commonplace / trite/ banal

Hese

Senior Member
German
hello there,

could you please tell me whether there is a big difference between "commonplace", "trite", "banal".

I believe, commonplace means something is familiar to the public at large, nothing special, nothing that would stand out from the rest.

"Computers have become commonplace - everybody uses them"

Then, I would say that "trite" has a negative connotation:

"there are a lot of trite programmes on TV"

As far as "banal" is concerned, I'm a bit lost. I've never heard it in spoken English, so I suppose, it's something more formal.

Could you please tell me if I'm right or wrong!

Thank you very very much in advance!
 
  • Hese

    Senior Member
    German
    So you can say: She has a rather commonplace hairstyle (nothing special)
    and a very banal hairstyle? (meaning it's boring)?
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    Most people won't use "banal" in everyday conversation, though I do; as you wrote, it is more formal.

    I'd refer to it as a "common" rather than "commonplace" haircut. That has a slightly negative tinge. A more neutral word would be "popular," meaning that many people chose to wear/cut their hair in that style.
     

    Franzi

    Senior Member
    (San Francisco) English
    'Trite' is specifically used for speech (famous quotes, figures of speech, etc.) or plot devices that are overused and cliched. An object like a computer can't be "trite". I wouldn't usually use 'trite' for events either.

    'Banal' means that something is boring because it is commonplace.

    'Commonplace' is pretty neutral. (Though, of course, it can be negative in context.)
     

    piraña utria

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Colombian with Caribbean nuanc
    Hello again:

    I hope I'm on the same line of this thread.

    I have been envolved with my Canadian teacher in a polite discussion about the expression "commonplace".

    His point is the expression "commonplace" have to be use when someone refers to a place frequently visited, exclusively.

    On the other hand, I'm very sure that adding this obvious grammatically correct usage, "commonplace" is also (and my only source is a Dictionary) used to name or qualify some sort of sentences whose contents are evidently true.

    For instance: "It's better to be rich than poor".

    Could this be an accurate example of a "commonplace" expression? or is an accurate example of a "commonthing"?

    Regards,
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Re: POST #10:

    Yes, we would call that sort of saying "commonplace" in the sense discussed in this thread. As a noun, "commonplace" often refers to sayings or proverbs such as this. It may also refer to commonly expressed ideas, whether or not the speaker agrees with them:
    "It's a commonplace that today's students don't work as hard as those of generations past. However, I would like to point out that ...."
    As stated above, we also use "commonplace" as an adjective more generally, to describe things that are ordinary, found everywhere.

    I do not think we ever use "commonplace" to refer to a certain kind of geographical place. Perhaps your teacher has confused it with commons, which is land that is shared by a community, for instance, a shared pasture. Here, "common" refers to shared ownership, not to the frequency with which people go there.

    Has your teacher found an example of the usage he has in mind in the writing of a native speaker of English?
     

    piraña utria

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Colombian with Caribbean nuanc
    Re: POST #10:

    Yes, we would call that sort of saying "commonplace" in the sense discussed in this thread. As a noun, "commonplace" often refers to sayings or proverbs such as this. It may also refer to commonly expressed ideas, whether or not the speaker agrees with them:
    "It's a commonplace that today's students don't work as hard as those of generations past. However, I would like to point out that ...."
    As stated above, we also use "commonplace" as an adjective more generally, to describe things that are ordinary, found everywhere.

    I do not think we ever use "commonplace" to refer to a certain kind of geographical place. Perhaps your teacher has confused it with commons, which is land that is shared by a community, for instance, a shared pasture. Here, "common" refers to shared ownership, not to the frequency with which people go there.

    Has your teacher found an example of the usage he has in mind in the writing of a native speaker of English?
    Hi Cagey and everybody:

    Thanks for your answer. His example is very simple: "Cartagena's Airport is a commonplace and what people does in it is a commonthing" (I'm writing exactly his dictation).

    Regards,
     

    Elwintee

    Senior Member
    England English
    Note that "common occurrence" is likely at least as popular as "commonplace" occurrence, in my opinion.
    I agree. I am concerned that all the replies seem to be from AE speakers. In BE there are two different meanings to 'common'. One is as in the above-quoted post, in which it is more or less synonymous with 'commonplace'. The other is class-based, and pejorative. It sounds awful, and old-fashioned these days, but not so many years ago people would say things like: "He is awfully common - he eats peas off his knife!". This meant that he was lower-class and a bit boorish.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Hi Cagey and everybody:

    Thanks for your answer. His example is very simple: "Cartagena's Airport is a commonplace and what people does in it is a commonthing" (I'm writing exactly his dictation).

    Regards,
    Is your "Canadian" teacher born and raised in Canada? If so, find a new teacher! If not, find a new teacher! This sentence is so excruciatingly bad that it's embarrassing.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Hi Cagey and everybody:

    Thanks for your answer. His example is very simple: "Cartagena's Airport is a commonplace and what people does in it is a commonthing" (I'm writing exactly his dictation).

    Regards,
    More discussion re: POST #10

    Sticking as closely as possible to his sentence, I might say:

    Cartagena's Airport is a
    common destination, and [what people does in it is a commonthing] people do commonplace things in it.

    (However, the last part isn't really a sensible description of what people do in airports.)
     
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