https://www.duolingo.com/Mister_De

Omitting the subject

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Hello everybody! I´m a Spaniard and I´m having a lot of trouble solving this issue... when can you omit the subject in an English sentence? I am putting some examples to illustrate my problem; which of these sentences are right and why?

I went to the bathroom and I brushed my teeth vs I went to the bathroom and brushed my teeth

We can watch a movie or we can play football vs We can watch a movie or play football

I´m going to London tomorrow and I would like to see you vs I´m going to London tomorrow and would like to see you

I want to go to London but I don´t have any money vs I want to go to London but don´t have any money

She´s got a new job so she will have to work harder vs She´s got a new job so will have to work harder

I´m strong but not fast vs I´m strong but I´m not fast

Thanks in advance to everybody because I personally think it´s not an easy question to answer ^^U

8/29/2014, 9:29:36 AM

11 comentarios


https://www.duolingo.com/writchie4
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This is a great question, Mister_De. The concept you're referring to here is called Compound Verbs (or Compound Predicates) in English.

Any time you have two clauses where the same subject is doing two different actions, you can combine these two clauses into one sentence with a coordinating conjunction (and, but, so, etc) and drop the second subject.

  • Dave goes to the beach. Dave gets a sunburn.
  • Dave goes to the beach AND Dave gets a sunburn.
  • Dave goes to the beach and gets a sunburn.

As far as I know, it is always grammatically ok to drop the second reference to the subject, but it can sound a little strange if you have different tenses in your two clauses. Your example with the girl needing to work harder is one of these instances. To me, "She's got a new job so she will have to work harder" sounds better, but it's definitely understandable either way and both options are grammatically correct.

Here's a link with a great description of the concept: http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/sentences/15-sentences-using-compound-subjects-and-compound-verbs.html

Hope that helps.

8/29/2014, 4:44:11 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Mister_De
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Thank you very much, you´ve been of big help!

8/30/2014, 2:47:56 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Lrtward
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I would personally repeat the subject in the sentences with "but" and "so".

Wow. That must be really confusing. I never even noticed that sometimes we repeat the subject but sometimes we don't. We always repeat it with "but" and "so", I'm pretty sure. I can't think of an example where I wouldn't.

8/29/2014, 12:08:24 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Mister_De
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Could you tell me which sentences do you think are right and which ones are wrong between the ones I've written before?

8/29/2014, 1:09:17 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Lrtward
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The more I look at this, I think the "rule" is you should always repeat the subject unless the two phrases constitute one behavior or describe one single thing.

I went to the bathroom and I brushed my teeth vs I went to the bathroom and brushed my teeth
If you went into the bathroom (the room) and brushed your teeth, then just say "I went to the bathroom and brushed my teeth" because it is all one action, one intent, one location.
If you went to the bathroom (urinated or defacated) and brushed your teeth, then say "I went to the bathroom and I brushed my teeth" because it is two separate actions.

We can watch a movie or we can play football vs We can watch a movie or play football
I would say "We can watch a movie or we can play football" This sentence contrasts the two choices.

I´m going to London tomorrow and I would like to see you vs I´m going to London tomorrow and would like to see you
"I'm going to London tomorrow and I would like to see you" because it is two different activities, or one activity and one desire. However you could say "I want to go to London and see you tomorrow" because it is all one desire.

I want to go to London but I don´t have any money vs I want to go to London but don´t have any money
"I want to go to London but I don't have any money" because there is a change. One is a desire and one is a statement of fact.

She´s got a new job so she will have to work harder vs She´s got a new job so will have to work harder
"She's got a new job so she will have to work harder" because they are two independent thoughts. One is a statement of fact and one is an opinion. Plus, they are in different tenses.

I´m strong but not fast vs I´m strong but I´m not fast
"I'm strong but I'm not fast" because there is a contrast.

I don't know of any rule, though. I can't remember ever learning a rule. It's one of those things that just "sounds right". You will always be understood, even if you get it "wrong". And some of them could be right in one country or region but wrong in another one.

I'm interested in seeing what others have to say about this. This is a really great question.

8/29/2014, 1:43:07 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Mister_De
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Wow, thank you very much! It seems you´ve really been thinking about it, thanks! Are you a native speaker?

Let´s see if more people give us their opinion!

8/29/2014, 2:28:20 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Lrtward
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You're welcome.

Yes, I'm from the USA and I am usually pretty good with English, but I did grow up in the south so sometimes I have sayings or pronunciations that are not standard.

I do hope you get more responses. This is interesting.

8/29/2014, 2:43:51 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Mister_De
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Oh, just one more question... why have you said "I did grow up" instead of "I grew up"? I´m a Spaniard so this things sound weird to me ^^U Is it to emphasize maybe or is it because you are from the south?

8/29/2014, 3:14:25 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Lrtward
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To emphasize.

I DID, after all, grow up in the South. <- is that a little more clear?

It is a little like this:
Crecí en el sur.
Yo sí crecí en el sur.

8/29/2014, 4:06:32 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/jluciav
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Is there any rule for this? I've never thought about it before, really good question!

8/29/2014, 1:11:17 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/AussieFruitNinja
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I think the distinctions that Lrtward said are good, worthy of consideration i.e. if its one action (drop the pronoun) or two distinct actions (keep the pronoun).

That said, on the whole, if I was speaking casually I would drop the second pronoun, because there isn't really ambiguity to get hung up on (it's more subtle difference including it or not), and if I was speaking more "properly", formally I would (or at least would be more inclined to).

We can watch a movie .... - include the pronoun for emphasis, delineating the choices, that it is a particular concrete choice.

I'm going to London ... - include the pronoun for a more personal invitation.

I want to go to London - include the pronoun to emphasize you are poor

She's got a new job - include the pronoun to emphasize that it will be an act of the will on her part.

I´m strong but not fast vs I´m strong but I´m not fast ... - include pronoun to emphasize the difference between the two (and not be confused about one following from the other).

In summary the sense is: If you are so particular to include a pronoun that doesn't matter and isn't necessary, then you must be particular about the other parts that are included.

On this last point I had seen the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and the way they rate language ability or the skills for certification of language ability, and ... for level C1 (Effective operational proficiency or advanced) it says "Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer clauses, and recognize implicit meaning" of which it looks to me this question fits under.

If I remember what I saw correctly, Duolingo by itself can deliver to about A2(Waystage or elementary) -B1 (Threshold or intermediate) upon finishing the two trees.

With this in mind (and I say this for myself when it becomes relevant for me in learning Spanish), the short answer to the question if you are a person who is starting with Duolingo (without whatever lots of other practice or proficiency) is:

  1. You don't need the personal pronoun
  2. Time is better spent elsewhere (unless "you've just got to know"), then when you've got competent with a range of language skills, you'll start to notice the answer or it will at least be an answer that will approach being the best thing I can work on now to most improve your language skills.
3/20/2017, 3:17:10 AM

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