Questions and Answers

Podcast about Grammar Cops

The author Michael Lewis has a podcast called "Against the Rules." The summary for the episode entitled "The Alex Kogan Experience" is "Everyone hates grammar and ethics cops. Until they need one." I enjoyed this podcast and think that readers of this forum will enjoy it also. This doesn't really fit in the Q&A section, but I don't know where else to post it. The podcast begins with the ethics topic. If you are pressed for time and want to focus on grammar, I suggest going to...Read More...

Individual things that make us, us.

The following is an excerpt from the blog posted by "a third culture kid" in the Japan Times. What does "Individual things that make us, us." mean? This sentence looks incomplete and how can you make it complete? “Everyone is different, and that’s what makes life interesting,” Osaka tweeted last year. “We all have our own backgrounds and stories. Individual things that make us, us.” I couldn’t agree more with her statement.Read More...
Hello, Fujibei, The first "us" is the direct object, and the second "us" is the object complement, that is, a complement that refers to the first "us." Compare with: "Individual things that make us different from others ." A better way of saying "Individual things that make us, us" would be, in my opinion, "Individual things that make us who we are ."Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

anyways

Hello, I've heard people especially young (uneducated?) people use the word "anyways" when they probably mean "anyway". Is there such an English word as "anyways"? It bothers me so much that I looked at BYU corpus and there are a lot of examples. Is it now accepted to use it in an informal conversation? AppleRead More...
Thank you, David. Wow! Prince of Whales!! Tweeting is sometimes dangerous, because they write and send the messages very quickly. appleRead More...
Last Reply By apple · First Unread Post

Which word is the subject?

From a draft study for a US Government agency: "... the analyses were prioritized by first concentrating on systems whose performance are deemed critical to the safe and efficient operation ..." After I changed "are" to "is" in my comments, the author replied: "NO -- Systems is plural" I then asked a tech writer friend who replied: "Depends what is being emphasized as critical - the systems or the performance." Isn't "performance" the subject?Read More...
Gustavo and David, thank you for your replies. In a later email from my tech writer friend, he clarified that he agreed with me.Read More...
Last Reply By StillKicking · First Unread Post

Use of hyphen

Is it correct to use the hyphen in the following sentence: "time-saving and cost-saving manner"Read More...
Hello, MaaAdjoa, and welcome to GE! I agree with Gustavo's answer and, like you, share his preference for (1). The hyphen after "time" in (1) is sometimes referred to as a suspensive hyphen . Another option is to use a relative clause: 4- a manner that saves time and money I'm not saying that I prefer (4) to (1). There is a good chance that I would use (1).Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Sentence confusion

My friend and I were playing a game and discussing about some various strategies to finish it as fast as possible and he suddenly asked me this "does that trick work if you abandon the gate.' I'm so confused whether this is correct or not, should it be will that trick work if you abandon the gate? Thanks in advance!Read More...

elliptical usage

With their special moon vehicle, they could travel farther from the landing site to investigate more of the lunar environment and collect a wider range of soil and rock sample. ...... Which of the following interpretation is right? 1) ....., they could travel farther from the landing site to investigate more of the lunar environment and (could) collect a wider range of soil and rock sample. 2) ....., they could travel farther from the landing site to investigate more of the lunar environment...Read More...
Hi, Freeguy, Syntactically, either interpretation is possible, and ellipsis is not involved: 1) They could [ travel farther from the landing site to investigate more of the lunar environment ] and [ collect a wider range of soil and rock sample ] . 2) The could travel farther from the landing site to [ investigate more of the lunar environment ] and [ collect a wider range of soil and rock sample ] . In (1), two verb phrases are coordinated as complements of the modal "could": the verb...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

set things staight again

a. He'll set things straight again. b. He'll set things straight one more time. Do these mean 1. He'll set things straight before and he will do it again. or 2. Things were good at first, then went wrong. He will restore things to the way they were. ? I think from a logical point of view both should mean (1), but people generally use them to mean (2). Many thanks.Read More...
Hi, Azz, Where you said above: "*He'll set things straight before," I'm sure you meant to say "He set things straight before." I think both interpretations are possible. Interpretation (2) might be a case of "excessive conciseness," so to say, but I wouldn't say it's wrong. Context can help, for example: - When we bought this house, this wall was white. Then we painted it gray. Now we'll paint it white again. (Now we'll paint it white + As a result the wall will be white again.)Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

possessives

1 When I say "This is a pig's trough.", so is the word "a" describing or attached to "pig" or "trough"? 2 When I say "This is the pigs' trough.", so is the word "the" describing or attached to "pigs" or "trough"? 3 When I say "These are the women's wallets.", so is the word "the" describing or attached to "women" or "wallets"? Thanks!Read More...
So when I say about a bag (or bags) of some certain men, can I say: These are some men's bag. / These are men's bag. These are some men's bags. / These are men's bags. Thank you for all your help!Read More...
Last Reply By Kimconu · First Unread Post

Zero or First Conditional

If you are a well-organised person, you ..................... your time. a) will manage b) would manage c) manage d) managed This sentence was included in our GSSC final exam. Students were supposed to choose only one of the options provided. Do you think it should be first conditional (WILL MANAGE), or Zero conditional (MANAGE)? Thank you very muchRead More...
Great reply .Read More...
Last Reply By Ahmed Mohammed · First Unread Post

Future

Liverpool 's players are known to be skilled. They (are going to win / will win) the match easily. What is the right answer here?Read More...
Yes, I realize that you guys are looking for a detailed explanation, and I have decided to turn this into a research project. Please give me about a week, and I will try to clear up the mystery of will versus be going to to the best of my ability. As a native speaker, I never (or almost never) have to think about it. As a grammar-forum moderator, though, I encounter the question regularly, and I very often disagree with Egyptian "model answers" in this department! The distinction between...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

was standing

Are these sentences correct: 1) In the doorway, a tall dark woman was standing. 2) In the bedroom, a tall dark woman was sitting on an armchair. Do you interpret '2' to mean: a) She was seated on an armchair. or b) She was in the process of sitting down on an armchair. Gratefully, NaviRead More...
Thank you very much, David, Just to clarify, I thought one should say 1 b) In the doorway, stood a tall dark woman. and 1a) In the doorway, a tall dark woman stood. sounded bad. That is what I was referring to when I mentioned inversion. Gratefully, NaviRead More...
Last Reply By navi · First Unread Post

will or going to

The other team’s players are very big. It (will/is going to) be a difficult match. That question is in our course book “new hello for Egypt” The answer in the book is”is going to”. But, I think that “will” can be a correct answer. It is a prediction based on an opinion. What is the better answer?Read More...
Hi, Islam Mohamed, Both answers are correct. I would more naturally use "is going to," but "will" works perfectly well there. If a student answers "will," the answer should not be marked incorrect. It would be good if another choice were added: "both" (the true model answer).Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

zero , first Conditionals

Hello. Could you please help me to choose the correct answer? - If you are well-organised, you (manage - will manage) your time. thank you.Read More...
Hello, Ahmed Imam Attia, Someone else has asked the very same question today. Please see the answer I have just given Abdullah Mahrouse at the link below: https://thegrammarexchange.inf...or-first-conditionalRead More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Past Cont vs Past Simple

The following sentence is our textbook as an example for the passive. Radar was being used for the first time, to help planes to land. Why didn't they use ( Radar was used for the first time, to help planes to land.)Read More...
Hello, Rasha, We use the progressive in the passive voice in the same types of circumstances in which we use the progressive in the active voice. The progressive allows us to talk about what is or was happening at a certain time or time period. The comma before "to help planes land" tells us that the main point of the sentence is that it was the first time radar was used at all. The fact that it was to help planes land is a parenthetical detail. I don't know whether you have access to the...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Present or future

She suggested that he ....fishing tomorrow and he liked the idea. ( would go - go - going - will go)Read More...
Hi, Ahmed55, Yes, "will go" is incorrect. You have titled this thread "present or future," but "go" is not the present tense here. It is the present subjunctive . The common alternative to using the present subjunctive in a clause complementing "suggest" is to use "should" + [base form]. She suggested that he go fishing tomorrow and he liked the idea. She suggested that he should go fishing tomorrow and he liked the idea.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Tenses

Before you mentioned about him, I ………….. of that novelist. (hadn’t ever heard- haven’t ever heard)Read More...
I agree with your tense choice, Ahmed. "Mention" is normally a transitive verb. That seems to be the motivation for your revision to "Before what you mentioned about him." Webster's dictionary doesn't even list an intransitive usage. But I do recognize it, and it's fairly common among native speakers. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) devotes a fair amount of space to it. I'd describe this intransitive usage as normal but a bit informal.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

take a rest a few times

I have made up an example below. (1) Yesterday, I spent quite a few hours walking hour kilometers. During my walk, I was very tired and had to take a rest a few times. Is it correct to say "take a rest a few times"? Thank you for your help and time.Read More...
Hi, Ansonman, No, we don't say "take a rest." We do, however, say "take a break." You could say: I was very tired and had to take a few breaks. I was very tired and stopped to rest a few times.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

as in the structure: as +adj/adv+ as+n+be

Is the use of as in the following acceptable now :" As remarkable as the revelation is , more remarlable is the story that accompanies it."( cf. The "Perfect Aryan"Child , The washington Post , July 4, 2014) ? As far as I know, most people would prefer to say :Remarkable as/though the revelation is....What do you think?Read More...
Hi, David, Sorry for my delay in reply. No, Mr. Swan doesn't make any comments for that matter.He just presents facts. Thanks again for your help.Read More...
Last Reply By Pal · First Unread Post

didn't, hadn't or haven't

Suppose that I stopped shopping at a particular store for about two years. I shopped there again last week. This is what I am going to say to my friends. (1) I hadn't shopped at Great Savings for two years. When I bought things there last week, I was surprised by how expensive its merchandise is now. (2) I didn't shop at Great Savings for two years. When I bought things there last week, I was surprised by how expensive its merchandise was . (3) I haven't shopped at Great Savings for two...Read More...
Hello, Ansonman, Your friends are correct in this case. Let me know if there is an issue here that you wish to explore in more detail.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

transitioning for a career change

I am planning to have a career change. I went to see an employment counselor about that. He is not a native English speaker. When he saw me, he said, (1) "Are you transitioning for a career change?" Is it correct to use "transitioning"? Thanks for your help and time.Read More...
Hi, Ansonman, "Transition" can be used as a verb, and the verb is sometimes used in the progressive. But that sentence makes no sense. Perhaps he was trying to say: (1a) Are you planning to make a career change? (1b) Are you transitioning into a new career? (1c) Are you going through a career transition?Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

I want to watch "the" football

I heard people say in the UK "I want to watch the football." Is it correct? If it is, did they mean they wanted to watch "the" football as in a specific football match hence the use of the article "the"? Thank you.Read More...
Hello, Jeff2019, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange! What was the context in which you heard people say that? Did they say it once? If so, what was happening in the surrounding extra-linguistic context when they said it? Did they habitually say it? If so, what were the circumstances in which it was habitually said? Answers to the above will help us to ascertain the meaning. Once we know the meaning and the context, I will be able to tell you whether the usage is correct in American English.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Tenses

Although the police suspected him, he was able to prove that he (was working /had been working) when the crime was committed. What is the right answer in this sentence?Read More...
Hello, Emad, Both answers are right. Because of the adverbial "when the crime was committed," the past perfect is not needed to show that the working occurred further back in the past than "was able to prove." But the past perfect is also correct. The fact that the past perfect isn't necessary doesn't mean you shouldn't use it. And if you think the test makers believe (mistakenly) that the past perfect is needed, it would be prudent to use it.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

mixed conditionals

If you listened to last week’s Natural World, you would know that we had a lot of unanswered questions about trees. This sentence is from our text book "New Hello". I wonder if it should have been written as follows: If you had listened to last week’s Natural World, you would know that we had a lot of unanswered questions about trees. THANKSRead More...
Hello, Rasha Assem, I agree with David. The clues to interpret that the past is real (not unreal or "subjunctive," as you say) in the original sentence are "last week" in the condition and "had" in the result. If "last week," which refers to one particular broadcast of the program, and "had," which refers to one specific occurrence in the past (the fact that the program left many questions about trees unanswered) were not present, then we could interpret the condition as describing a...Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

before meeting him

a . He talked to me at four o'clock before meeting Jim. b. He talked to me at four o'clock, before meeting Jim. c. He mentioned your case in his second conversation with me before the last time we talked. d. He mentioned your case in his second conversation with me, before the last time we talked. e. He mentioned your case in his second conversation with me, that is, before the last time we talked. Which of the above sentences are grammatically correct? Which are natural? Do (a) and (b)...Read More...

Use "if" not "when"

Hello. In the following sentence, I think that we cannot use "when" instead of "if", right? - If you answer this question, you have a good brain. Could you please give more examples of "use if, not when? Thank you.Read More...
I'd like to add something to this historical answer given by the Longman editor. Even though the main clause of conditionals like "If you get this answer right, you have a good brain" refers to the present, there is an implicit element of futurity. Notice that the "if"-clause ("if you get this answer right") does refer to something in the future. At the present time, it is unknown whether "you will get this answer right." If you do, then the conclusion will follow. Therefore the real meaning...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

How much and when you drink coffee is important.

Hi! I have some questions about this sentence: (1) How much and when you drink coffee is important. https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/coffee-may-help-you-live-longer/3112147.html I find the sentence (1) interesting. I would imagine that If "how much" were not connected with "when" in the sentence, "coffee" would be placed right after "how much" as in the sentence (2a) below: (2) a. How much coffee you drink is important. b. How much you drink coffee is important. Am I right so far? I am...Read More...
Thank you so much, Gustavo! I agree your sentence (5) is better than (1). The sentence (1) may be a less preferrable form, but it can be considered grammatical, which I think is interesting.Read More...
Last Reply By yasukotta · First Unread Post

Respected Or respectable

My friend had a ........... position in the medical profession.Read More...
Hi, Mr Ahmed, Please put your question in your post. Initially I had no idea what you were trying to ask. Then I looked at your title and was able to infer what you intended your question to be. The reader should not have to work so hard to find the question. The answer is "respectable." The individual being spoken of had a position in the medical profession that was worthy of respect . That's what "respectable" means. Whether or not people actually respected the position, it was worthy of ...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Historic or historical

I'm totally get confused about the usage of historic and historical. These two different screen shots make the matter more confusable!Read More...
Hi, Mr Ahmed, You mean to say either " I'm totally confused about the usage of historic and historical" or " I get totally confused about the use of historic and historical." You mean they make the matter more confusing to you. The distinction between "historic" and "historical" has been discussed many times on GE. See this thread: https://thegrammarexchange.inf...storic-vs-historicalRead More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

now, now that, so

Hello, Of the following 4 sentences, is 2 correct? I don't think so, because "now that" is a conjunction, so a comma before "let's" is OK, but "Now" is not a conjunction, so the first sentence has to be an independent sentence. What about 4? Is a comma ok? or does it have to be a period? Now that everyone is ready, let's get started. Now everyone is ready, let's get started. Now everyone is ready. Let's get started. Now everyone is ready, so let's get started. AppleRead More...
Thank you so much, David. You gave me the very answer I needed. appleRead More...
Last Reply By apple · First Unread Post

John standing

Which are correct: 1) I saw somebody in the distance. When I drove up I realized it was John standing there in a state of shock. 2) I saw somebody in the distance. When I drove up I realized it was John, standing there in a state of shock. 3) I heard a shout. I turned around. It was John running towards me like a madman. 4) I heard a shout. I turned around. It was John, running towards me like a madman. 5) I heard someone shout. I turned around. It was John running towards me like a madman.Read More...
Hi, Navi, Proper names are the most specific of all nouns and, as such, will not normally take a defining or restrictive clause. That said, I find (2), (4) and (6) to be much better than the others. I also find (6) to be superior to (4), where the thing described (the shout) is defined by means of a person (the shout was not the person, but came from the person). The person-person connection is clearer in (6): - I heard someone shout. It was John , running towards me like a madman.Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Is or are

My sister asked why the sky (is - was)blue.Read More...
Hi, Ahmed55, Both "is" and "was" are correct. You can take your pick. with backshift : My sister asked why the sky was blue. without backshift : My sister asked why the sky is blue. You don't need to backshift with eternal truths, but backshift isn't forbidden with them, either. The sky isn't always blue, I realize, but it is when there is daylight and there are no clouds or any other conditions clouding the view of the sky.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

a variety of

Amir: By the way, let’s go to a restaurant. Ali: OK. I know a restaurant in which a variety of seafoods ..... served. 1) is 2) are OED says: A plural verb is needed after a/an (large, wide, etc.) variety of…A variety of reasons were given. (Source: https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/variety_1?q=variety) I personally think "is" is also correct in this context. What do you think? (Source of the question: One of the exam held by The Iranian Ministry of Education)Read More...
Yes, here you go. You have to pay to use it, unless your school gives you access: https://www.oed.com/Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

deep vs deeply

He dug (deep/deeply) to plant that tree. I know that dig deep is an idiom which means to investigate, so is the answer here 'deeply'?Read More...
Hello, Rasha, Both answers are possible, but the more natural answer is "deep." "Dig deep" does not always mean "investigate" and, when it does mean "investigate," it's not an idiom; "dig" and "deep" are simply being used non-physically in that usage. "Dig deep" is an idiom when it means (a) to draw heavily on one's financial resources (dig deep into one's pockets) or (b) to draw on one's own energetic resources and make one's best effort. Each of those meanings is non-literal. Lastly, the...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

not only

a. Not only there wasn't any reason to suspect them of negligence, it was also clear that they had behaved bravely fighting the fire. b. Not only wasn't there any reason to suspect them of negligence, it was also clear that they had behaved bravely fighting the fire. c. Not only he isn't smart, he is also extremely ignorant. d. Not only isn't he smart, he is also extremely ignorant. Which of the above are grammatically correct? Many thanks.Read More...

warn

It might be a 'silly' question but it's been bothering me for some time. 1- He warned me to talk in class. 2- He warned me not to talk in class. I think that both are the indirect form of the sentence 'You must not talk in class' but can't get the difference. THANKSRead More...
Hello, Rasha, With reported warnings, orders, etc., we generally can't tell what the original sentence was. In this case, the original sentence for (2) could have been the one that you think it is, but it could equally have been "Don't talk in class," "You are not to talk in class," etc. Incidentally, I think (1) would make more sense like this: 1a- He warned me to participate in class.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

modals again

Learning chess is easy. 1) It has to be, because I managed to do it. 2) It must be, because I managed to do it. 3) It should be, because I managed to do it. 4 ) It ought to be, because I managed to do it. Which of the sentences 1-4 are grammatically correct in this context? Gratefully, NaviRead More...
Hello, Navi, While none of them is ungrammatical, (1) is the most natural choice for me. It would be normal to write it with "if" instead of "because" and no comma: 1a) Learning chess is easy. It has to be if I managed to do it. If the speaker were slightly less certain, then (3) would work. But it would be more natural with "anyway" inserted parenthetically before the "because"-clause: 3a) Learning chess is easy. It should be, anyway, because I managed to do it. I suppose (2) and (4) could...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post
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