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Anyone who is a real English grammar expert?

(30 Posts)
Itwasthenandstillis Fri 09-Dec-16 17:08:29

I need help with the use of 'but' in a sentence (teaching English as a foreign language).

BertrandRussell Fri 09-Dec-16 17:10:45

You called? grin

SenecaFalls Fri 09-Dec-16 17:16:09

What is the issue? I hesitate to call myself an expert, but I do have an advanced degree in English literature, and I do quite a bit of editing in my work. On the other hand, I am American. smile

Itwasthenandstillis Fri 09-Dec-16 17:16:27

Thank you..... flowers

I think that the use of 'but' in these two sentences is excusable but is not correct. What do you think?

'Alex has learnt that the ocean covers around 70 percent of the planet but that we know more about space than about the sea.'

'Sea pollution is not only a problem for the oceans but it can harm us too.'

Itwasthenandstillis Fri 09-Dec-16 17:17:37

....or are the sentences just clumsy? Or am I just tired?

SenecaFalls Fri 09-Dec-16 17:21:35

I'm not sure what meaning the first sentence is trying to convey, but it seems that "that" may be the problem rather than "but."

I think the second sentence is all right, but I would put a comma before "but."

JazzfluteIntervention Fri 09-Dec-16 17:21:54

First should be 'and', second should be a semi colon, I think.

JazzfluteIntervention Fri 09-Dec-16 17:23:03

semi colon instead of the but, I mean.

whyohwhy000 Fri 09-Dec-16 17:23:25

In the first sentence, it would have to be "70% of the planet and that we know" or "70% of the planet but we know".

FlopIsMyParentingGuru Fri 09-Dec-16 17:24:39

I would personally refrain the first sentence from the example of

'Alex has learnt that the ocean covers around 70 percent of the planet but that we know more about space than about the sea.'

To

"Alex has learnt that while the ocean covers around 70 percent of the planet, we know more about space than (about) the sea."

FlopIsMyParentingGuru Fri 09-Dec-16 17:25:46

And the second sentence I would actually take the "it" out of the sentence to make it scan more easily.

BertrandRussell Fri 09-Dec-16 17:25:48

I think they are both correct. In the first "but" suggests a surprising contrast-we would expect to know more about what happens on earth than in space but that is not the case. And the second is a "not only but also" sentence.

Itwasthenandstillis Fri 09-Dec-16 17:26:07

My objections to these sentences is that 'But' is used in sentences to connect contrasting ideas. In both these sentences the ideas on either side of the 'but' are not contrasting.

Itwasthenandstillis Fri 09-Dec-16 17:27:55

Sorry, I am cooking and reading this.... I cross posted with several of you.

Itwasthenandstillis Fri 09-Dec-16 17:29:50

This was something from a text for a 13 y.o. Swiss boy. The book book they work from and the exams are written by Swiss.

Middleoftheroad Fri 09-Dec-16 17:31:40

Ooh, while we're here....

I struggle with learnt and learned. Alex has learnt is used in OP's sentence. What about Alex has learned, Alex learnt, Alex learned?

Help!

SenecaFalls Fri 09-Dec-16 17:35:27

That helps, OP. I was struggling with figuring out what the writer is trying to say. So you think that "and" should be used in both instead of "but."?

SenecaFalls Fri 09-Dec-16 17:38:39

I struggle with learnt and learned. Alex has learnt is used in OP's sentence. What about Alex has learned, Alex learnt, Alex learned?

Definitely "learned" for me, but I am American. "Learnt" is not used in American English.

Dapplegrey1 Fri 09-Dec-16 17:39:34

Sea pollution is harmful for both us and the oceans.

butteredbarmbrack Fri 09-Dec-16 17:44:49

I agree that it's more clumsy than incorrect. Would second the suggestion of rephrasing the first sentence to say "while/although the ocean...." and leave out the but.

And in the second, I agree a comma in front would help. However, I'd replace "but" with a semi colon or a hyphen (I'm a fan of the hyphen, though not totally on top of the rules for using it if truth be told - someone will be along to correct me if that's an egregious suggestion though, I'm sure! fwink

senua Fri 09-Dec-16 17:46:04

'Alex has learnt that the ocean covers around 70 percent of the planet but that we know more about space than about the sea.'

I think that this feels a bit clumsy because it is a conjunction of two phrases where the subject changes from 'Alex' to 'we'. Would it be better as:
'Alex has learnt that the ocean covers around 70 percent of the planet but that more is known about space than about the sea.'

TheLivingAsheth Fri 09-Dec-16 17:55:30

Alex has learnt that the ocean covers around 70 per cent of the planet, but more is known about space than about the sea.

That's what I would say, I don't know if it is correct.

senua Fri 09-Dec-16 18:01:07

Or even:

'Alex has learnt that the ocean covers around 70 percent of the planet yet that more is known about space than about the sea.'

Itwasthenandstillis Fri 09-Dec-16 19:10:44

A bit more information.... this was a task to match the first half of the sentence to the correct second half. I looked at it and none of the options looked correct, but apparently these were the correct answers. I am not trained to teach(yet), but I am teaching and tutoring (one to one), from just above beginners to advanced level. I think my English is very good (but not perfect) and I also think I am doing a good job. I consider English to be quite a flexible language (at least compared to German), but THIS flexible....?
I am considering approaching his teacher

VintagePerfumista Sat 10-Dec-16 07:01:47

He has learned both things. So the but is correct as it contrasts the first thing he has learned - one would think that we would know more about the ocean as it covers 70% of the planet- but we don't.

As others have said, it's the punctuation that's clumsy. You need a comma after planet, then it's fine.

It's still a bit clumpy, but it's grammatically and semantically correct.

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