A message to advanced learners of English: beware of errors and learn on other people’s mistakes (1)

Udostępnij :

nouns and 'ofs’

When learning a foreign language, we all enter this new world with the  luggage taken from home: our first language habits.  In most cases, at an advanced level, this concerns sentence structure: we may not even notice that what we write/say doesn’t sound really English as our brain is used to Polish ways of sentence organisation. 

Let’s have a look at this:

This could lead to a greater level of awareness of the advantages of the pedestrianised city centre. (by my student of Cambridge Advanced course)

No grammar or spelling mistakes, but does it sound/ look English?

Polish, and many other languages for that matter, is ruled by nouns and the flexibility of declensions while English is more of a system of verbs, where the dynamics of verbal forms governs the flexibility of the language.  

The sentence above is a literal reflection of Polish noun domination and it sounds heavy and awkward in English, the language of  sparkling verbal movement.

So, instead of:This could lead to a greater level of awareness of the advantages of the pedestrianised city centre.

let’s use something like this:

This could make people aware of how beneficial the  pedestrianised city centre is.

Another example, with two ‘ofs’ this time: 

The texts discuss the issue of changes of museums.

Wouldn’t it be better in this way:

The texts discuss how museums change. 

or:

The texts discuss the issue of how museums change.

Even if there is one ‘of’ only:

… an improvement in the presentation of information.

isn’t it better to say: 

… an improvement in how information is presented

… an improvement in the way information is presented.

Tip 1: the more ‘ofs’ close to each other, the more Polish your English sounds!