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Thread: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

  1. #1
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    When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    Hello.
    "When I still ..................... school I learned how to make fish paste."

    I would like to express the idea that the action of going to school was uncompleted.
    How can I complete the gap?
    1. used to go to
    2. went to

    I don't really want to say that I don't go to school now.

    I'm afraid that #2 can mean a completed action.
    I don't think I need to use the past continuous here.

    I think I could use the word attend or be, but I would rather use the word go. Is it possible?
    Last edited by wolfbm1; 18th February 2013 at 1:28 AM.
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    Re: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    As soon as you put "still" in any of your constructions, it means you no longer attend school.

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    Re: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    Quote Originally Posted by Copyright View Post
    As soon as you put "still" in any of your constructions, it means you no longer attend school.
    Thank you, Copyright.
    So, in order to keep "still" in the sentence, I would have to say:
    "When I still attended school I learned how to make fish paste."

    We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers. Carl Sagan

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    Re: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    You mentioned that you "don't really want to say that I don't go to school now." When you have "still" in the sentence, it tells me you don't go to school now.

    Let me suggest "I learned how to make fish paste in school" and you can tell me what you don't like about it.

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    Re: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    Quote Originally Posted by Copyright View Post
    You mentioned that you "don't really want to say that I don't go to school now." When you have "still" in the sentence, it tells me you don't go to school now.

    Let me suggest "I learned how to make fish paste in school" and you can tell me what you don't like about it.
    Thank you for your suggestion. That's an interesting way of putting it.
    I need the uncompleted meaning of "going to school" or "attending school" to create a proper context for uncompleted "learning how to do something."
    Your answer in post #2 confirms that I cannot say: "When I still went to school I learned X."
    Your sentence
    "I learned how to make fish paste in school" has the completed effect. To create an uncompleted effect I would have to say:
    " In school I kept/continued learning how to make pasta." But that is a topic for a new thread.

    We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers. Carl Sagan

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    Re: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    Quote Originally Posted by wolfbm1 View Post
    Thank you for your suggestion. That's an interesting way of putting it.
    I need the uncompleted meaning of "going to school" or "attending school" to create a proper context for uncompleted "learning how to do something."
    That's why I gave you "I learned to make fish paste in school." It's ambiguous. It could mean "I learned back when I was in school" or "I learned in school today." We don't know the school status of the speaker with that sentence.

    Your sentence
    "I learned how to make fish paste in school" has the completed effect.

    As I just mentioned, that is not necessarily true.
    To create an uncompleted effect I would have to say: " In school I kept/continued learning how to make pasta." But that is a topic for a new thread.

    No, that's not true at all ... and is a very odd sentence.

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    Re: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    Quote Originally Posted by Copyright View Post
    <<Your sentence "I learned how to make fish paste in school" has the completed effect.>>

    As I just mentioned, that is not necessarily true.
    I have to admit that I chose the completed meaning quite arbitrarily.

    Quote Originally Posted by Copyright View Post
    <<To create an uncompleted effect I would have to say: " In school I kept/continued learning how to make pasta." But that is a topic for a new thread.>>
    No, that's not true at all ... and is a very odd sentence.
    So, I don't really need to say "I kept learning ..." or "I tried learning ... ."

    I moved the adverb of place to the beginning so that I can make a longer list of skills my class learned, e.g.

    "(I remember that) in school we learned the multiplication table, in practical and technical class we learned how to cook, in PE we learned how to climb a rope."

    The sentence above, by default, can have a completed meaning but that is not necessarily true.
    We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers. Carl Sagan

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    Re: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    Quote Originally Posted by wolfbm1 View Post
    Your sentence "I learned how to make fish paste in school" has the completed effect.
    This does mean that the learning was completed. It does not say that the school attendance has been completed.

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    Re: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    Quote Originally Posted by wandle View Post
    This does mean that the learning was completed. It does not say that the school attendance has been completed.
    Thank you. So I misunderstood Copyright. I need to ruminate it a bit ...

    " Wolf: (I remember that) in school we learned the multiplication table, in practical and technical class we learned how to cook, in PE we learned how to climb a rope."
    The sentence above, by default, can have a completed meaning but that is not necessarily true.
    Is the above conclusion wrong, then?
    We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers. Carl Sagan

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    Re: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    You have defined all the things that were learned and stated that the learning was completed ('we learned').

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    Re: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    Quote Originally Posted by wandle View Post
    You have defined all the things that were learned and stated that the learning was completed ('we learned').
    O.K. To achieve the uncompleted sense, I need to use the trick with the word try:
    (I remember that) in school we tried to learn the multiplication table, in practical and technical class we tried to learn how to cook, and in PE we tried to learn how to climb a rope."
    We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers. Carl Sagan

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    Re: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    Quote Originally Posted by wolfbm1 View Post
    O.K. To achieve the uncompleted sense, I need to use the trick with the word try:
    (I remember that) in school we tried to learn the multiplication table, in practical and technical class we tried to learn how to cook, and in PE we tried to learn how to climb a rope."
    This all sounds like school is over for you ... not for the day or the year but forever.

    I'm not sure why there is a need to try to include the information that you're still in school. Knowing that might help. And knowing the grade you're in now and when you learned whatever it was you learned might also be useful.

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    Re: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    Quote Originally Posted by wolfbm1 View Post
    O.K. To achieve the uncompleted sense, I need to use the trick with the word try:
    (I remember that) in school we tried to learn the multiplication table, in practical and technical class we tried to learn how to cook, and in PE we tried to learn how to climb a rope."
    The 'trick' with the word 'try' does not convey that your attendance at school was uncompleted. That is because you are applying it to the verb 'learn'. Nothing you do with that verb will say whether your school attendance is complete or not.

    The simple phrase 'in school' means 'while we were at school'. It already conveys the fact that at the relevant time your school attendance was not completed. For that purpose, nothing more is needed than the two words 'in school'.

    (By the way, 'while we were at school' is equivalent to a past continuous because 'were' is a verb of state, not action. That is why we do not say 'while we were being at school'.)
    Last edited by wandle; 18th February 2013 at 12:19 PM.

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    Re: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    Let me quote some relevant posts from another thread entitled I was reading / I read a book during the flight, which might be relevant to the discussion.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maharg View Post
    Yes, that's right, I would say the default is generally 'not completed' for the simple past.
    [...]
    Quote Originally Posted by wandle View Post
    [...]
    Also bear in mind that while the sentence 'I read a book during the flight' does present my action of reading as completed, it does not say that I read the whole book.
    [...]
    How would you express the same with the verb 'learn' please?
    For example in the sentence:
    I remember when I was still at school we learnt(???) the multiplication table, in practical and technical class we learnt(???) how to cook, and in PE we learnt(???) how to climb a rope.
    I want to focus more on the action as a whole, but don't want to present the action of learning as 'completed' (as it is the case in the sentence 'I read a book during the flight'). The thing whether we did learn all these things (completely) is of little consequence.
    Please correct my errors! Thanks.
    Corrigez-moi, s'il vous plaît! Merci.
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    Re: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    I thought we recently discussed the difference between "learn" and "study", but I can't find it.
    It is easy to picture someone reading a book and not finishing it in a single flight. It is hard to imagine someone studying the multiplication tables for 12 years and not learning it. In what way do you mean that the learning is not complete? Your teacher died when you got to 8x7 so you never learned 8x8?

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    Re: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    Yes, I had read that thread. But still, I think 'study' wouldn't be the best choice for the sentence I'm asking about, or indeed?
    I'm more interested in how to express that the action of learning simply took place, just as in the sentence with the verb 'read'. In the Polish imperfective we emphasise that 'learning X' took place. The issue of whether I actually learnt X is of little consequence, although it is usually implied that you learnt something, but we don't know how much (that is simply not important).
    Please correct my errors! Thanks.
    Corrigez-moi, s'il vous plaît! Merci.
    Пoжaлуйcтa, иcпpaвьтe мoи oшибки! Бoльшoe cпaсибo.

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    Re: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas1 View Post
    The issue of whether I actually learnt X is of little consequence, although it is usually implied that you learnt something, but we don't know how much (that is simply not important).
    Please be assured that the following answer relates only to the question of whether the action described was completed or not: it does not deal at all with the question whether anything was fully learned. In fact, let us take the verb 'to run'.

    With the English past tense you have the choice between the simple form ('he ran') and the continuous ('he was running'). The simple presents the action as a completed event, the continuous presents it as an uncompleted event. Thus:

    'He ran a 10,000 metre race. While he was running, he lost five pounds in body weight.'

    Here, 'ran' simply says the action happened (a single, completed event).
    'Was running' says that the loss of weight took place within the time frame of that action.
    Last edited by wandle; 21st February 2013 at 1:16 PM.

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    Re: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    Quote Originally Posted by wandle View Post
    Please be assured that the following answer relates only to the question of whether the action described was completed or not: it does not deal at all with the question whether anything was fully learned. In fact, let us take the verb 'to run'.

    'He ran a 10,000 metre race. While he was running, he lost five pounds in body weight.'

    Here, 'ran' simply says the action happened (a single, completed event).
    'Was running' says that the loss of weight took place within the time frame of that action.
    I've got a question regarding: 'He ran a 10,000 metre race.'

    Do we know if the person ran the whole distance from start to finish? (From 0 to 10,000 metres? Maybe he just participated in the race and failed to reach the finish line for some reason.)

    If the answer is 'No', then how would you express the idea that the runner fully ran the 10,000 metres?
    We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers. Carl Sagan

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    Re: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    Quote Originally Posted by wolfbm1 View Post
    Do we know if the person ran the whole distance from start to finish? (From 0 to 10,000 metres?)
    Yes.
    Here, 'ran' simply says the action happened (a single, completed event).

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    Re: When I still used to go/went to school I learned X

    I think you might be getting yourself confused! The vast majority of times, if you're saying that someone "ran a 10K race," then you're presumably describing him running the whole race.

    If you aren't, then you can say "He tried to run a 10K race but collapsed after 500 meters" or "He only ran half of the 10K race" or "He entered a 10K race but didn't finish."

    If you're talking to someone who you think would doubt that he finished the race, then you could say "He successfully ran a 10K race" or "He ran the whole 10K race."

    In real life, almost all of these ambiguities are reduced by context. So even if he didn't finish the race, if you're talking to someone who knows he didn't complete the race, you could say "He sure ran that 10K race, didn't he!"

    So if it's really important that the listener know whether you're still in school or not, you'll say so, or it'll come out in the conversation in some other way. The tense of the verb itself doesn't do that much work. The relationship of the various verbs to the speech situation tells a lot to the listener.

    So if you're still in school and still learning to make fish paste, just say "We're learning how to make fish paste in school." Bam!

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