Word Choice

To combine two individual words (e.g., a noun and a verb or an adjective and a noun) into an acceptable word combination, you should be aware of the English word combination constraints of words. This means that a particular adjective can modify only a particular group of nouns, or a particular noun can combine with a restricted set of verbs, or a particular adverb can combine with only a particular group of verbs. For example, in English, the noun "knowledge" can combine with such verbs as "have/gain/acquire/show," while it cannot combine with the verb "learn" as it does in Chinese. This can be explained in the following way. In Chinese, the abstract concept of knowledge is associated with the everyday experience that people have with academic subjects like math, chemistry, or biology that they learn. However, English speakers talk about knowledge as if it were a car or a house that they have, gain, or show.

Study similar examples of differences in the combinatorial constraints between Chinese and English.

Advancements and Achievements

Chinese

ADVANCEMENT/ACHIEVEMENTS ARE DESIRABLE OBJECTS

get/take the advancement/achievements

English

ADVANCEMENT/ACHIEVEMENTS ARE CREATED OBJECTS

make an advancement/achievements

Discrimination

Chinese

DISCRIMINATION IS A DESIRABLE OBJECT

get discrimination

English

DISCRIMINATION IS AN UNPLEASANT ENTITY

experience/face/end/outlaw discrimination

Health and Emotion

Chinese

HEALTH/EMOTION/ONE'S CHARACTER IS AN OBJECT RETAINED IN ONE'S POSSESSION

keep a good mood/health/happy/one's original character

English

HEALTH/EMOTION/ONE'S CHARACTER IS A CONTAINER

be in a mood/good/bad health

Abilities

Chinese

ABILITIES/ONE'S CHARACTER  IS OBJECT(S) REQUIRING MAINTENANCE

polish capabilities/one's character

English

ABILITIES/ONE'S CHARACTER IS A CONTAINER

behaving in character; his rudeness was completely out of character

Financial and Social Pressure

Chinese

FINANCIAL/SOCIAL PRESSURE/INFLUENCE/CONVENIENCE IS A TRANSFERABLE OBJECT

give/bring/obtain pressure/habits/effects/ influence/convenience

English

FINANCIAL/SOCIAL PRESSURE IS  THE FORCE OF A HEAVY OBJECT LOCATED ON SOMEBODY

put, place, exert pressure

INFLUENCE IS A FORCE

exert influence on; have a direct/profound/strong influence on somebody/something

CONVENIENCE IS AN OBJECT MADE AVAILABLE TO OTHERS

provide convenience

Examples

Study these examples.

  1. The tuition in the US is more expensive than in China, which will give my parents some financial pressure. (incorrect)
  2. The tuition in the US is more expensive than in China, which will put some financial pressure on my parents. (correct)

American speakers talk about "some financial pressure" the same way as they talk about an object (e.g., a 65-kilogram bag) that is so heavy that an individual can only carry it on the back/shoulders rather than a small and light object, e.g., a book or flowers that can be handed to an individual.

  1. The negative side effects that the GMO technology brings to us still cannot be ignored. (incorrect)
  2. The negative side effects that the GMO technology produces still cannot be ignored. (correct)

American speakers talk about effects the same way as they talk about objects that can be pressed into different shapes, e.g., metal can be shaped into a fork or a spoon rather than objects that can be transferred from one place to another (e.g., a book or a laptop).

Practice

Correct the following.

  1. Opponents argue that the development in technology brings people many bad habits and causes some dangerous consequences.
  2. However, when cell phone gives people some convenience, it also brings bad influence to people especially for students.
  3. As an international student, I came to the USA to learn knowledge here.
  4. All of these innovations improve the quality of life and take the advancement of our civilization.
  5. People who do not have a good appearance will get discrimination in the society.