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Sunday, October 30, 2011

I want to be a person?

Here's a common mistake from a student in class last week:

  • "I want to be a person who can succeed in the world."
It's a translation of "~のような人になりたい," or something to that effect. The sentence is grammatical, but the style is poor.
    1. First, it's unnecessarily complex. You don't need a relative clause (関係代名詞) to express this idea. "I want to be a success in the world," is better.
    2. Second, it's imprecise. What does "succeed in the world," really mean? This is better: "I want to be a success in global banking."
    3. Third, there are too many nouns in this sentence. I've explained elsewhere that you should prefer the verb to the noun in English. So this is best: "I want to succeed in global banking."
This is not an isolated example. All three problems are common among Japanese speakers of English. You should guard against them in your writing and speaking.

Please use English well!