With or without ‘with’

It could be argued that a patient who doubts with modern medicines will take longer to heal.

Indonesian flag Bahasa Indonesia often features with after certain verbs where it would not be used in English. In English the opening example would simply read:

  • It could be argued that a patient who doubts modern medicines will take longer to heal.

Other examples of the redundant with include:

  • In addition, patients do not fully believe with the capability of the doctor.
  • I like with dangdut music.
  • Please promise with your mother that you will meet her after work.

So that’s four verbs – doubt, believe, like, promise – that are not followed by with in English, but are followed by with in at least one other language. I’ll add more examples when I think of them. Meanwhile, if you can think of any other examples, please add comments below.

I will tag this post with the Indonesian word dengan – please come back another time and see if the list has grown!

The relativity of ‘if’

Old people believe if traditional medicines are more effective for long-standing health complaints than contemporary ones.

Indonesian flag Here an Indonesian student has used if as a relative pronoun. This is allowed in Bahasa Indonesia, at least after the verb ‘believe’, but it is not allowed in English.

Instead you need:

  • Old people believe that traditional medicines are more effective for long-standing health complaints than contemporary ones.

Cultural notes

  • The word ‘relative’ made me think of Einstein, and that’s why he appears on this post’s featured image.
  • Since there is a cultural note for ‘relative’ then I suppose we ought to include one for ‘if’. How about this inspirational poem by Rudyard Kipling?

Collocation recovery

Most patients think hard about the best way to recover their health and to accelerate the healing process.

This verb noun collocation – recover health – is very weak. Let’s take a look at the two words separately.

Recover + noun

The strongest collocation for recover + noun seems to be associated with money:

  • Apple invested heavily in the iPhone but soon recovered their research and development costs.
  • Fraud victims find it difficult to recover their money.
  • The state’s Consumer Protection Assistance Fund (CPAF) can help victims, who have filed complaints with our office, recover their losses.

Verb + health

Meanwhile, verb + health gives us:

  • Most people make an effort to improve their health.
  • regular exercise and a balanced diet can help to maintain good health.
  • I’m quite concerned about my uncle’s health.

Recover (no object)

In the context of health, recover is usually intransitive:

  • I hope your uncle recovers quickly.
  • If you take this medicine you will recover in a few days.
  • You had a bad fall. You need some time to recover.


Returning to our opening example, either of the following are possible:

  • Most patients think hard about the best way to recover and to accelerate the healing process.
  • Most patients think hard about the best way to improve their health and to accelerate the healing process.

Conservation Conversation

Zoos are good places for animals conservation.

This is an example of a noun pre-modifying another noun.

Say what?!

Well, sometimes we have to consider how nouns function within a larger noun phrase.

Come again?!

Well, animal is a noun, and conservation is a noun, but together they form a noun phrase: animal conservation.

So what’s the problem then, Pak Guru?

Well, in this example, the ‘main’ noun is conservation.

What do you mean main noun?

Well, in this example, are you saying that zoos are good for animals or good for conservation?

For.. conservation!

Right, so conservation is the main noun.

I see, so what’s wrong with animals?

OK, well in the example animals is pre-modifying conservation. ‘Pre’ means ‘before’ – the word ‘animals’ comes before the word ‘conservation’, right?

Wait. Did you say ‘modifying’? What’s that?!

Well, the word animals changes (modifies) the word conservation – it tells us exactly what kind of conservation.

OK. But I still don’t see what is wrong with the original sentence.

The problem is.. If you use a countable noun to pre-modify another noun, then that modifying noun (in this case animal) must be singular.

I see. Like ‘Computer scientist?’


The featured image for this post is a photograph of the man who has done more than any other to conserve wildlife, the incredible David Attenborough – here conversing with orang utan.

Text reconstruction with ReText

This was going to be a suite of apps, with a fancy title, bundled together. But a lot of this stuff is really useless as stand-alone apps – they have to be integrated within a post to have any pedagogical value. And so they’re here, available via menus, but I don’t – at the moment – feel they deserve to be packaged and marketed in any way.

If anyone wants to use these as WordPress shortcodes, you’re welcome – please either email me or comment below this post.

The apps include:

  • Cloze your books (Converts any uploaded text into a total cloze, which you can then attempt to reconstruct online, one word at a time).
  • Sentence Repair Man (Shuffles words in sentences, which you can then attempt to reconstruct online, or print for classroom use).
  • Mind the Gap (puts gaps at every Nth word in a text, with the option to print for classroom use).
  • Linkin’ Text (Highilights 4 types of (spoken) link between words in a text).
  • AWLizer (Highlights words from the Academic Word List in a text).

You’re free to use these – for free – until further notice.