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Use of Quotes

David, Moderator
Our Policy on the Use of Quotations We understand that members occasionally desire or need to ask grammar-related questions about sentences or phrases that were written by others, and it is perfectly acceptable for you to do so. However, if you wish to include sentences or phrases in a post that were not originally written by you, you must do two things: 1) You must show punctuationally that they are not your words. 2) You must cite what you have taken the text from. The easiest way to...Read More...

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placement of "only"

I have made up the two similar examples below. (1a) Yesterday, my friends came to my birthday party and ate most of my food. Now, I only have enough food for two lunches. (1b) Yesterday, my friends came to my birthday party and ate most of my food. Now, I have enough food for only two lunches. Which position of "only" is correct? Thank you very much for your help.Read More...

backshifting: [... what he is (was) doing now]

I have made up the example below. (1a) I have not seen John for a long time. Yesterday, I thought of him and wondered what he was doing now. My non-native speaking friends think backshifting the tense is not necessary because you are referring to his present state of life. Their revised example is written below. (1b) I have not seen John for a long time. Yesterday, I thought of him and wondered what he is doing now. Who is correct? Thank you very much for your time and help.Read More...

for his birthday (present)

(1a) I will buy a watch for his birthday. (1b) I will buy a watch for his birthday present . Is it wrong to add the word "present"? Thank you very much.Read More...

what + infinitive

This is the spice to season the rice with. This is what to season the rice with. Do you think the above two sentences are the same? (I'm not sure if even the second one is grammatical.)Read More...
No, that sentence does not work because it does not express the future meaning you want to convey. However, in answer to your question: the answer is yes. Here is an example (I'll add others if they come to mind): - The patient left instructions as to how to be treated in case he was unconscious.Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Can I omit "that" in this object-clause?

Topic sentence: This book will show you (that) what you have observed can be used in other contexts. I understand that if that-clause serves as an object, the subordinator "that" can be dropped. But is it also optional to omit "that" in this case? Is it a little weird without "that"?Read More...
Hi, Robby zhu, If you omit "that," you need to make a pause when you speak. "that" is advisable because, otherwise, the reader will expect "what you have observed" to be a free relative in object position rather than the subject of the content clause that follows: - This book will show you what (= the thing that) you have observed.Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

It That

Hello, Is dialogue A problematic, because "that " is used instead of "it"? Or does it sound natural because "that" is just more emphatic than "it"? Dialogue A A: What's that? Is that a ball? B: No, that's not a ball. That's a white kitten. Dialogue B A:What's that? Is it a ball? B: No, it's not a ball. It's a white kitten. AppleRead More...
Thank you always, David. AppleRead More...
Last Reply By apple · First Unread Post

how cute/ what a cute

Hello, Suppose you are with a friend and looking at a kitten. You say, "How cute!". This sounds fine, but do you say "What a cute?" I don't think so, but do you? "What a cute kitten !" would be correct, I mean grammatically, but is "What a cute!" a colloquial expression? AppleRead More...
Thank you , David. When I see strange, funny English I often say to myself? Do you really say this? AppleRead More...
Last Reply By apple · First Unread Post

went there by bike

Hello, Is there a problem with the following sentence? He went there by bike. I don't think there is nothing wrong grammatically, but does the sentence sound unnatural? Do native speakers use a more common, natural expression? AppleRead More...
David, one more question please. So,do native speakers prefer sentences 2,3 to sentence 1? 1. He went there by car. 2. He went there in his car. 3. He drove there. AppleRead More...
Last Reply By apple · First Unread Post

Tense with 'earlier'

Hi there, Should I use the word ' earlier ' with simple past or present perfect in the following context? It is clear that utilising the period of President's rule, the ruling party will indulge in all the methods in its arsenal to manufacture a majority for itself as it has done/did in several states earlier. This is yet another assault on the Constitution by this government.Read More...

had risen slightly

1) However, his dosage of a cholesterol-lowering drug was reportedly increased after the check-up and Mr Trump’s weight had risen slightly to 243 pounds, pushing him over the line into obesity. Source: https://www.yahoo.com/news/ white-house-forced-deny-trump- 111835003.html Shouldn't there be a comma after 'slightly'? Gratefully, NavRead More...
Hi, Navi, I find the sentence perfect as is. Adverbs of manner are usually used without commas between verbs like rise, increase, grow, fall, decline , etc. and the number that follows: - rise slightly to xxx - increase sharply to xxx - grow moderately to xxx - fall gradually to xxx - decline abruptly to xxxRead More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

very badly

a. Tom was playing the guitar and Jack was banging on the drums, driving me crazy. b. Tom was playing the guitar, and Jack was banging on the drums, driving me crazy. In which case are they both driving me crazy and in which case only Jack's drumming is driving me crazy? Does the comma change anything? c. Tom was playing the guitar and Jack was playing the drums, very badly. d. Tom was playing the guitar, and Jack was playing the drums, very badly. In which case are they both playing badly...Read More...

Help

i am wanted to get my mom a piece of wall art the says “God willing” for Christmas. She would be the one that I would ask about punctuation so I am a bit nervous about placing my order. Can anyone help me please? Ive been looking online and I see God willing... God willing? ”God willing” “God willing?” God Willing.Read More...
Hello, Leticia, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange. "God willing" is not a sentence. What is featured in the wall art? Incidentally, * " I am wanted to . . . " is an incorrect use of the passive voice. You can say "Someone wants me to . . ." or "People have asked me to . . ."Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Time travel crossing my eyes

In referencing an inaccurate 1934 recollection of a 1903 event, should I say "Joe's recollection is incorrect" or "Joe's recollection was incorrect?" The recollection was incorrect in 1934 and continues to be incorrect in 2019.Read More...
Hello, Grammarsgrammar, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange. In Merriam-Webster's dictionary, the term "recollection" is defined as: We can say that the action of recalling the facts was inaccurate in 1934, and that the result (his memory, or the story he narrated based on that childhood experience) was and continues to be inaccurate. "was" would be fine to refer to the action of recollecting, and both "was" and "is" could be used to refer to the facts being recalled (the story was...Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

was / is

She asked, "What is your name?" Do we have to change the tense when reporting this question? I think that both ways are possible since my name hasn't changed. So we can report the sentence this way: She asked what my name is / was. Any answer will be appreciated. Thanks in advance!Read More...
Thank you so much, my prof.Read More...
Last Reply By Mo.Anwar · First Unread Post

Question about sentence construction after em dash... help!

I have been struggling a lot over this sentence! I like how it sounds, I just don't know if it is grammatically correct (specifically what comes after the em dash): Thanks so much for any help! Instead of going with the easy way out, the complex system uses an approach that is very sophisticated— right down to periodically pausing and inserting humming sounds as though it were deep in thought.Read More...
Hi, Trig1968, Is this something you are writing? It'd be useful to have some more context. In particular, I don't undersand the "as though it were deep in thought" part. What does that "it" refer to? To "periodically pausing and inserting humming sounds"? Grammatically speaking, what comes after the em dash looks like a appositive conclusion that defines "an approach": an approach that consists of periodically pausing and inserting humming sounds as though it were deep in thought.Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

"Yet" in a positive sentence, what does it mean?

ceedhanna
- This is from WikiHow website: - Use “yet” in the middle of the sentence to discuss something unknown or unclear. This approach is often used in more formal discussions or conversations. “Yet” is often placed after “have,” “are,” or “has.”[2] For example you may say, “We have yet to determine if she is on board,” or, “Our guests are yet to arrive.” You may also say, “The price has yet to be announced.”Read More...
Hi, ceedhanna, In Cambridge dictionary we can find a good explanation of this use of "yet": Have yet to and be yet to We use have yet to and be yet to in more formal contexts. We use them to refer to events which are necessary or which must happen at some time, but which have not happened at the time of speaking: "yet" is used in these cases to imply that something has not happened yet and, as a result, is a pending requirement or obligation . We still don't know if she is on board -> We...Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Written versus spoken English

Greetings! There are obviously different rules for written and spoken English. While in speech you could say: "my dream's taken away," as a contraction for my dream is taken away. However, I do not believe it is proper English to write this contraction because of the confusion arising from the possessive interpretation of the word dream's, implying taken is possessed by the dream. I cannot seem to find any rule for this question, maybe because I do not know how to word it. I just keep...Read More...
There is no absolute restriction here. It is perfectly grammatical to use [apostrophe + s] for contracting "is" or "has," and it need not always signify possession in formal writing. However, it does tend only to be used for possession in formal writing, and where there are exceptions it is generally with "it's" and "that's". Note that "it's" is NEVER possessive when written with the apostrophe.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Tenses would have

Can you please advise if the below sentence is grammatically correct “I haven’t checked the rosters yet as I am sure I would have captured the below anomaly”Read More...
Then simply delete "as" and use two sentences rather than one: I haven’t checked the rosters yet. I am sure I would have captured the anomaly.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post
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