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The tricky adjective "careful"

Dear all, One of my friends asked me which prepositon should collocate with the adjective "careful"? I looked it up in my dictionaries and found different results as follows: 1. Be careful with the dynamite. 2. A good writer is careful about details. 3. Careful on those stairs. 4. He is careful at his work. 5. You should be careful of the rights of others. I got fully confused with these prepositions. Do the above prepositions bring different meanings to the sentences when they collocate...Read More...
Yes, the prepositions that follow "careful" carry different meanings, although sometimes one might be used in place of another. 1. "Be careful with" means to treat something with care, to treat it delicately, because that something could hurt you., or you might damage it. It is similar in meaning to "be cautious about." Some examples from Google: "¢ Candles: Fire Prevention Be Careful with Candles. Candles provide festive decor for the holiday season. They are part of worship ceremonies.Read More...

penny drops on the river.

What does "penny drops on the river" in the followoing sentence? How can it be analyzed? Why is there no "a" before "penny"? An idiom? Soft rain falls on the first day, penny drops on the river. Reader's Digest,Aug.Edition, p.93.l.1. AppleRead More...
These words sound like a poem, maybe a haiku. Poetry sometimes changes words and grammar to fit the poet's thoughts and the rhythm of the poem. This kind of change is called "poetic license." If this is true, the writer might be describing the raindrops as they fall on the river – like pennies. With poetic license, it is possible to omit the "a" before penny. _______ On the other hand, there is an expression in British English: "the penny drops." This expression is used to say that someone...Read More...

"Easy to" or "Easily to"?

I know that 1a and 1b are OK and that 1c is not acceptable: 1a English is easy to learn. 1b It is easy to learn English. 1c English is easy to be learnt. But what about the following sentences, with 'easily' ocurring in the place of 'easy'? 2a When he did encounter problems, remedies were easily to hand. 2b Gradually, in the novel, the friends of the Morgans grew up and 'acquired preferences which were not easily to be adapted to that sunny, untidy house'. Both 2a and 2b are taken from BNC,...Read More...
"Easily to hand" apparently appears in British English, in written materials. It serves as a variation of "easily at hand" and means the same as "close at hand." Twenty-one examples of "were easily to hand" appear on Google, in results like these, all from English or Irish websites: "¢ Television Advertising Complaints Reports The items needed were easily to hand around the house and the activity could therefore be easily replicated. It judged that the reports of actual emulation ...Read More...

would as a "downtoner"

Hi, I read the old thread on this topic (I know it's been raised a lot of times) but I'd just like to have some more examples of the use of "would" as a downtoner. And how can one tell if it's used as a downtoner? When does one use it as a downtoner? And which one of these sentences are correct if "would" is used as a downtoner? I'd say he is/was about 5'9''. I'd say he won't/wouldn't be able to make it. I'd think he is/was goodlooking. I'd suggest you do it. And does "would" act as a...Read More...
Most often, you would use the present tense to describe present situations and the past tense to describe past situations. Google shows 241,000 examples of "I'd say [something] was." Most of these refer to a past time: · History Channel: I'd say it was Ben himself . . . I'd say it was Ben himself . . . Settings | FAQ | Community Standards ... I'd say it was Ben himself . . . Posted: 18 Dec 2004 01:49 PM. Reply Advise ...Read More...

position of adverbs.

I have a question about the position of adverbs. My google search yielded 354,000 examples of "speak/ speaks/ spoke smth fluently", but only 17,500 or "fluently speak/ speak/ spoke smth." On the other hand, there are 393,000 examples of "frequently visit/visits/ visited/ someone or some place" and 456,000 examples of "visit/visits/visited someone or some place frequently". This means "frequently can go either before or after the verb, while "fluently" can only go after the verb if we want to...Read More...
Yes, this is correct. However, it is not incorrect to use the reverse placement. The rule is not hard and fast. Michael Swan, in Practical English Usage*, shows the many nuances of the placement of adverbs. Sections 22 and 23. Rachel _______ *Practical English Usage, Second Edition. Oxford University Press. 1995Read More...

Attitude "toward/to, about, on"

I'm just wondering how the following phrases are different. Attitude toward/to (I understand this is the most popular form) Attitude about Attitude on Thank youRead More...
You are correct that "attitude toward/to" appears more frequently than the other phrases. "Attitude about" would mean the same thing.. The American Heritage Dictionary gives only "attitude about" in its example sentence: a. A state of mind or a feeling; disposition: had a positive attitude about work You could use "attitude towards/to" in this sentence. _______ "Attitude on" is a little different. It is more like "position on." In fact, "position on" would be the better collocation. RachelRead More...

a dream or dreams.

Suppose Alice had a dream last night and Jane had a dream last night too. Which sentence best describes the situation? (1) Alice and Jane had a dream last night. (2) Alice and Jane had dreams last night. Apple.Read More...
If Alice and Jane had the same dream, you would say "a dream." More likely they had distinct dreams, so "Alice and Jane had dreams last night" would be usual. Alice and Jane do not represent a group. By contrast, do you remember Martin Luther King's words: "I have a dream"? Many, many people have had that same dream. You could say about these people: "They have a dream." Each one has the same dream. ______ Sometimes it is possible to use the singular object of "have" when referring to a...Read More...

Who would you rather

I know the following questions to be grammatical. Who would you rather have running the country? Who would you rather have do the job? The answers to these questions are: I'd rather have him running the country I'd rather have him do the job. But if I want the answers to be: I'd rather he ran the country. I'd rather he won the election. How should one ask the question (instead of asking "who'd you rather have win the election?", the answer to this question would be "I'd rather have him win...Read More...
Your first two sentence groups are examples of causative sentences with have + the simple form of the verb, or + the –ing form of the word. _______ The third sentences are different. They are a kind of conditional construction. "Who would you rather ran the country?" and "Who would you rather won the election?" would be questions to elicit the constructions you are looking for in your third group. This is a kind of conditional use of the verb that makes the situation more hypothetical than...Read More...

didn't wait, haven't waited, haven't been waiting,

Is there a difference between the following three answers? A:Sorry I'm late. B: (1) That's OK. I didn't wait long. (2) That's OK. I haven't waited long. (3) That's OK. I haven't been waiting long. AppleRead More...
In strictly grammatical terms, the responses differ slightly, although not a great deal. Response (1), with the simple past, implies that the waiting is already well in the past, and that it has no relevance to the present situation. Response (2), with the present perfect simple, implies that the waiting is over, but that it was very recent and that it still has some relevance to the present situation. Response (3), with the present perfect progressive, implies that the waiting is just now...Read More...

have raised, or have been raising.

I've been reading some past postings on present perfect progressive. My question is: In the following sentence, does "has raised" work grammatically? Does it sound unnatural? "has raised" and "for five years" collocate? Sally has been raising/has raised all kinds of flowers for five years. AppleRead More...
The verb phrase "raise...flowers" has inherent duration (it is not an action that implies completion, like "pick a flower"), so in theory there's no need for the progressive. However, a choice exists between the present perfect simple and the present perfect progressive, depending on the speaker's view of the situation. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language* states: "Perfective aspectuality does not exclude duration (perfectivity is not limited to achievements [like "cut a flower"]),...Read More...

Is 'know' acceptable ?

Dear All, Please take a look at the following sentence : "The thing is we won't know that until we knew more about the detonation systems, which is what the forensic boys are doing now," he said. Q: Is 'knew' correct ? Would 'know' be correct too ? Many thanks. RickyRead More...
It looks like a typographical error. "Knew" is not correct in the sentence. "Know" would be correct. RachelRead More...

Grace and favor

This question has been posted at the request of Tony. I came across the term grace & favor describing an English (as in United Kingdom) domicile or living arrangement in a Jasper Fforde novel. What does it mean?Read More...
The term is new to me, but I've learned a bit from researching it on Google. The original phrase is used in a religious sense: "” bring you insight in the area of finances- to help eliminate some of the stress, I've also asked that God touch your heart & wrap His Grace & Favor around you "” She was one unique, precious woman, who obviously had the grace & favor of God in her life. I recall that at some point when I was a child my grandma had ...Read More...

Superlative of Polite

My colleagues and I were discussing the correct superlative of polite, and we cannot come to a consensus! Is the correct use 'polite, more polite, most polite' or 'polite, politer, politest', or can they both be used? Thank you! LeslieRead More...
This information is absolutely excellent. Thank you very much!Read More...

A question about article usage

I have been taught that: I went to school in London. (I = student) I went to the school in London. (I= visitor) I wonder about the effect of "the" in this sentence. Does it signify the "generalization" of noun in this case? Also, I wonder whether there is any difference between: (a) I went to the school in London. (b) I went to a school in London. (c) I went to schools in London. Thank you very muchRead More...
Question 1. Neither "the" nor zero article works in the passage. The noun "pandemic" is a count noun, singular. Singular count nouns need an article, and the article can be "a" or "the," depending on how the noun occurs in the discourse. In the passage, "pandemic" is new information ; we don't know anything about a pandemic until it's introduced right here in the sentence. New information, if it's a singular count noun, is marked with "a." We're told that bird flu could cause "something,"...Read More...

Baseball talk

In the following sentence, is "on" after "system" obligatory? Would the sentence be different without "on"? "that" is a relative pronoun, I beileve. Owners OK'd a temporary, two-year draft sytem on that will split high school seniors into an earlier October draft, while giving teams with poorer records better access to top amateurs.Read More...
You are correct that "on" does not belong in the sentence. However, the sentence seems to be missing several words. It must be a typographical error. Perhaps the sentence should be this: "¢ Owners OK'd a temporary, two-year draft system, one that will split high school seniors into two groups: the first group will .....an earlier October draft; the second group will ..... RachelRead More...

What I did was/is

Should it be "what I did was" or "what I did is"? What I did was/is that I took it out of the box. What I did was/is right. Thank youRead More...
Either the present or the past tense of BE is correct, although the past tense form is much more common. A: What I did was/is that I took it out of the box. Actually, the most common way of expressing this idea is to use the bare infinitive in the complement, not a that-clause: "” What I did was/is take it out of the box "” What I did is take it out of the box Other versions are "” what I did was/is that I took it out of the box "” What I did was/is , I took it out of the box (informal; note...Read More...

That's/was when I did

A similar question . Which of the following is correct? That's when I started playing the piano. That was when I started playing the piano. Thank youRead More...
Both are correct. "That" in these sentences refers to the time that something happened. "That was when" + a past tense verb focuses on events that happened at the time I started to play the piano. "That's when" + a past time verb focuses a little more on the effect the past event has had on the present time. RachelRead More...

Some sentences to be checked

Hello again! Are my sentences correct? A) She blamed herself for the problems at the afternoon snack. I'm not sure whether at the afternoon snack is correct. B) She was being very selfish but he didn't want to say anything to her so as not to upset her. Thank you very much!Read More...
Sentence A: If consumption of an afternoon snack is a regularly scheduled activity, it can be informally called "the afternoon snack." There could be problems at the afternoon snack. Alternative versions: "” ...problems at the afternoon snack break "” ...problems during the afternoon snack break "”... problems during the afternoon snack (informal) Sentence B is correct. The progressive of "be" is used to express an action: "She was being very selfish" means "she was behaving in a very...Read More...

Eventually

I would like to know how to use appropriately the word, "eventually". Thanks in advance! Have a good day! MayelaRead More...
"Eventually" is an adverb with this definition and example in the American Heritage Dictionary*: "¢ At an unspecified future time: He eventually rose to the position of vice president. The future time could be spoken about events in the past, as in the example, or in the future as in this example: "¢ We will eventually leave this city and retire to a small town. "Eventually" can appear inside the sentence modifying the main verb, as it does in the sentences above. _______ It can also modify...Read More...

not by the hair of my chinny chin chin

"No, no, not by the hair of my chinny chin chin" is a famous phrase from The Three Little Pigs. Does anyone know where this phrase comes from? It seems to mean "absolutely not" but where does it originate? Apple.Read More...
To set the scene for the story: The Wolf stands at the door of the third little pig's house and says "Little pig, little pig, let me come in." The little pig answers, "Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin." The pig appears to invoke the ancient custom of swearing on the beard of a god, of a revered holy man, or even of the speaker himself. I've found an old traditional English or Scottish song that uses the phrase "I swear by the beard upon my chin": "[...] O Black Jack Davey came riding...Read More...

Commas before the word - including

Just wondering if you could give me some guidance - I thought that you don't need a comma but am I right? (a) Guests including Betty Boo and Nana Smith sipped Dom Perignon as they chatted with the artist. (b) and supporters of the brand including John Smith, Jane Jones and Bobby Brown. Thanks. Siva.Read More...
There should be commas in both (a) and (b): The guests, including Betty Boo and Nana Smith, sipped Dom Perignon as they chatted with the artist (b) and supporters of the brand, including John Smith, Jane Jones, and Bobby Brown. However, if (a) and (b) are part of the same sentence, it would be better style not to have two phrases with "including." The sentence could be: The guests, including Betty Boo and Nana Smith, sipped Dom Perignon as they chatted with the artist and supporters of the...Read More...

Why - a 3-room flat

Grateful if you could explain why it is written - (a) The 3-room flat was very spacious and not the 3-roomed flat? (b) I have a 4-room flat (c) He was outbid for the 40-room property. What is the correct English and why. Thanks for your assistance. Warmest regards, Siva.Read More...
The noun "room" does not become the past participle of a verb "room" as you suggest. It serves as an adjective for another noun, "flat." A noun used as a modifier – "room" in the sentences above – combines with a number expression to form an adjective. Adjectives in English are normally only in a singular form. I have a house. I have a large house. I have a six-room house. This street has large houses. This street has eight-room houses. This orchard produces apples. It is an apple orchard...Read More...

prefer to.... to

Hello everybody! Could anyone please tell me if my sentence below is correc? I prefer to stay at home to go to that party. Thanks a lot!Read More...
No, the sentence is not correct. Here is a correct sentence: "¢ I prefer to stay at home THAN to go to that party. RachelRead More...

She came(crying) into my room (crying).

Is there a difference between the two? Is one preferred over the other? She came into my room crying. She came crying into my room. Thank you.Read More...
Both versions are grammatical. They are different in their focus, however. Since the most important information comes at the end of an utterance, the first version, "” She came into my room crying ... means "She came into my room, and as she came, she was crying." When you say "” She came crying into my room ...you are giving the location "” the room "” more importance than the crying. You are saying "As she was crying, she came into my room." In some cases, postponing the participle to the...Read More...
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