Tagged: culture

Humans are usually redundant

😦 In conclusion, long working hours are necessary for human beings.

flag-of-indonesia I’m guessing this may be a cultural issue.

Let’s try a quick test. Which of the following sentences is NOT about working hours and humans?

  1. Long working hours are necessary for human beings.
  2. Long working hours are necessary.
  3. Long working hours are necessary for ants.

Hopefully you chose number 3. In any discussion of working hours, and indeed of many other topics, we’re usually talking about human beings, unless otherwise specified.

The only time we really need to mention humans is when we’re contrasting them with non-humans!



Himself, herself, theirselves(?!)

😦 Before departing for Australia, students must prepare theirselves in order to avoid culture shock.

..selves. More than one ‘self’. OK, no complaints about that.

..theirselves. Now you’re being inconsistent with your object pronouns.
You guys have no problem producing the following:

  • He loves her.
  • She loves him.
  • Their parents love them.

And you would never write:

  • Their parents love their.
  • Look at their!
  • They say they love each other and I believe their.

So why the sudden switch to possessive ‘their’?! Please use the object pronoun (him, her, them) + ‘self/selves’:

🙂 Before departing for Australia, students must prepare themselves in order to avoid culture shock.

And you might think about some collocation (prepare + s.o./s.th. + for + s.th.):

🙂 🙂 Before departing for Australia, students must prepare themselves for culture shock.

Finally, we can assume that the students must prepare themselves and not other people, so strictly speaking themselves is redundant:

🙂 🙂 🙂 Before departing for Australia, students must prepare for culture shock.

There is a kind of exception to the above rule. Does anybody know what it is? Comments below please!


even / bahkan

😦 Motorcyclists in Bali don’t seem to care about their own safety or other people’s. They weave in and out of traffic without leaving room to manoevre. They cut in front of cars and then brake hard. They ride on the pavement and on the wrong side of the road. Even they don’t wear helmets.

As in the example above, bahkan is often translated as even. However, whereas in Indonesian bahkan is positioned at the beginning of the sentence, in English even (meaning bahkan) is positioned in front of the verb:

🙂 They don’t even wear helmets.

If you put even (meaning bahkan) at the beginning of the sentence, the IELTS examiner will understand you but you will get a low score for grammar. Many people might also be confused, because even is used in English at the beginning of a sentence together with though:

Even though it is illegal not to wear a helmet, Balinese motorcyclists take their helmets off  whenever they can.

In this example, even is a part of even though, and no longer carries the meaning of bahkan.