Monday, March 13, 2006

What they don't teach you in class - part 3

It's easy to correct grammar. But sometimes in correcting grammar, teachers forget that the student is using vocabulary that is not natural in English. Here is a good example: the verb "to invite". I can say, "I'm not going because I wasn't invited" or "have you been invited?". But if I ask the question, "what are you doing tomorrow?" you might be tempted to answer, "I am invited to my sister's." This doesn't sound right to me. Wouldn't it be more natural to say, "I'm going to my sister's"? The being invited part is understood. My future plans don't include being invited, that already happened. To say, "I've been invited to my sister's" is better than "I am invited" - at least grammatically - but it doesn't answer the question "what are doing tomorrow". Just because you have been invited, that doesn't necessarily mean that you are going - you might decline the invitation.
This kind of communication difficulty is not limited to non-native speakers. We all have a responsibility to express ourselves in a way that can be clearly understood - whatever the language we are speaking.

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