Prepositions: With

The random use that Brazilian students make of the preposition with is undoubtedly one of my pet peeves in English as a Second Language. Although mistakes involving in-on-at are common and oftentimes subtle in the flow of speech, there’s no reason for such hit or miss when it comes to self-explaining prepositions like against, across, from, to, with and without.

Nevertheless, Brazilians often go for some kind of literal translation and simply transfer  collocations from Portuguese to English, by no means supposing these may sound weird or, even worse, make no sense for native or other foreign speakers of English.  See 3 examples of what I’ve heard :

1) It’s more difficult when you are with low speed

2)  The pilot was with low fuel

3) The worst situation is after take off, when you are with low altitude

See now how INFRAERO made the same mistake when reporting the incident that caused Viracopos airport to go inop for about 2 days:

4) “The airport is with the main runway blocked since Saturday, when the cargo plane had the accident”.

http://en.mercopress.com/2012/10/15/damaged-cargo-aircraft-exposes-vulnerability-of-brazil-s-airports-system

The thing is that in Portuguese we currently use to be + with in a wide array of situations (estar com sono, estar com problemas, estar com pouco dinheiro, estar com menos trabalho, estar com os livros dela…). In English, we do use with in many different contexts (you can find more examples here); however, to be + with should only be used to express support or to say that somebody/something is in company of somebody else: “I’m with you”, “I’ll be with you”, “I just wanna be with you”, “May the Force be with you”😉

Therefore, the examples above require other prepositions and collocations in order to sound natural:

1) to be at low speed

2) to be low on fuel

3) at low altitude

4) The airport had its runway blocked / The main runway at Viracopos had been blocked.

(I don’t know why they said the main runway had been blocked, given there’s only one runway at Viracopos, so they should have said their lone runway had been blocked, right? But this is just me being too nitpick)

To close this post, if you’re interested in the repercussion of Viracopos’ incident worldwide, here’s a short and sweet article by an Australian paper.

O uso indiscriminado que estudantes brasileiros fazem com a preposição with é sem dúvida uma das coisas que mais me doem os ouvidos, porque geram um sentido totalmente inadequado ao propósito. Apesar de erros com as preposições in-on-at serem frequentes – e geralmente sutis – em meio ao fluxo discursivo, não há motivo para chutes tão descarados com preposições autoexplicativas como  against, across, from, to, with e without.

Contudo, os estudantes brasileiros de nível intermediário geralmente fazem uso de uma espécie de tradução literal e simplesmente transferem locuções comuns em Português para o Inglês, sem por um momento pensar que estas “ligações diretas” soam esquisitas ou, pior, não fazem nenhum sentido para um falante nativo ou para outro falante estrangeiro. Vejam 3 exemplos que eu detectei:

1) It’s more difficult when you are with low speed

2)  The pilot was with low fuel

3) The worst situation is after take off, when you are with low altitude

Veja também como a INFRAERO cometeu o mesmo erro ao se pronunciar sobre o incidente que parou Viracopos por quase 2 dias:

4) “The airport is with the main runway blocked since Saturday, when the cargo plane had the accident”.

http://en.mercopress.com/2012/10/15/damaged-cargo-aircraft-exposes-vulnerability-of-brazil-s-airports-system

O problema é que em Português estamos usando estar + com em inúmeras situações  (estar com sono, estar com problemas, estar com pouco dinheiro, estar com menos trabalho, estar com os livros dela…); e, embora em Inglês with seja usado em vários contextos (veja mais contextos aqui), essa associação to be + with (“estar com”)  só é usada para expressar apoio a alguém ou para dizer que algo/alguém se encontra em compnahia de outro alguém: “I’m with you”, “I’ll be with you”, “I just wanna be with you”, “May the Force be with you”😉

Portanto, os exemplos mencionados acima requerem outras preposições e complementos:

1) to be at low speed

2) to be low on fuel

3) at low altitude

4) The airport had its runway blocked / The main runway at Viracopos had been blocked.

(Não sei por que disseram que a pista “principal” havia sido fechada, sendo que Viracopos só tem uma pista, certo? Mas aí já estou sendo meticulosa demais)

Para terminar, quero indicar um artigo rápido e direto ao ponto para quem estiver interessado na repercussão internacional do incidente em Viracopos. Foi escrito por um jornal australiano, é só clicar aqui.

About Isabella Ferraro

English examiner, teacher and frustrated ballerina. Geek, gauche, obsessed with books, podcasts and the web. Dedicated professional and blogger, tho. More info below blog's header.
This entry was posted in Aviation English, Discussion, Error correction, Focus on, ICAO test, Prepositions, Second Language and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Prepositions: With

  1. Thanks for this — really interesting! You can always learn a lot about one language through the mistakes its speakers make while speaking another.

    Muito obrigada!
    Monica

  2. Muito bom, Isabella! As preposições são mesmo um “inferno” para serem usadas corretamente! Ótimas dicas!

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