Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Saint Billinge

Please can/may I borrow your book!

138 posts in this topic

Being a product of the comprehensive school system in the later 80s/early 90s I struggle with grammar. We weren't taught the rules of grammar or syntax and I can't tell an adjective from an adverb.

Not everyone who is proficient in grammar gains a grade in life. It's been said, JK Rowling: "May not be the most stylish user of language but she's an amazing storyteller."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh thank goodness for that, I thought it was just me!

I tried to persevere with 'notes from a small island' even though it read like a list of grumpy B&B reviews. However, when I got to the bit where he was complaining about the lack of public transport in a run down Gwynedd village - on a Sunday, in January - I couldn't take any more.

So are his other ramblings worth a look, then?

Yes, a Short History of Everything and a At Home: A Short History of Private Life are both enjoyable and rewarding reads. Friends who know more about science grump that he gets some difficult concepts wrong, but it doesn't trouble the layman very much. Made in America and Mother Tongue have already been mentioned as good reads. The only travel book of his I recommend is Lost Continent, where he travels through small town USA.

It was the same incident in Small island that annoyed me, too. He was grumping something awful about the Festiniog Railway train from Blaenau not having been held to await the late train from Llandudno. If the annoying person had done some bleedin' research he would have realised that if you want to use public transport from Blaenau to Porthmadog you get the number 1 bus, which takes half the time and costs a quarter of the price, and yes, it does run on a Sunday. Neither Here Nor There was even worse, he spends the whole time whinging and getting drunk. When he complained about there being nothing to do or see in Sion, Switzerland, a town with two castles and surrounded by vineyards, I hurled the book into the nearest wall. Did Not Do The Research. The one set in Australia was annoying too, five minutes in the place and he's pontificating about the Australian national character as if he'd been living there for years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I assume it's both the synonym for someone who is obsessed and the 'k' sound in both alc and work (and choc)

Shopaholic?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fundamentally it is about communication...of facts, ideas, feelings, intentions etc. ,

Thus spelling, grammar, punctuation, style 'n stuff, are important in ensuring correct communications. Context, usage, medium, situation all come into this, That is why shopahlic and chocaholic are acceptable as teh meaning is clear whether of not the word construction is correct.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fundamentally it is about communication...of facts, ideas, feelings, intentions etc. ,

Thus spelling, grammar, punctuation, style 'n stuff, are important in ensuring correct communications. Context, usage, medium, situation all come into this, That is why shopahlic and chocaholic are acceptable as teh meaning is clear whether of not the word construction is correct.

Your write.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Can I"... borrow your book asks the question, " do you think I have the ability to perform the act of borrowing your book, whereas "may I " asks your permission.

This is BS dreamed up by some ###### with elbow patches to make himself sound intelligent albeit in a pretentious way.

Can and may are model verbs; modal verbs have multiple meanings for instance "may" is used as a synonym of might and marks a possible future e.g. "I may go out tonight".

Applied to your suggested sentence: "May I borrow your book?" implies that that you are asking your friend whether you are likely to do so in the future.

Of course that would be bolox.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe you are an EFL teacher, so I am glad you got that right. Both are acceptable. As I understand it, "May I...?" is more formal, but "Can I...?" is a perfectly acceptable, if somewhat informal, alternative. It works because you are asking about ability, which would depend on the permission being granted, so in a roundabout way, it is asking permission.

Untrue, you could also ask "Could I borrow...?" but it would have nothing to do with the past tense or ability. Most modal verbs have multiple meanings that sometimes have little or nothing to do with each other.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Untrue, you could also ask "Could I borrow...?" but it would have nothing to do with the past tense or ability. Most modal verbs have multiple meanings that sometimes have little or nothing to do with each other.

Quite, although I believe Tony's assertion that 'May I' sounds more formal than 'Can I'.

Modal verbs are indeed a fiendish minefield to teach.

'Might I borrow your book?' could also be used.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suppose the ultimate arbiter in language is usage, and usage is dynamic and evolving and it is subject to fashion. An essential element of the debate on language use, grammar, punctuation and the rest, is the desire of some people that English, retains the capacity for precision in standard day to day conversation and other forms of communication. It helps if we can use language precisely, as it aids the expression of ideas, thoughts and opinions. One of the best qualities of English, however, is its flexibility, which will surely mean that new usages, neologisms, backward constructions and the rest will keep happening.

A bit of dialectic concerning usage may help retain precision. Many of us get a bit irritated with how some words are used, with punctuation being wrong and with wonky syntax etc, but there is little point in getting worked up about our particular obsessions. :)

It looks like Mr Gove wants the use of grammar, punctuation and syntax to be given more weight in the marking of exams in the future. Time will tell whether this has any impact.

"I was like...... and he was like........." Aaaaaaarghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

"I'm loving this band." Eh?

"Sort of like, you know." Yeeuurrgghh.

" Ve free frushes went to Frum Hall." Do you have a problem with your teeth?

("The three thrushes went to Thrum Hall?")

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Quite, although I believe Tony's assertion that 'May I' sounds more formal than 'Can I'.

Modal verbs are indeed a fiendish minefield to teach.

'Might I borrow your book?' could also be used.

Not just more formal but also more appropriate for "big requests".

"May I borrow 10p?" would be ridiculously over polite if you were talking to a friend given that you are asking for a relatively small favour.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

.

'Might I borrow your book?' could also be used.

isn't that conditional, though?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

isn't that conditional, though?

Hardly. It's a request.

A conditional: Would you lend me your book if....?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Experts" in grammar often disagree. In truth, who is right or wrong when it can be perplexing?

Not these days. Grammar is based on computer analysis of written language and to a lesser extent speech. It's much more objective than you suggest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not these days. Grammar is based on computer analysis of written language and to a lesser extent speech. It's much more objective than you suggest.

Has any of this changed how grammar is taught or the 'rules' of any languages?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Has any of this changed how grammar is taught or the 'rules' of any languages?

Yes, it has.

Few people would be taught today that "I will" is incorrect and you should say "I shall" instead.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, it has.

Few people would be taught today that "I will" is incorrect and you should say "I shall" instead.

This one is interesting. I have always said "I'll call later". Like someone said, it is evolving all the time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This one is interesting. I have always said "I'll call later". Like someone said, it is evolving all the time.

It is though tbf the contracted form of both "I will" and "I shall" is "I'll" so you would still have been right even from the perspective of a grammar pedant.

Mind you said pedant would probably have objected to contractions as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course that would be bolox.

True enough. I don't have any friends, which is why, like you, I post on here. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

True enough. I don't have any friends, which is why, like you, I post on here. :)

Friends are over-rated. Your only true friend is a grammar book; preferably one written in about 1930.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



Rugby League World - June 2017

League Express - Mon 17th July 2017