Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Natural English from Aretha Franklin and Bono: 'Growing Up'

Natural English from Aretha Franklin
                  Aretha Franklin 'The Queen of Soul'
Natural English from Bono: 'Growing Up'
Bono of U2

















In casual conversation, the simple question: “Where are you from?” often occurs. Let’s take a look at how Bono (Irish musician) and Aretha Franklin (American musician) answer the question.

Question:  “Where are you from?”

Bono: I grew up in a lower-middle-class neighborhood.

Aretha Franklin: I was brought up in Detroit, and most of my 
                           family's here.

Speaking Style

People often ask me:  “Which style is better?”

I grew up…
        OR
I was brought up…

I think if you ask your native speaker friends, they will say they use either style without thinking.  Both answers are natural in a casual/informal conversation.  Also, you can notice that Aretha Franklin shortened her sentence by dropping the object.

I was brought up by my grandmother in Detroit.  (according to Aretha’s biography)

In conversation you can do this too!

Common Mistake

However, language learners often want to add an object to the verb ‘grew up’ because the ideas seem similar or interchangeable to the verb 'to be brought up'.

For example:

I grew up by my parents in New York.       incorrect
My parents grew me up in New York.        incorrect

Unfortunately, both sentences are incorrect because the verb ‘grew up’ doesn’t take an object.  The verb ‘brought up’ can take an object. 

I was brought up by my parents in New York.      correct
My parents brought me up in New York.              correct

Now the sentences are “OK”!

Anyhow, don’t think too much about grammar.  You can use either phrase in casual conversation quite easily by following Bono and Aretha’s answer styles.  Here are some examples if you need some extra practice.  Please try them out at your next social gathering.  

Conversational Speaking Patterns


I grew up in __________.

1. I grew up in New York.                                  
2. I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood.   

I was brought up in __________.

3. I was brought up in Detroit.                    
4. I was brought up in the countryside.      


More Stuff!

Check out the tourist links of Bono and Aretha’s hometowns:

Bono-Dublin, Ireland

Aretha-Detroit, Michigan, United States
LINK http://www.visitdetroit.com/

Celebrity English Language and Culture
Take Care Alex! See you next week!