I’m Right, You’re Wrong: ESL

by Marinka on February 29, 2012

As some of you may know, from peering into my Slavic soul, I was born in Russia, and English is my second language.

Yes, I am an ESL person.

Don’t get me wrong, I get by.

But there are times that I appreciate keenly that English isn’t my native language.  I’ve been told that I use “also” unnaturally.  As in I use it in conversation, and according to this one person that I met in college, Americans don’t.  He may have been making it up.  And also insane.  People were weird in the 1990’s.

I remember when Mama got one of her first jobs in New York City, waaay uptown, she picked up some local vernacular from her co-workers and referred to everyone as “scumbags.”  It was a very memorable car ride when, while I sat in the back, Papa told her that “scumbags” wasn’t just slang for “ladies and gentlemen”.

So with that memory in mind (and intact) I present this week’s I’m Right, You’re Wrong.

Disagreers: Marinka and Husbandrinka


X:  So then, he told me that this wouldn’t work, and that’s why everything had to be rescheduled-

Y: Oh, right, I remember you were going on about that.

Disagreement: Is “you were going on about that” rude?


Position One:  Yes, it implies that the person was blathering on endlessly and you wanted to kill them and sell their skin and cook their bones to shut them up.

Position Two: No, it just references a previous conversation and shows that the person you were speaking to was paying attention.

Cast your votes!



(also! If you have a second, hop on over here and vote for Kristine Cook. She’s a friend, and a fellow Mouthy Housewife and she’s funny.  And with the exception of Newt, I think it’s always good to vote for funny! Oh, and then go to her blog and tell her that you voted and you can win an iPad2.  Which you can then give to me. But only if you want, that’s not a rule or anything.  Yet.)

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Mo February 29, 2012 at 9:33 am

That’s not even a real question. I side with X and Position One, unequivocally…

Position Two is a joke. Y wasn’t paying much attention and was mind-numbingly bored and bone-shatteringly keen for X to shut his cakehole.

Of course, in the unfortunate event that Y disagrees with this evalution:

Disclaimer: I don’t know what I’m talking about.


MFA Mama
February 29, 2012 at 9:38 am

Position one. OBVIOUSLY.


meekasmommy February 29, 2012 at 9:49 am



Catherine Dabels
February 29, 2012 at 9:52 am

It’s rude. Especially when it comes from a man.

And also, I use also all the time when speaking and English is my first language.

Also, I’m assuming that Y is the man. Could be wrong but I doubt it.


Jen Anderson
February 29, 2012 at 9:52 am

Position One. Also? People use “also” in conversation. That reminds me of when my homecoming queen/head cheerleader college roommate got back her first English composition paper. She’d used so much slang that the professor assumed she was a non-native speaker. She was from New Jersey. I did loads of snickering behind her back over that one.


February 29, 2012 at 9:55 am

Soooo…..wha? It is a little rude, maybe? You see, Mr. Man and I talk that way a lot. We have a really sarcastic relationship though. So maybe for normal people it is rude.


Carinn @ welcometothemotherhood
February 29, 2012 at 9:59 am

Scoop of chocolate, scoop of vanilla. Don’t waste my time. (if you don’t speak City Slickers, this means the answer is CLEARLY position one).


February 29, 2012 at 10:01 am

One. Though not always to quite that extreme.

But yes, if someone is “going on” about something, to me that means they’re rambling and I’m bored.

If they’re “going on AND ON”, then violence may ensue.


anna see February 29, 2012 at 10:34 am

position one!


Megan February 29, 2012 at 10:38 am

One. Without a doubt.


Awesome Dude February 29, 2012 at 10:54 am

The car was Pontiac LeMans 1968.


the mama bird diaries
February 29, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Yes, so rude. I’m going to stop saying that to my husband.


Zee February 29, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Position One wins.

“Going on about” is dismissive.

Not that I don’t say it, because sometimes I am dismissive but, whatever.


joeinvegas February 29, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Going on about it just means you did listen. It’s a fine phrase.


magpie February 29, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Definitely, #1.


dadsprimalscream February 29, 2012 at 2:32 pm

As a Former ESL Teacher, I say # 1 without a doubt. It’s dismissive and rude.

But I disagree with Catherine that the speaker’s gender is obvious or that the phrase is somehow worse coming from either gender.

Blabbering is gender neutral as is the desire to squelch it.

“you were going on about that” is no less rude coming from a woman.


February 29, 2012 at 2:37 pm

I’m sorry to say that, yes, it implies that the speaking is being incessant and the listener has gotten to the point where s/he hears ‘blah blah blah’ instead of words.

I’m also glad Awesome Dude cleared that up about the car make and model.


Alyssa @NearNormalcy
February 29, 2012 at 2:40 pm

position 1. dismissive, rude. “you were going on about that” means “you wouldn’t shut up about that, even after the point was made and I was over it, and I remember it vividly not because it mattered but because you would not. shut. up.”


Shara February 29, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Position 1. Of course it would be worse if you said ” you were going on AND ON about that”.


DawnA February 29, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Rude and very dismissive. Neither are good.


Roshni February 29, 2012 at 3:32 pm

I’m confused….of course, if you say that to anyone else, “going on about that” would be rude, but I thought it was a normal husband-wife exchange! 😛


sdl February 29, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Definitely rude! Sort of passive-aggressively rude, in that it has just the tiniest bit of deniability so one can pretend they aren’t being rude and the other person is just being oversensitive.


Suzy Q February 29, 2012 at 6:56 pm

I voted for Kristine! Will you ALSO be sending me an iPad2?


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes March 1, 2012 at 8:09 am

Since English is my second-in-shared-place-with-French-language I’m not qualified to answer this question.


March 1, 2012 at 9:08 am

People say there aren’t gender-specific rules in English, but they are wrong.
When a woman talks, she’s “going on about that.”
When a man talks, he’s “enlightening us about that.”
(see: Clinton v. Obama 2008)


March 1, 2012 at 10:32 am

Position one is in the correct in this disagreement.

Also, English is my second language as well and I have a fondness for the word also, but I feel like I use it correctly. (At least no one has told me otherwise.) I also really like parentheses.


dusty earth mother March 1, 2012 at 10:59 am

“going on about that” is cook-your-bones rude.


Kelly March 1, 2012 at 1:46 pm

For me, the rudeness is relative to who says it and the general sense of boredom coming from the listener. I can imagine saying that to my mother and vice versa with no intention of rudeness. But yes, from my boyfriend it would sound like “Yeah, I remember you saying that and then I tuned out your babble.”


Mary March 1, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Position one. Made me remember a lot of times people have said that to me and I let them get away with it. Yuck.


Jk March 3, 2012 at 7:49 am

Definitely implies you heard some noise related to that before you tuned out. Sorry. What were you saying?


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