drinking water scarcity issue

Gabriel Malheiros

Senior Member
Portuguese - Brazil
Hello, everyone

I was writing a text, and I would like to know if I can use "Raise people's awareness of the drinking water scarcity issue" as I did in the following excerpt:

"It is necessary to raise people's awareness of the drinking water scarcity issue. Aiming for a solution, our project came up with a new and more affordable approach, so that a compromise can be reached."

Is it gramatically wrong?


Thank you
 
  • Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    You can, but why would you want to? What's wrong with "... the drinking water shortage" or "... the scarcity/shortage of drinking water"? Poor "issue" is an abused and overused word.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    When I was in Mexico 30 years ago we landed at a small airport and all the faucets had signs that said, "Not potable". For that reason I've stuck with "potable" for "safe to drink". I don't know if it commonly used however.

    "It is necessary to raise awareness of the scarcity of potable water..."
     

    Gabriel Malheiros

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    When I was in Mexico 30 years ago we landed at a small airport and all the faucets had signs that said, "Not potable". For that reason I've stuck with "potable" for "safe to drink". I don't know if it commonly used however.

    "It is necessary to raise awareness of the scarcity of potable water..."
    It's a word too similiar to the Spanish word <...> and the Portuguese word <...> maybe this is why they have a preference for potable over drinking water in Mexico.

    <-----Spanish and Portuguese words removed by moderator (Florentia52)----->

    But , getting back to the subject of this thread, is the way I put it wrong? I mean, drinking water/potable water scarcity issue instead of "scarcity of potable water? is it wrong as I put it? and why did you take "people's" put? is it wrong to say "raise people's awareness?

    Thank you so much, Packard!
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    even the part "raise people's awareness ?
    There are countless organizations (in the US in 2016) whose stated purpose is to "raise people's awareness" about some issue in the environment, race relations, politics, education, a disease, almost anything.

    Most protestors and protest groups say their main purpose is to "raise people's awareness" about some issue. A great many non-profit organizations say the same thing. The Sierra Club may lobby the government to pass certain laws (protecting an animal species) but their primary activity is creating publicity, to "raise the public's awareness" of various environmental issues.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I agree with Andy: the word issue is doing nothing useful. If you insist on adding a word, at least make it the more honest problem:
    ... raise awareness of the shortage/scarcity of drinking water.

    It goes without saying that it's people's awareness: no-one would be wanting to raise awareness among dogs, plants, refrigerators etc..
     

    Gabriel Malheiros

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    I agree with Andy: the word issue is doing nothing useful. If you insist on adding a word, at least make it the more honest problem:
    ... raise awareness of the shortage/scarcity of drinking water.

    It goes without saying that it's people's awareness: no-one would be wanting to raise awareness among dogs, plants, refrigerators etc..
    But isn't it wront to say people's awareness? And why did you say " scarcity of drinking water"? Why not "drinking water scarcity"?
     

    Langton's Aunt

    Senior Member
    British English
    Another one here who agrees with Andy, the word 'issue' is empty verbiage. I suppose it's better than 'situation' though.
    Edit: 'people's awareness' is not wrong; it's just that the word 'people's' is unnecessary. More verbiage.
    "Drinking water scarcity" - those nouns in apposition look more like a headline than part of a sentence.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    This is a stylistic issue rather than a grammatical one.

    "Raise people's awareness of the drinking water scarcity issue" - :(
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Why the sad face? Because I agree with everyone else: I don't like "the drinking water scarcity issue".

    Sorry if that was unclear.
     

    Gabriel Malheiros

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    Why the sad face? Because I agree with everyone else: I don't like "the drinking water scarcity issue".

    Sorry if that was unclear.

    I think there is no answer for this question, but I will give it a try: I have seen you native speakers prefer the noun-as-adjective or the 's in some sentences over the preposition "of" , but in other sentences it is the opposite. In grammar books, specially in grammar books made by non-English speakers, and at least in the ones I've read or I looked through, they say that "noun-as-adjectives" or "of" are mostly interchangeable. I mean, I know that it is different for you, that speaks English naturally and don't think about why this, why that, but do you know any pattern that rule these structures? I know there must not be a answer, but I've never asked a native speaker about that.

    Thank you.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Why the sad face? Because I agree with everyone else: I don't like "the drinking water scarcity issue".

    Sorry if that was unclear.
    How about, "The issue of drinking water scarcity."

    For me this inversion sounds fine; the original, not so much.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    the word 'issue' is empty verbiage.
    Gabriel, why argue with people who are telling you the right answer?
    • Avoid "issue".
    • Avoid "potable".
    • Avoid strings of nouns-as-adjectives.
    I am sorry, but I feel forced to disagree strongly with some extremely nice people. There are 3 things we can be doing in this thread (and this whole forum):

    (1) telling ESL people what is correct or incorrect English: basic, 8th grade English. Grammar, syntax, semantics ("Is my sentence correct or incorrect?") but not style.

    (2) telling ESL people what terms are COMMONLY used and understood nationwide (whether or not we personally use them or avoid them).

    (3) teaching ESL people to use English in the sophisticated way that we prefer, including style, and telling them to avoid trite terms that millions of "regular people" use every day but we don't use because we are superior to all those other people.

    I think some posters in this thread (and other threads) are doing (3), on a thread where (3) is not appropriate, or what is asked for, or what is needed. I am sure I have been guilty of this in other threads. But it is a dis-service to any ESL person who does not yet have the (1) and (2) information. Instead of learning all the facts and then choosing, they get misled into falsely believing our personal word preferences are the only correct American English usage.

    The term "issue" is used a thousand times a day in newspapers, magazines and websites, by professional writers. Rather than "empty verbiage", it is the most common, standard and well-known term in our language for exactly what OP wants to use it for. Therefore, his sample is correct. None of our opinions affect that. If OP is writing to the same audience as all those other writers, he has a need and a right to know the term "issue" will be well-received and easily understood, and has been for more than 30 years. Millions of people will understand him better if he uses "issue".

    The same is true for the rest of the sample text he gave us. It reads a tiny bit awkardly to me personally, but is almost identical to hundreds of samples from AE writers on similar topics. Is it written the way I would write it? WHO CARES? His only question was "Is it gramatically wrong?". My post #3 answered that: "It is gramatically correct, and standard usage/idiom." But he keeps getting other opinions, so he keeps re-asking.

    When he is a teaching fellow at Oxford (having changed his first name to Don, as I believe they require), then go ahead and advise him how to write like an elite. Meanwhile, he is missing information that is already known by every US 8th grader. It's so well-known that it is hard to look up anywhere. That's why we're here: to explain "8th grade English for middle class people" to people smarter than us (smarter than me, at least) who are just missing some facts. Please tell him the (1) and (2) information.

    I don't mean to criticize. There are plenty of threads that are asking for (3), from writers who already have level (1) and (2) information on a topic. It is easy to get confused about what is an appropriate response. I'm new but have already "later realized I didn't answer the actual question" more than once. Everyone is here just to help.
     
    Last edited:

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    it is the most common, standard and well-known term in our language for exactly what OP wants to use it for.
    It may be the normal term in the newspapers and magazines that you read, but it's not the normal term in the ones I read, so I disagree with you on that. It isn't an issue, it's a problem, and that is the most common, standard and well-known term in our language (our being at least for speakers of BE) for exactly what the OP wishes to say. I also agree with a previous post which pointed out that the use of "issue" is, in any case, redundant.

    "It is necessary to raise people's awareness of the drinking water scarcity issue."

    Is it grammatically correct? Yes.
    Can Gabriel Malheiros use it? Yes.

    I have seen you native speakers prefer the noun-as-adjective or the 's in some sentences over the preposition "of" , but in other sentences it is the opposite. In grammar books, specially in grammar books made by non-English speakers, and at least in the ones I've read or I looked through, they say that "noun-as-adjectives" or "of" are mostly interchangeable.
    The use of noun-as-adjective is flexible. We tend to avoid using a string of nouns, which is why "drinking water scarcity issue" seems "off" to most of us. If I wanted to write your phrase, I would not use "issue" - that's a matter of personal style and my objection to a misuse of vocabulary. I could write "the drinking water scarcity problem". That, for me, uses too many nouns as adjectives, and to make it easier to understand I would put the important word first "the problem of drinking water scarcity".

    The point you are making to your readers is that there is a problem. You want to "raise people's awareness of the problem", then you can clarify the problem. What is the problem? Scarcity? Of what? Water. What sort of water? Water to drink. "Drinking water" is a standard pairing, so we could say "the problem of scarcity of drinking water", but because "drinking water" is so normal, we easily accept it as a modifier, giving us "drinking water scarcity". It's adding the additional noun "problem" (or "issue") that makes the sentence flow badly, and it also delays understanding. I think English-speakers like to understand sentences as we go along, rather than having to store information while waiting for the important point - the important point here being "problem" (or "issue").

    If that doesn't help, ask again.

    ESL people
    Please could we avoid such terminology? How do you know that GM is not exploring English as a third, fourth or fifth language? How about "English learners" or "People learning English"?
     
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