message or ideas


Senior Member
Chinese - China
Journalist: We all know that you’re working for an organization that protects the environment. Can you tell us what you are doing there?

Jane: Well, my main job is to help spread the message about protecting the environment. For example, the three R’s -- reduce, reuse and recycle -- are important.

(Project English 9A, page 43, Wang Dechun, an English textbook for junior middle school students in China)

I think message should be ideas or notions. And I also think are important is not necessary.

What do you say?

Thanks a lot in advance.
  • Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    What do you think is wrong with "message," brian&me? It sounds fine, while "spread the ideas" or "spread the notions" would sound odd and would change the meaning slightly.

    In the second sentence, if you were to remove "are important," the sentence would have no verb, and some of the meaning would be lost. But please start a new thread if you would like to discuss "are important."


    Senior Member
    Inglés británico
    I'd agree with Florentia52. The ideas and notions are what the message contains, but the actual message itself is important, as the message denotes not only what the ideas are, but how they are conveyed.


    Senior Member
    English - USA
    The phrase "spread the message" is a set English expression which means: "spread the idea of." It works, and you can use notion and idea, but you need to drop "the". This is how the sentences would look like:

    "Well, my main job is to help spread notions about protecting the environment."
    "Well, my main job is to help spread ideas about protecting the environment."

    Either of those two would work, but they each contain slightly different meanings and implications.

    Also, you need "are important" in the 2nd sentence, or it is not a complete sentence without that. In perfect English grammar, you cannot just say "For example, the three R’s -- reduce, reuse and recycle." You need to complete the sentence, with words like "are important."


    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Activists have developed a terminology. Their main job is to make the public (as many people as possible) aware of their specific issue, and also to convince the public to agree with the activist about that issue.

    To do this they create a "message" defining their idea in a way that will be convincing to the public. Then they "spread" this message among the public, by putting it on signs and posters and websites and other places. If there are 4,000 activists in one organization, promoting one view (e.g. don't wear fur) most of them will use the same words and phrases, which the organization leaders have decided are the best words for "selling" their view.

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