SO… the boyfriend is now an English teacher for small children. Stranger things have happened in the world, I suppose. :eh:
He’s asked me to look through his English tests and help him get his English up to speed. Not a problem, but…
At his school they seem to teach the phrase “In back of”. As in:
Is Susan sitting behind Alice?
Yes, Susan is sitting in back of Alice.
I’ve told him that this phrase doesn’t actually exist, but apparently the students need to be tested on this phrase in their middle school English books so it DOES exist, and even if it doesn’t, they have to teach it anyway.
Right now I don’t believe that it could possibly be in the tests but… is it?? Has anybody else ever heard of this folly???
I’ve heard “in back of” throughout the US. It’s pretty common. What I find strange is the rather strong reaction to it by people who haven’t heard it before, as if worlds will collide if they acknowledge it or something. As noted we say “catty-corner” in New York but I spell it catercorner.
There are many Americanisms which I hear for the first time, think “OK, that’s different”, and then carry on. For some reason though “in back of” has a smell of wrongness about it, so even after hearing it a lot it still feels really odd, unlike, say, “counter-clockwise”, “movie theater”, or referring to a team in the singular (“Manchester United plays at Old Trafford”, rather than the British English “Manchester United play at Old Trafford”). Other Brits seem to have the same reaction, so I’m wondering why this particular phrase seems so strange to us.
Just use google to check any new phrases you come across, OP. I’ve heard limeys have arguments with Taiwanese bosses before over what they consider to be ‘incorrect’ English and it’s pretty embarrassing when the English they are arguing over is just North American English. There’s no central control over the English language.
I’ve become quite fond of North American English over the years I’ve been teaching it. I particularly like the simplified spellings. I don’t like the longer vowel sounds as children end up sounding like Mexicans, although this is probably the result of them being incorrectly taught KK phonics. The common incorrect usage (to British English ears) of the present perfect isn’t actually correct North American English, it’s just a lazy west coast dialect that took off because of TV shows. Older, more educated Americans and Canadians won’t get it wrong.
Worse than that is the ubiquitous “me either” that Americans commonly say. I remember there was a thread about this a while ago. Yesterday, the military service knucklehead who ingratiates himself upon some of my classes corrected a kid and told the kid to say “me either”. I promptly corrected the kid. Related to that is “Joe and me are going to school.” That really gets on my nerves.
tom: How do Americans incorrectly use the present perfect tense? (I probably know, but I just can’t think of it right now.)
If an event happened in the past, and it’s over and done with, the simple past is usually called for; the present perfect adds a “this situation is currently relevant” feeling to it.
“I lost my keys” is a statement of an event that took place in the past; the act of losing is over and done with. “I’ve lost my keys” adds the element that it’s currently relevant, as in “… and the state of being lost is ongoing into the present and immediate future” (or, in other words, “I’m still looking for them”).
[quote=“Chris”]If an event happened in the past, and it’s over and done with, the simple past is usually called for; the present perfect adds a “this situation is currently relevant” feeling to it.
“I lost my keys” is a statement of an event that took place in the past; the act of losing is over and done with. “I’ve lost my keys” adds the element that it’s currently relevant, as in “… and the state of being lost is ongoing into the present and immediate future” (or, in other words, “I’m still looking for them”).[/quote]