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Maggio 2014
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!

Many thanks!
An English teacher told a student of mine that using “Many thanks” as a reply to a business letter isn’t formal enough. What is a better alternative in this case?
Many thanks :-)

The English teacher in question is old school. “Many thanks” might have been considered too informal back in the 1950s but in today’s more friendly business environment it’s perfectly acceptable. “Thanks,” on the other hand, is still perhaps a bit too informal (at least in a business letter).
In the good old days, at the end you might have said “Thanking you for your attention in this matter” but it really is a bit old-fashioned. If you’re too formal in a business letter these days it can even sound threatening.

Where did you meet?
Can I translate the expression “Dove vi siete conosciuti?” with “Where have you met?”

No. You would have to say “Where did you meet?” (or, better still, “Where did you two meet?”) You would need to use the simple past because the meeting was a precise event, at a precise time, in the past. If, on the other hand, you wanted to introduce two people to each other (at a party, for example) you could say (using the present perfect): “Have you met John?” This is because you are talking about the whole of the past (until now) with no precise time.

Neither do we!
Please could you explain the correct use of the word “neither”  because I’m confused! Thanks.

Neither is a negative version of either. In English a positive choice is expressed by “either... or,” while a negative choice is expressed by “neither... nor.”
Some examples:
A: “Do you think that train timetables are interesting?”
B: “No, I don’t!”
A: “Neither do I!”
“My wife and I went on holiday to Albania last year, but we didn’t really enjoy it because neither of us speak the language.”

By foot
In the March issue of the magazine (“The Grand Canyon”) one of the speakers keeps repeating “by foot”, instead of “on foot.”
As a teacher I always correct it: shall I stop doing that? Carla.

Yes, you probably should as both forms are acceptable.

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