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Luglio 2016
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!

Apostrophes, Part 2
In a letter published in the February issue of Speak Up issue Gabriele wrote he was taken aback by the “greengrocers’ apostrophes” issue. To tell the truth, I was taken aback by his question and also by the answer. All the grammar books I know say you HAVE to say: “I’m going to the greengrocer’s” (meaning the shop). And I don’t understand why Speak Up answers: “people often say – I’m going to the greengrocer’s”. Is there any other way to say “vado dal fruttivendolo”?
Claudio G.M.

Our correspondence with Gabriele was about the mistakes made by grocers in their signs (“potato’s” and not “potatoes”) but, in answer to your question, British people tend to say “I’m going to the greengrocer’s,” although some people say “I’m going to the greengrocer.” Neither is correct or incorrect and both are acceptable.  

I have yet to find a convincing English translation of the Italian word  “scafista,” which is used when talking about the question of immigration.

The English term for someone who makes money from transporting immigrants illegally is an “immigrant trafficker.”

In English it is quite common to put a preposition at the end of a sentence. For example, an Italian phrase “ho bisogno di persone con cui parlare” becomes “I need somebody to talk to”. When and why do you have to put the preposition after the verb?

Language purists say that “a preposition is a bad thing to end a sentence with” but it’s acceptable, at least in conversation. You could also say “I need someone to whom I can talk” but it would sound old-fashioned.
As for your question, in the case of the verb to talk there are two forms: “to talk to someone” and “to talk” (without a preposition): When it’s with a proposition, we say “I need someone to talk to” but when it’s “talk” by itself, we simply say “I need to talk.”
Another example might be the verb “to train” (allenarsi): “I need to train” and “I need someone to train with” and so on.

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