Questions and Answers

Complain

Why don't you reply to my question? Is it against your rules?!!Read More...

I've never

Hussein Hassan
Hello, our teachers. Hope that all of you are fine. Would you please, help me choose the right form of 'be' in the following context: - I've never climbed a mountain that _________ ( is / was ) dangerous. Can both be used? A bunch of thanks in advance.Read More...
Hi Hassan, the answer is "is". To date you have never climbed a dangerous mountain. The fact remains true. Hence, "was", which relates to the past, cannot be used in your sentence.Read More...
Last Reply By tanguatlay · First Unread Post

It was the first time ...(past simple or past perfect)

Hi, In some references like "Practical English usage", we find "the past perfect" not {the past simple} used in with such expressions: It was the first , the second ...etc + a subject + had,P.P. However I've found this sentence in our text book: It was the first time that Egypt WON three bronze medals since 2004. Is it a correct sentence?! Is there any reference that mentions it?!Read More...

pile & lot

1. There is a pile of books. 2. There are a pile of books. Which one is correct? Does "a pile of" work as "a lot of" or not? Thanks.:)Read More...
Hi, Ruifeng, I don't think I've ever heard anyone use "pile of Ns" with plural conjugation. "Group of Ns," however, can take either singular or plural conjugation. The same question goes FOR "group," you could have said.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

past perfect vs. present perfect

The following is an excerpt from an English newspaper published in Japan on Dec. 3. OSAKA--Public elementary and junior high school students here will be allowed to bring mobile phones starting the next school year〉, but only use them during natural disasters. … The education ministry issued a notice to all prefectural education boards effectively banning mobiles and smartphones at schools on the grounds that there is no direct need for such devices. The Osaka prefectural government 〈had...Read More...
Hi, Gustavo, It is now clear to me why the article writer used the past perfect in the relevant sentence instead of the present perfect. Thank you again for you help.Read More...
Last Reply By fujibei · First Unread Post

Hardly ... without and Hardly ... when

cocoricot
Dear teachers, 1. Hardly a day goes by when I didn't think about her. 2. Hardly a day goes by without my thinking about her. Sentence 2 is understood without any difficulty but sentence 1 has something usual to me. Is it the structure "Hardly ....when''? Does it need inversion? Thanks for your concern.Read More...
Hello, Coco, Sentence (2) is fine, but you are right that there is something wrong about (1). What is wrong is that there is a conflict in the tenses. "Goes" (present tense) should be "went" (past tense). You can say: Hardly a day went by that I didn't think about her. Hardly a day goes by that I don't think about her.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Phrasal verb - come up with

1. Sorry, guys. Something just came up to do with my daughter. I have to leave now. 2. Sorry, guys. Something just came up having to do with my daughter. I have to leave now. I think both 1 and 2 are correct or 1 is wrong because “came up” cannot be followed by “infinitive”? 3. Something just came up requiring my attention. 4. Something just came up that requires my attention. Is 3 requiring xxx a participial phrase? Is 4 that requires xxx a relative clause? thanks.Read More...
Marvellous! Thanks, David.Read More...
Last Reply By terry · First Unread Post

the car he was driving was stolen

Are these correct: 1) The car he was driving was stolen when he stopped at a rest area to go to the restroom. 2) The police stopped him because t he car he was driving was stolen. He claimed that he'd borrowed it from a friend. 3) Her ring was stolen. It was given to her by her boyfriend who was a burglar. I didn't come up with this question myself. I am plagiarizing a good friend of mine who came up with it. I had missed this one! Gratefully, NaviRead More...
Thank you both very much, The problem seems to be sentence '3'. At first, I really thought it could work, although I knew that I was sort of pushing things! The more I think about it, the more I have doubts. Gustavo doesn't seem to have a particular problem with it, but David does. If I understand David's reply correctly, the problem with '3' is ' her'. That word implies that the ring did really belong to her. But then we learn that it didn't. There seems to be a contradiction. I thought...Read More...
Last Reply By navi · First Unread Post

get laced meaning

Hell, I meant Kahlúa, screw it, to hell with it I went through hell with accelerants and blew up My-my-myself again, Volkswagen, tailspin Bucket matches my pale skin, mayo and Went from Hellmann's and being rail thin, Filet-o-Fish Scribbles Jam, Rap Olympics '97 Freaknik How can I be down? Me and Bizarre in Florida Proof's room slept on floor of the, motel then Dr. Dre said, "Hell yeah" And I got his stamp like a postcard, word to Mel-Man And I know they're gonna hate but I don't care, I...Read More...
I appreciate it.Read More...
Last Reply By Freeguy · First Unread Post

to use in a bank robbery

Which of these sentences are correct and make sense: 1) Our truck was stolen to use in a bank robbery. 2) Our truck was stolen to use it in a bank robbery. 3) They were kidnapped to exploit as slaves. 4) They were kidnapped to exploit them as slaves. Could one replace 'to' with 'in order to' in them? Gratefully, NaviRead More...
Thank you very much, Gustavo and David, The other thread was not in my files. I just added it. I had forgotten about it actually, or else I wouldn't have asked this question. There is nothing to unveil. The sentences sound bad and are bad! My apologies! Respectfully, NaviRead More...
Last Reply By navi · First Unread Post

Usage of "gerunds"

have a question reharding the usage of gerunds. Are the following senteces correct? If not, Can you expalin why? Before finishing the project, you need to finish your homework. Before your finishing the project, you need to finish your homework. I know for the above I can say: Before you finish the project, you need to finish your homework. But when I try to use gerunds, the problem arises. Another example: John there's a good show going on the TV on career making. Watch It before Its ending...Read More...
Subhajit, you say "how I should use gerunds." The point is that sometimes you don't need to use a gerund, or any kind of word in particular, if you want to sound natural. Language does not work that way, enabling the use of any category of word at all times. When the (implicit) subject of the gerund is the same as that of the main clause, it is incorrect, or in the best case extremely awkward, to use the possessive as in your second sentence above. Why should you use it? In this other case...Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

"The Suitcase" Vs "It" Vs "One"

Hi there, In the following example, can I use the suitcase , it , and one interchangeably? Are they all correct? Yesterday my friend told me over phone someone has left a suitcase in front of our school. He was so afraid. When I got there I couldn't see one. Yesterday my friend told me over phone someone has left a suitcase in front of our school. He was so afraid. When I got there I couldn't see it . Yesterday my friend told me over phone someone has left a suitcase in front of our school.Read More...

I hope you win next time.

A: Jason, how was your soccer game? B: We lost. A: That's too bad. _________________ . B: Thanks! ------------------------------------------------------ a. I hope you win next time. b. I hope you'll win next time. Are they both correct? If so, are there any differences? Thanks!Read More...
Hi, Kis, Yes, they are both correct. I would find it much more natural not to use "will" in that particular context. So I prefer (a), but both are correct. There are no differences between them in that case. But take a case like this: "I hope he is there." Without context, "is" can refer to the present or the future. There is no way, however, to suppose that "will be" in the sentence "I hope he will be there" can refer to the present. Thus, "will" can remove ambiguity sometimes.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

kidnapped him to...

Which are correct and make sense: 1) They kidnapped him to work as a slave. 2) He was kidnapped to work as a slave. 3) They imprisoned him to stay silent. 4) He was imprisoned to keep silent. 5) He was imprisoned to be kept silent. 6) He was imprisoned to keep him silent. Gratefully, NaviRead More...

Could be seen OR were being seen

Hundreds of sailing boats ................ from the beach yesterday. They looked really lovely. a) can be seen b) are seen c) could be seen d) were being seen I think, (c) is the correct answer. However, I don't know why (d) isn't suitable. What do you think? * This question is taken from a book called "The Best".Read More...
Thank you so much.Read More...
Last Reply By Yama · First Unread Post

fused participle

Hi, I'd like to know if this structure correct or not, please: *While I walking late at night, the trees looked spooky. * Is it Ok to say ~ While I walking instead of "while I WAS walking"? * Does it have anything to do with "fused participle"? ThanksRead More...
Thanks a lot. I really appreciate it so much. Would you please tell me more about "fused psrticiple".Read More...
Last Reply By ayman · First Unread Post

too - to

1) The tea is too hot to drink. 2) The tea is too hot to be drunk. 3) The tea is too hot for us to drink. A few questions that I have: A) If sentence one is correct, how is that although the verb is not in a passive voice conjugation?! B) If the second is wrong, then why?! C) If all of them are correct, is there any difference? THANKSRead More...
David, Your "Object" example, of course, can also refer to the meat of the turkey rather than the bird itself. Hence (or is that "hens"?), the second sentence in the example could say that they "ate some fresher turkey instead". Mostly, though, I wanted to bring back a similar example that you shared with me years ago, which was: I think that you asked me at the time which of these meanings came to mind: But, of course, a turkey can't be hungry if it's stuffed. I understand that this doesn't...Read More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

Correct tenses

Hi there, do the tenses match in the following sentences? John, two years ago you left India and settled in Australia for a good job. I hope Australia has given you the things that this country did not give you. Note that John is still in Australia when I am saying this.Read More...
David says: There is something very strangely beautiful about that sentence. He uses a double negative to speak of the omission of an omission. I agree with David completely, but I can't really say that avoiding the lack of absence of ellipsis would work nearly as well. I'm sure you know, but since it wasn't spelled out, "for good", as David uses it, means "permanently". I've never quite understood how it came to mean that, since it doesn't seem to be related to any other meaning of "good"...Read More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

most interesting

a. Most interesting was what we saw on the fifth day of our stay in Paris. b. What was most interesting was what we saw on the fifth day of our stay in Paris. c. What we saw on the fifth day of our stay in Paris was most interesting. In which case: 'Most' means 'extremely and in which case: We have a real superlative Can one say a. The most interesting was what we saw on the fifth day of our stay in Paris. b. What was the most interesting was what we saw on the fifth day of our stay in...Read More...
Hello, Azz, In your first set of sentences (a) to (c) (next time, please use different letters if you provide new examples within the same thread), I think "most interesting" can only mean "extremely interesting." The superlative will require the pronoun "one," a generic noun like "thing" (or "person"), or the presence in the immediately preceding context of a noun which might be considered to be implicit in the sentence that follows, for example: A: What was the most interesting thing you...Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

on five occasions

Which are correct: 1) On five occasions, five policemen came to our restaurant. 2) Five times, five policemen came to our restaurant. 3) Five policemen came to our restaurant on five occasions. 4) Five policemen came to our restaurant five times. I think '2' is not correct. In which cases a) we are sure that five policemen came together every time b) it is possible that one came on each occasion. Five policemen in all and five occasions in all. c) We know that five policemen came five times...Read More...

to solve the probem

a. He was the man who was to solve the problem, but he didn't do anything. b. I talked to the engineer who was to fix the system, but he said he couldn't do it. c. He was the man who was to have solved the problem, but he didn't do anything. d. I talked to the engineer who was to have fixed the system, but he said he couldn't do it. Are the above sentences grammatically correct and do they make sense? In all cases, the person has been given the task of doing something (solve the problem, fix...Read More...
Hi, Azz, All the sentences are grammatical, but only the first two make sense. Sentences (c) and (d) are semantically infelicitous and therefore incorrect. You could fix (d) by changing "but" to "and" or by using as separate sentence. (d1) I talked to the engineer who was to have fixed the system. He said he couldn't do it. The perfective infinitive "was to have fixed" implies that he didn't actually do it. The second sentence now explains what happened: he wasn't able to fix the system.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

her or them

cocoricot
Dear teachers, 1. No girl should wear a uniform, because it makes her look like a sack of potatoes. 2. No girl should wear a uniform, because it makes them look like a sack of potatoes. I think the first sentence is correct because of these words: girl; a uniform; a sack. They are all used in the singular form. Please tell me if I am correct. Thanks a lot.Read More...
Thank you, Gustavo, so much.Read More...
Last Reply By cocoricot · First Unread Post

this is a terrible thing

a. This is a terrible thing not to be able to see him. b. This is a bad blow to me not to be able to see him. Are these sentences correctly punctuated? Would you say that a comma before 'not' is necessary? The idea in (a) is that the terrible thing = not to be able to see him. The idea in (b) is that the bad blow = not to be able to see him. Many thanksRead More...
Hi, Azz, I don't think the sentences are correctly punctuated because, unlike "it," "this" cannot merely work as an anticipatory subject (introducing the real infinitival subject that comes at the end). The clause starting with "this" is a complete sentence. If you want to clarify what "this" refers to, you should make the infinitival clause an apposition. A comma could help, as you suggest (but I'm not sure it's the best solution): a'. This is a terrible thing, not to be able to see him.Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Sing/plural Verb to use with ‘one of + who’

1. He is the only one of those men who is/are always courteous. 2. He is one of those men who is/are always courteous. 3. Pope Francis is one of the popes who has/have led the Catholic Church for almost two thousand years. Do we use singular/plural verb in these sentences? ‘Who’ refers to what subject? Please explain.Read More...
Thank you very much, Gustavo, for clarifying this.Read More...
Last Reply By symphony · First Unread Post

suffering humanity

cocoricot
Dear teachers, That both Freud and Max were motivated primarily by compassionate concern for suffering humanity is elaborated upon in Fromm's biology. Please tell me if "suffering humanity" is a noun phrase or 'suffering' is a gerund and 'humanity' is its object. Thank you.Read More...
Thank you, David, so much. Now I understand it clearly.Read More...
Last Reply By cocoricot · First Unread Post

come vs comes

A prefix is a letter or a group of letters that ………. at the beginning of a word. 1) comes 2) come I would use "come" because of the preceding noun, which is "letter". However, I am not sure whether "comes" is ungrammatical here. Thanks.Read More...
Hi, Ruifeng, No, the reason for the singular form does not have anything to do with "or." However, the relative clause does implicitly apply to the first disjunct. The sentence may be regarded as a reduction of the following: A prefix is a letter that comes at the beginning of a word or a group of letters that comes at the beginning of a word .Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

tense

Let's say, when in the classroom, the teacher is writing on the blackboard. After he is finished, he wants to ask a question like this: 1. How many nouns did I write? 2. How many nouns have I written? Which one is correct or more natural? Is there a difference between American usage and British usage? And is the word "just" necessary when in a situation like this? Thanks.:)Read More...
Thank you, David.Read More...
Last Reply By ruifeng · First Unread Post

strengthened more

a. He was strengthened by the hope I gave him. He was more strengthened by the letter his wife had sent him. b. He was strengthened by the hope I gave him. He was strengthened more by the letter his wife had sent him. Are both sentences grammatically correct? Do they have the same meaning? It seems to me that there are two meanings possible for the second sentence. First possible meaning: He was strengthened by the letter more than by the hope I gave him. Second possible meaning: He was...Read More...

Apostrophes

Hi I’m writing an invite. For the heading I’m writing Neighbours’ Christmas Drinks. Do I use the apostrophe as above after the s or write Neighbour’s or just Neighbours. Thanks DeeRead More...
Hello, Dee, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange! May I ask what the invitation is for? Are you trying to invite your neighbors over for drinks to celebrate Christmas?Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Tenses

What is the best answer here : I admit that Tom is always lazy,but he .......... hard these days. (works - is working )Read More...
Hello, Ayman El-Nemr, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange. I agree with you that "is working" is the correct answer, as it denotes a temporary habit: T om hardly ever works, but these days he is working hard. Where I don't agree with you is that "works" would be suitable if the first verb were in the past. The point is that the adverbial "these days" requires present continuous or present perfect continuous: I'm working hard these days. I've been working hard these days.Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Sentence building using connectives

Please could you help with with this question, I tried many alternatives. Below is two of my best answers, but still don't seem to be grammarly correct. - But before I can either work in Germany I too need to study German. - But I too need to study German before I can either work in Germany.Read More...

Usage of "any"

Hi there, can I use any with singular nouns In sentences like the following? I don't have any pen. I know you'd say it sounds more natural to say "I don't have any pens ." but I have read many books written by both native and non native speakers that says any can be followed by both singular and plural nouns. I know In the above sentence plural is more natural though I see many sentences on the internet and news portal where any is used with singular nouns in the sentence like the above. So...Read More...
Hi, Subhajit, I can't imagine any native speaker using that sentence without a modifier following "pen." (Incidentally, did you notice that the sentence I just finished writing contains "any" with a singular count noun? ) You could say: I don't have any pen that matches that description.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Though tired

cocoricot
Dear teachers, Are there many ways to say like this? 1. Though she was tired, she was happy. 2. Tired as she was, she was happy. In (1) can I leave out the first "she was" because there are two "she was" and I want to shorten the sentence but still keep its meaning. 1. a. Though tired, she was happy. Please tell me if it's correct. Thanks.Read More...
Certainly, Coco. I find "despite her tiredness" to be slightly awkward in comparison with "despite being tired," but it's perfectly grammatical.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

declare yourself a church

In the show, I can only see"...declare yourself a church." What does it mean and what is the complete sentence? Thanks.Read More...
Good find, Ruifeng. Churches are tax-exempt, that is to say, they do not pay taxes. If you declare you are a church (or declare yourself a church ), you will be able to evade taxes. That poster offers you a way to pay less taxes without having to resort to the artifice of declaring you are a church in your tax return (which is the form where you declare your income on the basis of which income taxes will be assessed).Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Passive causative

This question is taken from a book called " the best " which in turn quoted it from our student book page 52. They .......... the mobile phone mast turned on. a) got b) were c) would d) had I know that "got" or "had" can be used in the passive causative form. This makes (a) and (d) correct, so I need your help. Could you tell me if one of them is more suitable? Thanks in advance.Read More...
Thank you very much Doc v. I'm a bit curious about how you would get the answer expected by the publisher. Anyway, thanks again. I really appreciate it.Read More...
Last Reply By Yama · First Unread Post

Causative

Help me answer this question. A footballer is known ...................... a lot of money. a) to making b) to be making c) to be made d) to have been making According to what I know, this passive form is followed by be either ( to + infinitive ) or ( to + have + past participle ). ( b) and ( d) seem to be the progressive forms of these two forms. Which one should I choose? Thanks for your help. P.S. the source of this question is an outside book called "The Best".Read More...
Thanks for your help.Read More...
Last Reply By Yama · First Unread Post

a dog barked twice

Which are correct: 1) Last night I heard a dog bark twice. 2) Last night, twice, I heard a dog bark. 3) Last night, on two occasions, I heard a dog bark. 4) A dog barked twice. 5) Twice, a dog barked. 6) On two occasions, a dog barked. In which cases: a) It is the same dog in which cases: b) We have two different dogs and in which cases: c) We can't tell Gratefully, NaviRead More...

using relative pronoun 'that' instead of 'which' in the following sentence

A few years later, she even made an organization, Empower Orphans, which sends food, clothes, books, and many other things to orphans. Can we replace the underlined relative pronoun 'which' with 'that'? There are two arguments about this. 1. The 'which' in the above sentence is a non-restrictive use of relative pronoun, accordingly, 'that' can't replace 'which'. 2. The comma in front of 'which' is used to indicate the apposition between 'an organization' and 'Empower Orphans'. In that case,...Read More...
Thank you so much, David and Gustavo! I 've attached the surrounding sentences. You're right, it's from a Korean Textbook. (The story is about a Indian American girl, Neha Gupta.) ...... She wanted to help with their education. Instead of just feeling sorry for the girls, she decided to do something. Some people said, “If you were an adult, you could do it, but you’re just 9 years old. Do you really think you can change anything?” What they said, however, didn’t stop her. When she went back...Read More...
Last Reply By y2k · First Unread Post

Not since meaning

HI I am translating a political text, but I found the following phrase vague. Could you please guide me? Not since ‘the divine right of kings’ has there been a significant political theory that was based on criteria in which democracy had no place. What does it say?Read More...
Hello, Sahar Mehraji, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange. That sentence you quoted is anything but vague. Are you sure you understand all the words and grammatical structures?Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

"Any" Usage

Hello, I have a question regarding usage of any . My question is, can I omit any in cases like the following? I have a grammar book named ' Practical English Usage ' that says "With an uncountable or plural noun, 'any' usually suggests the idea of an indefinite but limited amount or number. When there is no idea of a limited quantity or number, we do not usually use 'any'. And It also says when our Interest is in knowing the the existense of something not knowing its amount or its number, we...Read More...
Subha, These are good questions. I see by your examples that you have already grasped the fact that "any" tends to be used mostly in questions or negative statements. It can also be used in conditionals. Both are acceptable, but I recommend using "any". Without it, it is possible for the other to respond: 1a: No, I don't have "children". I have one child. It would be more natural in this context to say: 2a: I don't have a car . I go to college by bus. As with (1), I find the presumably...Read More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

Future forms

Muhammed Abdullah
1- Hurry up! Your train......in five minutes. ( will leave - leaves - is leaving - is going to leave ) 2- There's a train.......at six o'clock tomorrow. I hope I will catch it. ( will leave - leaves - is going to leave - leaving) { please sir, I want to know the answer and the DIFFERENCE between them.} Regards.Read More...
Thank you,sir .Read More...
Last Reply By Muhammed Abdullah · First Unread Post

Vocabulary

Could anyone tell the difference between an organisation, an association and a foundation? THANKSRead More...
Hi, Rasha, This is not a question about language but about legal terminology. Since I teach legal and financial English, I can help you, but please consider this an exception. Our main focus here is to clarify doubts about grammar and general language. An organization (in BrE "organisation") is a general word for entity. It can be private or public, for profit (a "business organization") or not for profit. An association has a civil, non-commercial nature. It can be a club, an alumni...Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

more and more

a. It is looking more impressive all the time. b. It is looking more and more impressive all the time. c. It looks more impressive all the time. d. It looks more and more impressive all the time . Are all the above sentences grammatically correct? Is there any difference in their meanings? Many thanks.Read More...
Hi, Azz, They are all grammatically correct, and they mean basically the same thing. The use of "more and more" emphasizes the ongoing incremental improvement. Also, with "more and more," the phrase "all the time" is a bit redundant.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

is enough

a. Four grains of this substance are enough. Five grains will be too much. b. Four grains of this substance is enough. Five grains will be too much. c. A bishop and a knight are stronger than a rook. d. A bishop and a knight is stronger than a rook. e. A bishop and knight are stronger than a rook. f. A bishop and knight is stronger than a rook. Which of the above sentences are grammatical? It seems to me that (b) is correct and (a) is not. We are talking about a quantity here. It seems to me...Read More...
I particularly liked your examples above, DocV, as they illustrate very clearly that it is the noun (singular mass or plural count) which is focused on as the head of the phrase that will determine the number of the verb.Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post
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