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do you know whether

Can one say a. Do you know whether he is there now or whether he will be there later? b. Do you know whether he is there now or he will be there later? c. Do you know whether he is there now or whether he will be there only later? d. Do you know whether he is there now or he will be there only later? ? The meaning is 1. He is either there now, or isn't here now and will be there later. Do you know which is the case? The answer would be: Yes, he is there now. or Yes, he will be there later.Read More...
Thank you so much DocV. From now on, I will try not to make mistakes like that one, and if I ever do, I'll make a fresh post. I was hoping that my post would clarify things for anyone who was reading the thread. But you are right. The thread is still confusing. For the record, I had made a mistake when I first posted my question. In the second clause of every sentences, I had written "here" instead of "there". After DocV pointed out that mistake to me, I changed most of the "here" to...Read More...

should have & would have

1. I should have helped her, but I never could. 2. I would have helped her, but I never could. 3. I ought to have helped her , but I never could. I think only the second one makes sense, as in 'If I could, I would .' Thanks.Read More...
I should have helped her, but I couldn't. 2. I would have helped her, but I couldn't. 3. I ought to have helped her , but I couldn't.Read More...

didn't know that; didn't know if

The police officer didn't know ______ the criminals had been caught yet. a. that b. if Are they both correct with different meanings? Thanks!Read More...
With "if," the sentence is obviously correct. With "that," however, the sentence is correct only if "yet" is parsed as modifying "didn't know" rather than "had been caught," despite its extremely awkward placement after "had been caught." Notice that it's ungrammatical to say, " The criminals have been caught yet. " "Already" could, however, replace "yet." Interpreted as grammatical, Kis's sentence with "that" must mean, " The police officer didn't yet know that the criminals had been...Read More...

past perfect in "before" clauses

Hi, Does this sentence correct? "So before he'd sung his last song, Jimmie Rodgers was gone. Thanks.Read More...
Hi, Kuen: No, that sentence is ungrammatical. The auxiliary verb you should have used in forming the question is "is": " Is this sentence correct?" You chose the proper auxiliary verb in your title: "Is it grammatical?" (You just didn't choose a good title; I've edited it.) Notice that you can't say, " Does it grammatical? "That sentence is unusual but OK. Normally, we don't use the past perfect in "before"-clauses, but there can be special circumstances that render it desirable, and that is...Read More...

flounder was buried; flounder buried

Sharks can locate their prey by following the minute electrical voltage that their prey generates. However, they cannot find a dead flounder _______ in the sand or a live flounder covered by a special sheet blocking its electric signals. a. was buried b. buried Are they both correct? Thanks!Read More...
Kis, only (b) is correct. "was buried" is a finite (tensed, conjugated) verb, and you need a non-finite as a post-modifier of the noun "flounder". At most, you could use a relative clause there. Actually, the past participle "buried" is an abridged form of the relative clause: - ... However, they cannot find a dead flounder (that/which is) buried in the sand or a live flounder (that/which is) covered by a special sheet (that/which is) blocking its electric signals. Notice that the past...Read More...

without any relation to

Can one write a. We are investigating his love life unrelated to the crimes he has been accused of. b. We are investigating his love life, unrelated to the crimes he has been accused of. c. We are investigating his love life without any relation to the crimes he has been accused of. d. We are investigating his love life, without any relation to the crimes he has been accused of. ? If they work, do 'unrelated to the crimes he has been accused of' and 'without any relation to the crimes he has...Read More...
Hi, Azz, My view is that participial/adjectival and prepositional phrases appearing after a noun will, more often than not, refer to that noun rather than act as adverbials. Taking this into account, none of your sentences would make sense in my opinion. I think we need some phrase that is clearly unrelated ( ) to the noun phrase "his love life," for instance: e. We are investigating his love life regardless of / irrespective of the crimes he has been accused of.Read More...

daughter's or daughters'

I have two daughters. My sentence is... We are confident that our combined efforts will give us the platform to continue to invest in our daughter's education at SCHOOL X. Is it daughters' education-because I have two? Or is it daughter's education? Thanks!Read More...
Thank you both very much! As I wrote this, my gut said daughters' every time but I started to second guess myself the more I looked at it! Indeed I have two and indeed I am referring to THEIR education. Thanks again!Read More...

as by

Can one say a. When anyone damages someone else's property, as by water or by fire, they will have to pay for the reparations. b. When anyone damages someone else's property, such as by water or by fire, they will have to pay for the reparations. ? "Such as by" and "as by" are supposed to mean "for instance by", "for example by". Many thanks.Read More...
Greetings, Azz, Gustavo, Bazza, and David. I see from the time stamps that Bazza was probably in the process of composing his reply while Gustavo was posting his, thus was unaware that Gustavo's existed. Both of their replies actually make the same points in different ways, so that I don't see the later post as a contradiction or correction of the earlier, but a supplement. David, I see you expanding on the responses of Gustavo and Bazza without contradicting either of them. One point that...Read More...

Couple was/were

"Europe is like a couple that wasn't sure they wanted to get married, ..." A professor who teaches at Harvard said that sentence. May I have your comments? THANK YOURead More...
P.S. The biggest error was using the name of a continent in place of an organisation however commonplace this error may be. A more accurate analogy would be 'The EU is like a group of club members who hadn't realised they were in truth joining a gang'.Read More...

ought

cocoricot
Dear teachers, Is it correct to say: "I ought you to keep your house clean." Thank you.Read More...
Hello, Coco, That has to be the funniest ungrammatical sentence I've seen all year. It almost deserves an award. Bazza is right that you can't " ought someone to do something ." Perhaps you're trying to say: I ask you to keep your house clean. If that sentence were spoken by an authority figure relative to the interlocutor insofar as his or her house is concerned, it would have the effect of obligating the interlocutor to keep the house clean.Read More...

Writing paragraphs

Could you please give me some expressions that are useful in writing paragraphs (or recommend a certain source that can help with this matter)?Read More...
Hi, Emad, Your question is really too wide. What you are looking for is linkers that help you organize your text. You can surf the Internet for linkers expressing different functions like addition, contrast, reason, purpose, concession, etc. Here's a short list that could help you for a start: - Addition: as well as, in addition to, not only ... but also, besides, furthermore, moreover, on top of that, to make matters worse, what's more - Contrast and concession: however, nevertheless, all...Read More...

it is dangerous to (ing)

Hello, Is sentence 2 correct? 1. It is dangerous to swim in this river. 2. It is dangerous swimming in this river. YokoRead More...
Thank you, Gustavo, always. I thought so too, but I wasn't sure. You helped me very much. YokoRead More...

Xx years YOUNG

Hussein Hassan
I should be grateful if you would let me know whether the following sentence is correct or not? He will be sixty-three years young next year. I've read before that "years young" could be used to describe how old is one in a humorous manner. Lately, I've found this manner is "crossed-out" by Michael Swan in a similar sentence: He's only twenty-three years young. Is "years young" only used in the case of describing "old" people? Or does "only" affect the meaning here?Read More...
Yes, you are right. I should have revised what I had written, but you replied in a short time. Thanks a million, David.Read More...

ready to shoot

1) As he seemed unwilling to go away, one of them put an arrow in his bow ready to shoot. Source: https://books.google.com/books...his%20bow%22&f=false Is he ready to shoot or is the arrow ready to shoot? I think it is the former, but if 'ready to shoot' is adjectival, then it doesn't mean: 'getting ready to shoot' or 'thus becoming ready to shoot'. It means that he was ready to shoot when he was putting the arrow in the bow. '1' seems equivalent to: 2) Ready to shoot, one of them put an...Read More...
Thank you both so very much! I am happy you found this whole thing amusing. I found it anguishing. But now, thanks to you guys, the anguish is gone and serenity and calm rule! David is truly a grammar detective!! He is the Sherlock Holmes of syntax! Gratefully and respectfully, Navi.Read More...

change trains, change the tire

Hello, Could anyone help me with my problem? We say "change trains" because there are two trains, the one you were on and the one you will be on. When we have a flat tire on our bicycle, we change the tire, not tires. Why? Actually we change the tube not the tire, but there are two tires or tubes, the punctured one and a new one. YokoRead More...
Thank you, DocV. It was very helpful. YokoRead More...

just anything

a. You don't have to do just anything that I do. Is this a natural sentence? Is its meaning clear? 1. You don't have to do only the things I do. You can do other things. 2. You don't have to do everything I do. You can do only some of them. Are (1) and (2) legitimate equivalents of (a)? Many thanks.Read More...
No. No. No. This question was phrased much better by someone named "azz"; please check this out: http://thegrammarexchange.info...222992347#2222992347 You're welcome.Read More...

Would

My teacher has said that "would" has many uses and flavors. It can mean "will probably" or it can mean just "may" or "might" or "has the possibility of". Ex: - If you would wear your jacket you won't be cold. Is that right?Read More...
Thanks, Gustavo. So, I'm quite sure that the use of a tentative would and the use of would that shows possibility are the same. Do you agree? I hear that would is used to show tentativenes, therefore it makes a statement polite (soften what we say) but less strong . Is that right?Read More...

when; where

He quit his teaching job and moved to Hempstead, an epicenter for young writers at the time, ________ he worked in a used-book store. a. where b. when Are they both correct? Do you have any preference? Thanks!Read More...
"...and moved to Hempstead,.. where he worked in a used-book store. The required word refers to place -'Hempstead' - not time.Read More...

that much heavier

Can one say a. He is heavier than me, but not that much. b. He is heavier than me, but not that much heavier. c. She likes to be fashionable, but not that fashionable. Those shoes are too fashionable for her. d. She likes to be fashionable, but not that much. Those shoes are too fashionable for her. ? My feeling is that (d) doesn't really work. I think it means e. She likes to be fashionable, but she doesn't like that much to be fashionable. That could be used in another context. But it...Read More...
Hi, Azz, I agree with you that the only problem in your example set lies in (d), in which the two sentences don't work together, despite the fact that each is grammatical on its own. The first sentence of (d) would work in a context like this: d'. Her best friend's abiding desire in life is to be fashionable. She likes to be fashionable, but not that much. The special thing about (d), which makes it fail and the above revision work, is that "that much" modifies "likes to be fashionable." In...Read More...

pull out all the stops

'pull out all the stops' doesn't make any sense to me. According to the dictionary, it means 'to do everything possible in order to do something.' I don't understand at all. Help me! Thanks!Read More...
You always pull out all the stops in teaching us grammar.Read More...

Punctuation- comma

I am reading the book "Eats, Shoots & Leaves". But on the other hand, what earthly use to me was this vapid mousey moron parading a pigmentational handicap? Question: why is a comma not inserted after "But"?Read More...
Thanks, David. I thought that it is a pair of bracketing commas. Hence, we should have the opening comma after "But". How do we tell when the use should be as bracketing commas or just a single comma? Thanks again. This is still something that I do not master well.Read More...

Apparently meaning

Hussein Hassan
Would you please help me with this question? Which choice gives the same meaning of "apparently" in the following sentence: He is apparently skilled and that's what helped him. [ seemingly / extremely / visibly / intensively ]Read More...
Have you looked up the words in the dictionary? What word do you think fits best, and why? You won't learn if forum members just keep telling you the answers.Read More...

Using word ‘percentage’ in a sentence

Hey, Can you please help me with word selection. Which of the options in the bracket below is the most appropriate: 'Percentage of heating energy (in/ within/of / out of/ from/ to / over) the overall consumed energy' Also, would you rather use a different word to replace ‘percentage’ e.g. (percent/ ratio/ rate/ share/ contribution/ percentage ratio or something else) Thank you StryjekRead More...
You're misunderstanding 'percentage' here: Heating energy as the percentage of total energy consumption...Read More...

Crash into

Could I say, Peter did not see John, who was holding a hot drink in his hand, and crashed into him as Peter rushed towards the canteen. Thanks.Read More...
Actually, the repetition of "Peter" in the "as"-clause is very awkward. You could say "and crashed into him as he rushed towards the canteen"; however, some readers might think "him" and "he" both refer to John. To avoid both awkwardness and ambiguity, you can simply make a slight structural adjustment (italicized): Peter did not see John, who was holding a hot drink in his hand, and crashed into him while rushing towards the canteen. Peter is unambiguously the implied subject of "rushing."Read More...
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