"in case of" and "in the case of"

Saya   Friday, August 15, 2003, 09:42 GMT
Hi I'm a Japanese who is learning English at a high school.

I often come across in English web sites three variants seemingly almost same - "in case of emergency", "in case of an emergency", and "in the case of an emergency". Are they all correct? If more than one among them are correct, what is the difference between/among them in the meaning and the usage?

Thank you in advance.
mjd   Friday, August 15, 2003, 17:54 GMT
They all pretty much mean the same thing. "In case of emergency" is often posted on things to show that the object should be used if there is an emergency. (You might see this on a fire extinguisher for example). "In case of an emergency" would generally be followed by instructions, as it seems to be the beginning of a sentence.
deaptor   Friday, August 15, 2003, 18:15 GMT
I've never seen "in the case of an emergency".
Is it really used or it is a mistake?
confused   Friday, August 15, 2003, 19:48 GMT
I know that there are two expressions: "in case of sth" and "in THE case of sth". Could you please explain the difference to me? Could you provide any sentences? Thanks.
Clark   Friday, August 15, 2003, 20:30 GMT
Deaptor, go fly on an American airline, and listen to the flight attendants; they will say, "in the case of an emergency, grad the person next to you and scream." Seriously though, I am pretty sure that "in the case of..." is used, and I have heard it on airplanes.
Guofei Ma   Friday, August 15, 2003, 23:00 GMT
Saya, in what year/form/grade do Japanese pupils start to learn English?
Saya   Saturday, August 16, 2003, 02:37 GMT
Hi, everyone!

Thank you for your reply to my question. Now I understand the difference between "in case of" and "in the case of". "In case of X" stands for "in the event of X" and "in the case of X" does for "in regard to X". So I think "in the case of an emergency" is a wordy expression. It must be "in case of an emergency". Do you agree?

Have a nice weekend!
Saya   Saturday, August 16, 2003, 02:46 GMT
Hi, Guofei Ma

Usually Japanese youngs start learning English at their 12, when they enter a junior high school. They are usually given English lessons of four to seven hours per week. Some private primary school have a special curriculum to make pupils learn English. In this case, the pupils start English learning at 9 or 10 but the time spared to it is limited to only two hours per week.

wingyellow   Saturday, August 16, 2003, 03:19 GMT
Hong Konger start learning English at 6. We don't speak well but we have a strong grammar and thus a strong ability to read and sometimes to write.
Guofei Ma   Saturday, August 16, 2003, 05:23 GMT
Hello, Saya:

Thank you for the information. Now I know why almost all of the ESL (English as a second language) pupils in my school are Japanese. It seems as if all of the Japanese immigrants are only beginning to learn English whilst the new immigrants from Hong Kong and Taiwan can take regular English courses.

Bearing in mind that you only began to learn English when you were 12, I think that you write excellent English! Your grammar is almost perfect.

In the United States, pupils also begin to learn foreign languages when they are 12. Personally, I think pupils should begin learning foreign languages at a younger age.

By the by, I was born in Hong Kong and started speaking billingually (English and Mandarin Chinese) from the beginning. I am a British citizen but I live in the United States and I will be in the eleventh grade in one week.
Saya   Saturday, August 16, 2003, 18:39 GMT
Hi Wingyellow and Guofei

How are you today? Here in Tokyo, we have a 'weird' weather. It is unusually cool for summer days. I'm wondering if this summer has already gone here.

I' m a little ashamed to read in your message that the Japanese attending your school are poor at English skills. We Japanese have a lot of problems in English education. The time of the English education is too short. Furthermore it is biased too much to grammar and reading. The other problem is most of the English teachers themselves can't speak English. As Japan can't survive without international trades, our poorness in English is a national issue. This is why even university graduates in Japan have to continue English learning. I'm wondering why American students have to learn foreign languages. I think they need not to do so because they can find some English speakers everywhere in the world. But we can't find Japanese speakers almost anywhere outside of Japan. As the Japanese language is very different from English in structure as well as in vocabulary, it is a very difficult task for Japanese to get English fluency. The US declaration of independence says all the people on this globe are born equal. But I don't think it is true. At least we Japanese are born discriminated in learning English.

Have a nice day!
Ryan   Saturday, August 16, 2003, 20:09 GMT
I've heard that Japanese English language training involves too much book learning and not enough conversation. Conversation is the most important part of learning a language. That's why if you ever meet native English speakers in your country you should ask them for a conversation. You can only learn so much English from posting on a message board or listening to tapes.

Guofei Ma   Saturday, August 16, 2003, 20:43 GMT
Hello, Saya.

I think your aptitude in English is very impressive. In my opinion, it's very unfair that English speakers haven't got the urge to learn foreign languages. If the president of an Asian country can't speak English, people would have a very low opinion of him. However, I don't think President Bush can speak Spanish half as well as a kindergarterner in Mexico.

Since you brought up the weather, here is the report for my area: We are also enjoying an unusually comfortable summer in the San Francisco Bay Area. On most days, the highest temperature doesn't exceed 26°C. Meanwhile, Hong Kong residents have to withstand temperatures greater than 30° and Parisians are dying in droves under the heat.
Brazilian Guy   Saturday, August 16, 2003, 21:34 GMT
Back to the topic. I notice in American movies that the roadsigns don't use contract forms like "don't" for "do not". I think it's because they have to be as clear and understandable as possible. That must occur with all instructions for the public, like fire extinguishers and flight instrunctions.
Ryan   Saturday, August 16, 2003, 21:50 GMT
"Do not" is formal written American English. "Don't" is spoken American English.