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So we have two math classes taught by two different teachers. If I want to switch from one class to another, what should I say?

Change classes for Math? Switches classes for Math?

Also, why do I need to use plural form of 'class'?

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    In switch/change classes, we use the plural because more than one class is involved in the event: the original, and the one to which the subject is transferring. – P. E. Dant Sep 6 '16 at 1:52
  • Idiomatically, you’d probably say math classes rather than classes for Math: “I just switched math classes.” – Jim Sep 6 '16 at 5:30
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How about transfer?

From Merriam-Webster:

transfer: to move to a different place, region, or situation; especially : to withdraw from one educational institution to enroll at another

From the Free Dictionary:

transfer: to withdraw from one educational institution or course of study and enroll in another

When I was in school, we used transfer to describe switches from one class "section" to another (e.g., nominally the same class, but taught by different teachers).

So, you would say something like the following:

I want to transfer from Math 101 taught by Person A to Math 101 taught by person B.

You could also use change or switch.

If you want to use the plural classes instead of the singular class, you could say:

I want to transfer classes, from Math 101 taught by Person A to Math 101 taught by person B.

I want to change classes, from Math 101 taught by Person A to Math 101 taught by person B.

I want to switch classes, from Math 101 taught by Person A to Math 101 taught by person B.

In this case, change and switch seem a little more more natural.

As to why it's transfer, change, and switch "classes" rather than transfer, change, and switch "class", it's because transfer, change, and switch each involve two classes: the class in which you are currently enrolled and the class in which you want to be enrolled. Class is an "indeterminate object". For additional information, see https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/153649/do-you-switch-between-things-in-plural. Note: You can think of it as being analogous to changing trains.

  • Don't overlook the question Why plural? – P. E. Dant Sep 6 '16 at 1:53
  • @P.E.Dant Thanks for pointing that out. I revised answer to address. – Richard Kayser Sep 6 '16 at 3:12
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If it's the same course being taught by two different people, then you are changing sections. If you are switching from one course to another, then in the U.S. you are doing a drop and add.

Transferring is more drastic. You transfer from one institution to another.

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It's plural because you're mentioning 2 classes. You could use singular if you only referred to one at a time: "I changed one math class for another."

Using verb + "es" as in "switches" is a present conjugation for he/she/it, so you wouldn't use it for yourself, but you could say it about someone else: "He switches classes often."

You could say you 'changed Math classes' or 'switched Math classes,' meaning you did it once in the past. Saying you 'switch classes' makes it present tense as in the above example, which implies that it's an ongoing activity.

Words that describe nouns (adjectives) usually go before the noun in English. Saying 'I changed classes for Math' might be confusing. 'I changed Math classes' is more clear and more common.

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In English, sadly a lot of words are misused from the original intent when using words from other languages. In order to make up for this a lot of random rules are put in place to make up for this and it leads to more confusion.

Indo-European comes from the Indo-Iranian/Aryan language. In Parsi (Persian) plural is mostly used when talking of something tangible or out of respect.

For instance a classroom is tangible but a class course is not. So one would always refer to the class in singular form.

In Persian - "Classam avaz kardam" ("My class, change, I made.") Subject + verb. In English there are many ways to say this and most are correct, which again leads to which one to choose.

So you can say

  • I would like to change my class from Y to Z.

  • I would like to transfer my class from Y.101 to Z.101

  • I would like to switch/transfer classes.

    (Then more explanation is needed as to what class to which class)

Plural clearly just points to more than one class involved but does not explain the whole situation to the listener.

In the end, all are proper. So it also depends on how many words would you like to use in getting your point across.

As for switches classes. That would be used describing a person that is neither you or the listener. "Johnny switches classes often." And for self… "I would like to switch classes from math 101 to math 202."

  • Indo-Iranian came from Indo-European, and the Germanic and Italic branches of the Indo-European family (which English mostly falls into) didn't really descend from Indo-Iranian at all. – Nathan Tuggy Sep 6 '16 at 3:32
  • Please forgive me but that seems to be crossing theories, in which a lot is what a person chooses to believe. I speak 7 languages and spend a lot of time studying the connections between. From my understanding, the original languages would be Semitic, Aryan and Hamite and as for writing cuneiform and sanskrit. This seems to be much more applaudable in my view and shows a more clear connection as to why there are so many similarities in languages. – user41317 Sep 6 '16 at 3:53
  • The point is, drawing from one distant descendant of PIE to show how a very different distant descendant is wrong just doesn't work. Persian isn't usefully closer to the original languages than English is. Their differences are just differences, no more. – Nathan Tuggy Sep 6 '16 at 4:04
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    I'm not sure what you're saying about English misusing words or original intent. But, I'm even more baffled by what you mean about switching classes not to refer to oneself; there's nothing wrong or odd about saying, "I switched classes" or "you switched classes". – A.Ellett Sep 6 '16 at 4:13
  • @ A.Ellett Nowhere did I write, switched classes. Poster asked if it is proper to say, switches classes when showing intent to change his class with the help of the listener. – user41317 Sep 6 '16 at 4:20
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On the following page Sacramento State uses three terms: ADD; DROP; SWAP http://www.csus.edu/schedule/fall2014spring2015/registration.html#late

Sacramento State has this web page that explains DROPPING: http://www.csus.edu/acad/faq/dropping.html

Regarding plural use of "class":

  1. I'd like to drop a class.
  2. I'd like to add a class.
  3. I'd like to swap this class with that class.
  4. I'd like to swap these two classes.

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