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English Grammar: Usage of "your"/"my"

 
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I observed that in the US, people say like, "eat your vegetables", or "drink your milk" or "I took my SCJP". In India, we say, "eat vegetables" or "I took SCJP". What is the meaning/significance of your/my here?
Can somebody explain what is the convention? when do you add your/my and when not?
 
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In India, we say, "eat vegetables" or "I took SCJP".

What language exactly? Does your language use definite/indefinite articles (like "the/a" in English)? I wonder if the two constructs are connected somehow, because Russian doesn't use articles and we also say "eat vegetables" or "I took SCJP".
 
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I do use "drink your milk" sometimes.
 
Vedpal Khatri
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
In India, we say, "eat vegetables" or "I took SCJP".

What language exactly?



Sorry for the confusion. I meant the way English is spoken in India.
 
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well, if i said to my daughter 'drink milk', she might drink MY milk. i want her to drink HER milk.

heck, if i didn't say the 'your', she might wander around the restaurant and start drinking some stranger's milk. nobody wants that.
 
Vedpal Khatri
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Originally posted by fred rosenberger:
well, if i said to my daughter 'drink milk', she might drink MY milk. i want her to drink HER milk.

heck, if i didn't say the 'your', she might wander around the restaurant and start drinking some stranger's milk. nobody wants that.



That's what I thought initially but then this happens in other cases also. For example, a nutritionist says to a person, "Eat your vegetables" instead of "Eat vegetables". He is just making a recommendation. No vegetables exist at that point. So what is the point of saying "Eat your vegetables".
 
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I think the phrase originates as something parents say to children during a meal, when the vegetables have already been put on the child's plate, and they're supposed to be eaten, but perhaps the child is unwilling for some reason (children been willful sometimes). "Eat your vegetables!" would be a common exhortation in this context (often followed by some variant of "they're good for you"). In other contexts it's is just a repetition of this common phrase, even if there are no vegetables owned by a person at the time it's said.
 
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Originally posted by Vedpal Khatri:
I observed that in the US, people say like, "eat your vegetables", or "drink your milk" or "I took my SCJP". In India, we say, "eat vegetables" or "I took SCJP". What is the meaning/significance of your/my here?



Beats me. All these "your" inserts are parasitic. We oughtta dump 'em from civilized English. Same goes for the "a/an/the" nonsense.
 
Jim Yingst
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Evgeny, you just say that because you Rooskies can't handle pronouns correctly.
 
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Well, the difference between "eat vegetables" and "eat your vegetables" is the first one refers to generic vegetables and the second one refers to your own vegetables (at least in spanish... I bet it comes from latin or something).

In java it would be like:


vs.


The first one is the generic one (with generics, of course) and the second refers to the object's vegetables. Hope this clarifies the issue once and for all...

[ May 08, 2008: Message edited by: Gabriel Claramunt ]
[ May 08, 2008: Message edited by: Gabriel Claramunt ]
 
Mapraputa Is
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VK: Sorry for the confusion. I meant the way English is spoken in India.

Aha, but still my hypothesis is that this usage is underwritten by your native language(s). What about them?
 
Vedpal Khatri
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Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
I think the phrase originates as something parents say to children during a meal, when the vegetables have already been put on the child's plate, and they're supposed to be eaten, but perhaps the child is unwilling for some reason (children been willful sometimes). "Eat your vegetables!" would be a common exhortation in this context (often followed by some variant of "they're good for you"). In other contexts it's is just a repetition of this common phrase, even if there are no vegetables owned by a person at the time it's said.



Thank you, Jim. That answers my question.

Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
VK: Sorry for the confusion. I meant the way English is spoken in India.

Aha, but still my hypothesis is that this usage is underwritten by your native language(s). What about them?



Yes, that might be the reason. Hindi (and some other Indian languages that I know) doesn't have anything corresponding to a/an/the.

In fact, now that I am thinking about it, I don't know what "This is the house" will translate to in Hindi
What happens in Russian in this case?
[ May 09, 2008: Message edited by: Vedpal Khatri ]
 
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VK: I don't know what "This is the house" will translate to in Hindi
What happens in Russian in this case?


It will sound like "It house".
 
John Smith
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Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
Evgeny, you just say that because you Rooskies can't handle pronouns correctly.



That is a fair observation. However, it doesn't prove that we need pronouns in English in the first place. More precisely, we don't need them in expressions such as "eat your vegetables" and "clap your hands".
[ May 09, 2008: Message edited by: John Smith ]
 
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Since I only speak English (and some Java) I'm not much of an expert, but the general topic here is commonly called "article" and there are many flavors in English:
  • definite article
  • indefinite article
  • partitive article


  • I believe a fair number of Asian languages do not use articles. And the use of them idiomatically is a easy way to tell fluency in English.
     
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    Originally posted by Pat Farrell:
    I believe a fair number of Asian languages do not use articles.

    Not to mention a good number of other languages. From time to time I click on "Random article" on Wikipedia and, when I come on articles written by Czechs and Serbs I fix them up by inserting all the missing articles.
     
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    PF: Since I only speak English (and some Java) I'm not much of an expert, but the general topic here is commonly called "article" and there are many flavors in English

    If we are talking about both personal pronouns (my, your, etc.) and articles, then the term is "determiners". My hypothesis that "the Indian language" Vedpal was talking about doesn't use articles was based on the observation that English requires either article or a personal pronoun in front of a noun, while Russian requires neither. Hence the hypothesis that what English requires and Russian does not is a broader grammatical category, in this case "determiner", and by analogy "the Indian language" later identified as Hindi would require no determiner, i.e. no article and no personal pronoun.
     
    Vedpal Khatri
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    Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
    PF: Since I only speak English (and some Java) I'm not much of an expert, but the general topic here is commonly called "article" and there are many flavors in English

    If we are talking about both personal pronouns (my, your, etc.) and articles, then the term is "determiners". My hypothesis that "the Indian language" Vedpal was talking about doesn't use articles was based on the observation that English requires either article or a personal pronoun in front of a noun, while Russian requires neither. Hence the hypothesis that what English requires and Russian does not is a broader grammatical category, in this case "determiner", and by analogy "the Indian language" later identified as Hindi would require no determiner, i.e. no article and no personal pronoun.



    I said that Hindi does not have a/an/the (articles) type of thing. It does have all other determiners mentioned in the wiki link.
     
    Pat Farrell
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    Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
    [b]"the Indian language"



    I worked a while ago with some folks from Bangalore, and they said that I was a silly American even thinking about "the" language of India, there are many many of them. One fellow said that Hindi was his fourth or so language, and he considered English his first (he was very fluent).
     
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    PF: I worked a while ago with some folks from Bangalore, and they said that I was a silly American even thinking about "the" language of India, there are many many of them.

    Youp, that's why I put it in quote marks. I was referring to the initial post in this thread: "In India, we say..."

    VK: I said that Hindi does not have a/an/the (articles) type of thing. It does have all other determiners mentioned in the wiki link.

    Sure, it just doesn't require their use.
    [ May 10, 2008: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
     
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    Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
    (...snip...) I put it in quote marks. I was referring to the initial post in this thread: "In India, we say..."



    Why are the quotes necessary? It would seem the citation to posit one sample implementation, addressing the broader question.

    [Mapraputa Is:] Sure, it just doesn't require their use.

    That would seem to be what OP is asking about. ( when and how to use them )
     
    Vedpal Khatri
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    Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
    PF: I worked a while ago with some folks from Bangalore, and they said that I was a silly American even thinking about "the" language of India, there are many many of them.

    Youp, that's why I put it in quote marks. I was referring to the initial post in this thread: "In India, we say..."



    Very sorry for the confusion again. I know quite a few languages of India and also the root language Sanskrit of several languages of India. I haven't see anything like a/an/the and that's why I generalized, "In India, we say...". In view of 100s (or even more) of languages prevailing in India, there might be some which use a/an/the. I don't know.

    Hindi is spoken by maximum number of people in India and it sure doesn't use articles. (English is probably the most "understood" language in India).

    Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:

    VK: I said that Hindi does not have a/an/the (articles) type of thing. It does have all other determiners mentioned in the wiki link.

    Sure, it just doesn't require their use.


    It does require their use as well. The usage is same as in English.
    This is your pen. : Your is not optional here.

    My confusion was only about the cases when there is no "your". For example, "Eat your vegetables.", written a health article. Jim cleared that up.

    Originally posted by Jim:

    In other contexts it's is just a repetition of this common phrase, even if there are no vegetables owned by a person at the time it's said.

     
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    Originally posted by fred rosenberger:


    well, if i said to my daughter 'drink milk', she might drink MY milk. i want her to drink HER milk.

    heck, if i didn't say the 'your', she might wander around the restaurant and start drinking some stranger's milk. nobody wants that.


    Originally posted by Vedpal Khatri:


    That's what I thought initially but then this happens in other cases also. For example, a nutritionist says to a person, "Eat your vegetables" instead of "Eat vegetables". He is just making a recommendation. No vegetables exist at that point. So what is the point of saying "Eat your vegetables".

    "Eat vegetables" would be more appropriate, logically. When the nutritionist says "Eat your vegetables" she's sort of saying, "When you are served vegetables, eat them instead of leaving them over." But there is no reason for her to restrict her advice to that precondition; so I think it's more of a verbal tic, like when teenagers begin every sentence with "Like, ..." or when someone sticks "Ya know?" at the end of every sentence.

    I guess you could consider it an idiom (a linguistic concept that is short for "IDIOtic Metaphor").
    [ May 12, 2008: Message edited by: Frank Silbermann ]
     
    John Smith
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    Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:
    "Eat vegetables" would be more appropriate, logically. When the nutritionist says "Eat your vegetables" she's sort of saying, "When you are served vegetables, eat them instead of leaving them over."



    So, the way I understand it, the pronoun "your" must be injected when some specific items are referenced, such as "vegetables on your plate". Is that correct?

    That means that "use your brain" can not take the form of "use brain", because it's always your brain that you are using, right? But then why do people say, "eat shit"? Don't they specifically mean "eat my shit" or "eat your shit"? I am still very confused.
     
    Jim Yingst
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    [John]: So, the way I understand it, the pronoun "your" must be injected when some specific items are referenced, such as "vegetables on your plate". Is that correct?

    Unless they're someone else's vegetables. There's usually no need for parents to say "eat your brother's vegetables", but I suppose it could happen. We could also have "eat the vegetables" (certain specific vegetables, but with an indeterminate owner) or "eat some vegetables" (fairly vague) or various other combinations.

    [John]: That means that "use your brain" can not take the form of "use brain", because it's always your brain that you are using, right? But then why do people say, "eat shit"? Don't they specifically mean "eat my shit" or "eat your shit"? I am still very confused.

    Generally, in this context, any shit will do, regardless of original owner.
     
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    Originally posted by Jim Yingst:

    Unless they're someone else's vegetables.



    OK, so if I said, "Ask not what country can do for you, ask what you can do for country", would that phrase be meaningful in any context, or would it be just broken English?
     
    Pat Farrell
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    well, if someone said to me, "ask not what India can do for you..." I would think "nothing" because its 10 time zones away. And as posted, without defining which country, you might as well plug in India or Germany or....

    without the article, I would think of it as poorly formed English. But I probably could understand it, it would just not compel me to do anything. And I would not vote for the person who said it.

    So some of this is really about conveying that the speaker is talking the same language as I speak, not an official 'right' or 'wrong' per some grammar book. Its as much about culture and shared community as anything else.
     
    Jim Yingst
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    [John]: OK, so if I said, "Ask not what country can do for you, ask what you can do for country", would that phrase be meaningful in any context, or would it be just broken English?

    Probably broken English. But I suppose it could possibly be a reference to the musical genre, country (as in country and western music). I could imagine a comment like that being made at the Country Music Awards, for example. But without such a context, I would probably just assume it's broken English.
    [ May 13, 2008: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
     
    John Smith
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    Thanks, Pat and Jim. I think I understand this better now.
     
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