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reveal + reflexive pronoun + infinitive

Hi, I have a doubt about the verb "reveal", concerning the possibility of the structure "reveal" + reflexive pronoun + infinitive. Google searches have confirmed that the occurrence of the structure is widespread. My question is, is it actually good English? For example, would it be okay to say something like, "The illiteracy situation in Brazil is better, the percentage revealing itself to be lower" According to educated usage, 1 - Is the part "revealing itself to be" correct? 2 - Is the...Read More...
Dear Marilyn, Thank you once again for the depth of your comments and the wealth of examples. The Grammar Exchange is really great for people who want to learn more and more! Best, Gisele São Paulo, BrazilRead More...

relative word "that" with a comma

English Grammar by Betty Azar (p.281) says "When commas are necessary, the pronoun that may not be used (only who, whom, which, whose, where, and when may be used) This is how I had understood relative words, until I saw the following sentence in the September issue of Reader's Digest. Honeybees die because their stings have special barbs, attached to a poison sac, that lodge so firmly in the victim's skin that when the bee flies off, both sing and sac, together with a large part of the...Read More...
Yes, Chuncan Feng's answer is succinct and perfect. I did not see his there when I went to post mine. Thank you both -- Apple for an interesting question and Chuncan for a fine answer.Read More...

"same" as an adjective

In sentence (1) "red" is an adjective. In sentences (2)and (3), is "same" adjective? If so, why does (3) sound wrong without "the" before "same"? (1)I have a red bag. She has a bag too. It is red. (2)She has a bag. It is the same bag ( as she had last night, or as the one I have) (3)I have a bag. She has a bag too. They are same. AppleRead More...
"Same" is one of the few adjectives usually preceded by "the." These adjectives show uniqueness, and as described by Quirk*, incorporate "the 'logical' use of the ." Included in this very small group of adjectives are ordinals such as "first," general ordinals such as "next" and "last," and superlative adjectives like "best" and "largest." _______ Google shows 22,400,000 examples of "the same" and 1,810,000 examples of "same" with "the" excluded. Of the latter, many examples of "same" occur...Read More...

potato chips

I'm wondering why "potato chips" is countable. My take on count and non-count nouns is whether the noun in question still retains its function and characteristic even when broken in small pieces. If yes, it's uncountable. If no, it's countable. A pen is countable and chalk is uncountable in this theory. According to Longman's dictionary of contemporary English, "chip" is a small piece broken off something. To me, potato chips are still potato chips when broken into smaller pieces. I know...Read More...
A chip is something that can be counted. It is a count noun in the Collins COBUILD* It's a small piece or slice. A potato chip is a small, thin piece of potato that has been cooked in a certain way. There might be 20 or 50 or 200 chips in a bag of potato chips. If potato chips are broken into smaller pieces, they are still potato chips, but they might be spoken of this way: "¢ I was going to eat some potato chips, but I see that they are all gone. There's nothing left except crumbs. _______...Read More...

'Move up'? 'Increased my level'? 'Stepped up'? 'Made progress'?

Hello I'd like to ask how to express in this situation. If move to a higher level B from C, are there some sentences which can be used? 1) I leveled up from C to B. 2) I increased the level from C to B. 3) I stepped up the level from C to B. 4) I improved the level from C to B. 5) I made progress from the level C to B. I'd be glad to have better sentences. Thank you.Read More...
If you moved up a level – based on objective standards -- because of efforts and skill of your own, you could say, for example: "¢ I advanced to level B (from C). or "¢ I went up to level B (from level C) or "¢ I moved up a level You might say this if you advanced to a higher group in a league of tennis teams, for example. After winning a certain percentage of games, you go to the next level. Or, in tennis tournaments organized by the ladder: when you beat your opponent, s/he or he is...Read More...

Tense with 'until recently'

Hello, teachers! Would you please tell me which tense is correct? 1. Until recently he [considered, has considered, had considered] himself a Democrat. 2. Until recently the civil war [was, has been, had been] largely unreported in the press. 3. Until recently, study of the use of interferon [was, has been, had been] restricted by its limited availability in pure form. Thank you very much. Best regards.Read More...
Because "recently" can be understood as related either to the moment of speaking/writing, or to a past time frame, the example sentences are correct with any of the choices. The choice of verb tense after "until recently" seems to be very free. If the time frame is past, the choice will probably be past perfect, but the simple past is used as well. If the time frame is present or present perfect, the choices are threefold: simple past, present perfect, or past perfect. Here are a few...Read More...

Noun Clause

Dear all, Here is a question in the exercise book of my school. Johnny told me _______ he was sick and _______ he would have one day off. (A)X, that (B) X, X (C) that, X (D)so, that The given answer is (A). Can anyone explain why (A) is the answer to the question? Thanks a lot for your patience!Read More...
The test item is not well written, since (A), although correct, is not the only potentially correct choice. Obviously, answer (D) is not correct, because "so" is not a complementizer or subordinator. Then what about (B) and (C)? The sentence has two noun clauses coordinated by "and." We already know that the first "that" is optional and may be omitted. The question is whether we can omit "that" before the second noun clause. Here's the rule: You can omit "that" before the second clause...Read More...

The public are...?

I heard a sentence something like this: The public are getting fed up with their government. Is it possible to say "the public are" instead of "the public is"? The person speaking had a British accent, so perhaps this is the British way? HowardRead More...
Here's another interchange from the Grammar Exchange Archives. Both this and the previous posting can be viewed in the Archives from the left sidebar, under "collective nouns." _______ Q: When it comes to subject-verb concord, how do you teach collective nouns such as committee, family and government? The usual statement that they are singular when treated as a single unit and plural when their members are taken into consideration is practically of little value to learners of English. What...Read More...

animal groups

There are certain ways of counting animals; a pride of lions, a pack of wolves, a school of fish, a flight of birds, a drove of cattle, a troop of chimpanzees, etc. Sometimes the group name is interchangeable, although one is sometimes preferred over the other. For sheep, both "a herd of" and "a flock of" are used, although " a flock of" is preferred, according to the Google search. For elephants, "a herd of " is the norm, not "a flock of ". The size of the group, the size of the animals...Read More...
I think you meant "Why is 'flock' preferred for sheep but not for cattle?" The name for a collection of sheep, or for collections of animals in general, is not determined by the form of the plural of that animal. The singular of "sheep" is "sheep," and the plural is also "sheep." We talk about one sheep, or a thousand sheep. The name for the group is usually based on other features of the animals. Some names don't seem to be based on anything related to the animals at all (A For example, the...Read More...

'speak French' or 'speak IN French'

Hello I'd like to check which is correct. 1) Can I speak French at the meeting? 2) Can I speak in French at the meeting? Shoud I put "in" or are both correct? And one more question: Is 3) OK? 3) Can I use French at the meeting? Thank you. LinaRead More...
After posting my comments about "speak French" vs. "speak in French" yesterday, I thought some more about this topic. I thought about it because I heard two people in the supermarket speaking Spanish to each other. That is how one would describe what those people were doing, "speaking Spanish." However, if those two people wanted to communicate only to each other, not letting the rest of the world in on their conversation, they might be "speaking IN Spanish" so that nobody else in the...Read More...

present perfect in a dependent clause expressing future idea

Present perfect used in the dependent clause of a sentence expressing a future idea. We normally teach that, if you have a sentence with an independent and a dependent clause expressing future ideas, the verb in the independent clause shows future time and the verb in the dependent clause is expressed using a present time form. --> Tomorrow, when she [gets] here, I ['ll leave] immediately. However, sometimes we can use present perfect in the dependent clause. --> You ['ll feel] much...Read More...
The subordinating adverb "when" behaves differently from the adverb "after." "When" can indicate that two things happen simultaneously ("I know that when she leaves the premises, she'll be making a loud fuss"); that they happen in sequence ("I know that when she leaves the premises, I'll probably collapse with relief); or overlap in time ("I know that when she leaves the premises, the neighbors will see it") if you want to use "when" and also want to make sure that the first action is...Read More...

the expression of gratitude

Hello I'd like to ask about the expression of gratitude. 1) You've been very kind to me. I cannot thank you too much. Is this expression Ok? Is " too much " correct? If it's not, would you tell me the right way? Thank you. LinaRead More...
Another common way to express thanks is "I can't thank you enough [for your kindness]." Marilyn MartinRead More...

Past perfect and chronological sequencing

Past perfect and simple past for sequenced actions in the past. Normally, grammar books teach that, when we have two events in the past, and one is completed before the next one occurs, the event that occurs first in time is expressed using past perfect, and the one that occurs closest to present time is expressed using simple past: --> He [had already finished] by the time she [arrived]. However, in some instances, the event that occurs earliest is expressed in simple past, and the...Read More...
You are right in your explanation of the use of the past perfect: when we have two events in the past, and one is completed before the next one occurs, the event that occurs first in time is expressed using past perfect, and the one that occurs closest to present time is expressed using simple past. In your first sentence, (He [had already finished] by the time she [arrived]), "by the time" in the adverb clause calls for the past perfect in the main clause. "When" could possibly be...Read More...

Backshift or not

Hello, teachers! Please help me with this! 1. He realized that he [forgot, had forgotten] the dentist's appointment. 2. He realized that he [forgot, had forgotten] about the promise. Would you please tell me which tense is correct? Some people say that "had forgotten" is the only correct choice in both sentences. I agree with them that "had forgotten" is more common, but I think "forgot" is also correct when we say that he forgot and didn't meet the appointment or keep the promise while the...Read More...
In order to be unambiguous, the verb should be in the past perfect, especially in written style. But in informal usage, as Rachel has just explained in the answer to Hogel's question on "Simple past or past perfect," the simple past is also used if the context makes it clear that the action had taken place beforehand. I recommend reading Rachel's full answer, since it explains this point very clearly. Marilyn MartinRead More...

Tense in the because-clause

Hello, teachers! Would you please tell me which tense is correct? The tenses in bold are the ones that, teachers in an edu-TV say, are correct. 1. She is sad as she [is, was ] dismissed. [I agree with the teacher.] 2. She was sad as she [was, had been ] dismissed. 3. Last night she looked sad since she [ was, had been ] fired. [I think #2 and #3 has the same structure and meaning. However, the teachers say different ways. Which is correct? Are both OK, or is only the past perfect OK?] 4. He...Read More...
To begin with, if you are going to use "as" as a marker of the reason for something, you have to use a comma to mark off the previous clause. Even better, you should use a stronger marker of cause, since "as" is ambiguous in meaning. "As" can indicate a reason or cause, but it can also indicate simultaneous actions. At any rate, Sentence 1 with "as" is marginally OK if you use a comma. Two possibilities exist: 1. She is sad, as she WAS DISMISSED. The simple past is correct because it...Read More...

The simple past or past perfect

Hello, teachers! Would you please tell me which tense is correct? I think both are OK with the same meaning. Am I correct? 1. She told me proudly that she [earned, had earned] $120,000 last year. 2. She told me outright that she couldn't forget that I [dumped, had dumped] her. Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
Well, yes. That's a qualified "yes." In both sentences, the past perfect ("had earned" and "had dumped"), shows clearly that the actions happened, i.e., began and ended, before she told me. Using the past perfect would be the most accurate way to describe these events in the past. However, there is a tendency now to use the simple past instead of the past perfect when the meaning is clear from the context that the action or event took place before the reporting verb ("told" in these...Read More...

for x to

Hi, Should I use "for" or "to", in sentences such as _____ me, the best option is ... It sounds / seems very strange ______ me I think "for" is slightly better than "to" in the first one and "to" is better in the second one, but I'm not sure! Prepositions are indeed an eternal challenge ! By the way, a challenge for me, or a challenge to me? Oh God... ...A challenge... I think "for me" sounds better here, like, "They're very difficult for me", "It's difficult for me / It's a challenge for me...Read More...
Thank you so much, Marilyn! GiseleRead More...

For/to me

This was originally posted by Gisele at 11:11 P.M. September 24 Hi again, In the following pairs, are both options possible and do they mean the same? Pair 1: (a) This is important for me (b) This is important to me Pair 2: (a) It is important for me to understand this (b) It is important to me to understand this Pair 3: (a) For me, this is a matter of great importance (b) To me, this is a matter of great importance Thanks, GiseleRead More...
Thank you very much, Marilyn! GiseleRead More...

neither...nor I

Hello, I have some doubts related to verb agreement when we use the neither-nor construction. I have read all kinds of conflicting information about the topic and I'm very confused! I'm especially interested in the case when the first person singular subject pronoun "I" is the second item. In fact, this is another point that is not clear to me - the need / lack of need to use "I" in the second position. For example, what is the correct agreement in a sentence like, "Neither ... nor I < be...Read More...
Thanks a lot, Chuncan Feng and Rachel! GiseleRead More...

Relative pronoun in complement use

Todays' third question relates to relative pronouns which are used as complements. In an effort to understand this, I refered to A COMPREHENSIVE GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE (1985) by Quirk et al. But the explanations seem to be contradictory and confusing (probably because of my lack of understading). The followings are their explanations; 1. In page 367, Note b. Which can have a personal noun phrase as its antecedent when the head is a complement with the role of characterization. ex)...Read More...
The treatment in Quirk et al.* of relative clauses in which the head is a (nonprepositional) subject complement is, to my perception, confusing. (see the final part of this posting for explanation of "nonprepositional subject complement.") In my posting of Sept. 21, referring to the explanation and examples on p. 1260 of Quirk, I said "The authors give no examples of restrictive relative clauses in such a context, and I can't think of any restrictive relative clause in that kind of context...Read More...

Guilty or not?

This question has been sent in by Ender . Which one is correct or do they mean the same? a) in the trial, he was found not guilty b) in the trial, he was not found guiltyRead More...
"Not guilty" is a legal term. It is defined like this by Bryan Garner* "To be not guilty is to have been exonerated by a jury of a crime charged – regardless of actual blame." This means that the defendant has been found free of blame for a stated offense. It is a set term. "He was not found guilty" could be confusing. It might mean that he was innocent, or it might mean that no evidence ever came forth, one way or the other. It suggests that he was found something else besides "guilty." The...Read More...

"do " and "can" + "understand" or "know"

"to understand" and "to know" have a semantic similarity. But we say "Do you understand ?" and "Can you understand?" although "can you" version is used less frequently. One tenth of "Do you understand" in Google search. On the other hand, we say "Do you know something?" but we almost never say " Can you know something?". I'm wondering how to explain this fact to students. Any help or advice would be appreciated. Thank you always. Apple.Read More...
Indeed, the verb "understand" can be used in the progressive, while the verb "know" can't (except in a letter I once read that had been written during the First World War by Gertrude Stein, the avant-garde American writer). This is why we can say that "know" is more stative than "understand." It's perfectly natural to say "Are you understanding me?" or "I'm understanding more and more English as I live in the U.S./Britain/Australia/Canada, etc." With "know," we would have to say "I'm...Read More...

tense in "not until" cluse

Hi, once again, I wonder if both of the two sentences are right; 1.Not until 1926 did no one succeed in building a rocket. 2. Not until 1926 had no one succeeded in building a rocket. Both the sentences seem to make sense to me. If I understand that they succeeded in building a rocket in 1926, above number 1 seems to be correct. But if I want to express that building a rocket was not succeeded before 1926, number 2 seems to make more sense. Please kindly let me know if I am right.Read More...
Inversion has a pleasing sonority to my ears and I deem it a nice stylistic feature in English. I wonder, though, whether it may lend a text an overly stilted tone and is thus best avoided. In modern day English, is it fitting to make use of inversion in written language, or is one apt to be perceived as being lordly? It's not clear to me whether it is a fact that "not until" can only be followed by a past perfect when "until" is a conjunction, but not when it is preposition. Is it not...Read More...

pronoun

I hearfully thank you for your informative answers given to my questions. Were it not for this site, I would get lost finding no way to solving questions. You always make me feel that grammar is exciting and enjoyable. I am reading a Toefl grammar book and the following question grabs my attention: After the Revolution, although some advances were made in education, _____ a slow process. In the question, the answer to be put into the underlined part is "it was" rather than "they were".Read More...
Hi Moon, I have also been learning a great deal from reading postings and answers on this site. The Internet is a wonderful tool, isn't it? Besides, it's no doubt a privilege for anyone serious about learning English to be tutored by such knowledgeable and dedicated professionals as Marilyn and Rachel! Regarding your question, I'm positive that the correct answer is the one indicated in the answer key, "it was". After the Revolution, although some advances were made in education, it was a...Read More...

Ago

Hi, I came to come across the following sentence; "Experts came to see the paintings and said that they had been painted over 20,000 years ago" The author seems to have used past participle in "had been painted" because its tense is past of the past "said." However, according to Michael Swan (p.33, Practical English Usage, second edition), "Ago is used with a past tense and a time expression to count back from the present" while "Before is used in the same way (with a past perfective tense)"...Read More...
Very interesting! When I read Moon's sentence, I also thought that "before" would be the most appropriate choice in reported speech, to reinforce the "past before past". Thank you, Moon and Marilyn, for calling my attention to the issue and broadening my understanding! GiseleRead More...
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