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Word order in noun clause

Hello!! I read the following sentence; One has only to watch the efforts of children who are starved of love ... to realize how desperate is their need . In my knowledge, the word order in noun clause is WH+SV, and the clause should read "how desperate their need is." But, I feel that "how desperate is their need" is also acceptable. So, I am confused where my knowledge is wrong. Please kindly help.Read More...
You are correct that in wh- noun clauses the normal word order is Subject, then Verb--the same as in statements. Thus the standard word order for the example sentence would be One has only to watch the efforts of children who are starved of love ... to realize how desperate their need is. So why do people use the inverted word order, as in Moon's example? The first reason is to avoid putting the verb at the end of a long noun phrase subject (not the case with Moon's example). This is because...Read More...

"See if ... have

Dear All, Is the following sentence correct : "Ask her to exercise daily and see if her aches have gone after a month." Thank you and thank you for all the other replies. Very much appreciated. RickyRead More...
I think not. An if-clause referring to the future does not usually have "will" -- including the "will" in the future perfect -- except when it refers to willingness. This is not the case here. I have not done a search for this, though. Maybe one of our readers has? Let's see if anyone has found anything. RachelRead More...

The correct punctuation mark in asking expressions

Hello, teachers! Which is the correct punctuation mark, the period or question mark? 1. Could you come and help me with the spaghetti, please[_] 2. Would you please take me as your pupil[_] Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
Requests like these, using modals, have a question mark at the end of the sentence. RachelRead More...

Tenses with "hardly," "scarcely," and "no sooner"

In "hardly/scarcely A when/before B" and "no sooner A than B" clauses, should the tense in "A" part be past participle or could it be past tense as well? If both can be used, is there any difference in usage or meaning? For example, are both of the following sentences right in all aspects? "I had no sooner closed the door than somebody knocked." "I no sooner closed the door than somebody knocked."Read More...
"Hardly," "scarcely" and "no sooner" are normally used with the past perfect tense when they indicate that one action or event happened just before another.* Here are some examples from Michael Swan**: "I had hardly/ scarcely closed my eyes when the phone rang. I had so sooner closed the door than somebody knocked." But, there are also these examples in Swan: "She was hardly/ scarcely inside the house before the kids started screaming. We no sooner sat down in the train than I felt sick."...Read More...

"Not" + "both"

Hello, teachers! Would you please check my thought? - You don't like the twins. / No. I don't hate both of them. IMHO, this is logically and grammatically correct, but we hardly ever use 'both' and 'not' together, so it should be "I only hate one of them," or "I hate just one of them." Am I right? Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
It would be possible to say "I don't hate both of them," but not in the dialogue you have written. The reason your dialogue is illogical is that the verbs are different. This would be acceptable: A: You hate the twins, don't you? B: I don't hate both of them. Only Mary. Sally is quite nice, actually. You could also say: A: You like the twins, don't you? B: I don't like both of them. Only Sally. Mary is quite obnoxious. "Not" can be used to negate the verb "hate." So, in the dialogue in which...Read More...

"Has" or "have"?

Dear All, Which is correct please ? 1) There HAS to be rules. 2) There HAVE to be rules. Thank you. RickyRead More...
Thanks, PromegaX, for the examples. The rule for verb agreement with existential THERE sentences is simple: the verb agrees in number with the head of the noun phrase. This rule applies to main verbs and all auxiliaries. For example, --Look! There's a family of ducks swimming toward us --There haven't been a lot of complaints to the radio station about my remarks --There need to be more warning signs at that intersection In casual usage, however, one often hears "There's" even with plural...Read More...

"Him" or "his," "me" or "my" with gerunds ?

Dear All, I've been told the following are wrong : 1) I remember HIM telling me.... 2) Would you mind ME looking in and saying goodbye to Jane ?, 3) Everyone's upset about YOU going away. and the correct versions are : 1a) I remember HIS telling me.... 2a) Would you mind MY looking in and saying goodbye to Jane ? 3a) Everyone's upset about YOUR going away. What are the rules please ? Thank you. RickyRead More...
The following is from the Grammar Exchange Archive: Possessives with gerunds Q: I know that it's correct to use a possessive with the gerund, as in: (a) I really appreciate your bringing this matter to my attention. (b) Everybody was shocked about Henry's leaving so suddenly. But why do these sentence seem awkward? (c) The students were happy about their having completed the difficult course. (d) Anna complained about her being treated so badly. (e) Tom's being straightforward about the...Read More...

why "get off" and not "gets off" ?

Dear All, Please take a look at the following sentences : 1) "In New York, I have always found, one GET off the mark quickly in the matters of the heart." 2) "He GETS off at the fifth bus stop everyday." Why is it "get" in 1) and "gets" in 2) ? What is the rule please ? Thank you. RickyRead More...
The correct verb form for both sentences is GETS, since the grammatical subjects "he" and "one" are singular. (If the grammatical subject in Sentence 1 were the nonspecific "you," the verb would be GET: --In New York, I have always found, you GET off the mark quickly....) Note that even though both sentences involve the verb GET and the word OFF, they do not illustrate the same kind of verb phrase. In Sentence 1, the verb "get" is an intransitive verb meaning "to reach a (certain) state or...Read More...

Third conditional

Dear All, Are the following sentences correct ? 1) "If he had had his own class teacher as his tutor instead of his aunt, the teacher would have been better placed to assess what he needed (would have needed ?) to do to improve his grades." 2) "If he had had his own class teacher as his tutor instead of his aunt, he might have then been better assessed and improved his grades." Thank you very much. Regards, RickyRead More...
Ricky asks whether these sentences are correct: 1) "If he had had his own class teacher as his tutor instead of his aunt, the teacher would have been better placed to assess what he needed (would have needed ?) to do to improve his grades." The verb phrase "would have been better placed" creates the contrary-to-fact context, and no further "would have" is needed in the subordinate clause. With this in mind, there are two possibilities: A. If it's clear that the person did need to do...Read More...

"It is...that" or "they are ...that"

Which of the following sentences is correct? Is it acceptable to use "It is" for plural compliments? Or do you say, "They are Mary and Jane that introduced me to Jack". It sounds a bit odd to me. 1. It is Mary that introduced me to Jack. 2. It is Mary and Jane that introduced me to Jack. AppleRead More...
These are cleft sentences. Cleft sentences involve the impersonal IT, which takes a singular verb; it does not agree with the complement in number. The verb 'be" could conceivably be in the present tense but it's much more natural in the past tense, "was." Finally, with persons who are named, the relative pronoun is not "that" but "who." The correct forms are, therefore, 1. It WAS Mary WHO introduced me to Jack 2. It WAS Mary and Jane WHO introduced me to Jack A present tense example would...Read More...

Prepositions: "by," "in"?

I want to know if the following sentence is correct: He goes to work by his car. or is it better to say: He goes to work in his car. I need more details about in-on-by.Read More...
The most probable way to state the idea that Jack, for example, drives to work in his car every day would be: "¢ He drives to work every day. If you want to use "go" and "car," you'd say: "¢ He goes to work by car every day. This way is acceptable, but much less idiomatic than "he drives." _______ Although "he goes to work ˜in his car' every day" is acceptable English, it would not be usual to describe a regular routine. You might use "in his car" in situations like this: A: Did you all come...Read More...

Uncountable nouns and the pronoun "one"

Hello, teachers! In these sentences, can we use the pronoun "one" even though "wine" and "war" are uncountable? 1. I prefer red wine to [white, white wine, the white one]. - in the same clause 2. I like red wine, but my brother likes [white, white wine, the white one]. - in different clauses 3. I don't like war, but I agree with this [war, one]. Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
It's true that the nouns "wine" and "war" are noncount nouns, but they are also used as count nouns, although for different reasons. "Wine" is basically a noncount noun, but like many other basically noncount nouns referring to food, beverages, or other substances such as paint or wood, it can be used as a count noun when it means "a type or kind of" (also when it refers to an individual portion or serving). When such a noncount noun is used as a count noun, it may be referred to with the...Read More...

"... and (that) ...."

Hello, teachers! In this kind of sentence, can we omit "that?" - It is said his eyes bulge, and [that] his nostrils flare when he gets mad. Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
Yes. The sentence can be all of these: It is said that his eyes bulge, and that his nostrils flare when he gets mad. It is said that his eyes bulge and his nostrils flare when he gets mad. It is said his eyes bulge and his nostrils flare when he gets mad. It is said his eyes bulge and that his nostrils flare when he gets mad. RachelRead More...

Commas and quotes

This question has been sent in by Susan. I just don't know where the comma is to go - before or after the quotes and why. When he heard the word "palace", Bangsat thought, "I wonder who this man is? But never mind, I am being promised lots of gold." Does the comma go before or after the word palace?Read More...
The comma goes inside the quotation mark, like this: When he heard the word "palace," Bangsat thought, "I wonder who this man is? But never mind, I am being promised lots of gold." Commas almost always go inside the quotes. The Chicago Manual of Style* says: "When the context calls for a comma at the end of material enclosed in quotation marks, parentheses, or brackets, the comma should be placed inside the quotation marks but outside the parentheses or brackets: See Brighton's comments on...Read More...

Because & since

Hello, teachers! Please help me with this! 1-1. Because it is very important, you shouldn't forget this. 1-2. You shouldn't forget this because it is very important. I think both 1-1 and 1-2 are OK. However, I doubt what if I replace "because" with "since." 2-1. Since it is very important, you shouldn't forget this. 2-2. You shouldn't forget this since it is very important. I think 2-1 is alright. Would you please tell me if 2-2 is also correct or not? Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
The general rule for using commas with adverbial clauses of reason is that when the reason clause precedes the main clause, it is set off by a comma (unless it is very short). This rule holds for clauses introduced by both "since" and 'because." And a clause introduced by "since" in second position is always preceded by a comma. The rules for comma use with "because" clauses in second position are more subtle. Before I explain further, here are the correct forms: 1-1 is correct, but 1-2...Read More...

The comma with 'while' and 'because' clause

Hello, teachers! Can we put a comma in front of the 'while' or 'because' clause? If so, is there any difference in meaning between with and without the comma? 1. I drink black coffee[,] while he prefers it with cream. 2. She would have liked to listen to the radio[,] because it had been broken a few days ago. Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
There is not normally a comma before an adverb clause. In the first sentence, however, there could be. It's possible for a comma to precede an adverb clause of contrast with "although," "though," or "while," so using a comma would be an option in your sentence. It would indicate a slight pause in speaking, but would have no difference in meaning from the sentence without the comma. _______ The second sentence as it is is not logical. How about: She would have liked to listen to the radio,...Read More...

Punctuation; comma

Hello, teachers! Please help me with these! [1] He sprayed his car with water[,] to clean it thoroughly. I know that generally we don't use a comma here, but I often see some people use it. Can we use a comma? If so, is there any change in meaning? [2] I am sleepy today because of my dog[,] he was barking all night. I think that here we need a period, a semi-colon, or a dash, especially a semi-colon, but I often see some people use a comma. Can we use a comma in this kind of sentence? [3]...Read More...
[1] You are correct. The first sentence should not have a comma. An author could, however, place a comma there in order to indicate a pause that would occur if the sentence were spoken. It is not the norm, though. _________ [2] No, there is no way to put a comma here. This kind of error is called a "comma splice." You have correctly identified the proper punctuation: a period and a new sentence, a semi-colon, or, informally – a dash. _______ [3] Yes, a period would be appropriate between the...Read More...

"Certain" or "sure"

Hello, teachers! In these sentences, can I use either 'certain' or 'sure'? 1. That she loves Martin is certain/sure. 2. Her success as an actress is certain/sure. Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
"Certain" and "sure" are often, but not always, used interchangeably. In both your sentences, "certain" is appropriate. "Sure" is not. "Certain" is used as a predicate adjective: 1) to describe a noun clause referring to a present certainty (as in your first sentence): A: How do you think Elizabeth feels about Martin? B: That she loves Martin is certain (not sure ). But I think she wants to travel a lot before settling down to marriage. A more natural, less formal way to state this would be,...Read More...

Simple present or present progressive?

Hello: Is there a difference between the following sentences (cf permanence): (a) Do you live in Canada? (b) Are you living in Canada? as statements (c) I live in Canada. (d) I'm living in Canada. ThanksRead More...
There isn't a difference in tense, but there is a difference in aspect. The present simple, "DO you LIVE in Canada?" or "I LIVE in Canada" are about someone's permanent residence. The present progressive, "ARE you LIVING in Canada?" or "I'M LIVING in Canada" are about someone's temporary residence. A student, when asked "Where ARE you LIVING?" might reply "I'M LIVING in Dorm H." If asked "Where DO you live?" the same student might reply "I LIVE in Venezuela." The same principle applies to...Read More...

"It is ten miles" vs. "There are ten miles"

Hello, teachers! Would you please tell me what is the difference in meaning? 1. It was another ten miles to the village. 2. There were another ten miles to the village. Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
To measure distance, "it" + the verb "be" (usually in the singular) is frequently used, as in your first sentence: "¢ It's five thousand miles from here to there. "¢ A: How far is it from Seattle to Vancouver, Canada? B: I think it's about a hundred and fifty miles. "¢ I know that we've already driven four hundred miles, but let's go on. It's only another ten miles to the village. _______ It would be possible to say, "There were another ten miles that we had to go in order to get to the...Read More...

The tense of the be-verb in [It be .. that ..] pattern

Hello, teachers! Would you please tell me which is the correct tense? 1. It is/was Paul who informed me the news. 2. What is/was it that you bought for her birthday? Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
In the first sentence, one would say: It WAS Paul who informed me of the news. The speaker is referring to the past time, in which case the past of "be" is used with "it" for identification. In the second sentence, the choice of the verb depends on the situation. If the speaker is talking about a birthday gift that has already been given, or perhaps will never be given, or even possibly will be given, WAS is the verb to use. It is also possible to say "What IS it that you bought for her...Read More...

"Has" or "have"?

which sentence is correct: Either his friends or Peter HAS played the trick. OR Either his friends or Peter HAVE played the trick. thanks JLRead More...
The verb in your sentence is correctly "has." According to the Simon & Schuster Handbook for Writers*: "When you join subjects with or or nor or correlative conjunctions, either....or, neither....nor, not only....but (also) , make the verb agree with the subject closest to it. Unlike and , these conjunctions do not automatically create plurals. For the purposes of agreement, ignore everything before the final subject." If, instead, the sentence began: "Either Peter's friends or Peter...Read More...

"Be/come/came from"

Hello, teachers! Please help me with these. [1] I'd like to introduce Jane to you. She [is, comes, came] from Harvard University. 1-1. Which can mean "Jane graduated from Harvard University," is, comes, or came? 1-2. Which can mean "Jane is part of the university faculty"? 1-3. Which can mean "Jane isn't part of the university faculty, but the university sent her here"? _______ [2] These gentlemen [are, come, came] from the US Army. They are searching for a deserter. 2-1. Which can mean...Read More...
1-1 None of the verbs expresses that Jane graduated from Harvard, unless Jane is now teaching elsewhere and she has JUST graduated: A: I'm impressed with the new botany professor. Where is she from? B: She's from/ She comes from/ She came from Harvard University. Then B would probably add: She just graduated last May. In other conversations and references, you would have to say: Jane graduated from Harvard. Jane went to Harvard. _______ 1-2 In a discussion of academics, talking about who...Read More...

"On stage" or "on the stage"?

This question has been sent in by Lina. Dear teacher I'd like to ask about the preposition used with "stage." Would you look at the following sentences? 1) This is the same guitar that Paul used on stage. 2) This is the same guitar that Paul used on the stage. Should I put "the" before "stage" or not? Yours truly, LinaRead More...
"On stage" is often written as one word: onstage. It is an adverb with this definition from the Collins COBUILD*: "When someone such as an actor or musician goes onstage , they go onto the stage in a theater to give a performance. When she walked onstage she was given a standing ovation....You have to be onstage at eight o'clock....Onstage, the musicians are actually sitting behind the loudspeakers. " Your first sentence fits this definition. ________ "On the stage" has, of course, a literal...Read More...

More on capitals

This question has been sent in by Susan McKenzie : Would be most grateful if you could tell me whether it is ok to use capitals or lowercase or optional in the following sentences. 1. Since Chang-E could not get into Heaven nor return to Earth, she ended up living on the Moon. Her only company was a lively jade rabbit who kept pounding a mortar to make immortality pills. 2. Back on earth, Hou Yi would look up at the moon every night. 3. Furious that she had not returned to heaven, the...Read More...
If these sentences are from the same story or collection of stories, the capitalization should be consistent. Here's what the Chicago Manual of Style* says about capitalization of earth, sun, and moon: "The names earth, sun , and moon are often lowercased, but when used as the names of specific bodies in the solar system they are properly capitalized, as are the names Mercury, Venus, Mars, and the rest. When Earth is used in this way, it is not preceded by an article. Sun and Moon , however,...Read More...
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