Early this month, I received a very interesting letter from someone who bought my English-usage books six years ago. I thought of presenting and answering it right off, but as regular readers of this column know, I gave precedence to a two-part column that presented my enlightening Facebook conversation with Mr. Maximo Tumbali on communication as the art of conveying one’s thoughts and ideas clearly and simply in the appropriate language register. That gave me more time to think out how to answer that letter that came in like a blast from the past, so to speak, requesting as it did a critique of the English of that letter itself to check if the letter-writer had actually been learning from my books.
Here’s the letter:
“This is Nina O____. I hope you still remember me. We met at PC Supermarket at Pioneer St. in Mandaluyong City while I was doing my groceries and you were also buying something. I think that was sometime in the year 2010. When you introduced yourself to me, I was surprised because I had previously bought two books of yours, English Plain and Simple and Give Your English the Winning Edge. I really love these books. Truth is, I will miss one third of my life if I lose these books. They are great!
“You know, Mr. Carillo, I am a software engineer and English is not my forte, but I love to write. Right now, I need your help about three things:
“(1) What is the difference between a verb phrase and a phrasal verb? Are these two one and the same thing?
“(2) About the statement ‘I look forward to hearing from you.’ The sentence ‘I look forward to hear from you’ sounds good to the ears as well. Why is it that the ‘-ing’ form is always used and not the regular verb? What is the grammar rule behind this?
“(3) Which is correct: ‘I intend to see you’ or ‘I intend to seeing you’? I always hear TV newcasters and news anchors and a lot of other people using the latter form. For instance, they would say ‘They met together to sharing their expertise.’ Is it also correct to say ‘They met together to share their expertise’? Which is preferable?
“(4) Which is correct: ‘I would be very happy to hear from you again’ or ‘I would be very happy to hearing from you again.’ In my opinion, the sentence ‘I would be very happy to hear from you again’ sounds better to the ears than the latter.
“Could you please give me a critique of my writing above? Are my sentences grammatically correct and the paragraphs well-written? I would be very happy to hear from you again because this is my test if I am learning from your books.”
My reply to Nina:
Thank you so much for the compliment about those two English-usage books of mine, Nina. When you said that you love them and that you’d miss one third of your life if I you were to lose them, the image that came to mind is that of an upward-mobile young woman just past her mid-20s confident in her career track because of her good command of English. I must confess that I don’t have a clear recollection of that encounter of ours over six years ago, and being considerably older than you, I’ll really need to trust your memory more than I could trust mine.
First, the broad picture about your writing skills. You have a very good grasp of English. Your sentences are definitely all grammatically correct and well-written, needing only minor restructuring for better, more free-flowing continuity.
We’ll take up the expository details and your specific grammar concerns as we go along.
(To be continued next week)
Visit Jose Carillo’s English Forum, http://josecarilloforum.com. Visit me on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/jacarillo. Follow me at Twitter.com @J8Carillo. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org