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The Best of the Blog

Luglio 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!

In Speak Up 357, in the article “How I lost my job,” there are two verbal tenses which I imagine are right, but I would have used different ones. They are: I met an HR woman and she HAD TOLD (why not TOLD?) me...; It was a struggle [...] since I HAVEN’T BEEN (why not HADN’T BEEN?)

Your observation is technically correct: the interviewee should have said “She told me” but the fact of the matter is that English mother-tongue speakers often make small slips like this in conversation. There is nothing wrong with that: with our interviews we try and show how “real” English is spoken. We often tell our readers not to be too obsessed with grammatical perfection as usually British and American speakers won’t even notice! If you want to communicate you need to learn to speak and understand the language: this is far more important than grammar.

So inappropriate!
In a student’s book there is one exercise where students have to find four adjectives which cannot go with the nouns. And, according to the answers, we can’t say “tasteful food,” “young town” and “antique town.” I would like to know why this is so.

It’s simply that these adjectives are inappropriate: you say tasty food, new town and old town.

Note on usage
In the “note on usage” about the word “beautiful” (Oxford Dictionary) it says: “Beautiful and pretty are generally used OF women and children”. Could you tell me why they use the preposition OF? I couldn’t find an answer even in the dictionary. Thank you.

Here “of” is just an eloquent way of saying “when describing” or “when talking about.”

No regrets
I would like to understand the meaning and usage of the words “rather” and “regret.”

“Rather” is like “piuttosto” and “abbastanza” (“rather good”), but the expression “I would rather” means “I would prefer” and “I would rather not” means “I would prefer not.” “Rather you than me” means “It’s better that you’re doing this, because I wouldn’t like to.”
As for “regret,” it’s like “mi dispiace”, but also “rimpiangere.” “We regret to inform you” and “I regret never going to university.”

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