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The Best of the Blog

Ottobre 2015
The Speak Up blog answers any questions you may have either about the English language or our articles. Write to us (preferably in English) at: http://blog.speakuponline.it. The most interesting questions will be published on this page. A word of warning, though: our blog is not a translation or homework service!

Yes, it is!
Is it really so important to use complete answers to reply to yes/no questions? Do native English speakers use them? Do they usually just say “yes/no” or do they add extra information? Just to know, because a lot of emphasis is put on short answers in English teaching.
Laura

Yes, complete answers are important! In English, if you say just “yes” or “no,” it can sound too direct and even a little rude, so it’s often better to add some other words, like “I think so, yes,” or “Yes, I believe that’s the case” or “I don’t think so, no” etc. If you ask English people “Did you hear the news?” they won’t just say “No”. They’ll answer “No, I didn’t.”
This could be because children are taught that it’s rude to answer just “Yes” or “No” if somebody offers them something. They are taught to say “Yes, please” or “No, thank you.”  

On the other hand...

I’d like to know whether the expression “on the other hand” can only be used together with “on the one hand” or whether it can be used alone, like “d’altronde” in Italian.
Ilaria


If there are two choices, then you begin with “on the one hand” and then continue with “on the other hand” but “on the other hand” can also be used by itself.

A meal for one

Reading “Joanna” in the June issue, I noticed this sentence: “he was shy with women ... so he had almost given up on finding his Mrs.” I can’t understand why you didn’t just say: “He almost gave up on finding his Mrs.” I think it’s not the correct way to use the past perfect because one action happened before the other. I have another doubt: a bit later, you wrote “as he was eating his microwave meal for one... What does “for one” mean?
Alessandro


Here’s author Nicola
Mabbott’s answer:
“Had given up” is used here to imply that things were about to change (after giving up, i.e. the time of the story), and also because the decision to give up was taken before the story began (and the story is already in the past), so the past perfect is correct. ”…so he almost gave up” would imply that he hadn’t (ever) really given up, which is grammatically correct, of course, but not what I intended.
“For one” means for one person.


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