Quick english grammar sanity check?

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Re: Quick english grammar sanity check?

Postby Abacus » 10 Sep 2011, 14:12

pqkdzrwt wrote:
Abacus wrote:imo this is a case of the native grammar nazi's trying to police the local grammar nazi's and further derailing the students from actually gaining useful comprehension of the language. I would be more interested in knowing if the students could identify which word each replaces.


I agree that a significant number of native english speakers could probably not answer this question correctly but it distracts from the main point.


Lets assume for the sake of the discussion this is an advanced/high level test for native chinese speakers trying to perfect their English. (: None of us would want to deny a Tawanese person a chance to polish / perfect their english to a native english level.


Am I also assuming that these advanced/high level students couldn't tell you what the sentence actually meant in 20 seconds or less? And they couldn't even dream of constructing that sentence on their own?

There's a time and a place to be teaching grammar this advanced. And then there's Taiwan.
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Re: Quick english grammar sanity check?

Postby finley » 10 Sep 2011, 14:49

Wot Petrichor said. 1) is correct if there is a semicolon; otherwise, it's 4).

Abacus, I don't think the grammar is particularly obscure. It's the sort of sentence you might find in a high-school english literature set book.
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Re: Quick english grammar sanity check?

Postby lostinasia » 10 Sep 2011, 17:11

pqkdzrwt wrote:Saw this on a Taiwanese english test, what is the correct answer?

The course was divided into three sessions, __ was taught by a different instructor.

1) each of them
2) it 
3) which
4) each of which


How would you answer? Every single student answered 1 even though to me that doesn't sound quite right.

Another way to look at it: #1 & #2 are both wrong because both are comma splices: you'd have independent clauses joined just by a comma, and you're not supposed to do that. A semi-colon would work with #1, but not with #2. (Note comma splices are also a very common native speaker error, sort of like the "could of done that" thread: after all, a comma doesn't sound all that different from a semi-colon.)

#3 is wrong because of the following "was". If it were "... sessions, which were taught by different intructors", I think that'd be OK.

That leaves #4.

I'd say the sentence is well in line with what they're reading here in high school, although certainly not at a level they can produce.

("Which" is a singular pronoun? So how wrong is "I've been to many places which I like"?)

EDIT: I suppose technically #2 does work with a semi-colon, but would require some earlier context for instructors.
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Re: Quick english grammar sanity check?

Postby Petrichor » 10 Sep 2011, 17:46

Yes, you're right Lostinasia. 'It' is a singular pronoun. The problem with *3 is the 'was', implying the 'which' is singular.

The problem with the whole thing, of course, is that all it's testing is someone's knowledge of English grammar, or, worse still, their knowledge of what the right answer is to this particular type of question.

The reason native English speakers just know which answer sounds right, despite being unable to explain why, is because their knowledge is ingrained, instinctive, acquired, or whatever you want to call it. This is really what English students should be aiming for, rather than the ability to answer grammar questions correctly. But this is no news to anyone on here.
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Re: Quick english grammar sanity check?

Postby Chris » 10 Sep 2011, 23:32

pqkdzrwt wrote:Saw this on a Taiwanese english test, what is the correct answer?

The course was divided into three sessions, __ was taught by a different instructor.

1) each of them
2) it 
3) which
4) each of which


How would you answer? Every single student answered 1 even though to me that doesn't sound quite right.


4 is fine as is. 1 would work with a semicolon.

The students probably chose 1 because run-on sentences are the norm in Chinese.
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Re: Quick english grammar sanity check?

Postby lostinasia » 11 Sep 2011, 08:08

Chris wrote:
pqkdzrwt wrote:
The course was divided into three sessions, __ was taught by a different instructor.

1) each of them
2) it 
3) which
4) each of which

How would you answer? Every single student answered 1 even though to me that doesn't sound quite right.

4 is fine as is. 1 would work with a semicolon.

The students probably chose 1 because run-on sentences are the norm in Chinese.

Just checking if I'm using the right grammar jargon: I think that #1 would technically be a comma splice; run-on sentences are when there's no comma at all.

Comma splice: The course was divided into three sections, all of them were boring.

Run-on sentence: The course was divided into three sections all of them were boring.

Or is this a definition that varies by the grammar book?

(And yes, joining a long string of independent clauses with commas is very common in English writing here - I assume it works better in Chinese?)
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Re: Quick english grammar sanity check?

Postby Petrichor » 11 Sep 2011, 08:54

lostinasia wrote:(And yes, joining a long string of independent clauses with commas is very common in English writing here - I assume it works better in Chinese?)


It's pretty common in England.
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Re: Quick english grammar sanity check?

Postby PigBloodCake » 11 Sep 2011, 10:59

Petrichor wrote:
lostinasia wrote:(And yes, joining a long string of independent clauses with commas is very common in English writing here - I assume it works better in Chinese?)


It's pretty common in England.


It's pretty common in US as well for clauses (though not independently).

Answer has to be #4.....even SAT would tell you that :discodance:
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Re: Quick english grammar sanity check?

Postby Chris » 11 Sep 2011, 11:21

lostinasia wrote:Comma splice: The course was divided into three sections, all of them were boring.
Run-on sentence: The course was divided into three sections all of them were boring.

The way I learned it, a comma splice is a type of run-on sentence.

In any case, when I say they're the norm here, I mean that in Chinese (in Taiwan at least) comma splices are a normal, acceptable and apparently even preferred way of writing, while in English they're considered "wrong" despite being common.

(I guess in Thai they'd have to be acceptable too, since they don't have commas in that language, let alone periods!!)
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Re: Quick english grammar sanity check?

Postby Tempo Gain » 11 Sep 2011, 11:40

Chris wrote:
lostinasia wrote:Comma splice: The course was divided into three sections, all of them were boring.
Run-on sentence: The course was divided into three sections all of them were boring.

The way I learned it, a comma splice is a type of run-on sentence.

In any case, when I say they're the norm here, I mean that in Chinese (in Taiwan at least) comma splices are a normal, acceptable and apparently even preferred way of writing, while in English they're considered "wrong" despite being common.



I think a run-on sentence can be otherwise grammatically correct--your clauses are connected properly by so's and buts and ands, but there are too many of them.

A comma splice doesn't have to be a run-on sentence; it could only be two clauses long. The clauses are joined in a grammatically incorrect way however.

Chinese doesn't seem to have the restrictions about this. Semantically related clauses can be connected by commas at will, or am I wrong?
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