Grammar Guru: Referring to general knowledge

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How do you refer to general knowledge?

“_____________ flights all over Europe are cancelled because of the volcano.”

  • They say
  • Something tells me
  • One says

Related news:

  • Lufthansa is reportedly going to try to sue the German government for damages.
  • John Cleese is alleged to have spent thousands to get from Oslo to Brussels… by taxi!


5 Responses

  1. I voted for one of your options.

    In politics one often hears, “Every body knows . . .” That’s when I get suspicious.

  2. Hi Mark, thanks for writing!
    Too true. It’s so easy to get sloppy and overlook who is saying what.

    BTW, I finally got Gisela Daum’s “Die besten englischen Filserbriefe”. Great fun:
    “It gives days, there are you total groggy, when you evening’s from the work homecome. Fix and foxy. The colleagues went you the whole day on the cakes.” 🙂

    But back to this question, in case any readers were wondering:
    I’d go for “they say” here. It’s a standard way of referring to general authorities, with all the fuzziness that means.
    One says” would be too formal: it would refer to “certain exclusive circles”, perhaps. I try to avoid “one” in English, it’s far less usual than “man” in German, which everyone seems to say here instead of “ich” or “du” or “wir” or “die Verantwortlichen”. So you never know who is behind it all!
    Something tells me” would be absurd. It’s all over the news, for crying out loud! (For crying out loud! For Pete’s sake! = Herrgottnochmal!)

  3. At the end, 11 people recorded votes for this poll. 7 went for “They say”, and at least one native speaker went for “One says”.
    I’m going to stick to my guns: I think “They say” is best here!

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