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pico de gallo

I recently found a recipe for rhubarb pico de gallo. It is a kind of salsa. What does "pico de gallo" mean specifically in relation to salsa?Read More...
I had always thought that "pico de gallo" was indeed a salsa, one with a hot, spicy taste. "Gallo" is "rooster" in Spanish, and "pico" is "beak," so I thought that "pico" was related to "picante," the meaning of which is "pricking, piercing, stinging, pungent, hot, acrid, high-seasoned...."* But here is another definition, in fact the only definition I could find on the Internet.: "¢ Meaning 'rooster's beak', pico de gallo is a chunky salsa originally meant to be eaten by hand. The name...Read More...

uchronia

I found this word in an article by Philip Roth in the New York Times Book Review. I cannot find it in any of my online dictionaries. He was talking about Orwell's view of the world and wrote, "He imagined a dystopia, I imagined a uchronia."Read More...
"Uchronia" is alternate history, according to www.uchronia.net/intro.html . Here are the first few paragraphs on the site. It's very interesting! "What is Alternate History? Simply stated, an alternate history is the description and/or discussion of an historical "what if" with some speculation about the consequences of a different result. Other names which may apply to the form include alternative histories, allohistories, counterfactuals, if-worlds, uchronias, etc. Whatever it is called,...Read More...

"fun", comparative form?

1. It's important to keep a promise. 2. It's fun to play tennis. Looking at the two sentences above, we can see both "important" and "fun" are adjectives. What are the comparative and superlative forms of "fun"? Since it's a short adjective with a single short vowel, it should be, according to the general rule, funner and funnest, as in "redder, reddest", but I don't think they are standard usage yet. Then "more fun" and "the most fun" would be acceptable? AppleRead More...
Do you mean what other nouns can be used with anticipatory it + an infinitive? Not nearly as many as adjectives! A few are: It's work to... It's a pleasure to... It's a shame/pity to... It's a problem to... It's a blessing to... Of course, making comparisons with these count nouns would be different: "it's more of a xxx to..." or "it's a bigger/greater xxx to..." _______ Here's an interesting USAGE NOTE from the American Heritage Dictionary: USAGE NOTE The use of fun as an attributive...Read More...

"Responsible' + infinitive, or + 'for' and gerund?

This question has been sent in by J. Ebert. Someone edited my copy. I took issue. Version 1: The board is responsible to determine the budget. Version 2: The board is responsible for determining the budget. _______ Question 1: Which is correct? Both seem grammatically correct to me. Question 2: If both are grammatically correct, should one be preferred, or is it purely a matter of personal choice? Question 3: If one should be preferred, why?Read More...
The preposition that goes with "responsible," that connects it to its complement, is "for." "For" is followed by a noun, a noun phrase, or the gerund form of the verb. "¢ You Are Responsible for Making Sure Our Mail Gets to You. Posted Aug 26, 2004, 1:45 AM ET by Anne P. Mitchell, Esq. ... spam.weblogsinc.com/ If "responsible" is followed by "to," the "to" is a preposition, and its object refers to the person or persons owed the responsibility. "¢ "When asked to define responsible...Read More...

'While' and 'although'

Hello, As I was browsing earlier today in a forum on another site about the English language, a posting caught my attention. The discussion regards the possibility of using "while", with the meaning of "although", in the following sentences: 1 - The street is wet while it hasn't been raining 2 - While it hasn't been raining, the street is wet I find both sentences a bit strange (the second seems a little better – I can't explain why!) I know the conjunction "while" can be equivalent to...Read More...
Excellent explanation! FRCRead More...

'Will finish' or 'will have finished'?

This question was sent in by Sehoon. By the time I go to bed tonight, I ___ my work for the day. a. will finish b. have finished c. will have finished d. finish ---->Answer Key is "c. will have finished." Is "will" also correct if "will" express willingness? Thank you very much, Have a good day!Read More...
Yes, "will have finished." The previous posting has been corrected. Thank you.Read More...

We or They?

When asked "How are your family?" in an email, can you reply "We are fine"? Or is it more proper and natural to say "They are fine"? Apple.Read More...
Both are appropriate. "We," of course, is more inclusive and might indicate that the speaker thinks of himself/ herself in terms of the family: A: Hi, David, how are you? B: Fine, Kim, How are you? A: Fine, thanks. Your family? B: Oh, we're all fine. We're going on vacation next week. "They" would more likely to be used if the speaker is far from his family: A: Hi, Sydney, how are you? B: Fine, Chris. How about you? A: Fine, thanks. Your family? B: Oh, they're all fine. Timmy won an award...Read More...

'Percentage is' or 'percentage are'

I wonder whether the "Answer Key" is correct or not. 1. What percentage of the people in the world (is, are) illiterate? ---> Answer Key is "is". I think "are" is correct. Am I wrong?Read More...
This question about "percentage is" or "percentage are" was discussed at length on this Newsgroup previously. Follow the entire thread to interesting comments, including two from Betty Azar herself. _______ From: Susan Saint susan-don@shaw.ca Date: 26 March 2002 06:35 PERCENTAGE is supposed to follow the same rules as SOME, when it comes to subject-verb agreement, right? Then how about this sentence: The percentage of people in the world IS increasing. Should it not be ARE increasing because...Read More...

such that, such as

Can the following three sentences mean the same? Are they all grammatically acceptable? If so, any difference? 1. Let students read such books as will promote their motives for studying. 2. Let students read such books that will promote their motives for studying. 3. Let students read those books which/that will promote their motives for studying. AppleRead More...
A sentence similar to your first one is described by Quirk* this way: "In a formal and somewhat archaic usage, the subordinate clause in a such.....as construction is finite..... They were fed such sumptuous fare as kings dream of ." While a descriptive adjective, as in Quirk's sample sentence, often appears between "such" and its noun, ("such inspiring books", for example), it is not necessary. Your first sentence is acceptable, though it sounds strained. This sentence could also be, more...Read More...

Sports teams (e.g. 'the Tigers'): 'is' or 'are'?

This question was originally sent in by Hogel as a follow-up to "The Beatles was/were." Hello, teachers! Please help me again with this. What about sports teams, social clubs, etc? Is the same rule working? 1. Chances are the Tigers [are] going to lose the game. 2. The Good Boys [are] going to have a presidential election tomorrow. 3. Good Friends [are] going to participate in the event. Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
This headline appears in the New York Times this morning: Seattle Storm Douse Indiana Fever 76 - 70 (The Seattle Storm and the Indiana Fever are teams.) Note the third person plural verb (douse), used to agree with the word "storm." "Storm," of course, is a singular noun, and would normally take a third-person singular verb (douses). However, as noted, sometimes when a singular noun refers to a team, it takes a plural verb, like "douse" here. All the teams' names are non-count nouns (the...Read More...

'Between A and B,' or 'Between A to B'

I saw a sentence like the following. It wasn't written by a native speaker. I wondered if "to" should be "and". Or are they both acceptable. The class can be anywhere between 8 to 30. Apple.Read More...
The sentence is not correct. As you believe, the correct sentence is: "The class can be anywhere between eight and thirty (students?). The other speaker was probably confusing the sentence with "from....to." Another correct sentence with the same meaning would be: The class can be anywhere from eight to thirty. Rachel _______ P.S. You might notice that I've written out the words eight and thirty . That is because there is a practice to spell out certain numbers, instead of using numerals.Read More...

'Just ' and 'only'

Are "just" and "only" interchangeable? Hi, Two days ago, one of my students, Julia, said something that I found a bit puzzling (and somewhat aggravating too!) I had always assumed that when it's possible to use "only" in a sentence, the adverb "just" is also (maybe not always but most of the times) a valid option. Julia told me, however, that when she was speaking to an American lady the other day, the erudite nitpicker frowned upon the use of "just" in a certain sentence. The sentence was...Read More...
Hi Rachel, Thanks a lot for all your comments and examples! GiseleRead More...

"worry" and "be worried"

Thank you always for your information and help. I have a question. What would be the difference between "begin to worry" and " begin to be worried"? Personally I tend to say "I began to worry" instead of "I began to be worried". I would say "I'm worried" instead of "I worry". Google search yields 45400 instances of "begin or began to worry" while only 462 hits are found for "begin or began to be worried". But there are 86800 instances of "she or he worries" and 44300 examples of "she or he...Read More...
It's grammatically acceptable but not not quite as natural to say "I began to be worried" as to say "I began to GET worried." You can also say "I began to feel worried." "Be worried" expresses a static situation. The usual way to describe the transition into the state is with the verb "get." It would be somewhat unnatural to say "I began to be worried/alarmed/scared/upset" etc. The usual expression is "I began to get worried/alarmed/scared/upset." Another possibility is to use the verb...Read More...

Gerund or participle

Hello, teachers! - I saw a video clip of [your, you] singing, provided by your manager. In this sentence, which is the correct choice? I thought 'singing' was a gerund, so both were correct, but someone says it is a participle and 'your' is incorrect. Is she right? Is it possible for a video clip, not "you", to sing? Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
I think the fact that it was a video allows the singing to be considered either way "” as a completed action (gerund) or as an action in progress (participle). A lot depends on the nature of the verb phrase. If the -ing form is perceived as a completed action it is a gerund and can be used, in formal English, with the possessive. If, on the other hand, it is perceived as depicting an action in progress, it is a participle. Not all verbs allow the possessive + gerund. For example, "” I saw a...Read More...

'That,' 'who' and 'whom'

Here is a multiple choice question as to the relative pronouns. The answer key says (1) that is correct. Why aren't whom and who acceptable? He is not the coward ( ) he was ten years ago. 1.that 2.who 3. when 4. whom AppleRead More...
What an interesting point; I'd never thought about it. When I saw Apple's multiple choice question, I was a little intrigued. My instinctive answer was "that" as it just sounded much better. Still, as I continued to reflect on the other options, "who" and "whom" seemed to be okay too, based on some "rules" about adjective clauses which I have come across in many books. "Rules" can be so dangerous since they rarely account for all possibilities! Thank God gut-feeling can assist us too in...Read More...

'Who' as a noun

Hello, Is it possible for the relative pronoun "who", which normally requires an antecedent noun/pronoun, to be used independently, or do we need to say "he who / the one who / the person who, as in: 1 - Who thinks he knows it all is deluded 2 - Beware who thinks he knows it all 3 - The most untrustworthy person is who thinks he knows it all 4 - Seeking the wisdom of who thinks he knows it all can lead to trouble The sentences sound uncommon, if a little old-fashioned, but relatively okay to...Read More...
Dear Marilyn, How I love to be part of this community of English lovers - the answers I get are always so thorough, illuminating and helpful! Thank you very much indeed for the great work all of you at the Grammar Exchange have been doing! It's certainly a privilege for me to be able to draw on your knowledge! Best, GiseleRead More...

'To freak' vs. 'to freak out'

Hello, teachers! Would you please tell me the difference in meaning between these two sentences? 1. The dog freaked the boy out. 2. The dog freaked the boy. Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
Very casual English has progressed even further, making 'hang" into a full noun meaning "place to hang out." Here are a few examples from Google: "” It's a great show because it's in such an intimate setting (someone's house), it's a great hang, and the snacks and beer/coffee are tasty. "” Ubud is our next stop. It's a centre well know for its artists, and it's a regular hang for us . "” I've been there [a certain pool parlor] - it's a cool hang. Marilyn MartinRead More...

'To chase' vs. 'to chase after'

Hello, teachers! Would you please tell me the difference in meaning between these two sentences? 1. The dog chased after the boy around the house. 2. The dog chased the boy around the house. Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
Both "chase" and chase after" can be used, but not equally with "around the house." When you use "chase after" you don't usually use "around" + a noun. Google results (where * stands for "any word," in this case the direct object of the verb): "Chased after * around the" = 30 "Chased * around the" = 5,860 '"Chased after * around the house" yielded one example. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, at http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary ...gives this information: CHASE Function: verb...Read More...

Expletive subject and true subject: 'it is you that is' or 'is it you that are'?

From the following two sentences: 1). It is you that are crazy. 2). It is you that is crazy. It seems to me that sentence (1) is the correct one. However, if the sentence is changed to: 3). It is not you that are crazy. 4). It is not you that is crazy. Now, it seems to me that sentence (4) is the correct one. Is my understanding correct here?Read More...
Of the first two sentences, 2) is the one you would hear more frequently. It is informal and is correct: "¢ It is you that is (that's) crazy. Of the second two sentences, 2) is also the one you would hear more frequently. It is informal and is correct: "¢ It is not you that is (that's) crazy. _______ A passage from Quirk* about cleft sentences states: "In relative clauses and cleft sentences, a relative pronoun subject is usually followed by a verb in agreement with its antecedent. It is I...Read More...

'One' or 'it'

I know the basic usage of "one" and "it", but in the following situation, which is correct? You need a quarter to buy a drink or something but you don't have one, so you're asking a friend next to you to spare you a quarter. A: If you have a quarter, could you lend me one? B: If you have a quarter, could you lend it to me? C: If you have a quarter, can I borrow one? D: If you have a quarter, can I borrow it? I have an impression "one" is better, unless both the speaker and the listener...Read More...
Actually, B and D are correct. When you are asking about "a quarter," you are asking about only one quarter. While in the if-clause, the first clause, the quarter is one of many, in the second clause this quarter is referred to specifically. The pronoun reference in the second clause, to that one quarter, would be "it," to be specific, as in B and D. You might change the first clause to: "If you have any quarters," or "If you have some quarters." In this case, the second clause could be,...Read More...

Do we need 'it' or not?

Hello, teachers! - The event still hurts to think about [it]. Do we need 'it' or not? A native speaker says we need it, but IMHT it isn't necessary, as in "That is too heavy to lift [it]." What do you think of my thought? Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
I think that your thought is excellent to read about. (No "it.") Not only do you not need "it" in the example sentence, but you should not use it. The sentence should be: "¢ The event still hurts to think about. Actually, the sentence could be improved in this way: "¢ It still hurts to think about the event. _______ A passage from Practical English Usage* states: Note that we do not put an object pronoun after the infinitive or preposition in these cases: Cricket is not very interesting to...Read More...

That [be] the last time + 'will'

Hello, teachers! Would you please tell me which tense is best? 1. If you do this again, it will be the last time I [forgive, will forgive, am forgiving] you. 2. This is the last time we [are, will be, will have been] together before you move to Tokyo. Let's make the most of it. Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
1. If you do this again, it will be the last time I [forgive, will forgive, am forgiving] you. Any of the above will do. The pronoun "that" is more natural than "this," since the speaker is not associated with the other person's behavior: 1. If you do that again,... 2. This is the last time we [are, will be, will have been] together before you move to Tokyo. Let's make the most of it. Any of the above will do, although the "will"-future seems more natural. Marilyn MartinRead More...

the perfect continuous

Hello I'd like to ask about the perfect tense. If you want to talk about the action which began in the past and is still continuing, you will use the present perfect continuous. However, sometimes the present perfect simple seems to be used for the same situation. Would you take a look at the following sentences? 1) It has been raining hard since last night. 2) It has rained hard since last night. Instead of 1) do you use 2)? Here is another sentence. 3) Mary was angry because she had waited...Read More...
If the action or activity is still in effect, the present perfect continuous is used, as we know. The present perfect continuous is also used when the speaker wants to call attention to the long duration of the action, even if the action or activity is no longer in progress. Many verbs can be used for this purpose. It's very hard to find Google examples of the present perfect continuous in which it's clear that the activity is no longer in effect, but here are a few: "” Yet, despite all...Read More...

'Harder than,' 'more than,' 'better than'

Hello I'd like to ask about how to use "more". Would you take a look at the following sentences? 1) If I had studied harder, I could have passed the exam. 2) If I had studied more, I could have passed the exam. Can I use "more" instead of " harder"? If so, do they express the same meaning? Thank you.Read More...
I am not sure that "better" really is preferred to "more" in sentences like yours. "More," as well as "better," is not unnatural, and is perfectly grammatical With the verb "like," you can use "better" to mean "in a more excellent way," as in this entry for "better" from the American Heritage Dictionary*: adv. Comparative of well2. "¢ In a more excellent way. A second listing gives this definition: "¢ To a greater extent or degree better suited to the job; likes it better without sauce. So,...Read More...

It won't be long before + "will"

Hello, teachers! Would you please tell me which is better, with or without 'will'? - It won't be long before we [will] suffer from a shortage of water. Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
The simple present is OK, and also "will + verb." With the verb "suffer" it would be more idiomatic to use the progressive: "” It won't be long before we're suffering from a shortage of water," ...which highlights the situation of being without water. (It's also more idiomatic to say "a water shortage," unless you are referring to a shortage of a certain kind of water, e.g. drinking water or water for a particular purpose.) This construction (also "It won't be long UNTIL...") allows a...Read More...
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