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Here's a new one - the difference between further and farther. Further is synonymous with additional. You would say "further study is needed" but not "She lives further away". You would instead say "she lives farther away". Farther is used for distance.

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Here's a bonus one I came across today. A company claims to have a process for producing solar cells that is three times cheaper than existing technology. I don't see how one thing can be "three times" cheaper than another thing. If item A costs one dollar and item B costs three dollars than item A is one third as expensive as item B, and conversely, item B is three times as expensive as item A, but item A can not be said to be three times cheaper than item B.

Edited by Reverend Jim

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yes, that one's bugged me for a long time.
On a similar level as laundry detergent commercials claiming their product "washes whiter than white".
Or commercials claiming that "our product is better". Better than what?

p.s. Of course "this book is of mine" could also be a corruption of "this book is property of the mine" ;)

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The American-English language is evolving, but it certainly isn't headed in a direction that I am comfortable with. What bothers me the most is to watch a news commentator really make a fool of him/herself, grammatically, and no one else even notices.

My grammar is not perfect, or even great, but I try.

Dragon, could you PM me, please. I apparently don't have enough privileges to send personal messages.

Edited by rory.starkweather.7: left out the word 'not'

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Here's a bonus one I came across today. A company claims to have a process for producing solar cells that is three times cheaper than existing technology. I don't see how one thing can be "three times" cheaper than another thing. If item A costs one dollar and item B costs three dollars than item A is one third as expensive as item B, and conversely, item B is three times as expensive as item A, but item A can not be said to be three times cheaper than item B.

I don't like using 'times' in this context because it is too strongly associated with multiplication for me so I always expect it to be more along the lines of "B is three times the price of A". In this context I would use 'fold' instead:
"B is three-fold more exprensive than A" and
"A is three-fold cheaper than B"
which as far as I know are both grammatically correct.

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cheaper just means it costs less mony than something else

Agreed, but how do you quantify how cheap something is? Reconsidering my previous post, to be technical you probably cannot say A is twice as expensive as B. I suppose you should instead say A costs twice as much as B.

"A is three-fold cheaper than B"

My point was that if the cost of A is a fraction of the cost of B then you can't use three-fold in comparing A to B. If you had two poles, a two-footer and a six-footer would you say the shorter pole is three times as short as the longer? Of course not. And for the same reason that you would not say a pole is two feet short. You would say a pole is two feet long - unless you needed a four foot pole and you only had a two foot pole in which case you would say the pole is two feet short (of what you need it to be). You measure how long (or tall) something is, not how short it is.

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I would use 'fold' instead: "B is three-fold more exprensive than A"

And that gets us back to an earlier post. Let's assign some numbers. If A costs 4$ and B is three-fold more expensive, does that mean B is $12 or $16? Three times as expensive would be $12 but three times more expensive to me means $16 because times is a multiplier and more means "in excess of".

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Stating "X is twice as expensive as Y" makes sense. So does, technically, "Y is half as cheap as X" (though I seriously dislike the phrase).
But "Y is two times cheaper than X" is just as flawed as stating that "X is two times more expensive than Y".
Saying "X is two times more expensive than Y" is possible, but means something else, it means that X is 3 times as expensive as Y (another thing many people get wrong).

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Saying "X is two times more expensive than Y" is possible, but means something else

When I argue that exact point the response I usually get is "you should know what I mean when I say...". It's frustrating. I know someone who says "scroll up" when she wants me to scroll down. Her logic is that the text is moving up the screen so "scrolling up" is the correct phrase. The fact that "scrolling down" means something else to virtually every other computer user on the planet is irrelevant. Aaaaarrrggghhhh!

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gets even worse when there's a cultural and/or language barrier.
As with the classic error of Indians, saying "I have a doubt" when they mean "I have a question".

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Perhaps he thinks it should be ""Giving someone a ticket for texting could save his or her life".

Edited by Reverend Jim

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and he'd be correct.
"their" in this context would mean the person handing the ticket, aka the police officer, yet many people seem to think it applies to the person being ticketed.

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"their" in this context would mean the person handing the ticket

But 'their' & 'his or her' are the same except that 'their' is plural and is often used when gender is not specified. Assuming the police officer is also singular how could using 'their' vs 'his or her' make a difference?

Similarly if you replaced "someone" with "people" (plural) you would have to use 'their' not 'his or her'.

ie. Giving people tickets for texting could save their lives.

Edited by Agilemind

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But 'their' & 'his or her' are the same

I disagree. "their" implies more than one person. The sentence you last posted would be the most correct.

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And because "their" is plural you would have to say "their lives" if you were referring to more than one person. It seems to be more common (but still incorrect) these days to use "their" as singular to avoid the awkward "his/her" construct when the gender of the object is indeterminate.

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I recall when I was in grade school my English teacher told is to always use "his" when gender was not known. That, of course, before it became politically incorrect to consider the male world dominance. Nowdays I sometimes see "her" used alone when gender is unknown, which is really sort of funny because that has implied the pendulum as swung the other way.

Edited by Ancient Dragon

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Nowdays I sometimes see "her" used alone when gender is unknown, which is really sort of funny because that has implied the pendulum as swung the other way.

A few writers sometimes using 'her' doesn't even balance out the many writers still using 'him' so the pendulum has started moving but there is still a huge way to go before anyone can claim it has started up the other way.

Using 'their' instead of 'his or her' saves space and preserves the rhythm of the phrase, making the slogan more impactful - thus good writing style for the context (it is also more inclusive of intersex/asexual/non-gendered individuals). I really don't see the problem considering the number of languages which use plural pronouns as a mark of formality.

Edited by Agilemind

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I think that this sounds better:

"Give someone a ticket for texting, and a life could be saved"

It doesn't quite have the same meaning, but it's actually more accurate (the life saved might not be the life of the texting-and-driving person, but of an innocent victim). I like these kinds of simple cause-effect sentences without all the fluff of using gerunds and sub-phrases. It's often clearer, shorter and punchier.

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@AD for a while I used "it" when gender wasn't known. Got equally hostile reactions from men and women, problem solved :)

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@jwenting, "it" is perfectly acceptable, it seems, when used in conjunction with a newborn baby: "What is it?" or "What sex is it?". Perhaps people get more anal about such a use when they are older but if it applies and you can make it work, I say go for it! :)

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I don't know. Somehow, "Give someone a ticket for texting and its life could be saved." just sounds wrong. In the example of "Give a dog a rabies shot and its life could be saved." Seems perfectly reasonable but not "Give a person a smallpox vaccination and its life could be saved."

Edited by Reverend Jim

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In my language(Dutch) we have words like tafel(table) which is considered female. While as example stoel(chair) is considered male. So we say: "Where is the table? She is moved. And the chair? He is just painted, don't sit on it!"
Is it the same situation in English?
So if someone or person is male or female, the question should be simple I guess.

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In English only living breathing things have gender, inanimate objects and plants do not so they are referred to as "it". "Where is the table? It is moved. And the chair? It is just painted don't sit on it".

How do you determine what is called she and what is called he? How is a chair (he) different from the table (she) ? Or do you just learn the difference through education?

Edited by Ancient Dragon

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