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Thread: a few questions

  1. #1
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    a few questions

    while trying to prepare for my English exam, I have stumbled upon a few examples which I was not entirely sure about. I will probably keep them coming for a few following days, and I'd be more than grateful if you could help me.

    Is it "point of" or "point in" and "use of" or "use in" after all? I could swear I've seen both used, and I'm absolutely lost which one is the correct one. :/ The context I mean is in sentences like "What's the point/use of (in?) crying"

    What's the difference between these:
    I prefer to stay at home (rather than go out)
    I'd prefer to stay at home (rather than go out)
    I prefer staying at home (rather than going out)

    And when can you use the clause "... to going out" instead of "...rather..."?

    Thanks in advance

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    Re: a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by kamka
    while trying to prepare for my English exam, I have stumbled upon a few examples which I was not entirely sure about. I will probably keep them coming for a few following days, and I'd be more than grateful if you could help me.

    Is it "point of" or "point in" and "use of" or "use in" after all? I could swear I've seen both used, and I'm absolutely lost which one is the correct one. :/ The context I mean is in sentences like "What's the point/use of (in?) crying"
    I don't know what is technically correct, but off the top of my head, I would say that "what is the point/use of... " is followed by a noun or noun clause, wheras "what is the point/ use in... " is followed by a verb.

    However, even if that guess is technically true in theory, in practice they are used pretty much indiscriminately.

    Quote Originally Posted by kamka
    What's the difference between these:
    I prefer to stay at home (rather than go out)
    I'd prefer to stay at home (rather than go out)
    I prefer staying at home (rather than going out)
    The first and third are simple statements of fact, but wheras the first expresses a preference between two options, the second expresses a habitual preference between two activities. The difference between these is tiny. It's one of those "they answer different questions" moments, I'm affraid.

    The second sentence is in the conditional mood. The speaker is expressing a preference that is contrary to fact, or would be valid only under different circumstances. e.g. "I'd prefer to stay at home [but I can't]".[/quote]

    Quote Originally Posted by kamka
    And when can you use the clause "... to going out" instead of "...rather..."?
    In all three of your examples, but "rather... " is tidier and less ambiguous.

    "prefer X to Y" can compare or contrast, depending on context, but "prefer X rather than Y" always contrasts.

    Sort of.

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    thanks a lot, Scotcher

    What verb does this phrase take?
    "What does this sign ...?" Is it read, or say?

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    Re: a few questions

    while trying to prepare for my English exam, I have stumbled upon a few examples which I was not entirely sure about. I will probably keep them coming for a few following days, and I'd be more than grateful if you could help me.

    Is it "point of" or "point in" and "use of" or "use in" after all? I could swear I've seen both used, and I'm absolutely lost which one is the correct one. :/ The context I mean is in sentences like "What's the point/use of (in?) crying"
    "Point of" and "point in" are the same, but they are sometimes used in different contexts. Here's a few I can think of right now:

    There's no point in crying about it.
    What's the point in trying?
    What's the point of this exercise?
    What's the point of the movie?

    I think "in" goes more with verbs and "of" with nouns, but there's probably examples where that isn't true. I'm pretty sure the same rule applies to "use of/in".

    What's the difference between these:
    I prefer to stay at home (rather than go out)
    I'd prefer to stay at home (rather than go out)
    I prefer staying at home (rather than going out)
    Like scotcher said, there's really no difference between one and three. You could use number one (and not number three) if someone asked you to go somewhere, but number two would be more common for that. Number two could talk about a future situation, especially with a condition: "If Fred is going to be there then I'd prefer to stay home."

    And when can you use the clause "... to going out" instead of "...rather..."?
    You can say "I prefer X-ing to/over/rather than Y-ing" anytime you want to talk about your general preferences. So you can say, "I prefer staying at home to going out", if you usually like to stay home. It's the same, then, as number three.

    Those all mean the same thing, but "rather" often gets used a little differently:

    I'd rather stay home than go out (tonight).
    Rather than staying home tonight, let's go out.

    "Rather" often is used for a choice you have right now.

    Sorry if that's complicated. This is something where there are lots of ways to say the same thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kamka
    thanks a lot, Scotcher

    What verb does this phrase take?
    "What does this sign ...?" Is it read, or say?
    Usually "say", at least in American English. I've heard "read", but very rarely.

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    so, basically, if I understand it right "I prefer to stay at home" and "I prefer staying at home" imply that you generally, always prefer just staying at home, whereas "I'd prefer to stay at home" is used when we have a particular situation (present or future) in mind?

    Thanks Paulb

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    Quote Originally Posted by kamka
    so, basically, if I understand it right "I prefer to stay at home" and "I prefer staying at home" imply that you generally, always prefer just staying at home, whereas "I'd prefer to stay at home" is used when we have a particular situation (present or future) in mind?

    Thanks Paulb
    That's exactly right.

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    what's the differnce between "make out" and "take in" in the sense of understanding?
    "I couldn't make out what was wrong"
    "Do you take in everything I am saying?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by kamka
    what's the differnce between "make out" and "take in" in the sense of understanding?
    "I couldn't make out what was wrong"
    "Do you take in everything I am saying?"
    They both refer to listening. Make out is almost always used with a negative to mean you didn't hear something well, as in your example, or "I couldn't quite make out what you said/were saying." That is a very common expression in English and would be very useful for any English learner visiting an English speaking country.

    "Take in" usually means you are actively listening or you are enjoying listening to someone/something. Someone might say: "He gave a stirring lecture and I just sat there taking it all in."

    It can mean simply listening. You could use it with a negative this way: "He talked for an hour but I wasn't able to take in all of it. My brain gets full after about 40 minutes."

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    What about these? Are these correct?
    "Try as I may, I can never solve the crossword"
    "The final date for accepting applications is June 3rd"
    "sth goes deeply back into time"
    "the plate loaded with food"

    thanks again, Paulb

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    What about these? Are these correct?
    "Try as I may, I can never solve the crossword"
    That's fine. I normally hear "Try as I might . . ." You might want to check a grammar resource on may vs might if you want to be very formal about it.

    "The final date for accepting applications is June 3rd"
    You just need a period at the end That's fine.
    "sth goes deeply back into time"
    Sounds ok to me if you are talking about history or archeology or something like that. ". . . back in time . . ." is also common. For informal use, "way back in time", is common.
    "the plate loaded with food"
    Nothing wrong with that. If you want to make it a full sentence it needs a verb, but just as a noun phrase it is fine.

    thanks again, Paulb
    You are welcome.

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    I just wanted to add something regarding "make out" in the sense of "to understand".

    I'm not sure I would recommend an English learner use it to mean "I didn't understand."

    It's certainly common enough, but if you say that you can make something out, it implies that the message or speech is garbled or presented in a way in and of itself is difficult to understand. Now, this may be true, but the problem for English learners' understanding is usually their own failing and not that of the native speaker.

    To me, to say "make out" in this context is to imply that the problem is someone's other than the listener. I think that would be a little bit rude for an EFL student to do.

    Just my opinion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matroskin Kot
    I just wanted to add something regarding "make out" in the sense of "to understand".

    I'm not sure I would recommend an English learner use it to mean "I didn't understand."

    It's certainly common enough, but if you say that you can make something out, it implies that the message or speech is garbled or presented in a way in and of itself is difficult to understand. Now, this may be true, but the problem for English learners' understanding is usually their own failing and not that of the native speaker.

    To me, to say "make out" in this context is to imply that the problem is someone's other than the listener. I think that would be a little bit rude for an EFL student to do.

    Just my opinion.
    I'll try to bear that in mind, thanks for the comment

    ok, I think these are going to be the last ones (hopefully):
    Can you give out an exclamation, or you let it out?
    And is it correct to say "You shouldn't hang about in such an unfriendly district!"

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    ok, I lied, it wasn't the last one

    does "whatever gets you through the night" mean that it's not important HOW you do it (even if it's not exactly fair), as long as you manage to do it?

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    ok, I think these are going to be the last ones (hopefully):
    Can you give out an exclamation, or you let it out?
    And is it correct to say "You shouldn't hang about in such an unfriendly district!"
    You could let out an exclamation. That's the better choice of the two. Without the context, though, I'm not sure I like how even it sounds. Either way, #1 is wrong.

    Your sentence sound ok, except for "unfriendly". It's possible, but why would a district be unfriendly? That is, why would the people there be unfriendly? Unless you are talking about something like racism, I would simply say "dangerous area" or "dangerous neighborhood".
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    Quote Originally Posted by kamka
    Quote Originally Posted by Matroskin Kot
    I just wanted to add something regarding "make out" in the sense of "to understand".

    I'm not sure I would recommend an English learner use it to mean "I didn't understand."

    It's certainly common enough, but if you say that you can make something out, it implies that the message or speech is garbled or presented in a way in and of itself is difficult to understand. Now, this may be true, but the problem for English learners' understanding is usually their own failing and not that of the native speaker.

    To me, to say "make out" in this context is to imply that the problem is someone's other than the listener. I think that would be a little bit rude for an EFL student to do.

    Just my opinion.
    I'll try to bear that in mind, thanks for the comment

    ok, I think these are going to be the last ones (hopefully):
    Can you give out an exclamation, or you let it out?
    And is it correct to say "You shouldn't hang about in such an unfriendly district!"
    Matroskin's comments are all correct.

    In American English you "hang out" in a neighborhood, not "hang about". Brit English may be different on that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kamka
    ok, I lied, it wasn't the last one

    does "whatever gets you through the night" mean that it's not important HOW you do it (even if it's not exactly fair), as long as you manage to do it?
    Not quite.

    This expression is often an insult. It can mean that you don't agree with what the other person is doing or saying, and that you think that they are doing that or thinking that thing only because it is comforting to them. Generally it refers to something someone finds comforting. I've seen it used as an insult several times on internet forums.

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    Oh, and as for your last question. I think you have it generally correct.

    "Whatever gets you through the night" is just a statement of non-judgmental acceptance of a person's (possibly) questionable behaviour.

    "You like to use a trout as a sexual aid? Hey, whatever gets you through the night!"

    "You read the telephone book for fun? Hey, whatever gets you through the night!"

    It's rarely literally referring to the night or survival. It's just an expression.

    P.S. -- "hang about"=British English, and "hang around"=Am.Eng.
    "hang out"=both, but not exactly synonymous with "hang around/about"
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    so, whatever gets you through the night is very much the same as whatever floates your boat?

    thanks again, guys

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    Quote Originally Posted by kamka
    so, whatever gets you through the night is very much the same as whatever floates your boat?

    thanks again, guys
    More or less. "Floats your boat" is a bit lighter, more like a joke. But yeah, they are the same kind of thing.

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