Friday, February 29, 2008

If I Have The Chance

One of my students said, "Ma'am, if I have a chance to go abroad, I want to go to the States to earn money for my family." I appreciate the sentiment but I've got to correct the grammar.

If you want to talk about one chance to do anything, say, "if I have the chance." In a previous post, I explained the difference between the and a. We use a when we're talking about one thing among many. For example, "Let's go to a restaurant in Greenhills tonight." In this case, the speaker is talking about any one restaurant in Greenhills, a place with many restaurants. The, on the other hand, is used when we're talking about one particular thing "Let's go to the restaurant beside the bookstore in Greenhills." Here, the speaker is talking about one restaurant beside the bookstore. If you noticed, the first example talks about a non-specific restaurant. In the second, the restaurant is specified.

Where chances are concerned, we say "the chance" because we're talking about one particular chance to do something--"if I have the chance to go abroad." Granted, people might have more than one chance to do something--"this is a chance to find love"-- but if you're talking about the one chance, use the.

I hope this wasn't confusing?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Advise You On

While on the plane to Cebu, the pilot announced "Our expected flight time is 1 hour 30 minutes but hopefully, we will arrive sooner. I will advise you with our arrival time."

The pilot made a small but noticeable error. In this case, with is not the preposition to use. Rather, on is what should be used: "I will advise you on our arrival time." With is not the correct preposition because it refers to being in the company of someone (I am with my friends) or being in possession of something (I had my bag with me). The pilot who was speaking did not possess the arrival time; hence, on is the preposition to use.

I hope you all enjoyed the holiday yesterday.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Birds Of A Feather

Yesterday, I was talking to a student who said, "the same feather flock together." It was a silly mistake but I had to give her credit for trying to integrate an idiom into what she was saying.

The correct idiom is "birds of a feather flock together." No, we're not talking about birds here; however, the meaning of this idiom is taken from the way birds behave. Think about a flock of birds flying overhead: a flock (a group of birds) will only have one kind of bird. If we're lucky, we can catch a flock of sparrows, a flock of swallows, a flock of seagulls. We don't see a flock composed of all three kinds of birds. The expression "birds of a feather" means a group of the same birds (they have the same feathers!).

The idiom "birds of a feather flock together" talks about a group of people who are similar in whatever respect. So a football-obsessed teenager will hang-out with other football obsessed
teen-aged friends. Their age and love for football make them like "birds of a feather." In human terms, people who like the same things and act the same way stick together.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Elaborate On

I'm in Manila as of the moment but I'm leaving for Cebu in a few hours. Since I'm rushing, this will be a quick post.

One of the students I met in Baguio kept saying, "Ma'am, could you please elaborate the question?" I had to correct her right away. The expression is elaborate on. We always say, "Could you please elaborate on the question?"

I'm not sure why the preposition on is necessary. It's just the way it is! If you want to use another expression when you want to say something similar, just say "could you please explain further?"

Have a nice weekend!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bring and Take

There's a small confusion about the difference between bring and take. Both are verbs used to talk about moving an object from one place to the other. The difference between them is very slight but useful to know. Check out this dialogue:

"Can you bring the cake?"
"Yes, I can take it to the party."
"Would you mind bringing other items?"
"Sorry, I can only take the cake with me."

Did you catch the difference? Bring is used if you're talking to someone and asking him/her to move the object from one place to another. Take, on the other hand, is used if you are talking about actually moving the object from one place to another.

This is really a very small difference and one that is based on usage rather than meaning. Still, it's best to know these things.

Manny, as to the question you left me, I agree. You can add "for" if the word request is used that way.

I'll be in Baguio for work till Friday. Hopefully, I'll be able to post when I get back as I'm leaving for Cebu on Saturday. Have a good week, everyone!

Friday, February 8, 2008


My, how time flies! In my mind, my last blog post was two days ago. When I opened my blog today, I realized the last time I posted was Monday and now it's Friday! Where did the week go? Do you get that feeling sometimes too?

Today, I'd like to discuss the word, request. I was at the supermarket the other day and I heard this announcement: "Requesting for customer service personnel please." I don't know the reason for the announcement, I was just struck by the phrase, requesting for. I felt there was an error somewhere.

More often than not, we see or hear people saying request for or requesting for. I checked this out and there is an error. Ideally, the word request is not used with for. Hence, we say "I'd like to request assistance" or "I'm requesting that they meet me early."

There are many instances though of people on the Internet using request for or requesting for. I think this is a case of usage overrunning the rule. Technically, I don't think this is a serious error. It's a case of more words than necessary being used. Still, it does not make for efficient English use.

As to the supermarket example above, here's a revision "Calling on customer service personnel, please."

Monday, February 4, 2008

Open and Closed

When we go to stores and restaurants, we're always conscious of the difference between the "open" and "closed" signs. The meanings are obvious so I won't blog about them. Instead, I'd like to look at the grammar of these two words when describing the state of a shop or restaurant.

We always say a place is "open" like we always say a place is "closed." We never say shop is "opened" or a shop is "close." Why is this?

Although "open" is normally used as a verb--an action word ("I will open the store," "She opened the store yesterday"), in the case of describing whether a shop can take customers, it becomes an adjective. "Open," then, is the word which describes the state of a shop--"The shop is open (ready to take customers)."

Now, "closed" can also be a verb ("I closed the store," "I will close the store") and an adjective--"The store is closed today." In this case, the store is not able to take in customers. We never say "The store is close." If that is done, the meaning of the statement changes (close means nearby, as in "The store is close to our house).

So, the store is open today but closed tomorrow.