Sunday, March 30, 2008

Good At That Activity

I've been hearing people say, "good with that activity." I understand the sentiment, but I have to correct the expression.

It's not "good with that activity" but "good at that activity." We use this expression when we're talking about a person's skill level when it comes to performing a task. For example, my husband Casey is good at writing while I am good at teaching. We can also use this sarcastically: "She is good at lying."

Tatz left a comment asking me whether I do seminars. Yes, Tatz, I do. You can contact me here but please let me know how I can contact you.

Thanks for reading, everyone!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mail and E-mail

Hello everyone! As you can all see, I took a long break for the Easter holidays. I had a fantastic time! I hope I'm now over a horrid sinusitis problem and ready to work and blog.

On this Easter Monday, I'd like to discuss something mundane but very important: the mail. We've all mailed something at one time or another and I'm sure there is not a person who does get excited upon receiving something from the mail. Today, though, things have changed as the internet is now often used to send messages whereas the post was the method of choice in the past.

I wanted to blog about mail because I've heard people say "I will mail a letter to post" and "I will mail to the internet." In both instances, of course, the person is talking about how the letter will be sent, although the expressions used are wrong.

When we're talking about sending something through the mail, we can say any of the following: "I will send this via post," "I will mail this letter, "I will send this letter through the mail." We do not say "I will mail a letter to post." The letter is not going to the post. Rather, we are sending it using the postal service; hence, we say, "I will send this letter through post" or "I will send this via post." Or, we can simply say, "I will mail this letter." In this case, "mail" is used as a verb to describe the action of using the postal service.

Now, when speaking of sending letters through the Internet, we are definitely not mailing anything (to mail something, as I've said, means to use the post office). We cannot mail things through the Internet. Rather, we just send things through the Net. The correct expression, then, is "I will send this letter through the Internet." Or, to simplify things further, we can just say, "I will e-mail my friend (or relative/boss/etc.)." E-mail, after all, is what we call letters send through the Internet.

Happy Easter, one and all!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Vegetable Omelette

I was in Bacolod over the weekend and since I was so busy, I didn't have time to eat out. I had to content myself with awful hotel food! While going over the hotel menu looking for something decent to eat, I saw an entry for "vegetables omelette."

People might wonder, "what's wrong with vegetables omelette?" After all, an omelette of this sort has more than one vegetable in it, doesn't this mean that the plural form has to be used? Unfortunately, no. We say vegetable omelette because the word vegetable is used as an adjective. It describes what kind of omelette it is, rather than say how many vegetables are in the dish. This is also the reason why we say vegetable soup and fruit and vegetable dealer.

Eat your vegetables, everyone!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Fifty of Them

While waiting for the MRT at the Shaw station today, I noticed a tarpaulin poster about the ill effects of smoking and what they do to the smoker's body. One of the captions on the poster read something like "A cigarette has many chemicals. Fifty of it causes illnesses." I don't remember the exact words but I do remember the error: it instead of them and causes instead of cause.

The problem here in one of pronoun referencing. The subject of the sentence is "50 chemicals," which is a plural subject. A plural subject needs a plural pronoun; after all, the pronoun refers to the subject. If the subject is plural, the pronoun should be plural.

The second mistake is the use of the singular verb (causes) when the plural verb should have been used. This mistake stems from the wrong use of it. If the pronoun had been plural, then the correct verb would have probably followed.

Here's the corrected caption: "A cigarette has many chemicals. Fifty of them cause illnesses."

Monday, March 3, 2008

Graduated From College

Ah, college! What a wonderful time! Sitting in the cafeteria with friends, joining all sorts of school activities, making friends, cutting class, and for some of us, even learning something important. Who would not enjoy such a time? I'm sure many talk about their college days and graduation as well. However, when we talk about graduation, we do not say, "I graduated in college." Rather, we say, "I graduated from college."

It surprised me to realize that this problem with in and from is actually quite a common one. I think the problem lies in a confusion between coming from something and currently attending that something. If the person is going through college education at the moment of speaking, then, he/she says, "I am in college." At this point, the speaker is attending college. If the person wants to talk about graduation, he/she must say, "I graduated from college" because he/she has finished college. When you finish college, you leave that school and that stage of your life; therefore, from is the preposition to use.

Remember, we use in when we're surrounded by something and from when we've left that something.