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plan/am planning - intend/am intending

In _Fundamentals of English Grammar_, the use of both "I plan" and "I am planning" and "I intend" as well as "I am intending" show up in Chapter 4, Exercise 30. Since both are given (rightly, in my opinion) in the Answer Key, students ask about the reason on a regular basis. The only explanation I have for students is the arbitrary "These verbs can be used either as progressive or nonprogressive." They do not appear to fall under the umbrella of "duration of a habitual or usual...Read More...
This response is from Betty Azar Dear Karen, In saying "I intend," you are saying that you have already made the decision to do something. It is the stative meaning of the word: the speaker is saying that this intention is a "state" that exists now, with action of creating the intention having taken place in the past. There is no action taking place at present. The same is true of "I plan." I really don't know what else I'd say. Their use in the present progressive is akin, it seems to me,...Read More...

as long as/so long as

In the answer key of Azar textbook, it is said that "As long as I live, I'll not forget her" is right but "So long as I live, I'll not forget her" is not good. Why? Is 'so long as' akward at the beginning of the sentence?Read More...
"As long as I live" is the correct answer, the one that is used most frequently. Additionally, however, "so long as" is occasionally used at the beginning of a sentence, and is not incorrect. The answer key, which seeks to remain short, tries to give guidance on idiomatic usage, i.e., what a native speaker most probably would or would not do in a specific linguistic context. Betty Azar says that in the next revision of Understanding and Using English Grammar, the answer key will include "so...Read More...

generic count noun

can I say "The/An encyclopedia contains information about many things" in addition to "encyclopedias contain..."?Read More...
Yes, both "the encyclopedia " and "an encyclopedia" could refer to the generic "encyclopedia" in your sentence. "An encyclopedia" would refer to one encyclopedia that is representative of an entire class. "The encyclopedia" could also refer to one specific encyclopedia, but in a context it might refer to a generic encyclopedia: Teacher: Which is more valuable to you – the dictionary or the encyclopedia? Student: The encyclopedia! The encyclopedia contains information about many things...Read More...

reported speech

Dear All, Please take a look at the following three scenarios and I would be grateful for your comments/corrections, regarding the reported speech. On Sunday, Neil says to me, " If my wife has not had the baby by Wednesday, the doctors will operate on her." Scenario 1 On Monday, A asks me if Neil's wife has had her baby and I reply , " I don't know, but, Neil said if she has not had it by Wednesday, the doctors will operate on her." Scenario 2 On Wednesday, B asks me if Neil's wife has had...Read More...
These scenarios allow for several possibilities. They're listed below, with comments. [On Sunday, Neil says to me, " If my wife has not had the baby by Wednesday, the doctors will operate on her."] Scenario 1 On Monday, A asks me if Neil's wife has had her baby and I reply , " I don't know, but, Neil said if she has not had it by Wednesday, the doctors will operate on her." Comment: The tenses in the reported conditional ("If she hasn't had it, ... the doctors will ...") are appropriate,...Read More...

Verb and tense agreement.

Hi, I would be most grateful for your assistance: In the restful sitting room, a pair of antique horse-shoe chairs, which Serene's husband picked up in Hong Kong a few years agao, is combined with a modern sofa and lighting, Is combined - is this correct. If it, could you explain why. Thanks for your assistance. SivaRead More...
Thanks.Read More...

perfect/perfect progressive

Can I say "So far this week, you have been giving me a lot of assignments every day" rather than "....you have given me..."?Read More...
The sentence is OK, although it would be much more natural to use the present perfect simple, since the sentence has "every day," which implies a series of discrete events, one per day. Still, there's nothing intrinsically ungrammatical about the example sentence. It's the expression "so far" that makes it a little odd with the present perfect progressive. "So far" means "up to the present moment." If you are already using the present perfect progressive, you don't need a marker to signal...Read More...

position of adverbs

"I will still be studying in my room then" and "I will be still studying in my room then"-- Are both correct with the placement of the adverb?Read More...
The first sentence – "I will still be studying in my room then" – is correct. "Still" is a midsentence adverb, and Azar* describes its use this way: A midsentence adverb (1) precedes a simple present tense. We still need to wear coats. (2) follows am, is, are, was, were: It is still cold . (3) comes between a helping verb and a main verb. Bob has already arrived (4) precedes a negative helping verb: Ann still hasn't come . (5) follows he subject in a question: Have you already seen that...Read More...

it's best...

Dear All, Which of the following two is correct or are both correct ? A) I think it's best if you come on Sunday. B) I think it's best if you came on Sunday. Thank you. Regards, RickyRead More...
A) is correct.. It's a conditional sentence expressing a true idea about the present or future: use the present tense form in both the –if clause and the result clause B) needs a modal in the main clause: "it would/ might/ be best if you came on Sunday." This makes it a contrary-to-fact conditional referring to the future. _______ Google show 2,750 examples of "best if you come," like this: "¢ ... and music. Here are some details about each one: 1. Script. It is best if you come with a rough...Read More...

It's hard to learn, or...is hard to learn

Of the following two sentences, (1) sounds more natural to me, although they are both technically correct. Am I the only one that feels this way? (1) This Chinese character is hard to learn. (2) It's hard to learn this Chinese character. Thank you always. AppleRead More...
As you say, both sentences are correct, but one might be more appropriate than the other for a given context. There are all kinds of reasons for preferring one word order over another, depending on what comes before and what comes after. One principle is "old information first, new information last." If you've been talking about Chinese characters, you would use Sentence 1, which has the "old" information (this Chinese character) first and the "new" information (is hard to learn) second.Read More...

bring to an end.

Hello~ Great teachers! THE Football Association are to bring to an end a lucrative film contract after being embarrassed by the notorious Vinnie Jones video, writes Rob Shepherd. I wonder how the phrase is used as transitive.Read More...
"To bring to an end" is an idiom meaning "to terminate." The sentence means "THE Football Association are to terminate a lucrative film contract after being embarrassed by the notorious Vinnie Jones video, writes Rob Shepherd." If the direct object, including modifying phrases and clauses, is long, the entire idiom comes before the direct object, as in the example sentence, which has "are to bring to an end" before the direct object phrase, "a lucrative film contract." More examples (from...Read More...

About past perfect tense

It's clear that past perfect tense is used to refer to actions that took place before another past action. However, what is not clear, at least for me, is whether the action in past perfect needs to complete before the action in the past tense takes place. For example: Ryan arrived at store but Mr. Johnson had closed the store. Here: The closing of the store was complete before the arrival of Ryan. But: I had been waiting for more than an hour when they arrived. Here: Although the waiting...Read More...
The past perfect simple means "before then/before a past point of time." If the verb denotes a single event, such as closing a store, the first event will have been completed at some point before the next event. If the verb denotes a state, activity, or habit, the period of that state, activity, or habit is seen as over by the time of the next event. The past perfect progressive also means ""before then/before a past point of time," but it is different in aspect. If the verb denotes an...Read More...

The use of 'should"

Consider the sentence below: An effective vaccine is still needed, should the disease reemerge. However, several factors, including the lack of a clear market, has slowed research, but work is ongoing. I was taught that when "should" is fronted in a sentence, it might be an alternative way of expressing conditional sentence. However, when I changed the sentence above into the if-clause I got: An effective vaccine is still needed, if the disease should reemerge. The sentence sounds odd...Read More...
What makes the sentence not look conditional is the fact that the main verb, "is still needed," is in the simple present rather than the hypothetical future, "would still be needed." Technically, the sentence isn't a classic conditional, but examples of this kind of conditional are fairly common. Google examples: "” Although the witness selected need have no minimum age requirement, choosing a competent person is important should it be necessary for the witness to ...Read More...

Relative clause.!!

Hi.. The following sentences seem wrong. An explanatin will help me understand better, why are they wrong 1) We renovated our parent's house where I enjoy the beautiful view of the mountain. 2) The villagers shop in Reim where you are within easy reach by bus. We are asked to use the relative clause, but it is wrong usage. Can someone help please. ThnaksRead More...
In these sentences, a comma is necessary: "¢ We renovated our parent's house , where I enjoy the beautiful view of the mountain. "¢ The villagers shop in Reim , where you are within easy reach of everything by bus. The comma is used in an non-essential relative clause, that is, a clause that is not necessary in the sentence and one that adds extra information. The relative clauses in both your sentences are non-essential. Consider changing the sentences, for understanding, to sentences with...Read More...

Using coordinating conjunction in a sentence

Please consider the sentence below: The chance always exists that viruses such as SARS and H5N1 will mutate and make newly developed vaccines obsolete, but that is one of the challenges of vaccine science. The writer of the sentence uses "but" to coordinate two independent clauses. However, I don't think that the two clauses show enough contrast to use "but" here. In my opinion using "and" should be more appropriate. I wonder if "and" is possible here and if it is, whether the meaning of the...Read More...
"And" as well as "but" is appropriate. The choice of coordinating conjunction depends on how the writer/ speaker views the information in the two clauses. If the writer uses "but," s/he is saying that the situation exists and it's not good, but one has to accept it as a challenge. If the writer uses "and," s/he is saying that the bad situation exists, and furthermore, it is a challenge. You think the sentence is logical with "and," and so do I. RachelRead More...

Less increase

tommy
"Less increase in the oil's viscosity" what's its meaning? Less increase the viscosity is increased or not?Read More...
Is the viscosity increased or not? The answer is affirmative: the oil's viscosity does continue to increase, but it does so to a lesser degree than before. "Less increase" is not as common as "[a] smaller increase." The passage is written in a dense style, heavy on nominals and noun-noun compounds (viscosity; bearing corrosion; wear; oxidation inhibition properties). Nominals reduce the number of active verbs and adjectives in a passage, at the expense of general readability. A passage...Read More...

past perfect/past progressive

Can you say "The science of medicine had advanced a great deal during the 19th century" or "The science of medicine was advancing a great deal during the 19th century" to emphasise "duration"?Read More...
Both sentences -- "The science of medicine had advanced a great deal during the 19th century" and "The science of medicine was advancing a great deal during the 19th century" are used in contexts that shows their tenses in relation to other tenses. For example, when you say "The science of medicine had advanced a great deal during the 19th century," the sentence will be in a context of this advancement's occurring before other events. You might say, "At the beginning of the 20th century,...Read More...

Using "etc" with "Such as" or "For example"

In "The Element of Style", Strunk and White forbids the use of "etc" with the expression: "for example" or "such as" by stating that " At the end of a list introduced by such as, for example, or any similar expression, etc. is incorrect. " To my surprise, a number of examples can be found, especially those in well-respected media such as BBC, CNN or NY times, that show the use of "etc" in combination with the expressions. Here are a few examples: The goal was to eventually determine what...Read More...
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage briefly discusses about this particular issue. It states that "a few commentators also warn that etc. should not be used at the end of the list introduced by for example or such as . The redundancy of etc. in such contexts is not strongly felt,however, and the usage considered erroneous by the commentators does occur in standard writing."Read More...

would rather

Dear All, Michael Swan, in Practical English Usage, says " We can use "would rather" to say that one person would prefer another or others to do something. We use a special structure with a past tense - would rather + subject + past tense for exmaple, "Tomorrow's difficult. I would rather you came next weekend." Collins Cobuild English dictionary gives the following examples : A) I have no information one way or the other,but I would rather he do it than not do it. B) I would rather Beth...Read More...
The examples given by Collins Cobuild dictionary are quite interesting. I've checked with another reference complied by the same editorial team--Collins Cobuild English Usage. And here is what I found: On page 567: You can also use would rather followed by a clause to say that you would prefer something to happen or be done. In the clause you use the simple past tense. Would you rather she came to see me? 'May I go on?'--'I'd rather you didn't.' However, the authors don't discuss the...Read More...

open

I would like to be clear on the difference of meanings of "open(as a verb)" "be opened(Should 'opened' be considered as a passive verb or an adjective?)" and "be open to Noun (Shouldn't we use 'be opened to'?) Please kindly help. Thanks.Read More...
The verb "open," like "close," move," grow," and all other change-of-state verbs, plays a dual role in English. On the one hand, it is a transitive verb (He opens clams with a knitting needle) and on the other it is an intransitive verb (why does this flower open only at night?). The combination of BE plus the -ed or -en form has more than one meaning. It can be a true passive, for example ( all examples are from Google): "” Designed by Louis de Soissons, the architect who planned Welwyn...Read More...

nothing follows

I can't understand the expression 'nothing follows' in the following sentence. Please kindly help me. "... It is no principle of biology. On some interpretations, the statement just seems false. Nothing follows about the theory of evolution which in no way suggests that the systems that have developed should be well adapted to conditions of life."Read More...
"Nothing follows" probably means "there is nothing (that is, not any evidence) that follows (that can be logically deduced) to explain the theory of evolution." The comma here is very relevant. If there is a comma after "evolution," "which" would refer to the whole sentence: that is, the fact that nothing follows does not in any way suggest that the developed systems are well-adapted to life. However, if there is no comma after "evolution," it would mean that "evolution" itself does not...Read More...

have

Hi, again!!! In a grammar test book, I fould the following question: 1. She had Ms. Brunelli ____ the new clerk around yesterday. (answer: show) In the choice options, there was 'showing'. I can feel that if I put 'showing' instead of 'show' the sentence doen't seem quite right. But, generally, the 'have' verb can take participles as object complement. For example, 2. Mr. Gower had had us all working so hard. Please kindly let me know when the verb 'have' cannot have a active participle as...Read More...
Thanks for this new question. I should have said "... with two exceptions: see below, IIIa and IIIc ." a. The restaurant had us wait far too long to be seated (this is cheating; it was really the management) An inanimate subject noun has no authority to compel an animate object to do anything. We often see or hear utterances like "the restaurant had us wait," "the instructions had us go to the wrong office," or "the bank had me fill out yet another bunch of forms" but these nouns really...Read More...

reflexive pronoun

Please excuse me for asking so many questions today. I've delayed and delayed questions but I found time today to ask.I hope you would understand. I found the following sentence; "Those who express the most satisfaction with their life and career tend to use a diverse view of themselves ." In the above sentence, can we use 'them' instead of 'themselves'? I know that if the person same as the sentence subject is used as an object, we should use reflexive pronoun, like "He killed...Read More...
But it is the same. "Those" (people) and "themselves" refer to the same persons. One would say: "I....tend to use a diverse view of MYSELF," "you....tend to use a diverse view of YOURSELF," "We tend to use a diverse view of OURSELVES," etc. "Me," "you," or "us" would not be used in those sentences. "Themselves" is the object of the preposition "of," and it refers to the same people that the subject "those" refers to. RachelRead More...

still

I don't understand the meaning of 'still' in the following sentence. "Have faith in God and still speak the truth." Please kindly help. Thanks.Read More...
The passage is incomprehensible until we realize that the word "still" is being used in an earlier and now obsolete sense. Before the late nineteenth century "still" meant "always." The Oxford English Dictionary gives this definition for the adverb "still": "3 With reference to action or condition: Without reference to change, interruption, or cessation; continually, constantly; on every occasion, invariably; always. Obs. exc. poet ." In modern English, the passage would be "Have faith in...Read More...

that

In the following sentence, the 'that' in bold type seems to be relative pronoun and non-restrictive use. I wonder whether you agree or not. If you agree, is it against the rule that 'that' can not be used as non-restrictive use? If you don't agree, please kindly let me know how I should understand the grammatical role of the 'that'. "Virtually all the elements that make up our bodies are replaced completely every few years and yet we remain recognizable as individuals with a unique...Read More...
In the passage, "that" belongs with "is," to form the expression "that is." There should be a comma after "is," to set the phrase apart as a conjunction. "” ... and yet we remain recognizable as individuals with a unique personality and store of experiences, that is, until the flow of energy and matter through our bodies ceases." "That is" is a short form of "that is to say." Dictionary.com at http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=that%20is ...gives this definition: "To explain more...Read More...

Present perfect and Present perfect progressive: revisited

I know that this is one of the frequently asked topics on this site. However, I still have a question that need to be clarified. In Understanding and using English Grammar, Betty Azar states that "With certain verbs (most notably live, work, teach), there is little or no difference in meaning between the two tenses when since or for is used." Example He has worked at the same store for ten years. He has been working at the same store for ten years. I wonder if they are still interchangeable...Read More...
In general, the negative present perfect progressive and the negative present perfect simple are interchangeable except for two important features: 1) the idea of "closed-ended" vs. "open-ended" action and the idea of 2) permanence vs. temporariness. When you use the present perfect simple, you are treating the action or state as a "package," i.e. it has a beginning and an end. For example, the "working" in the example sentence is seen from the point of view of the present moment, and we...Read More...
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