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How do Americans normally respond to this question: “Where are you from?”
b) The United States
c) The United States of America
d) The U.S.
e) The U.S.A.
When traveling overseas, foreigners are frequently asked “Where are you from?” Though any of the above answers would technically be correct, Americans most commonly respond that they are from b) The United States or d) The U.S.
Note, however, that the answer to “Where are you from” is contextual. When traveling domestically within our own state, we reply “I’m from (city)” or when traveling domestically but we are outside of our own state, we reply, “I’m from (state). For example:
I’m from the U.S.
DOMESTIC-OUTSIDE HOME STATE
I’m from California.
DOMESTIC-INSIDE HOME STATE
I’m from Los Angeles.
Another commonly asked question is, “What’s your nationality?” to which we answer, “I’m American.”
Why do people from the U.S. call themselves Americans when there are actually two American continents, North and South America, as well as a land mass in between called Central America? The consensus seems to be that people self-identify by country, not continent. Since there is only one country with “America” in its name, the term “American” has been relegated to the U.S. rather than any of the other countries on the American continents. Further, it’s easier to use abbreviations such as “American” rather than an awkward expression like “United States of American.”
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As of April 15, 2021, the _________ of Americans who had received at least one dose of the vaccination for COVID-19 was nearly 40%.
The answer is c) proportion.
Imagine we surveyed 9 people about the Covid vaccination: 3 said they received the inoculation, and 6 said they did not. We could express that in the following ways:
a) With a fraction. A fraction is formed with a numerator over a denominator (a/b). It is usually reduced (3/9 becomes 1/3) and can be expressed in words or numbers:
One-third of the people surveyed said they received the Covid Vaccination.
Of the people surveyed, 2/3 had not received the Covid Vaccination.
b) With a ratio. A ratio is a comparison expressed with a colon (a:b). A ratio would also be reduced (3:6 becomes 1:2) and when writing out the numbers, the colon is expressed as “to”:
The ratio of vaccinated to unvaccinated people is 1:2.
The ratio of unvaccinated to vaccinated people is two to one.
c) With a proportion. Mathematically speaking, a proportion is a statement that two ratios are balanced (a:b = c:d). In common language, the word “proportion” is used to mean “share of the whole” or “percentage”.
The proportion of people who have been vaccinated is 33%.
The proportion of people who remain unvaccinated is two out of three.
When we want to express that something is unbalanced, we can use the expressions “out of proportion” or “disproportionate”.
The punishment was disproportionately harsh. (= too harsh to fit the crime)
Her shoes were out of proportion with the size of her feet. (=too large or small for her feet)
We hope you enjoyed this edition of Compecs Connection. Please join us the next time.
To qualify for the vaccination, the politician’s son lied about his age.
The correct answer in this context is a) Vaxhole!
Both of these new Covid-era expressions reflect the exasperation of the speaker towards a third person regarding that person’s poor behavior during the pandemic. However, “vaxhole” is specific to vaccinations, whereas “covidiot” refers to the pandemic in general.
The term “vaxhole” is a combination of “vaccination” + “asshole”, with “asshole” being a derogatory term for someone whose behavior demonstrates a disregard for others. A “vaxhole,” for example, may be someone who has been selfish about getting the vaccine ahead of others in need, or simply someone who brags about receiving the vaccine when others have not.
Although “vaxhole” is semantically correct in the above context, the term should be used with caution or perhaps not at all. Because “asshole” is an expletive, “vaxhole,” by association, may be considered offensive. Instead, a more general and slightly less offensive comment about someone who demonstrates a disregard for others is: “What a jerk!”
“Covidiot” comes from “Covid” + “idiot”, with “idiot” being a term we may use if we think someone’s behavior is stupid (as opposed to selfish). Consequently, we may call someone a “covidiot” if they don’t wear a mask in public or forget to social distance. Even someone who hoards toilet paper (which may be a selfish act) might be called a “covidiot” by someone who thinks that behavior is stupid.
In the sample sentence, however, it is clear that the politician’s son behaved slyly, not stupidly, so “covidiot” is the wrong expression.
DaSol and Young have been ______ each other for a year.
The correct answer is b) seeing.
In Korea, the word “meeting” is commonly used to refer to dating, but in American English, it is not. We typically use “seeing each other” and “to see someone” to mean dating someone over a period of time. Note that when used in the progressive form, “seeing someone” means dating, but in the simple form (without “be + -ing”), “to see a person” might be taken literally. It is very important to consider the context in order to fully understand the meaning.
Do you see Bob?
Yes, I see Bob. He is standing over there. (literal)
Are you seeing Bob?
Yes, I am seeing Bob. We have been dating for a year. (figurative)
I saw Bob again yesterday. We have been going out regularly. (dating)
I saw Bob again yesterday. He was passing by when I looked out the window. (literal)
The words “meet” and “meeting” are mostly used to refer to making a first acquaintance, holding a formal discussion, or joining someone at a particular place. “Meeting” does not mean dating, but if we are dating or married to someone, we may talk about the very first time we met.
Where did you meet Bob? (=Where were you and Bob first introduced?)
We will be meeting in room 240. (=We will be holding a business discussion in room 240.)
Let’s meet at the cafe. (=The café is the location where we will get together.)
For more on “see”, please check out our Kakao page later in the week.
Did you ________ that?!
b) look at
The best answer is a) see.
In its literal sense to “see” something means that something has entered our visual space. It is a passive activity similar to “notice.”
What do you see? (What do you notice in your field of vision?)
No, I can’t see Mt. Halla. (Mt. Halla is not in my view.)
To “look at” means to direct your attention to, glance at, or examine something. Looking is intentional on the part of the agent. It is not a passive activity.
Look at page 30 of your textbook. (Direct your attention to page 30.)
Doctor, could you look at my wound? (Please examine my wound.)
To “watch” someone or something is not a passive activity either. It requires the agent to pay attention to something and is usually of longer duration or deeper intensity than “look at.” To “watch” a child means to babysit.
We watched a movie last night.
Soo watched the children while I went to work. (Soo babysat.)
Contrast these 3 sentences:
She saw a man across the room. (She noticed that there was a man across the room.)
She looked at the man across the room. (She directed her attention towards the man and then looked away.)
She watched the man across the room. (She observed the man for a period of time.)
We hope you take a look at our next edition!
I’m broke. Could I _______ some money?
The correct answer is a) borrow.
Perhaps because they are taught in pairs, borrow and lend tend to be commonly confused by English learners.
To borrow something is to RECEIVE it temporarily under the condition that it be returned.
He went to the library to borrow some books.
Can I borrow your pen? I will give it right back.
To lend (or to loan) something is to GIVE it to someone temporarily under the condition that they return it.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the verb “loan” fell out of use in British English but was preserved in American English by settlers of the country. Today, Americans use “loan” in a literal sense only, but they may use “lend” both literally and figuratively.
I will lend/loan you $100 if you pay me back next week.
Could you lend me a hand with my homework? (=Could you help me?)
The expression “lend a hand” is used to request assistance. Note that the speaker will not literally borrow or return a hand.
If you are having trouble remembering the difference between borrow and lend, try a mnemonic device, like these:
What you borrow you must pay back tomorrow.
If you lend it to a friend you may lose it in the end.
We hope we’ve lent you a hand in understanding the difference between lend and borrow. See you in the next edition.
Someone asked for my “John Hancock”. What did he mean?
John Hancock is one of America’s “Founding Fathers” and the first signer of the Declaration of Independence. His fancy signature is so prominent on the page that “John Hancock” became a synonym for “signature”. Asking for someone’s “John Hancock,” however, sounds a little old-fashioned. Instead, we usually just ask for a signature.
Now that you know what a “John Hancock” is, you might want to know what a “signature” is. Among learners of English, there seems to be some confusion between the words “signature” and “sign.”
A signature is a noun. When a name has been hand-written, not typed, by a person in their distinctive personal style, the written name is the person’s signature. In the image above, there are many signatures, but John Hancock’s signature is the most prominent.
In contrast, “sign” is a verb in this context. It is the act of making a signature.
Typically, a request for a signature is made like this:
(O) Please sign on this line.
(O) Please put your signature at the bottom of the page.
These days, we are also sometimes asked for an “electronic signature.” In this case, a typed version of a person’s name may be accepted as a legal signature under certain conditions.
(O) Please type your name at the bottom of the page. An electronic signature will be accepted.
Note that “sign” can also be a noun, but the denotation changes to mean a display of words, such as a road sign or business sign. Therefore, substituting the noun “sign” for the noun “signature” creates a semantic problem.
(x) Please put your sign at the bottom of the page.
We hope you enjoyed this edition of COMPECS Connection.
*The photos by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA.
**CC BY-SA: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/
Len: I was going to call you last night.
Lori: You ____________.
b) should of
c) should have
The answer is c) should have.
We use the expression “should have” for a missed opportunity in the past. It can also be used to express regret.
He should have visited his grandmother before he went off to do military service.
I should have bought the blouse last week when it was on sale.
Notice that in its full construction, “should have” is followed by a past participle verb. However, the past participle may be dropped in speech when the context is clear. For example, in the sample sentence at the beginning, “You should have called” was shortened to “You should have.”
Every now and then you will see a cartoon with “should of” in the speech bubble. “Should of” is a common error among native speakers of English because in rapid speech, “should have” sounds exactly like “should of.” Since we don’t use the contraction “should’ve” in writing, many Americans may not be aware that they are actually speaking in a contracted form and simply assume they are saying the words “should of.” Nevertheless, there is no grammatical form “should of” and you should avoid using it.
(X) “I should of listened to her.”
(O) “I should have listened to her.”
You should stay tuned to Compecs Channel for more English tips.