#62 2007-11-20 16:45:04

SeanS
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

It's not that "the" sounds more academic than "a" in isolation (which is what I think Kscnoko assumed you meant) but rather that using "the" in this type of sentence pattern sounds more academic. Stand-alone, Kscnoko is right, they carry equal weight in terms of formality.

hasen wrote:

No .. you have to say "I love apple". I think "I love apples" also works ...

"I love apple." only sounds natural if it's a response to something like, "What flavor of Jolly Rancher® do you like?". If talking about the actual fruit though, "I love apple." sounds very strange. It would be, "I love apples."

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#63 2007-11-20 16:45:29

Kscnoko
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

No where did I see native speakers on this forum having stated that "a" is no less academic than "the." The examples that Faudamo and others gave only show that "the" is used to make a generalized statement under extreme formal circumstances; they never said "a" is less formal. When you say the degrees of academic differences, I expect something like "belly" vs "abdomen" or "rest" vs "repose." "A" is as much used as "the" and is not vulgar at all. Plus, I may not be a native speaker but I have lived in US for years, which can at least qualify me to have an opinion on the English language.

Last edited by Kscnoko (2007-11-20 16:49:42)

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#64 2007-11-20 17:07:21

bubblebath
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

It's not that "the" sounds more academic than "a" in isolation (which is what I think Kscnoko assumed you meant) but rather that using "the" in this type of sentence pattern sounds more academic.

Exactly. So I wrote "the way to generalize..."

No where did I see native speakers on this forum having stated that "a" is no less academic than "the." The examples that Faudamo and others gave only show that "the" is used to make a generalized statement under extreme formal circumstances; they never said "a" is less formal. When you say the degrees of academic differences, I expect something like "belly" vs "abdomen" or "rest" vs "repose." "A" is as much used as "the" and is not vulgar at all.

I didn't say "a" in a general statement is informal at all and admit that "a" sounds accademic as well. What I can't agree with you on is that "a" in a general statemant sounds formal in the same extent"(so you used as~as structure, right?).
I think tha fact that "the" in a general statement can only be used for accademic context is noticeable. (or such "the" doesn't accept informal context).

Last edited by bubblebath (2007-11-20 17:15:47)


Please correct my English.

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#65 2007-11-20 17:08:32

Faumdano
Moderator

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

Kscnoko: it was probably just a less than ideal word choice on Bubblebath's part. "formal" or "literary" might have been better.

bubblebath wrote:

That is,
1) the way to generalize something by using "a" is to pick up a member of a category who has representative characters for the category. We imagine a concrete existence with its individuality.

2) the way to generalize something by using "the" is to recall the schema which can be applicable to the members of the category.
We imagine a abstract concept. Then I assume this is the reason why "the" sounds more accademic than "a" does.

If this is the case, the reason is obvious. We can write a text about the concept of a general satement but cannot write the concept iteself. On the other hand, we can love the concept of apple itself.

I quite like this theory and it does seem to fit fairly well. However, "a" isn't used in general statements

1) a dog is a mammal
2) dogs are mammals
3) the dog is a mammal

(1) sounds strange. (3) is a bit ambiguous as it stands: is it a general statement, or is it just talking about a dog we have prior knowledge of?


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#66 2007-11-20 17:15:04

Kscnoko
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

"a" is not used to make a generalize statement though,

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#67 2007-11-20 17:43:49

bubblebath
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

Faumdano wrote:

Kscnoko: it was probably just a less than ideal word choice on Bubblebath's part. "formal" or "literary" might have been better.

bubblebath wrote:

That is,
1) the way to generalize something by using "a" is to pick up a member of a category who has representative characters for the category. We imagine a concrete existence with its individuality.

2) the way to generalize something by using "the" is to recall the schema which can be applicable to the members of the category.
We imagine a abstract concept. Then I assume this is the reason why "the" sounds more accademic than "a" does.

If this is the case, the reason is obvious. We can write a text about the concept of a general satement but cannot write the concept iteself. On the other hand, we can love the concept of apple itself.

I quite like this theory and it does seem to fit fairly well. However, "a" isn't used in general statements

1) a dog is a mammal
2) dogs are mammals
3) the dog is a mammal

(1) sounds strange. (3) is a bit ambiguous as it stands: is it a general statement, or is it just talking about a dog we have prior knowledge of?

So the phrase, a dog is a man's best friend, sounds odd to you?


Please correct my English.

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#68 2007-11-20 18:05:20

Faumdano
Moderator

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

That's quite the curve ball there Bubblebath big_smile But it made me realise that this type of general statement is also somewhat common: an apple is a healthy snack.
Also, I feel that "dog is man's best friend" sounds somehow "better".

Last edited by Faumdano (2007-11-20 18:06:29)


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#69 2007-11-20 18:13:41

taniwha
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

It does sound a bit odd, but that's because it's making too broad a claim. Using "a" like that implies it holds for every dog and every man. "dog is man's best friend" is not so much a general statement, but more a comment on the species dog and man and the relationship between the two.


Leave others their otherness. -- Aratak
There is no can't. -- Duun

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#70 2007-11-20 18:46:52

hasen
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

taniwha wrote:

It does sound a bit odd, but that's because it's making too broad a claim. Using "a" like that implies it holds for every dog and every man. "dog is man's best friend" is not so much a general statement, but more a comment on the species dog and man and the relationship between the two.

To me, it sounds the opposite. When you remove the 'a' before 'man' and 'dog', it sounds even more general .. (maybe because it starts to sound like a proberb, a statement that everyone is expected to agree with)
But don't take my word for it ..  because I'm not a native English speaker

Last edited by hasen (2007-11-20 18:47:15)


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#71 2007-11-20 18:56:37

Shadow Rider
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

taniwha wrote:

The "I'm cooking" does work, and is something I would say. In fact, your "I'm going to cook" feels wrong. "cook" isn't a destination. I interpret "I'm going to work tonight" as "I'm going to [my place of work] tonight".

"What are we eating tonight?" is something I have said a lot. "what are we going to eat tonight" sounds 'off' to me.
"I'm working tonight" is also something I've said often.

Then, I guess we just have a difference of opinion. =P

Just out of curiousity where are you from?  I wonder if it's a regional difference. ^^

I do agree that adding a time word to make it specific about when the verb is "ing"ing sounds right. ^^

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#72 2007-11-20 18:59:18

Kscnoko
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

What are you talking about Taniwha? "I'm going to cook tonight" sounds perfectly fine to me. The expression (I am going to...) is commonly used here in US. Maybe it's only your area that considers the expression ncorrect

Last edited by Kscnoko (2007-11-20 19:01:47)

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#73 2007-11-20 19:27:14

taniwha
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

Shadow Rider: My mother is Australian (with an upper class education, it seems (finishing school, etc)), I grew up in western Canada, have lived in New Zealand, and I'm currently living in Australia. Also, language, in one form or another, has been a "hobby" since my earliest memories.

Kscnoko: I don't have an area (see above). Of course it sounds fine to you, you hear it all the time, but that doesn't mean it's correct (doesn't mean it's wrong either). However, I do hear some things all the time that I know are wrong (if not grammatically, then logically or semantically).


Leave others their otherness. -- Aratak
There is no can't. -- Duun

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#74 2007-11-20 19:33:55

Kscnoko
Member

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

I don't get it then, Taniwha. What determines "correctness?" The majority, grammarians, elitist users? There must be a force that determines the standard usage.  For me the majority is that force. I don't believe in strict prescriptive grammar at all.

"I am going to" has also many equivalents in other languages. In Japnese ...て行く in Spanish (Voy a ...)

I agree that this expression is a bit informal though.

Last edited by Kscnoko (2007-11-20 19:37:28)

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#75 2007-11-20 19:52:07

Faumdano
Moderator

Re: The way to express a general statement in English.

Indeed, "going to / gonna" is perfectly normal in everyday conversation. I think it's more or less always interchangeable with "I plan to" or "I intend to". That is, when it doesn't literally mean that you're going somewhere: "I'm going to the mall" vs "I'm going to study this evening" (the latter is a bit ambiguous though I suppose).


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