Professional English

I write this article to thank John, from Sinosplice, to send me emails to correct typos and grammar errors in my previous entry.

As I listed in my About Page, I am not a native English speaker. I have never lived in an English speaking country, so there must be a lot of errors in my English writing. John, and other good people sent me private emails to correct it. I want you to know I appreciate your advices and help.

Chinese Grammar

From my personal experience, the professionalism of English writing is ignored in the English learning system. Only after I began to work with people in U.S. did I realize some basic rules in punctuation marks. For example,

Wrong: I am Jian Shuo.I live in Shanghai.

Right: I am Jian Shuo. I live in Shanghai.

The space after the period sign is important. I didn’t know that in my 8 years of continous English lessions from primary school to middle school. The space is the key about whether a paragraph looks professional. For example, below is quoted from a letter I received.

year,i am anxious because many mates around me are find good one.during the perid of finding job,i found i donno which field am i in and what job i can afford, suddenly ,i felt i was a no major person,it’s so bad thing…

The capitalization, and the punctuation are easily ignored since these rules are rarely taught.

I think I am doing a little bit better than the average, but there is still big room to improve. It seems to me that how professional one writes is more important than how large the vocabulary he has.

22 thoughts on “Professional English

  1. Yup. When my cousins (from Shanghai) write to me in e-mail they sometimes drive me insane with bad grammar and punctuation and spelling (not that it’s their fault). It’s like scratching an itch — when I see something like “…end of one sentence.beginning of another sentence…”, mentally I just want to put a space between the sentences and capitalize the start of the next sentence!!

  2. Proper spacing is a real big problem with Chinese English learners. It is so easy to fix, and makes such a huge difference in how others view your English level. I wish there was something so simple that I could do to make my Chinese alot better. :) Oh well, guess there’s no easy fix for that, just study more vocab and grammar. Glad you abandoned the one post policy, enjoying reading your multiple daily posts.

  3. I’ve been visiting this site since Arpil last year. I definitely think your English has improved considerably. It’s a treat reading your weblogs. Keep going my dear friend.

  4. Jian Shuo, thanks for the information you mentioned above. You said “how professional one writes is more important than how large the vocabulary he has.” I definitely can relate to you. We are not natives but we can learn things and all the writing rules gradually. You are doing a great job of introducing Shanghai. You know what, just a few days ago when I had to translate a brief introduction of Shanghai into English, the first site I could think about was your site. :) So really thanks.

  5. i’m beneficial to know something about punctuation, besides, i am wondering how could Jian shuo write in such a beautiful english just as his native language, since you said you never attend any private course or lived in a foreign country, could you tell me how could you learn english so well? thanks.:))

  6. A good writing habit is a sign of your education. But most Chinese have no idea about English writing style and conventions. For example, if I found people use double spaces after periods in emails, I will think the sender is a well-educated and has many good habits; on the other hand, if I found tons of Chinglish grammar in emails, I will doubt the sender’s professionalism and even intellegence.

  7. Hi, Li

    The style I usually use for writing is double spaces. Used font typeface is Arial or Times New Roman. Its Font size is 12. Do you think I am a well-educated person? Well, we need to more concentration on English writing and public speech.

    Lu Heli

  8. One more thing should be added? How do say “wo xi huan zhe li”? Most of Chinese people may say “I like here.” which is incorrect. Please say “I like it here.”

    Lu Heli

  9. One more lighthearted thing should be added. How does one say “zen yang shuo…” in English? Most Chinese folks may say “How do say…” which is incorrect, or “How to say…” which is semicorrect. Please say “How do you say….”

  10. Thanks to bigbro. This was my input error. I mistyped the word. :(

    The phase “How to say” can also be accepted completely.

  11. I correct one more mistake in English I have made. Using “Most of the Chinese people..” instead of “Most of Chinese people…”.

    People are always learning. I respect anyone who says this sentence.

    Lu Heli

  12. Heli, please note that mine was only a “light hearted” remark.

    However, it is only academically responsible to clarify some more minor grammar or acceptance issues here.

    People use “people” too often. People please drop your “peoples.” In the context of Heli’s first comment, saying “most Chinese” (equivalent to “most Americans” or “most Britsh”) would have been sufficient and best. “Most of Chinese people” is semiincorrect. “Most of the Chinese people” is not good grammar and does not fit in this context.

    “How to say” might be understood, but it should not be accepted, and it is not at all good English. On a reexamination of this phrase, I should not have said it was semicorrect. It is not even semiincorrect. In formal English, it is completely unacceptable to start a question with this phrase.

    Looking back at Li Jingyi’s comment, I would like to say that it is unnecessary to link less than perfect grammar (note I did not say style) to a lower degree of professionalism and darned scary (perhaps arrogant) to link it to intelligence. Jingyi, since you incorrectly wrote “If I found….I will….” twice and had a word misspelt, should I doubt your intelligence or even intellect? No, I don’t—I don’t even doubt your professionalism.

    Language is only a TOOL to communicate ideas. A speaker’s intelligence lies more in the ideas (the substance of the communication) than in his/her language.

    Today’s society tends still to treat e-mail as informal writing, in which case minor spelling errors, capitalization oversights, and sloppy grammar are tolerated and may even be fashionable, in some twisted way. However, if one were to perfect one’s English language skills, one should not be satisfied merely at a tolerable level and must not overlook the importance of writing correct and even good English. This also applies to any language, including Chinese.

    I have talked too much, people. Oops, let me drop that people. I’ve talked too much, and I should stop.

  13. Thanks, bigbro. Yes, I have made minor mistakes on Grammar. The major reason is that I’m not a native speaker. Sometimes I still think in Chinese while speaking in English.

  14. I totally agree with bigbro, language is only a tool to communicate. We should have fun of being able to communicate rather than making such a big deal of bad wording or grammar.

    Li Jingqi & Lu Heli, how well you can speak or write English has nothing to do with professionalism or intelligence. I can not speak perfect English either, but I never have any doubt in my professionalism. As a matter of fact, I won respect from my American collegues and was selected the “Employee of the Year” in 1997 and 1999 for sucessful redeployment projects. So relax people, stay open minded for ideas instead of so stuffy rules.

  15. Well, Kwong, I was talking about writing professionalism instead of profesionalism in general. To write words with typos and use . and , incorrectly is not professional writing, is it? But as you and bigbro said, it has nothing to do with the characters of people or their professionalism at work or life.

  16. Jiangshou, I left Shanghai 10 years ago and never be able to go back to China ever since then. I do notice there are a lot changes and developments going on, somehow, the impression I get from my friends and relatives who still live there is English is becoming the crucial factor for securing a decent job, signature of good education or even social status, why is that? is English really that important in China now? When we Chinese moved to north America, we had no other choice in languages other than English if you want jobs, while most foreigners are more generally accepted even though they dont speak a word in Chinese

  17. Dear Kwong

    You ask why english is so important for chinese educated now.

    At the time the chinese came to US, they had no sense of western language or writing, so it must have nearly totally impossible to get an understanding of anything.

    The europeans have (almost) same letters and (almost) same grammar, so changing into english was simply a matter of adjustment.

    Maybe you will find that chinese knowing english has much easier to learn additional “western” languages.

    Trade with other countries is a key factor for China now, and that’s why it is SO necessary for the chinese to learn english, if they should be able to understand and deal with foreign companies, products and other stuff.

    That’s why – quite simple !

  18. Great Post!

    I have been reading your blog most links- I wonder how you’ll keep up this amazing flow of brilliant content. That is awesome!

  19. Actually, I believe two spaces before a new sentence (i.e., after a period) is more technically correct.

  20. Should grammar be strictly followed while speaking english language? Can English be spoken ignoring grammar or semi ignoring grammar

  21. If you use MS word you would see those mistakes, but I think it is acceptable, because when dont think about grammar when we speak english.

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