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I found a bug in English language. (I need help)

Let's imagine these dialogues.

Matt: Don't waste time, we have to work. (No pierdan tiempo, tenemos que trabajar).

Matt: Don't waste time, we have to work. (No perdamos tiempo, tenemos que trabajar).

How is possible to know if the person is "you" or "we" in English language? If the context doesn't help.

3 years ago

11 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Delta1212
Delta1212
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If I wanted to emphasize that it's "we" I'd probably say "We shouldn't waste time" or "Let's not waste time" instead.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lydusha
Lydusha
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Usually the sentence "Don't waste time" is assumed to be a direct, singular command. In conversational English the speaker will often modify the command to be inclusive "Let's not waste time" or "We can't waste time" or use non verbal cues (eye contact, gestures) to indicate if the command is inclusive or exclusive.

I hope this helps! Was this a Duolingo dialogue or just a hypothetical one?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thenoblesunfish
thenoblesunfish
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It's not entirely clear what the context of your question is. Is this about a specific sentence in the English-to-Spanish or Spanish-to-English course?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/valeriefaiz
valeriefaiz
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I'm not an expert, but I guess you can't really say 'Don't waste time' to 'us' (1 plural) in English. Here imperative Don't can be directed only at the 'second party' (you, singular and plural), meaning there only two forms of imperative, unlike Spanish, where we have five forms of imperative. So, in English we just change the sentence by adding 'Let us' or a modal verb: Let's not waste time./We shouldn't waste time.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chaered
chaered
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As in the doctor asking the patient "And how are we feeling today?", the "we" just makes it more polite by avoiding the directness of "you". Politeness depends on context.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/efisgpr
efisgpr
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I second this. I was gonna comment this if no one else had done so already. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/remoonline
remoonline
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The context does. Isn't it? In one case, only one person is present who is wasting time for the whole group. In the other case, a bunch of folks are wasting time and someone in the group speaks up.

Edit: I think I mis-read the query. English is as ambiguous as any other language if taken out of context.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jcragun

You've got some pretty good answers here, but they don't satisfy this English Major, so I thought I might give a little more detail. In English, 'Don't waste time', the verb is being used in the Imperative tense, or as a command. 'No pierdes tiempo' or 'No pierdan tiempo' would be good translations. With a command in English, the subject is always assumed to be 'you', but never actually used.

This is one of the rare instances where you don't have to have a pronoun in English. Otherwise, every sentence must always have a noun or pronoun as a subject. Your second Spanish sentence would be better translated as "Let's not waste time" in English. 'Let's' is a conjunction of 'let us'.

Part of the issue here is that there isn't an exact version of the Imperative in Spanish, and that the Subjunctive is used much less frequently. I hope this helps a bit.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/efisgpr
efisgpr
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Hey nice info.

(contraction* of "let us")

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Air2021

I am fluent in the English language (I was born in the United States of America, my mom was born in the United Kingdom, and my dad was born in the United States of America.) The dialogues you had questions about above doesn't refer to a specific person or group of people (I, You, He, She, We, You (plural) or Them). It is saying that in GENERAL don't waste time, we have to work. I know the English language is hard to learn but keep practicing and ask questions. In the long term it will pay off because the English language is the 3rd most spoken language in the world with 101 countries speaking it and at least 335 million people speaking it. (Chinese is 1st and Spanish 2nd)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/efisgpr
efisgpr
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If you count those who use it as a non-native language, I believe English is far ahead of Spanish. Plus, of course, it's the #1 language for scientific conferences, use in airports, etc. all over the world.

I've even seen it ahead of Spanish on many lists of number of native speakers.

Also, there is no way the total # of native speakers is only 335 million. Just off the top of my head, that is only about the population of the U.S. There is also the UK, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, etc.

3 years ago