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Naturalness of English

Posted by R. Berg on April 22, 2001

In Reply to: Naturalness of English posted by T. Yone on April 21, 2001

: Dear teachers,

: Thank you very much for your help last time.

: I asked three English natives whether the following English sentences sound natural or not. (I used 'sound' instead of 'sounded' here. Am I right? Or maybe both is right?) Sometimes they disagree with each other and I have no idea whose opinion I should follow. Could you help me to decide to make up my mind?

: 1. Sentences a) and b) are correct. Do you accept a sentence c)?
: a) It was in this year that the war broke out.
: b) It was this year that the war broke out.
: c) It was (in) this year when the war broke out.

: 2. I think a sentence a) is good while b) is not. One native accepts a sentence b). Do you agree with her?
: a) Planes took off one after another.
: b) Planes took off one after the other.

: 3. I think a sentence a) is good. How about a sentence b)?
: a) Pick out one of the following topics.
: b) Pick out one from the following topics.

: 4. One native explained to me that I can use both 'move to' and 'move out to' when 'he' moves to another state like California. But I can only use 'move to' when 'he' moves to the place except state such as 'move to Los Angeles. The other told me I can use both 'move to' and 'move out to' Los Angeles. Which opinion should I follow?
: a) He's decided to move to Los Angeles for good.
: b) He's decided to move out to California for good.

: Thank you for your help. I'm very grateful.

My answers:
1: "c" is incorrect.
2: "a" is correct if there are at least three planes. "Planes took off one after another" suggests more than three takeoffs, but there have to be at least three. If there are exactly two planes, "b" is almost correct, and adding "the" makes it completely correct: "The planes took off one after the other." This is the reason: If there are two planes, you can say there is the first plane and then there is THE OTHER plane. If there are three or more, you can't say that, because after the first plane there is AN other plane, which is not the ONLY other plane.
3. "a" and "b" are both correct. It is also all right to leave out "out" in either sentence.
4. Whether somebody's move is a move out depends on where he starts. Moving to Los Angeles from Hawaii is not moving out to Los Angeles. Moving to Los Angeles from Hollywood is not moving out. Moving to Los Angeles from New York is moving out. Moving to Utah from New York is also moving out. But we don't say "He moved in to New York from California (or Los Angeles)." If we say "He moved back to New York from California," that is correct only if he had lived in New York before. People move down to Florida from New York, because Florida is south of New York on a map. They move down to Los Angeles from San Francisco. They can also move out into the country from any city or town. The appropriate words for moves like these depend on the way people think about various regions--for instance, the western United States is "outward" because it used to be a frontier, and we still talk about "out West" and "back East"--and cannot be deduced with logic and grammar alone. It is always correct to say he moved from one place to another even if "moved out" would also be correct for the direction of that move.