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Puzzle Over Patterns: A Little Help For SP Contributors Learning English
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Puzzle Over Patterns: A Little Help For SP Contributors Learning English

 
Puzzle Over Patterns: A Little Help For SP Contributors Learning English

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Object Type: Language Help

Object Title: Puzzle Over Patterns: A Little Help For SP Contributors Learning English

 

Page By: yatsek

Created/Edited: Jul 1, 2009 / Mar 4, 2010

Object ID: 525786

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Some Errors You May Not Love Making

This page is supposed to quickly help those fellow SP'ers whose English is not advanced yet. Its contents – if there is any interest – are likely to grow a bit over time, but will remain limited so as not to turn into another grammar book. The tables below display some of the errors - most of them quite frequent - I have spotted on SP pages created by people whose first language is not English/American/etc.

If your English is advanced (or at least intermediate) and you need a good grammar tutorial with interactive exercises, I can recommend this excellent American grammar site.


NB:

  • Everybody makes mistakes but – when it comes to communication – only some of the mistakes really need correcting.

  • Generally speaking, it is lexical rather than grammatical errors that can make communication difficult and can occasionally lead to serious misunderstandings.

  • As far as languages are concerned, there are always - or rather normally - exceptions to the rule.

  • This page doesn't deal with spelling errors – you'll find some help on the parent page.


Glossary:
3rd form of verb = Past Participle = "-ed" most of the time but please see the following link for Irregular Verbs
Hot Tip: Learn the forms of the few dozen irregular verbs you often use.

Fifteen Grammar Problems



1
Wrong Rule Correct
When have you seen the chamois?
I have broken my arm when I fell.
I broke my arm when I have fallen.
Don't use the Present Perfect (have/has + 3rd form of verb, e.g. I have fallen/she has fallen) with 'when' (or an answer to 'When?'). Use the Simple Past.
When did you see the chamois?
I broke my arm when I fell.

Hot Tip: If you're not sure which tense – the Present Perfect or Simple Past – is OK: use the Simple Past. Especially while telling stories/writing TR's, we don't normally use the Present Perfect.



2
Wrong Rule Correct
The road was building for 10 years.
I was treating with fabulous sunshine.
Something is/was/etc. (form of be) done/constructed (3rd form of verb) by somebody.
The road was built for 10 years.
I was treated with fabulous sunshine.

Comment: You are reading this = somebody + ing means that this person is kind of active rather than passive.



3
Wrong Rule Correct
Another night like that killed me because it was freezing. (This sounds like you're already dead.)
Talking about what is sometimes called the Future in the Past, try to use would/might before the other verb.
Another night like that would/might have killed me because it was freezing.

Hot Tip: It's hard to explain briefly why 'have' is used in the correct sentence. However, an incorrect but communicative way of saying that is: Another night like that would/might kill me.



4
Wrong Rule Correct
We pitched a tent. (This sounds like you pitched someone else's tent.)
'a' is close in meaning to ONE (of many more).
We pitched our/the tent.

Hot Tip: If you're not sure, use our/my if possible.



5
Wrong Rule Correct
The Mount Corno is the highest peak in Apennines.
As to the names of mountains, the rule is: No 'the' before a single mountain.
Monte Corno is the highest peak in the Apennines./Mount Corno is the highest peak in the Apennine Mountains.

Hot Tip: You don't have to use any 'the/a/an' while writing photo captions or article headers: Mount Corno - highest in Apennines.



6
Wrong Rule Correct
Similar caves hold the neighbouring mountains.
The Subject (the mountains) comes before the Verb (have).
The neighboring mountains hold similar caves.

Comment: The incorrect sentence means that the mountains are inside the caves, while it's the other way round.



7
Wrong Rule Correct
It exists a different route.
Use 'there is' before something (e.g. a route) to communicate that this thing/person exists: 'There is a route/There are some hikers on SP.'
There is a different route.

Hot Tip: It's usually OK not to use 'there is' if the sentence starts with a preposition (on/in/toward/etc.), e.g.: On the right is Monte Perdido.


Little Auks
How many birds?
How much is NOT OK with countable things/creatures.
Can you count the auks? :-)

8
Wrong Rule Correct
The area is full of fascinated rock needles. You'll be amazing.
'-ed' for feelings
The area is full of fascinating rock needles. You'll be amazed.

Hot Tip: Use '-ed' to say how something which is '-ing' makes you feel.



9
Wrong Rule Correct
She has climbed since 15 years.
since (when it doesn't mean 'because') + point in time (e.g. 1994) = for + time between then and now.
She has climbed for 15 years.

Comment: The meaning of the original sentence is unclear. One may think it means that the woman started climbing when she was 15 years old.



10
Wrong Rule Correct
This website has links to few live webcams.
No "a" before few/little means not many/much whereas a few/little is kind of 'positive' (= several/some).
This website has links to a few live webcams.

Hot Tip: To remember that a + few/little is 'positive', it's enough to remember that a + x > x



11
Wrong Rule Correct
I very like that route.
Say "I love-" more often (no matter how much you care :))
I really like that route./I like that route very much./I love that route.

Hot Tip: Forget the word 'very'. :-)



12
Wrong Rule Correct
You must take the second path on the right.
The best way of giving directions/instructions is: Take/Go/Follow...
Take the second path on the right.

Hot Tip: Avoid using the word 'must'. It usually sounds rude, like an order. Most of the time 'have to' or 'should' is much better.



13
Wrong Rule Correct
This is a fine ridge, which name comes from the color of the rocks.
'the X of which' = 'whose'
This is a fine ridge, whose name comes from the color of the rocks.

Hot Tip: Just remember the rule.



14
Wrong Rule Correct
The tarn sits east from the peak.
'from' is "dynamic", e.g.: From the pass, the path heads north; 'of' is "static".
The tarn sits east of the peak.

Hot Tip: Use "of" to describe the location.



15
Wrong Rule Correct
Before continue, we went to a little spring.
preposition (on/before/after/etc.) + '-ing'
Before continuing, we went to a little spring.

Hot Tip: After studying the next little chapter, you can do the little test in the last chapter.


This River Runs Thru Me
Białka River
'The' is normally used before the name of a river:
The Bialka River (US)/The River Bialka (UK).
However, no 'the/a/an' is necessary within a caption.



Half A Dozen Confusing Words




Wrong Correct
Campings are localized south of the park.
Campgrounds/Campsites are located/situated south of the park.

Comment: 'Camping' is NOT a place. If you like camping, you don't have to camp on a campground.



Wrong Correct
I was able to walk instead the pain.
I was able to walk despite the pain.

Comment: 'Instead' means replacement, usually against expectations: The forecast turned out to be wrong. We had lots of snow instead of the rain. "Despite" means "together with the other - troublesome - thing".



Wrong Correct
I made this photo last September.
I took this photo last September.

Comment: 'Make' is close in meaning to 'create' so along with 'photos' it sounds like e.g. Photoshop was used.



Wrong Correct
Check out the actual avalanche forecast.
Check out the current avalanche forecast.

Comment: 'Actual' means 'occuring in fact/real'.



Wrong Correct
We decided to go back to parking.
We decided to go back to the parking lot/car park.

Comment: 'Parking' is NOT a place (see the comment on 'Camping').


One Spelling Problem

1
Wrong Rule Correct
The Pyrenees straddle the french-spanish border.
In English, CAPITAL LETTERS begin adjectives referring to nationality.
The Pyrenees straddle the French-Spanish border.

Hot Tip: Remember that French polish can be OK (since it's a kind of varnish that makes wood shine) but french english is not correct.


September Sunset
A long way to the nearest parking lot.

A Little Test



Correct the following sentences


1 Prokletije Mountains are the highest of all in the Dinarides.

2 This photo was made by my partner.

3 When have you been there?

4 I was hitting by a little rock.

5 The actual conditions aren't favorable. We'd better wait till next month.

6 The camping was packed with tents.

7 You don't must sign the register.

8 I should get better prepared before try another time.

9 We went on hiking although the heat.

10 Those mountains contain few limestone areas. No wonder they're popular with potholers.

11 My friends very like scrambling.

12 He has enjoyed canyoneering since several years now.

13 I'm not interesting in sunbathing.

14 Was only one route to the summit.

15 Quite a few bizarre boulders hide those woods.

16 The parking is pretty big so parking is no problem at all.

17 It's localized a few hundred meters west of the park entrance.

18 I sat down by the creek and took a sandwich out of a backpack.

19 That is the river which rapids are believed to be the trickiest of all over there.

20 Finally, I realized that I never manage to climb that wall.

Midsummer Day’s Dream
Mnich & Morskie Oko (Lake) in Tatra Mountains.





Answer Key





1 The Prokletije Mountains are the highest of all in the Dinarides.

2 This photo was taken by my partner.

3 When were you there?/When did you go there?

4 I was hit by a little rock.

5 The current conditions aren't favorable. We'd better wait till next month.

6 The campsite/campground was packed with tents.

7 You don't have to sign the register.

8 I should prepare better before trying/I try another time.

9 We went on hiking despite the heat.

10 Those mountains contain a few limestone areas. No wonder they're popular with potholers.

11 My friends really like scrambling./My friends love scrambling.

12 He has enjoyed canyoneering for several years now.

13 I'm not interested in sunbathing.

14 There was only one route to the summit.

15 Those woods hide quite a few bizarre boulders.

16 The parking lot/car park is pretty big so parking is no problem at all.

17 It's located a few hundred meters west of the park entrance.

18 I sat down by the creek and took a sandwich out of my backpack.

19 That is the river whose rapids are believed to be the trickiest of all over there.

20 Finally, I realized that I would/might never manage to climb that wall.

Images

The Elves Didn’t Do It