What would be the best way to help me with this English course? I really dont want the answer as is not a way for me to learn. I know that I might have done that in the past, but I would like to be able to grasp the concepts and understandings of the proper English language. I have also been using the search engine here to help me with most of the information that I am needing, However there are definitions or somethings that I do not understand at all and present them to the group. I will do my best not to ask for the answer to my questions.

Thanks in Advance
Aside from a good grammar reference book and a dictionary, I find googling the best help. But don't hesitate to post on English Forums-- that's why we're here!
I'm worried about this reliance on Google since 99% of native English speakers don't have a good understanding of English.

It's fine for seeing English as it is commonly used but not for seeing English as it ought to be used.
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I mean googling, for instance for 'Anglo-Saxon genitive'. However, googling for use is also valuable, if you have the sense to assess the websites hit.

Do I sense prescriptivist tendencies, Eimai? You might be interested in this excerpt from one of our discussions:


" 'Beware the Internet, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Googling. I myself am still enjoying the euphoria of discovering the potential of that facility in the study of language use. To be able to identify actual sample uses of a lexical item and to compare its frequency with similar items may be a wonderful addition to the resources of both learners and teachers. However, there are some recognized defects:

Short of carefully examining each of the sometimes millions of webpages that are 'hit' by a google search,

( a ) We cannot judge the nationality, education (or total lack thereof) or L1 of the hit authors.
( b ) We cannot judge such factors as register, jocularity, intensity, interlocutor relationship and other limits on general acceptability (that is, acceptability outside the 'hit' context).
( c ) We cannot judge such simple factors as spelling, semantics and syntax (i.e. the difference between 'I like him very much' and 'Like him, I sleep late).
( d ) We cannot accurately judge the usually considerable number of duplicated hits.

For example, if I google 'exquisite doctor' (chosen arbitrarily but for its hopefully manageable size), I get 'about 57 English pages for "exquisite doctor". (0.27 seconds)'. Displayed are four google pages and 26 hits, of which six are duplicated pairs. Amongst the emboldened variations are 'exquisite doctor'; 'exquisite Doctor'; 'exquisite, Doctor'; 'exquisite "Doctor'; and the illiterate 'a exquisite doctor'. The websites represented range from the literary (Christopher Marlowe's play) to the medical (Down's Syndrome) to the pornographic (most of the others).

At the end of the last page, the following advice appears: 'In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 31 already displayed. If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.' If I do this, I get several more duplications plus three triplicated hits and two quadruplicated hits to boot.

The effect of all these unjudgeables: from ( a ), ( b ), ( c ) we cannot judge 'correctness' in either the narrowest or the widest sense; from ( c ) and ( d ) we cannot accurately judge ratios of alternative forms or lexes.

The question of how many hits makes any kind of observation statistically significant is beyond my ability to calculate and certainly grist for someone's doctoral thesis. However, the training I have unequivocally states that the greater the sample size, the more accurate the conclusion. With the near-infinite idiocy going on out there on the Net, I would think it not unreasonable to totally ignore any kind of 'corroboration' that is supported by fewer than 1000 to 100,000 hits -- depending on the length of the lexical string. What this means to me is that when I get 60 hits on 'I ain't never get'-- well, I can use it as a humorous aberration, but I cannot submit it as a marginal alternative to 'I have never gotten' (40,400) or 'I've never gotten' (72,800) or 'I have never got' (16,400) or 'I've never got' (21,400) [Sorry, I got carried away with curiosity here.]

If I can get 23,200,000 hits on 'a the', what is not possible? Using Google to support use is intriguing, promising and illustrative, but I don't believe we can yet use it as any kind of last word in our discussions on descriptive grammar."

MH: "I understand your overall thesis. That is, the Internet has no overall policy for correctness and anyone can post stuff, regardless of its correctness, onto the Internet, so why should we accept "hits" or any other measure as being indicative of correctness for the English language.

While I understand, I am not in complete agreement. In my view, Googling can and does serve a useful purpose. You can often see how words and phrases are used.

For example, you've seen me complain about "due to" as an adverb at the beginning of a sentence or in other locations within a sentence. Yet, if we check Google, we see that "due to" is frequently used as an adverb. So that helps people to understand that, while there are some rules, the rules are frequently overwritten. Moreover, I find it helpful to look at the sites that are breaking the rules. Often when these sites are prestigeous corporations, government bodies, academic institutions, I feel a certain comfort that I need not be so darn careful. Conversely, if it is a questionable site breaking the rules, I take no comfort from their behavior.

Often I find that when people always refer to "grammar texts" as holding the solution, I begin to feel a bit uncomfortable. Yeah, that's how English is used in the "Ivory Towers," but how is English used in the streets? And I don't mean the gutter. But rather how is it used in normal business correspondence? How is it used between spouses, friends, and acquaintenances? Will this usage so glaringly obvious that is wrong.

So I find Google helpful. I also find checking the NY Times helpful as well as the Wall Street Journal. How do they use the language? Do they use "due to" as an adverb? (Yes, they do.)

I know this debate has been played out before. There never really is a successful conclusion. I think it also comes to how people learn. Some like to see lots of examples. Others like to study the proper grammar. To me, this is probably analogous to your students. Some students hate doing homework but love to try to chat in English. They will fumble about until they become better. Others are afraid to say a word until they have a strong grasp of the language.

As an aside, when I was in Costa Rica learning Spanish, I was the "study student." I dutifully did my homework and learned the nuances for my level. Other students headed for the bar after classes and were chatting with the locals, particularly the latinas. Much to my chagrin, some of those students did better than me. They were fearless in their use of the language. Yeah, they made some mistakes here and there, but they were able to communicate effectively.

So what I am trying to say is that different people learn through different mechanisms. Some students love looking at examples and learning through that means. While others believe that grammar should be learned through rigor of accurate texts. I suspect a happy mixture of both is probably best.

While looking at Google examples, I agree that the quality will vary wildly and the students need to take that into consideration. And I also agree that simply looking at the number of hits is not necessarily indicative of correctness. But it does point to the degree of common usage.

So I am not sure I have helped answer your question. In summary, I tend to say let the student use whichever means he or she feels comfortable bearing in mind that some solutions are not necessarily to be correct every time.


Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?

.......since 99% of native English speakers don't have a good understanding of English.

I guess that applies to those who live in England and to those who work for the BBC too.


"We had no knowledge of his activities and had we done, we would have done everything in our power to stop him."

"Earlier, police searched a house in Leeds linked to Mr al-Nashar, who was arrested in Cairo, but did not formally named him as a suspect in their investigation.