Tuesday, April 1, 2008

At A Young Age

A student of mine was talking to me about her daughter. She said, "In her young age, my daughter already likes computers." She was a wonderful lady but I had to gently correct her by saying, "At a young age, most kids today are interested in computers."

Honestly, this error is really very slight. There's no real reason why we say "at a young age" instead of "in her young age." It's just a question of idioms and the way English has been used all these years. This, though, is my own explanation of why we say "at a young age:"

Remember my early posts on the preposition at? I pointed out that it is used to indicate a specific point in time and space as opposed to in, which is used to talk about being surrounded by time and space. When we talk about a person's age, we're talking about his/her location at a specific point in time; hence, we use at.

Here is something quite confusing though. When we're talking about an elderly person, we say, "in his/her old age." The way I see it, we say "in her old age" because old age is really more a state of being rather than a point in time. When kids are young, I don't think they're in any state of being yet. After all, they haven't carved their identities yet and life for them is just starting. We can use in to talk about old age because age does surround us, so we're literally "in" being old. Also, as I grow older, I realize that my literal age doesn't matter as much as my emotional age or my age in terms of how wise I've become. So, as we get older, age and everything it means starts surrounding us.

Someone who introduced him/herself as a "fan from Canada" left me two comments which made me feel so good. Whoever you are, I'm glad to be able to meet you. You found me through "Remembrance of Things Gone Awry"? That's a great blog run by Toto Gonzalez, who is an uncle of my husband. You're right about "brought/bring" and "take." The problem seems to be a feature of Philippine English. I actually just found out about it myself. Thank you for reading!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are welcome. I'm a female, by the way, and I am now addicted to both yours and Toto's blogs, which are excellent. Keep them up!