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When/during

英語を勉強している方のためのフォーラムです。練習のために英語の文章を投稿してもかまわなく、英語の文法・語彙に関する質問をしてもけっこうです。

When/during

Postby leergierig » Fri 04.11.2008 6:43 am

Hi there everyone.

It feels strange to not post a question relating to Japanese grammar. This time I actually need help with English.

I am currently helping out a pen pal with this person's English composition. (I know "this person" does not sound quite as natural as using the third person singular pronoun, but I am doing it to protect my friend's anonymity. I know if I don't, I'll have coco-san to deal with :D ) . But I'm rambling. The sentence in question has the following structure:

In my country, certain subjects become mandatory when high school.

To my ear this would sound more natural if "when" is substituted with "during" or with "when one is in". I guess I could even accept "when in" as a substitution. Why is this so? Can someone please help me with a grammatically sound explanation? I would hate to just leave it at "because it sounds good". I have a suspicion that it has something to do with the fact that when "when" is used on its own, it indicates a specific time and not a range. "High school" does not represent a specific point in time, but can be viewed as a time range when used in conjuction with a preposition. Am I on the right track?

I really would appreciate any input.

*Edit: Oops, I accidentally triple posted. I've deleted the superfluous posts. I hope it didn't cause anyone major headaches.
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Re: When/during

Postby spin13 » Fri 04.11.2008 9:16 am

leergierig wrote:I would hate to just leave it at "because it sounds good".

How about just leaving it at "habit"? And while I do think that answer is a little haha funny, I'm not joking.

Nobody taught you the rule and yet you can apply it all the same? Why is it not acceptable for you to do the same for her? While I do feel that grammar has its place, considering the minuteness of the problem, I'd think you'd do well enough by her to just correct it and move on.

And I'd go with "when in" as a matter of personal taste.

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Re: When/during

Postby richvh » Fri 04.11.2008 9:30 am

To my ear this would sound more natural if "when" is substituted with "during" or with "when one is in". I guess I could even accept "when in" as a substitution.

Your ear is fine - any of those is natural. "When high school" is not, because when "when" is used to describe a condition, you can't use just a noun after "when", you need a participle (when dating) a prepositional phrase (when in high school) or a complete clause (when I met your mother.)
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Re: When/during

Postby leergierig » Fri 04.11.2008 10:22 am

Thanks to you both, spin13 and richvh.

I usually try not to discuss grammar in too much detail with my pen pals, but in this case my friend studies English at college. I totally agree that grammar explanations are intrinsically convoluted and sometimes not worth the effort.

I think I will be using your explanation, richvh - hope you don't mind.

@spin13: Are you by any chance psychic? I couldn't find a single gender-specific reference in my original post. Or do I need more coffee? In any event, I thought it would just be fair to say "Bull's-eye!".
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Re: When/during

Postby spin13 » Fri 04.11.2008 1:37 pm

leergierig wrote:spin13: Are you by any chance psychic? I couldn't find a single gender-specific reference in my original post. Or do I need more coffee? In any event, I thought it would just be fair to say "Bull's-eye!".


No, sir, I'm not. You chose to not use either the conversational gender-neutral singular "they" nor the traditionally written gender-neutral "he" as your third-person pronoun and I did the same. Through a bit of luck and some experience with Japanese pen-pals, I chose "her" over "him" and hit trip sevens.

I still don't know why you went through such awkward trouble to hide her gender just to confirm it in your next post. Protecting one's identity is one thing, butchering the English language at (seemingly) the whim of a non-native speaker is another.

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Re: When/during

Postby leergierig » Fri 04.11.2008 2:01 pm

spin13 wrote:
I still don't know why you went through such awkward trouble to hide her gender just to confirm it in your next post. Protecting one's identity is one thing, butchering the English language at (seemingly) the whim of a non-native speaker is another.

-Eric


Ouch! I guess I deserved that, didn't I? I am sorry if you saw that as butchering the English language. That was never my intention. I honestly don't know why I did it in the first place. I guess I realised that her identity is as safe in a group of 66 million people as it is in 128 million. 失礼しました。
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Re: When/during

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 04.11.2008 2:36 pm

spin13 wrote:
leergierig wrote:spin13: Are you by any chance psychic? I couldn't find a single gender-specific reference in my original post. Or do I need more coffee? In any event, I thought it would just be fair to say "Bull's-eye!".


No, sir, I'm not. You chose to not use either the conversational gender-neutral singular "they" nor the traditionally written gender-neutral "he" as your third-person pronoun and I did the same.


The gender-neutral singular "they" actually has a much longer tradition in English than the use of "he" does.
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Re: When/during

Postby spin13 » Sat 04.12.2008 12:57 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:The gender-neutral singular "they" actually has a much longer tradition in English than the use of "he" does.


Well, I be. Thanks, I didn't know that. I knew there were older gender-neutral pronouns in English, but I thought "they" was a neologism and rather unused in formal writing. I've also never read a text with a footnote explaining the use of any other word except "he" as the exclusive pronoun.

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Re: When/during

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 04.12.2008 9:24 am

Here's a page with a whole bunch of historical examples:
http://www.crossmyt.com/hc/linghebr/sgtheirl.html

There's a link at the top to a separate page with only Jane Austen quotes.
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