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Question study/learn & at/in college

hirashin

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Dear native English speakers,
would you help me again?

Which sentence sounds right?
(a) I studied physics at college.
(b) I learned physics at college.
(c) I studied physics in college.
(d) I learned physics in college.

Thanks in advance.

Hirashin
 

mdchachi

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(c) and (d) sound right to me. (I'm not sure if (a) and (b) are correct or not but they don't sound natural to me.)
 

Michael2

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For me, I would take out B and D. It would be highly unlikely you had completely mastered the entire subject so I think "study" is always better when talking about an entire subject.
In England we always use "at" for places unless you're talking the actual physical place as in "inside", so A would almost be perfect for me, except we'd say "University" too.
 

Lothor

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For me, I would take out B and D. It would be highly unlikely you had completely mastered the entire subject so I think "study" is always better when talking about an entire subject.
In England we always use "at" for places unless you're talking the actual physical place as in "inside", so A would almost be perfect for me, except we'd say "University" too.
Agree with Michael about b and d. I'd be interested to hear what US English speakers think of c - I check a lot of biographies of scientists when I'm proofreading. I don't like 'in' in this context but I leave it.
 

hirashin

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Thank you all for your help. I suppose that there are some differences between US and UK usage.
 

Michael2

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I'm pretty sure "in" is used in AE in this context, but I would argue against using "learnt" till the cows came home. Its logically impossible to "learn" an entire subject.
 

hirashin

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Michael2, I have a question about the usage of "learn".

Is it possible to say "I'm learning physics at college" or "I'm going to learn physics at college"?
In what case can you use "learn"?
 

Lothor

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Michael2, I have a question about the usage of "learn".

Is it possible to say "I'm learning physics at college" or "I'm going to learn physics at college"?
In what case can you use "learn"?
'Learn' is most commonly used with acquiring a new skill ('learning to drive') or with rote-learning (elementary school children learn their times tables so that they can immediately say that 8 times 7 is 56). It gives the idea that if you practice something enough (driving) or memorise it (times tables) then you can master it.
It is not used in critical in-depth analysis, such as solving a problem in physics or writing an essay on why America decided to leave the WHO. A criticism of Japanese education is that it involves too much learning and not enough analysis.
 

Michael2

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In general I agree with Lothor. (Although I would argue you can learn how to be critical just as much as you can learn facts. It's just that Japanese education relies more on factual learning.)
"Learn" just means to get certain knowledge or skills, so if you say you have "learnt" Physics you have learnt all there is possibly to know about Physics, which is obviously impossible, as it would be for most academic subjects, with the exception of languages. Obviously you do say "I can speak (English)" so you must have acquired that knowledge to some reasonable extent. With other subjects you can be specific and say e.g "I learnt how to do long division today" but not "I learnt Maths", or "I learnt why Germany invaded Poland" but not "I learnt History".
"Study" is used for the formal learning process, so you could say "I studied History at night school" but not "I studied Chinese history when I was on holiday in Shanghai". You could say "I learnt some interesting things about China when I was on holiday"
I hope that's a bit clearer!
 

hirashin

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Thank you very much for your further explanation, Lothor and Michael2. I think I have learnt how to use "learn". (Does this "learnt" sound OK?)
 

mdchachi

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I'd be interested to hear what US English speakers think of c
(c) was the most natural to me.

Thank you all for your help. I suppose that there are some differences between US and UK usage.
What are you supposed to each your students? US or UK?
In this case maybe better to teach at even though in sounds better in U.S. at can be applied more universally and used as a general rule.

I'm pretty sure "in" is used in AE in this context, but I would argue against using "learnt" till the cows came home. Its logically impossible to "learn" an entire subject.
First of all if you are teaching American English, don't use learnt at all. Use learned. Secondly I disagree that by saying "learned" it means that you are saying that you learned the entire subject. It's a matter of context. If I say I learned calculus in college, it doesn't mean I learned everything there is to know about calculus. It means I learned whatever was covered in my calculus classes. Same thing for any other subject such as physics or whatever.

so if you say you have "learnt" Physics you have learnt all there is possibly to know about Physics, which is obviously impossible, as it would be for most academic subjects, with the exception of languages.
Is the meaning really that strong in the UK? If you told somebody you learnt physics at university, they would look at you aghast? But...but... such a feat is bloody impossible! (Notice I threw in the word "bloody" to convert my sentence to UK English. :cool: )

I think I have learnt how to use "learn". (Does this "learnt" sound OK?)
Not ok if you want to speak American English. :)
 

Michael2

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Bloody good use of bloody, Md(y)

I think calculus is the same as languages or a particular piece of knowledge though. You can learn the skill or knowledge to a certain extent and degree of success. It's not an overall subject. I might say I learnt who the kings of England have been but not I've learnt History, that I'd learnt about the digestive system, not that I'd learnt Biology.
In England you pretty much just use "studied" or "did" for subjects you did at school. Would you ever say you learnt Geography/Biology/Politics in the US? I don't remember my American friends ever using that collocation.
 

mdchachi

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Bloody good use of bloody, Md(y)

I think calculus is the same as languages or a particular piece of knowledge though. You can learn the skill or knowledge to a certain extent and degree of success. It's not an overall subject. I might say I learnt who the kings of England have been but not I've learnt History, that I'd learnt about the digestive system, not that I'd learnt Biology.
In England you pretty much just use "studied" or "did" for subjects you did at school. Would you ever say you learnt Geography/Biology/Politics in the US? I don't remember my American friends ever using that collocation.
I would say the nuance is pretty much the same between studied and learned/learnt as in the UK. It's just that if somebody said "I learned biology at college" I wouldn't think twice about it. Obviously they didn't learn everything there was to learn about it. They presumably learned whatever subset that was taught.
I'd say "took," not "did." I took medieval history instead of renaissance art history.
 

Buntaro

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I always say, "My students are studying English but they are not learning it!"
 

hirashin

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Thanks for your comment, mdchachi. I had been waiting to hear American English speakers' opinions.

In Japan, most textbooks for junior high school students are written in American style English. But in textbooks for high school students, you can see various English, British, Australian, Canadian, and so on... Most Japanese who need to use English should be able to understand at least American and British English.

I think there are many kinds of differences between AE and BE about not only words but also grammar. I guess there is a difference in meaning (or nuance) of "learn" between AE and BE. That's confusing but interesting to me. (^_^)/
 

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