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English as a Second Language/Are they grammatically correct?

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QUESTION: The following sentences are quoted from a newspaper.

"The Manila hostage incident was so horrendous that it certainly impacted on Hong Kong people no less severely than the Guang Da Xing incident did on Taiwan people."
"Hong Kong has not taken a tough stand on the hostage incident as Taiwan did on the Guang Da Xing incident because it must have regard to Sino-Philippine relations."
(A note from Matthew: "Guang Da Xing" was the name of a ship where a fisherman was killed.)

I understand that the first "did" means "impacted" and the second one means "took a tough stand", but are they grammatically correct? Is it ellipsis?

ANSWER: Hi again Matthew,

back to your ellipsis dilemma I see ;)


The Manila hostage incident was so horrendous that it certainly impacted on Hong Kong people no less severely than the Guang Da Xing incident did on Taiwan people.

---- grammatically correct; yes ellipsis; did means indeed impacted.

This would be the sentence above had you chosen not to use an elliptical construction:

The Manila hostage incident was so horrendous that it certainly impacted on Hong Kong people no less severely than the Guang Da Xing incident impacted on Taiwan people.


Hong Kong has not taken a tough stand on the hostage incident as Taiwan did on the Guang Da Xing incident because it must have regard to Sino-Philippine relations.

---- this one is not correct because of the verb tenses: "has not taken" and "did".As you may have noticed in the materials I sent you previously, in order to use elliptical constructions where the verbs are involved, the tenses have to match.

The correct sentence should read: (note from Amy - I added "the" in front of Sino-Philippine)

Hong Kong has not taken a tough stand on the hostage incident as Taiwan has taken on the Guang Da Xing incident because it must have regard to the Sino-Philippine relations.

or, if you would like to use an elliptical construction:

Hong Kong has not taken a tough stand on the hostage incident as Taiwan has on the Guang Da Xing incident because it must have regard to the Sino-Philippine relations.

I hope this is once again helpful.

Looking forward to being able to help you further.

Best regards,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Peter finished three tasks, and Mary finished two tasks.
--> Peter finished three tasks, and Mary did two. (It is incorrect as you said previously)

Peter dealt with three tasks, and Mary dealt with two tasks.
-->Peter dealt with three tasks, and Mary did with two. (It should be correct as per what you said above)

It is incorrect when no preposition is before the object, why?

ANSWER: QUESTION: Peter finished three tasks, and Mary finished two tasks.
--> Peter finished three tasks, and Mary did two. (It is incorrect as you said previously)

Yes, it's a confusing statement. It's grammatically correct, but it could be difficult for someone to understand what you are trying to say.

Peter dealt with three tasks, and Mary dealt with two tasks.

-->Peter dealt with three tasks, and Mary did with two. (It should be correct as per what you said above)

Again, from a grammatical point of view the sentence is correct, and the use of ellipsis is correct here.

You can even say "Peter dealt with two tasks, Mary with two."

It is incorrect when no preposition is before the object, why?

With elliptical constructions, you are trying to eliminate the "redundant" words, yet make sure that your sentences are meaningful. You can't eliminate any words without losing meaning.

If you were to eliminate "with" from the sentence, it would be similar to saying "Mary dealt two tasks" and that is incorrect.

I understand your goal is to express yourself in English in a correct and concise way. The use of ellipsis is more frequent in literature (Shakespeare is one of  the early adopters of such constructions) and in rhetoric than it would be in every day communications. The purpose of communicating on a daily basis is for people to express their ideas as clearly as possible. Reducing the number of words is (in my opinion) not the best strategy when communicating - unless there are constraints of some sort - for ex you are trying to write a 250 word essay and you're concerned about the number of words. My advice - stick to what feels comfortable for you; elliptical constructions are some of the most difficult pieces of language to master.

I hope this helps.

Best regards,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: "Peter finished three tasks, and Mary did two."
You said "it's a confusing statement... difficult for someone to understand..."

On the following page, I have posted a sentence in a similar structure but people can understand it.

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20131014033541AA92zuJ

Answer
Matthew,

again, if I remember correctly, when you posted your original question, I mentioned how the statement you keep inquiring about is confusing and I suggested 2 changes: punctuation and an even shorter sentence.

Peter finished three tasks; Mary, two.

Back to your example on yahoo answers - interesting choice of words by the way

"Cannibals kill, skin, cook, and eat humans as butchers do poultry". I will honestly tell you that if that sentence would come up in an informal dialogue between myself and a friend of mine, I'd have to pause and think about its meaning for a second or two. If I were to see it in writing, again I'd pause and think.

A very interesting aspect with the sentence above would be the intonation and the punctuation. Any thoughts on that? For what it's worth, I'd put a comma after "humans". Again I see the sentence as confusing (perhaps because I work mainly with ESL people and I know for a fact that the majority of my students would not understand it easily)

My turn to ask you a question now.

Take this sentence:

"A woman without her man is nothing."

How would you interpret it? Also, how would you punctuate it correctly? (this may be a trick question)

I'm just trying to show you that punctuation is very important.

Best,  

English as a Second Language

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Amy Baker

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