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-   -   Which sentences sound more natural? (http://www.eslhq.com/forums/esl-forums/english-questions/sentences-sound-more-natural-70207/)

alexlearner Sep 3rd, 2016 03:06 pm

Which sentences sound more natural?
 
I would like to write down some sentences below.

(1a) I will give him a call later at home.
(1b) I will give him a call at home later.

(2a) Mary watched sadly her favorite team lose.
(2b) Mary watched her favorite team lose sadly at the end.
(2c) Mary watched her favorite team lose at the end sadly.

(3a) There is a book and five pencils on the table.
(3b) There are a book and five pencils on the table.
(3c) There are five pencils and a book on the table.

(4a) There is a red book and a brown pencil on the table.
(4b) There are a red book and a brown pencil on the table.

Which sentences are grammatically correct? Thank you very much for your help.

susan53 Sep 7th, 2016 05:35 am

Re: Which sentences sound more natural?
 
I don't have time to deal with all these today, but here's an answer to the sentences in group 1

1a and 1b are both fine. Both word orders are possible. Neither the adverbial of place nor that of time is dependent on anything else in the sentence, and so they can be given in either order. Here's another example :
  • I saw John at the supermarket this morning
  • I saw John this morning at the supermarket

The only comment I'd make is that the sentences are slightly ambiguous. Do you mean you'll give him a call when you are at home, or when he is at home? It could be interpreted in either way.

susan53 Sep 8th, 2016 09:36 am

Re: Which sentences sound more natural?
 
The second group of sentences all sound strange and ambiguous. First of all I don't understand "at the end" - do you mean they were winning all the way through but then suddenly lost at the end? Or that Mary was sad at the end? Depending on the meaning I'd change it to :


Mary watched sadly as her favourite team lost.
Mary watched sadly as the other team scored in the last minute, and her favourite team lost.

black_lily Sep 9th, 2016 08:05 am

Re: Which sentences sound more natural?
 
to me, 1a sounds more natural...as to second group of sentences, none of them sound to me correct...I like susan53's examples...in the third group, the correct answer is a...regarding the fourth group, I'm not quite sure but I'd go with b

susan53 Sep 9th, 2016 09:39 am

Re: Which sentences sound more natural?
 
Sorry Lily but I don't agree. in the third group all of them are "correct" but (3a) and (3c) are much more likely to be heard than (3b)

Generally, when using There + Be, the verb agrees with the first item to be mentioned, regardless of what comes later. So, even though 3b is grammatically logical, it would be unlikely to be used. We'd more likely say one of the following :

There's a book on the table.
There's a book and five pencils on the table.
There are five pencils and a book on the table.

(NB notice the contraction which makes the first two sentences sound more natural)

In exactly the same way, this makes 4a much more likely than 4b, which sounds very unnatural.

In really natural speech though, it would be unlikely to be expressed like this - information tends to be "chunked" to make it easier for the speaker to think of what they want to say and the listener to process it. So it would be more likely to be:

A : I need something to write with.
B : There's a pen on the table - oh and some pencils too if you prefer.

A : I need something to write with.
B : There's a pencil on the table - oh and a pen too if you prefer.


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