In my opinion, artificial intelligence should be kept away from humans’ civilisation.
OK, here are two specimens – a human (Bill), and an alien (Zarka). If I talk about the human, I’m talking about the gentleman on the left. If I talk about the alien, I’m talking about the lady on the right.
Bill and Zarka
We can say that the human’s nose is longer than the alien’s nose, and the human’s neck is thicker than the alien’s. Also, since the alien has no body hair, we can assume that the alien is interested in human hair.
Let’s look at the grammar.
- I use the possessive when I’m talking about a particular human (Bill) or a particular alien (Zarka). I could also be talking about a specific group of humans or aliens.
- On the other hand I don’t use a possessive when I’m talking about all humans (their hair). The alien is interested in the phenomenon of hair as it grows on all humans, everywhere.
When you’re using ‘human‘ as a noun modifier, stop and think! Are you referring to an individual human or a specific group of humans? Or are you talking about all humans? Only add the possessive if your reader knows exactly which human (or specific group of humans) you are referring to.
When I was living in the desert I lost my weight.
Indonesians for some reason like to use the possessive here. But there are problems with this. If you include the possessive then it sounds as though you lost something that you own.
Of course it is possible to own a ‘weight’ (countable thing – definition 1, items 2a and 2b), but not many people are owners of a single ‘weight’, and it’s unlikely anybody would worry about losing one!
If you’ve been living in a desert then it’s possible that you have experienced weight loss (weight uncountable – definition 2), and so if you’re talking about body weight, you need:
- When I was living in the desert I lost weight.
Bakso was chosen by 60% of students, Martabak by 20%, Siomay by 15%, and only 5% chose Other.
OK the problem here is that ‘other‘ is rarely used as a noun. Generally it is used as a noun modifier: “other people“, “other things“, etc. In the above example, what is the noun that is being modified by ‘other’? Well, all of the items in the chart belong to a class, or group, and the name of that group is usually given as a label on the chart. In any case we know that Bakso, Martabak, and Siomay are all different kinds of Asian fast food, so we can write:
- Bakso was chosen by 60% of students, Martabak by 20%, Siomay by 15%, and only 5% chose other kinds of Asian fast food.
‘Other‘ is used as a noun in sociology, psychology and anthropology to identify and possibly explain ‘something different from us‘, either as individuals or as a society. In these contexts there is a related concept: ‘otherness‘.
Giving a challenge for human workers to involve in controlling machines is a good idea.
Involve as adjective
You got the preposition right, but the wrong form of ‘involve’. This is nearly always constructed as an ‘ed’ adjective phrase:
- Giving a challenge for human workers to be involved in controlling machines is a good idea.
‘Get’ also collocates strongly with ‘involved in’, as does the more formal ‘become’:
- Giving a challenge for human workers to get/become involved in controlling machines is a good idea.
It’s not always necessary to mention the activity that someone is involved in:
For Indonesians there are easy translations for involved as adjective:
- involved – terlibat
- (to be) involved in – terlibat dalam
Involve as a verb
If you want to use involve as a verb, usually there is an indirect object:
- I rarely involve myself in politics.
Again, for Indonesians there is an easy translation.
- to involve + someone + in + something – melibatkan … dalam …
Several audiences left before the film finished.
Audience is indeed countable but it is a ‘collective’ noun, and so an (=1) audience can comprise many people. If you want to focus on a subgroup of an audience then it is common to refer to these people as ‘members of an audience’: Continue reading
In the 100m running the winner was Usain Bolt. The second winner was Justin Gatlin.
The Olympics in Rio produced many winners, but…
In the 100m running the winner was Usain Bolt. Justin Gatlin came second.
We can also say:
- Justin Gatlin was second.
- Justin Gatlin finished second.
However, we cannot say:
- Justin Gatlin was second winner. ( ‘Juara dua’!)
Unfortunately in a particular competition there can only be one winner. In this particular case the winner was Bolt.
I am a staff at the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
Although you will occasionally find an example of staff as a countable noun, it is extremely rare.
Used as an uncountable noun, staff refers to people who work for a particular organisation: Continue reading
The table shows the percentage of money that allocated by people in different countries for different reasons in 2002.
Here an Indonesian student has made a noun phrase based on ‘yang di alokasikan‘. A grammar error has affected her IELTS score, but this could have been avoided using more sophisticated – and easy-to-learn – vocabulary.
- The table shows the percentage of money that was allocated by people in different countries for different reasons in 2002.
Here I added ‘to be‘ before the V3 to produce a correct passive. However, a native speaker would probably choose more sophisticated vocabulary:
- The table shows the percentage of money allocated by people in different countries for different reasons in 2002.
Here, instead of the ugly passive structure, which Indonesians always get wrong, I made a nominal group that contains the following elements all joined together:
- the percentage..
- of money (preposition phrase)
- allocated by people (V3 phrase)
- in different countries (preposition phrase)
- for different reasons (preposition phrase)
- in 2012 (preposition phrase)
Other elements are possible in nominal groups, but these are common. I will come back to nominal groups in future posts (for example here) as problems experienced by my current class arise.
Note that there is no ‘that’ in the V3 phrase (Indonesian ‘yang’). And BTW ‘V3 phrase’ is not its official name, but it’s much easier to remember than the official name (which I will keep secret for now..).