English help

There are 18 replies in this Thread. The last Post () by Rice.

  • My English grammar would need a vigorous brush up, but I think I may be getting more help if I ask you guys.

    I have the following doubts about English. If you feel to reply to even one of them, it would be helpful.


    1. Nouns allowing to use the 's

    I was always told that the 's can be used with people, but not with things. However, what about nouns that can identify a person or an abstract entity, like manufacturer?

    If the manufacturer is a person, manufacturer's product would be acceptable. But if the manufacturer is a company, then it would not?


    2. Feature, characteristic and trait

    Are they interchangeable? If I were to translate 'me gustan las caracteristicas de estos autos' which would be more appropriate? In Spanish, it would refer both to the technical specifications as well as any details, like the car body, the internal finishings, etc.

    Would it change in case of 'el motor es la principal carácteristica de los autos de esta marca'? In this case, it would be a distinctive trait of the brand.


    3. make, manufacturer, producer

    It is my understanding that 'make' is used for car make, only.

    But then, what about manufacturer and producer? If it were any other good but a car, they would both be okay. But how do I pick the correct choice? Is manufacturer used for industrial manufacturing, only, while producer is for smaller batches, maybe a store or a craftsman?


    4. brand and make

    Again with make... In a sentence like 'el motor es la principal carácteristica de los autos de esta marca' can I still use make or should I switch to brand? I want to be consistent with terminology, so I'd rather stay with the same word if I were given the choice.


    5. The bloody subjunctive

    The subjunctive seems to be 'the beast' in any language, and English makes no exception.

    I learned it this way: if + subj [clause].... then + would [action]


    If I were a millionaire, I would buy a Ferrari. [from my English handbook some 15 years ago... I still remember it]


    so... if I were to buy a computer again, it wouldn't be an Apple. / If I were young again, I would do things differently. / If I ever were to buy a Ferrari, I wouldn't buy it in red.


    But I hear a lot of people (especially from the US), saying if I was young again...' / If I was to pick one, I'd pick the blue one

    Is this a BrE vs AmE thing? In school we learned BrE and AmE was not accepted (!).


    That's all for now, thank you! :thumbup:

  • 1. How do you pick between the short and extended version in examples such as:

    The quality of the materials -- the material quality


    2. In which cases you can use a plural noun as an adjective? Example:

    the material quality Vs. the materials quality? Or do you use always the singular form and then it is a guess?

  • 1. How do you pick between the short and extended version in examples such as:

    The quality of the materials -- the material quality


    2. In which cases you can use a plural noun as an adjective? Example:

    the material quality Vs. the materials quality? Or do you use always the singular form and then it is a guess?

    Quick! Before Splinter gets it!


    1. I usually use the most economical: fewer letters are better. But in this case it should be possessive: "The quality of the materials -- the materials' quality."


    2. Same. "the material quality Vs. the materials' quality."

  • But why are you using the 's if it is an object and not a person?


    I would say 'The company values are..." and not "The company's values are...".


    Both the company and the materials are inanimate... Maybe I am missing something? I have had too much bad wine today...

  • But why are you using the 's if it is an object and not a person?


    I would say 'The company values are..." and not "The company's values are...".


    Both the company and the materials are inanimate... Maybe I am missing something? I have had too much bad wine today...

    Animate/inanimate is irrelevant in these examples. It's possessive/non-possessive use. This new example is different, and I'm not enough of a grammarian to parse between them because they are both correct in context. They both express "the values of this company." Object or person does not enter here. A thing, whether object or person, possesses characteristics.


    May I suggest you switch to Latitud 33? Very good everyday wine at very reasonable prices.

  • But why are you using the 's if it is an object and not a person?


    I would say 'The company values are..." and not "The company's values are...".


    Both the company and the materials are inanimate... Maybe I am missing something? I have had too much bad wine today...

    I can see why it might be confusing, but it's also important to write in the context of what you're translating, which I assume is what you're doing.

    Formal or informal?

    If the chairman of a company were to give a speech to the shareholders, he might say

    "The values of this company are very dear to us."

    Compare that to...

    "This company's values are very dear to us."

    See? There's no difference. It doesn't make any difference if it's inanimate or not, although the first quote carries more weight.

    "The bear's paws were covered in honey."

    "My keyboard's damaged."

    "The keyboard's cable has broken."

    ...and so on.

  • :cursing: Bloody English!

    Bloody English indeed! I can’t understand how any intelligent adult could bear learning it! Any “rule” has more exceptions than applications. Pronunciation is completely random. It’s because those goddam Britons got invaded every six months or so and were forced to add another conqueror’s language to the mishmash they already had. We end up with abominations like “colonel” and “through.” Completely unacceptable.


    I’m trying now to learn French. Shit! “Remember, never pronounce the last letter of any word ending in a consonant: ‘est’ and ‘es’ are the same!”


    Then why bother with the last letter in the first place? Bloody French!

  • Dang! I wish I'd gotten in on this conversation earlier. Completely missed my shift on the Grammar Patrol.


    I'm hanging up my editor's hat, serafina . Ed and Splinter have given you excellent answers.

    Hey! Don’t do that! I was just filling space till the true grammarian chimed in.


    Feel free to point out my erroneous advice. I can take it. I’m married.