All Forum Topics

Colon: followed by a capital letter or not?

This question has been sent in by Jake, and posted by the Grammar Exchange. Proper use of colon: Should the first word of the clause or phrase following a colon be capitalized? Is it proper to use a colon if there is only one clause or phrase? Example: We decided another form of recognition might be more agreeable to Wilson: The main street downtown with his name on it.Read More...
The short answer to the question about whether or not the first word following the colon in your sentence should be capitalized is "no." Capitalization does not depend on the number of clauses or phrases, but on whether or not the words form a complete sentence. If they do not form a complete sentence, then don't capitalize. If they do form a complete sentence, you might capitalize. _______ The Chicago Manual of Style* says: "When a colon is used within a sentence, as in the first three...Read More...

the use of "continue"

The word continue can be followed by "to V" and "Ving", right? Are there any differences? And, when it is followed by a noun,is it necessary to add "with" before the noun? For example, "I decided to continue with my music lessons." Can we just say "continue my music lessons'? Thank you very much.Read More...
"Continue" can be followed by the infinitive or by the -ing form of the verb as complement, with little or no difference in meaning. In all tenses, infinitive complements vastly outnumber the -ing form. The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (1999) gives these frequency figures for the infinitive and for the -ing form as complements: continue to do sth = 42% continue doing sth = 5.2% (Other uses of "continue" make up the rest of the percentages.) These figures are borne out by Google...Read More...

Second Conditionals

Hello.. Please could you see the following 2 sentences. 1)If I were the president of my country, I'd increase th etaxes. 2) If my mother was alive. she'd be very proud. Why is "were" used in the 1st sentence and "was" in the 2nd ? We were told that was changes to "were" in the 2nd Conditional. Thanks so muchRead More...
"Were" is the correct form for the "second conditional," for a sentence that expresses a condition that is contrary to fact. Betty Azar* explains "were" and "was" for this type of conditional: Were is used for both singular and plural subjects. Was (with I, he, she, it ) is sometimes used in informal speech: If I was you, I'd accept their invitation. . So, "were" is correct, and "was" is sometimes used informally. Rachel _______ *Understanding and Using English Grammar, Third Edition.Read More...

with surprise vs. in surprise

How do we distinguish the uses of "with surprise" and "in surprise" or maybe they can be used interchangeably? For example, "When I told them my decision, they all looked at me with surprise / in surprise"Read More...
"In surprise" and "with surprise" do seem to be interchangeable, or almost. Google shows 14,000 examples of "look at * IN surprise," like this: "¢ Following Gandhi's Path - Mr Bakhta & the Salt March I look at him in surprise . "I mean I was here in 1930 and now today. I haven't been back since all that happened here". ... http://www.transnational.org/forum/meet/2002/fgp8_Bakhta.html "¢ Random House : Book extract from Dancing On Thorns The old woman turned her head to look at her in...Read More...

how to use reservation

Could you please tell me which one is right? Or, if they are all right, how to use them? 1. I need to make a dinner reservation. 2. I need to make dinner reservations. 3. I need to make dinner reservation. Thanks.Read More...
In the sense of travel reservations, yes, the word "reservation" is always a count noun. Therefore, your sentence "Making reservation before you set out on your trip is important" is not correct. You would have to use an article or other determiner in front of "reservation" if there is only one reservation necessary, for example, at one hotel. But, since you are setting out on a trip, there are probably several reservations to be made. The sentence should be: "¢ Making reservations before...Read More...

Proper way to respond to greetings

When someone says to you "Nice to meet you", we learn that you should return "Nice to meet you too" but can you also just say "You too" or "Me too"?Read More...
"Me, too" is awkward and really not correct. "You, too" is kind of borderline in my opinion. For really casual interchanges like the Google examples Marilyn has shown, it doesn't rub the wrong way. However, in many instances "you, too" would be considered just too informal: A: Chairman of the department: Well, good bye. It was nice to meet you. B: Student in the department: It was nice to meet you too. Thank you. (NOT: You too.) A: Prospective boss: Thank you for coming by. It was nice to...Read More...

use of comma with "such as"

I'd like to know the rule for when and when not to use a comma before "such as" if the expression is used to introduce examples.Read More...
There are previous discussions and more comments on "such as" on the Grammar Exchange. Siva started a discussion on February 8, and comments were posted to it on February 9. The discussion is currently on Page 13 of the Grammar Exchange Newsgroup. This discussion addresses "such as" vs. "like." More information on "such as" is to be found in the Grammar Exchange Archives, under "such as." Part of these comments have to do with "such as" vs. "including." A separate posting addresses which...Read More...

emergent, emergency, urgent

Please tell me the differences among the following sentences. 1. Be quick! It's urgent. 2. Be quick! It's an emergency. 3. Be quick! It's emergency. 4. Be quick! It's emergent. Which one is the adjetive of "emergency," emergent or emergency or urgent? Is emergency a countable noun in this case? Thank you so much for your answer!Read More...
Sentences 1 and 2 are correct; Sentence 3 is not. The singular count noun"emergency" in Sentence 3 needs the article "an." Although "emergent" in Sentence 4 turns out to have a meaning similar to "urgent" (see 3b below), that fact was a surprise to me when I read it in The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000, at http://www.bartleby.com/61/99/E0109900.html emergent [...] ADJECTIVE: 1a. Coming into view, existence, or notice: emergent spring shoots; an...Read More...

during

Can 'during' be followed by gerundive phrase as in the following (1) and (2)? (1) During working in my office yesterday,... (=while working in my office yesterday) (2) During flying to New York, I read ... (=while flying to NY, During my flight to NY)Read More...
This is an interesting question. My research on Google shows that "during" does occur with the -ing form of some verbs, but with an important limitation: The examples I've found are all about general, repeatable activities that might be carried out by anyone. Here are a few Google examples of "during" with -ing forms: "”Make a list and prepare some healthy snacks you can keep for use during studying or breaks. ... practice them so they are handy for use during studying. ...Read More...

come versus came

My son had a Daily Oral Language "assessment". The sentence was written as...She had come to my house to write a theme. He wrote "I" indicating an incorrectly written sentence. He felt it should have said...She came to my house to write a theme. Who is right?Read More...
Thanks for the clarification. My son is a fourth grader. The teacher had ten statements written. The students were asked to write either "i" or "c" on the provided line to indicate whether it is an incorrect or correct sentence. "Write a C for the correct sentences and I for the incorrect sentences." This is exactly how it is written. While I studied each item, I noticed that there are some that are not punctuated correctly, not capitalized, or are sentence fragments. I'm amazed that the...Read More...

How do we use "against"?

Thank you for your answer to my questions about continual and continuous. Now I have another question: When do we use "protest" and "protest against" since the word "protest" can be either transitive or intransitive? Another question: Do people fight "against" each other or fight "with" each other? What's the difference? The word "with" is very vague here, right? Sometimes it means you are on someone's side in a fight but sometimes it means you are his enemy. Please help me. Thanks.Read More...
The transitive verb "protest" is used somewhat differently in American and British English. In American English "protest" is usually followed by a direct object. British English favors the use of "against" before the object, which then becomes the object of the preposition. Thus in American English you protest a tax increase but in British English you protest against a tax increase. These distinctions are only relative, however, since American English speakers sometimes use "protest...Read More...

in two days or within two days

Can we replace "in" with "within" in the following sentence? Or maybe we should use "within"? What's the difference? "The bank was held up twice in two weeks."Read More...
In this sentence, you could replace "in" with "within." "Within," referring to time, means a. Inside the limits or extent of in time or distance: arrived within two days; stayed within earshot; within ten miles of home . So you can see that "within" is also correct. _______ When referring to the past, either "in" or "within" may be used. When referring to the future, however, there is a difference between "in" and "within." "In two weeks" would mark the end of a period of time. For example,...Read More...

conditional tense

Dear All, Are the following two sentences correct ? A.I may occasionally wonder whether my life would improve if I invested in a container which kept my butter at the optimum temperature. B.I may occasionally wonder whether my life would improve if I invested in a container which keeps butter at the optimum temperature. Thank you very much. Regards, RickyRead More...
Both versions are correct. Possible scenarios: A. I may occasionally wonder whether my life would improve if I invested in a container which kept my butter at the optimum temperature. I don't know if there is such a thing, but maybe I should try looking for one... B.I haven't been to a store like this that sells kitchen equipment for ages. I'm not usually interested in food preparation, although I may occasionally wonder whether my life would improve if I invested in a container like this...Read More...

What does "a mental set" mean?

I find it difficult to figure out the meaning of the noun "set" in the following excerpt. Could you explain the meaning of "set" and "a mental set" in the last sentence of the following paragraph? Research and the records of hundreds of teachers show that anyone with average intelligence (and good eyesight) can read and understand simple material at 800-1200 words per minute (wpm). The brain absorbs more rapidly than one can send material to it. A habit of lazy, passive reading has produced...Read More...
"Mental set" is the term you want. It refers to the manner in which one thinks and one's habits in achieving a goal. It describes the way that the mind is "set" – that is, inflexible – and will learn or do things only in the way it has been learning or doing things. In your passage, the mental set of lazy, passive readers has not allowed them to read comfortably. The passage implies that with training, eye muscles will develop new habits and thus a better mental set for the owner of the...Read More...

What(subject) ... were(verb)

Is it correct to use a plural verb in the following sentence? What amazed me were the modern buildings.Read More...
It's correct to use either a singular or a plural verb with this kind of clause. The clause "what amazed me" is a nominal relative clause. Traditional grammar used to hold that "what" as a grammatical subject is always singular, even when the subject complement"”in this case, "buildings""”is plural. That "rule" is no longer valid, and plural verbs may introduce plural subject complements. A succinct description of verb number agreement with nominal relative clauses in subject position is...Read More...

"Last" and "Past"

I would like to know the difference between using "Last" and "Past" in a sentence: 1-It was raining for the "past" couple of days. 2-It was raining for the "last" couple of days. Thank you so much. CyrusRead More...
"For the last x" and "for the past x" are the same. They can be used interchangeably. These expressions refer to an event that is recent; in fact, the even is still happening. For that reason, you need the present perfect tense, not the past, to express it. These sentences are correct; "¢ It has been raining for the past couple of days. "¢ It has been raining for the last couple of days. _______ In these examples from Google, "past" and "last" may be interchanged: "¢ Sussex Downs College -...Read More...

make+~

<Which is a correct answer, living or to live? And, why?> Situated at an elevation of 1,350m, the city of Kathmandu, which looks out on the sparkling Himalayas, enjoys a warm climate year-round that makes living/to live here pleasant. I learn that "S+Make+To-inf.+O.C." is a wrong sentence, but " S+Make+V-ing+O.C." is right. But, I don't understand why it is.Read More...
"Living" is correct. The correct sentence is: "¢ Situated at an elevation of 1,350m, the city of Kathmandu, which looks out on the sparkling Himalayas, enjoys a warm climate year-round that makes living here pleasant. _______ There is an expression: make + somebody or something + adjective. The somebody or something has to be a noun or pronoun, or a noun form of a verb (the gerund). In your sentence you need a gerund. Here are some examples: The arid climate will make your skin dry. All this...Read More...

short/shortly

<Which is a correct answer, short or shortly? And, why?> Such penalties result in a player being sent to an isolated area called the penalty box, after which the offender's team must operate a player short/shortly .Read More...
Thank you very much.Read More...

(a) cause of concern

The following sentence is from TIME 2000. Why is there no "a" for "concern"? Any difference between with or without "a"? So it is real cause for concern that he has joined the chorus of scientists and environmentalists who are saying that the watery threat to New Orleans left standing by the end of the century. AppleRead More...
Apple, I suspect that your question is about the noun "cause," not "concern," but just to be safe, let me say that "concern" in the sentence is a noncount noun. It's also a count noun, but here it is noncount. Here is the original quote from Time.com, at http://www.time.com/time/reports/mississippi/orleans.html: "...So it is real cause for concern that he has joined the chorus of scientists and environmentalists who are saying that the watery threat to New Orleans is extreme"”that in the...Read More...

Use of scenic and scenery in the same sentence

Hi, Just wonder if this sentence is ok style-wise ie. because the words scenic and scenery are used in the same sentence. The words landscape, picturesque, area and beauty had been used in earlier sentences. In place of the steamboat 'SS Rob Roy' which Verne describes in 'The Underground City,' today visitors can set sail on the 'SS Sir Walter Scott,' and enjoy a scenic cruise amidst some of the most spectacular scenery Scotland has to offer. Thanks. Siva.Read More...
ThanksRead More...

Islamic vs. Islamist

Is there any rule that dictates when to use Islamic and when to use Islamist ? It seems to me that the two adjectives are used interchangeably in the news media, although a Google News search indicates that the term Islamic is used far more frequently than Islamist , with a ratio of about 45,400 -ic citations to 5,540 for -ist . Here are some examples of each term compiled from Google: Islamist leaders, Islamist clubs, Islamist Web sites, Islamist forces, Islamic nations, Islamic banks,...Read More...
I've found it impossible to tell whether there is any difference between the two adjectives "Islamic" and "Islamist." In all the online dictionaries I've looked at, there are definitions of only the nouns Islam and Islamism, with the adjective forms Islamic and Islamist sometimes given at the end without definitions. Onelook Dictionary, at http://www.onelook.com/?w=islamic&ls=a gives this short definition of "Islamic": Quick definitions ( Islamic ) adjective : of or relating to or...Read More...

To grant someone of something

I've come across a sentence from an article in a very respectable English newspaper in Thailand as follows: Police generals responsible for the granting to a businessman of a permit to open a massage parlour must be so self-assured of their legalistic hair-splitting skill that they thought they could get away with allowing the kind of entertainment venue that offers commercial sex to operate just across the street from a school in the area. I have consulted the Longman Dictionary of...Read More...
"Granting" in this sentence is a gerund, which is the noun form of a verb. The basic pattern, "”the granting of X to Y , is very common.. In this particular passage the order of the sentence elements has been changed to "”the granting to Y ("a businessman") of X (a permit to open a massage parlour") Why has the basic pattern been altered? Because the object of the preposition "of" ("a permit to open a massage parlour") is long. If the basic word order were followed, the indirect object ("a...Read More...

Relate to/be related to

This is a reposting of a question by Hubertzhai. Marilyn 2.what is the difference between relate to and be related to?Read More...
The two words do overlap somewhat, but they have some important differences. RELATE [TO] The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000. at http://www.bartleby.com/61/58/R0135800.html ...gives this information on "relate" in its intransitive use: relate [...] INTRANSITIVE VERB: 1. To have connection, relation, or reference: The symbols relate to an earlier system . 2. To have or establish a reciprocal relationship; interact: She doesn't relate well to her...Read More...

Distinguish from/between

1.i wonder what the difference is between "to distinguish sth from sth else" and "to distinguish between sth in plural form".Read More...
You can distinguish a certain thing, person, or group that you have been talking or writing about from another thing, person, or group. For example, "”It was originally called the New or Great Shul to distinguish it from a still older one, which was demolished in 1867. When newer synagogues weere built in ... http://www.sacred-destinations.com/ czech-republic/prague-old-new-synagogue.htm "”are sometimes called 'Irish' potatoes. More properly they should simply be called 'potatoes' or 'white...Read More...

The usage of "that is" at the end of a sentence

I have seen quite a few sentences that put "that is" at the end of the sentence. Here is one example: To all intents and purposes, what he really meant, probably, was that he wouldn't intentionally tell lies, if he could help it, that is. What is the purpose of this phrase? Can it be moved to other places in the sentence? Thank you very muchRead More...
"That is,..." is a very useful phrase. The basic form of the sentence would be "”To all intents and purposes, what he really meant, probably, was that he wouldn't intentionally tell lies, that is, if he could help it. "That is" in this kind of context introduces a clarifying or qualifying idea that explains or limits the previous statement in some way. In this sentence, "that is, if he could help it" qualifies the statement "...he wouldn't intentionally tell lies." Google examples of the...Read More...
×
×
×
×