1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Troubleshooting
  4. >
  5. Illustrative example of poor …


Illustrative example of poor English

OK, in the French for English speakers tree I just came across this (on the iPad so can't discuss it in situ)

"Cette lettre est relative a mon pere" (this is from memory, might not be quite right - my last heart, so got bumped out) and it gave this:

"This letter is related to my father"

The problem being that this implies the letter is part of my father's family (which obviously makes no sense).

The correct translation should be "This letter relates to my father" (ie concerns/ is about) and "concerns" and "is about" really should be accepted as valid translation.

A small example, but this happens quite often and it can get a bit tiresome losing hearts to them.

I think a quick and easy way to report such errors is essential for us heavy iPad users.

Keep up the good work.

March 14, 2014



To report via the app go into your settings and click 'send feedback'. We'll see it there!

  • 1742

The best translation is now "This letter relates to my father", but we still accept "This letter is related to my father" as it is commonly said.

Thanks for your feedback!


As with Luscinda below, I can think of no English dialect where a native speaker would use that form. All would use "relates" (although, in truth, most would use "about"). In fact, use of such a form would tell me the speaker (or writer) is non-native.


As already stated above "I would have little problem with "related to" in the context of an object, entity or contract. " Also, the HuffPo example is very specifically inferring a causal link - "How" as the beginning clues us into that, but even with out it there is no suggestion of a family relationship. No reasonable person would suggest that heart rate is a brother, sister, father or daughter (etc) of fitness. "Heart rate is related to my father" makes no sense, despite being syntactically identical. (Although I wouldn't cite HuffPo about anything much, especially on anything medical)


No reasonable person would suggest that a letter is geneologically related to someone's father, therefore, no reasonable person would interpret the sentence in that way.


Or maybe a legal/business register - perhaps in relation to an estate or family history, I don't think it's non native, just a little formal, perhaps even a little old fashioned. I might say that a letter relates to something, especially if I were putting together a paper trail at work or sorting out some family history. It might suggest that you are not talking about the primary subject matter of the letter.


Yes. I would have little problem with "related to" in the context of an object, entity or contract. It is its use in the context of a person (and a father at that!) that the problem arises. A native speaker simply wouldn't use it like that. Being very formal one might say "It is in relation to" but that is stiff, and legalese.


"is related to" does not strictly imply genealogical relation. The problem is related to semantic drift.


We know - but in common usage it is at best archaic.


I believe you are incorrect. Dictionary.com shows the following for the verb "relate":


verb (used without object), re·lat·ed, re·lat·ing.

3 to have reference (often followed by to ).

4 to have some relation (often followed by to ).


You are not alone in your request for error reporting for iPad users, though. I see that a lot. It's a small group of people working on a very large application, though, and there's only so much they can do at a time.


"Relating" would be OK ("What is it relating to?"), and without a named party "related to" might be OK ("What is it related to?" (or "To what is it related?" for preposition pedants)) - but you will note that both of those are in the interrogative form.

In a simple statement "X is related to Y" implies either filial or causal relation, while "x relates to y" suggest it is about (has reference to) the subject, which in the context of a letter is much, much more likely.


'Is related to' can be legitimate English about something other than family members, but it is not correct in that context, nor is it commonly used in any kind of English with which I am familiar. It's just wrong. You could say 'the failure of the government to address this issue is related to low public awareness of the threat to services,' or 'the fall in revenue is related to the rise in the price of crude oil.' That would be a usage covered by your definition 3. It's a causal relationship, as I Cundell says. The father does not 'cause' the letter, though he may be the subject of the letter.

Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.