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learning english

 
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Hi Friends,
I am not sure whether all the non-native English speakers had these problems but I had some problem learning the finer points of english. I am listing out somethings which I think are right. Any corrections or additions are most welcome
difference between few and a few
"few" usually means none
ex : Few words were exchanged between them.
"a few" usually means some
ex : I have a few books with me.
similarly little and a little
--------------------------------------
here in america, I have observed that there is a difference between "question" and "doubt"
ex : If you have a "question" about something, that means you dont know about that or your concept is a bit shaky on that topic
ex: If you "doubt " something , that means you are suspecting about the veracity of the statement.
----------------------------------------------
I am not sure if they are exactly right but feel free to correct me and add to this list
Sri
[ February 13, 2003: Message edited by: Sri Sri ]
 
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In America, expiration applies to medications, pre-packaged food etc. I remember in India reading in the news papers death announcements when some one expired
 
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Originally posted by Sri Sri:

here in america, I have observed that there is a difference between "question" and "doubt"
ex : If you have a "question" about something, that means you dont know about that or your concept is a bit shaky on that topic
ex: If you "doubt " something , that means you are suspecting about the veracity of the statement.


Ok, that explains something to me. I notice often people will post a thread with a title that says something along the lines of "I have a doubt...". So if I understand you correctly, you would use the two terms interchangably in your native language?
Also keep in mind that doubt can mean "uncertainty". For example:
Jason very much wanted to like the one-eyed Moose, but there was just something about the way that one eye vacantly stared at him that left him with nagging feelings of doubt and dread.
Similarly, the often used phrase no doubt about it indicates that something is a certainty.
 
Sridhar Srikanthan
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So if I understand you correctly, you would use the two terms interchangably in your native language?


Jason,
partly yes...
I said partly because its not in my native language but in english used in India. i dont know whether it is left by the British. I am curious to know whether doubt means question in Britan?
Sri
 
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Yeah, I used to think all those Indian posts were really insecure, with all their "doubts", until I realized that they really just had questions. Well, I suppose some might have been real doubts also.
"few" usually means none
Well, that seems like a slight exaggeration. It may mean none; it may mean, well, few. I will concede however that "few" sounds like less than "a few", because the latter seems to imply at least two in most cases. The distinction is more vague for "little" and "a little" I think.
 
Sridhar Srikanthan
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Also,
I want to know about the following sentence because I have seen it being used in two contradictory ways.
1) Dude!!! you need some help
2) I need help ... (A lot of subjects on the forums ( or rather fora start with this )
I feel the first one is used in a derogatory sense pointed at an obnoxious person....
second one is when you are expecting someone to help clear your question or problem or doubt (remember doubt is a question )
Sri
[ February 13, 2003: Message edited by: Sri Sri ]
 
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Dude,
You obviously are learning a few of the finer points of another language with your questions, fueled by a little doubt, no doubt.
Having worked in IT for 17 years, I can attest that many foreigners do not get our subtly ironic and sarcastic American humor - even if they do speak great English - and therefore, miss out on loads of office humor.
------------
Sometimes 'few' and 'little' can be meant to mean 'none' in an ironic way:
example:
[Guy talking to the hot woman at work who DESPISES him:]
Hey, yo, you think that hot chick likes that guy we work with??
Not a chance, man. Trust me, there is little love between them.
OR
Fuhgehhhttabowwwwttit, few words of kindness were in that conversation.
[Translation: in the context - it could easily mean 'none' - OR literally 'few' or 'little'. I've heard it used and have used it myself, both ways. If it means 'none', it is VERY sarcastic in an ironic way and the recipient will usually get it with a little help from a facial expression :roll: or the tone of voice.
-------------
'Dude' is one of those words that can be used quite seriously OR as a way to signal sarcasm:
example:
[In a bar: - To a friend of a friend, who you don't know:] Dude, you wanna another beer??
(Very appropriate - Hey, I'm drunk and I forgot your name, so to hell with askin', I'll just call you 'Dude'. It works and everyone is happy.)

[At a business meeting - describing a clumsy worker:] Dude, do you want me to help you find the on/off switch??
(The 'Dude' here could refer to the Dell Dude type-of-character and is probably dripping with sarcasm.)
 
mister krabs
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Originally posted by Aruna Raghavan:
I remember in India reading in the news papers death announcements when some one expired

Expired can mean dead but that is usally an odd way of putting it.
Doctor: I'm afraid the patient has expired.
Pateint's friend: Is it too late to renew him?
Expired sounds too much like his insurance has run out.
 
Thomas Paul
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The difference between "few" and "a few" is interesting.
"At the weigh-in, few words were exchanged between the boxers."
This makes it sound as if the boxers were very serious. They may have said something to each other but this implies that they didn't really say much.
"At the weigh-in, a few words were exchanged between the boxers."
This is interesting. There is an implication that there was some hostility and that the boxers definitely didn't get along.
"At the funeral, I was asked to say a few words."
"a" is required in this sentence.
"I could think of few words to say about the deceased."
This implies that the speaker is perhaps choked with emotion and is unable to think of much to say.
"I could think of a few words to say about the deceased."
Depending on inflection this could mean..
The speaker had things he wanted to say that were less than flattering to the deceased.
The speaker had no trouble thinking of something to say about the deceased.
By the way, thanks for starting this topic. It is very interesting to hear what non-native English speakers think of the nuances of the English language.
 
Thomas Paul
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Doubt and question:
"As the detective considered the suspect's statement, doubts started to creep into his mind."
This implies that the detective is thinking that the suspect may have lied in his statement.
"As the detective considered the suspect's statement, questions started to creep into his mind."
The same implication would also be found here but not as strongly. We could infer from this that the detective is beginning to doubt the veracity of the suspect's statement.
"I read your report and I have some questions about what you wrote."
This suggests that the speaker isn't sure that he understands what was written.
"I read your report and I have some doubts about what you wrote."
This implies that the speaker is unhappy with the report and doesn't think that the report is accurate or correct.
 
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I used to know a young lady from Jordan, who would constantly say stuff like "Your clothes are TOO fancy" or "You seem TOO excited". I thought she was being really negative toward me & didn't like me, until I realized she meant "so" instead of "too".

 
Sridhar Srikanthan
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Thanks for all the replies....
so

'Dude' is one of those words that can be used quite seriously OR as a way to signal sarcasm:


Does that mean Dude can be used only in either serious situation or in a sarcastis stiuation ?
And also,
What is difference between two types of help I talked about in my previous post
Sri
 
Thomas Paul
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The help issue depends more on tone of voice.
"You better get some help," when said sarcastically means that you are a jerk and should think about psychological intervention.
"You better get some help," when said more seriouslay could mean that you are overworked and need some assistance or that you are exhibiting signs of psychological problems that require the intervention of a professional.
Person 1: "I have been drunk five times this week. I just can't stop drinking."
Person 2: "You better get some help."
Translation: "If you don't join AA you are going to end up dead."

Person 1: "I am never going to make my deadline."
Person 2: "You better get some help."
Translation: "You better tell your boss so he can assign some more staff to the task."

Person 1: "Microsoft would never do anything that was the least bit monopolistic!"
Person 2: "You better get some help."
Translation: "You are a jerk."
[ February 14, 2003: Message edited by: Thomas Paul ]
 
Sridhar Srikanthan
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That helps...
Microsoft thing is definitely funny
Sri
 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Elaine Micheals:
I used to know a young lady from Jordan, who would constantly say stuff like "Your clothes are TOO fancy" or "You seem TOO excited". I thought she was being really negative toward me & didn't like me, until I realized she meant "so" instead of "too".


Probably from watching American TV.
"Dude, you are too cool!"
 
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Someone posted a link to this very recently.  I read it for the first time.
I am going to break the "Don't reply to very old threads!!" rule because nobody mentioned....

The difference between "few" and "a few" is relatively very subtle.

However, in American English (at very least) "quite few" and "quite a few" are polar opposites.  The first means "hardly any" and the second means "Dude, SO many!" adding just that single one letter word.

I have clarified this on a number of occasions to confused individuals who definitely had University-level English skills but grew up outside the United States.  I guess they didn't see this usage in Dickens and Shakespeare, only at Chipotle and on TV which they are too busy to watch.
 
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Jesse Silverman wrote:I am going to break the "Don't reply to very old threads!!" rule because nobody mentioned....



We don't have that rule here. The moderators can lock a thread if they think it's really not worthy of any more attention, but otherwise it's fine. Especially for Meaningless Drivel threads.
 
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I think the key is to at least be aware that it's an old thread.  If the original poster was asking some urgent-sounding question, it's probably not urgent any more, and don't expect the particular posters in a thread to still be around (though, you never know...).    But if a topic is still of interest, nothing wrong with adding to it!
 
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