Misunderstandings, colloquialisms, wrong words and false friends: 6

 

In July and August there are a lot of summer camps that youths can go to.

 

First, there are a lot of people who believe that a sentence should not end with a preposition such as the above example. But it is used very often in speech: there is nothing wrong with ending a sentence with a short word that informs you of the relation of one thing or person to another.

 

The problem is the word youth.

 

Although the dictionary has a number of definitions of the word – mainly for that period of our lives when we were at that age between a child and a full-grown adult: I remember in my youth having a black-and-white television these days the word is now more commonly connected with the state of those young people, particularly young men. The most common adjectives with the word are unemployed, disaffected, nuisance, and drunken young men... or drunken youths.

 

The noun form is usually associated with the act of vandalism, doing something violent or even threatening: They were attacked by several youths. Youths were believed to be responsible for the graffiti.

 

Because the word is currently seen as negative in spoken English, I am afraid that to use the above example could suggest that these ‘summer camps’ might, in fact be, some kind of special ‘holiday’ prison for young criminals who are too young to be sent to a proper place where they can be secured.

 

So to talk about the subject in a positive context, particularly with groups of young men, we would be more likely to refer to them as such: young men, teens, young girls, young people.

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