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The Best of the Blog

Novembre 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 or into?
I’ve been learning English for a while, but I still don’t understand the difference between IN and INTO.
Please could you explain it clearly?
Guilherme Luchesi

Many people get confused about this but it’s fairly simple. “In” refers to a position that isn’t changing, while “into” refers to motion and entry. For example: “There are many trees in the wood” and “If you go into the wood you will find many trees.” “My friends live in the centre of town” and “We plan to go into the centre of town this evening.”

The language of race
Reading your article about Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton reminded me that a certain word is never read or heard. You define Mr. Hamilton as “half-black”, but a correct word to define his background is available in the English dictionary: MULATTO. The same goes with American President: he is referred to as ”the first black president,” but everybody seems to ignore the fact that his late mother was white. What’s wrong with the word mulatto?
It should not be offensive, why don’t you use it?
Dario D’Arcangelo

The problem with the word mulatto is that it’s old-fashioned and politically incorrect. It’s a throwback to the days of slavery and for this reason people don’t like it. When talking about race the issue isn’t really language: it’s more a question of sensitivity and social acceptability.
The same applies to Obama’s “blackness.” Yes, his mother was white, but most African Americans have some white blood. This is also to do with the issue of slavery: on plantations white owners regularly abused female slaves. Just exactly how “black” someone is something most African Americans would probably prefer not to discuss.

There are or there is?
Speak Up 364, in the article “Life in the Hamptons”, page 23: “There’s lines to get in” and second column, first line: “There’s hot girls and handsome boys”. Why “There’s” and not “There are”?

OK, this is technically a mistake but there is an increasing tendency in English (both British and American) to mix up the single and the plural when using “there.” We don’t why this is happening, but it is!

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