1. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    "advance" or "advancement"?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ohmyrichard, Mar 20, 2013.

    Hi, everyone.
    Yesterday afternoon, after class a student of mine asked me to help her improve her short essay writing. I discussed with her my thoughts about what ideas, words and sentence structures could be added to or deleted from her writing or corrected. But there is still one problem remaining unsolved. When I noticed that at the beginning of her essay she used the expression "with the advance of the society", I pointed out that before "society" no article needs to be used and I also told her that my instinct told me that "advance" should be changed to "advancement". Anyway, at that time I was not sure whether it would be right to change "advance" to "advancement". When I got home yesterday evening, I looked up the two words in my physical dictionaries and online ones but those dictionaries did not seem to help me get clear about the difference between the two words-or rather, they seemed to hint that these two words can be used interchangeably. Then I browsed the web and read some articles in which either "with the advance of society" or "with the advancement of society" is used, and some Q & A's concerning the uses of the two words. However, my problem remained unsolved since some guys claim that these two words can be used interchangeably while others suggest that they should be discriminated but unfortunately they did not explain clearly how to discriminate. Worse still, it is very difficult for me a non-native speaker of English to determine whether the author of a certain article or the answer provider is a native speaker of English whose linguistic intuition I can always rely on if they do not tell that they are a native or a nonnative.

    Please help me with the problems: Which one do you native speakers of English use, "with the advance of society" or "with the advancement of society"? How to distinguish the two words? And which of the two should be used in the expression of "with the___ of technology"?

    Thanks a lot.
    Richard
     
  2. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    .
    Advance is both a verb and a noun, and in your context relates to the process of change e.g. Society advances, dragged forward by a technological revolution....

    Consequently, society has advanced. The end result is advancement, the process of change is advance.

    I advance my knowledge with a view to advancement of my career.

    Clear as mud. ;)
     
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  3. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Then "with the advance of society" rather than "with the advancement of society" is correct?
     
  4. Sanjuricus
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    Sanjuricus Active Member

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    Could you perhaps provide the whole sentence to give us a better idea of the full context?
     
  5. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    The whole sentence is: Along with the advance of society, more and more thorny problems are brought to our attention, two of which are whether we need to tell our children so much about sex and at what age they should first receive sex education.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    richard...

    'society' is very different from 'technology'... when technology 'advances' that means new technologies arise, or old ones evolve into something new... and that is not exactly the case with 'society'...

    i would have to know what the student meant by the word, before i could advise you...

    without that info, i would have to say neither word makes much sense... 'advance' and 'advancement' both imply forward progress, but some societies regrettably regress, so knowing the context here is vital to choosing the most apt word...

    so, what is she referring to as an 'advance' in re society?
     
  7. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    If she was meaning "as society progressed", then I would say that "advance" is the best word, rather than "advancement". I don't have the feeling here that she was referring to one complete and finished type of progress i.e. advancement. Also, you are right in thinking "society" usually does not take an article, but of course if she was referring to a specific society, the specific society of that region or country which has been referred to in sentences before this one, for example, then there can be an article.
    @ mammamaia: "with the advance of society" type phrases are very common stock phrases in academic English, in fact they turn up on lists of recommended phrases for use in essays.
     
  8. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would throw a monkey wrench into the works and note that, in some cases, such as referring to one specific culture or society as opposed to another, "the" society would be the correct form, such as an anthropological study of an ancient culture/society - "The matriarchal structure of the society was not unique." (That does not appear to be the case in this instance but, for future reference ...)
     
  9. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Hi, maia.
    I asked my English writing class to write a short essay on their understanding of sex education, which is actually a Western import. The student's first sentence is, Along with the advance of society, more and more thorny problems are brought to our attention, two of which are whether we need to tell our children so much about sex and at what age they should first receive sex education. To my knowledge, this student, who is cramming for a national English competence test for English majors, simply copies the formulaic sentence structure of "Along with the advance of society, ... is/are brougt to our attention" without thinking deeply about what she indeed intends to say in "Along with the advance of society". She gets this sentence structure, overused by Chinese students in their essays, from her English writing book she herself bought, not the one we use in class for our English writing course. As the short essay part of the national test has the length requirement of about 200 English words, which is not a piece of cake for them currently, many students tend to use a lot of such formulaic sentence structures to satisfy the length demand, which is a tendency I frown on but cannot say no to.
    Now let me concentrate on your question of what the student is referring to as "the advance of society". The student has not told me about it, but I infer that it means that China is undergoing a lot of changes ever since the adoption of the open and reform policy in the 1980s. These changes bringing about a lot of problems confronting us, perhaps a relatively conservative people by Western standards, include the controversy over whether we need to introduce sex education into our schools' curriculum, how to localize sex education and at what age our children should first receive sex education. In conclusion, what the student refers to as the advance of society are changes in our society, most of which we would like to view as progressive although they may prove to be the opposite years later.
    Hope I have explained everything concerned clearly.
     
  10. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thank you, madhoca.
    You are right, when we are talk about a specific society, we use the article "the" before "society". But as far as I remember, we say "Chinese society", "American society", etc. rather than "the Chinese society", "the American society" and so on unless we are talking about an association's name.
     
  11. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^^ I was meaning sentences like:
    Coffee was introduced to Vienna by the Ottomans. By the end of the 18th century, coffee drinking was firmly established in Viennese society. The society has been said to have "revolved around the cafe tradition".
     

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