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whichever is/are the higher

Hi, In the following sentence, which verb form is okay? Pensions should be increased annually in line with earnings or prices, whichever is / are the higher. I'd appreciate your help.Read More...
Like Gustavo, I favor the singular verb, whether or not "the" is used. I would argue that the singular is superior from a semantic standpoint. My argument works in tandem with Gustavo's analysis in terms of variables. Building upon the apposition analysis I gave above, I would say that "whichever is higher" is the properly the first term of the appositive pair: "They should be increased in line with whichever is higher, earnings or prices ." I don't mean to say that "whichever is higher" is...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Hardly ........than.

From Oxford dictionary: Hardly had she spoken than she regretted it bitterly. Hardly had we arrived than the problems started. I know that we use than with soon(er), but is it possible to use than with hardly, too?Read More...
Hi, all, From 'The New Fowlers English Usage', page 350: 2 hardly... than. This, and the parallel constructions barely ... than and scarcely ... than, which have arisen by analogy with no sooner than, are labelled by the OED (s.v. than conj. 3d) with the condemnatory sign ¶ The examples cited are: He had scarcely won for himself the place which he deserved, than his health was found shattered- Froude, 1864; Hardly had the Council been re-opened at Trent... than Elizabeth was allying herself...Read More...
Last Reply By ahmed_btm · First Unread Post

the new method/defining or non-defining

a. I like the new method to learn five languages simultaneously. b. I like their new method to learn five languages simultaneously. c. I like the new method which allows you to learn five languages simultaneously. d. I like their new method which allows you to learn five languages simultaneously. In which case there was/they had another method to learn five languages simultaneously before? Many thanks.Read More...
Hi, Azz, I think they are all ambiguous depending on whether the novelty is attributed to "the/their method to learn/which allows you to learn five languages simultaneously" (there was a former method, or there were former methods to learn five languages simultaneously that worked differently) or to the possibility of learning five languages simultaneously by means of the new method (the old one/s did not allow it). The two ideas could perhaps be more easily understood by enclosing the...Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Co-Moderator · First Unread Post

"By the time" Vs. "When"

Hello Grammar exchange members! Please consider the following sentence from Naomi Shihab Nye's essay titled "Field Trip". (a) By the time our workshops ended that summer, we felt more deeply bonded than other groups I'd known. The knowledge that I have about the "by the time" adverb clause is that it is used with either the past perfect or future perfect in the main clause like the example sentences below. (b) By the time I arrived at the party, everyone had already left . (c) By the time I...Read More...
Gustavo, I really appreciate your kind response. Learning is a never-ending journey!Read More...
Last Reply By KDog · First Unread Post

Is it unambiguous what "it" refers to?

Consider these three sentences: (1) "I sidestep debates about the nature of virtues and merely presume that virtues are character traits and skills that promote the epistemic ends of debate and discussion" (2) "I have argued that dogs are great pets" (3) "I have suggested that dogs are great pets" Can you paraphrase the sentences as follows without stepping out of bounds semantically? (1P) " virtues are character traits and skills that promote the epistemic ends of debate and discussion"...Read More...
If the words which follow "said" and which are not enclosed in quotation marks rephrase—in your own words—aspects of what he said, without changing the meaning or adding or subtracting from it, then what you have done is to use a combination of quotation and paraphrase. That is quite different from what you did in your opening post. In that post, you did not paraphrase at all. All you did was take some quotations and omit some words from them. What I want to make sure you understand is that...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

An exclamatory sentence that begins with the infinitive phrase

Hello Grammar Exchange members! I ran into the following sentences while reading an essay titled "Field Trip" by Naomi Shihab Nye. (a) She shook her head. “I guess none of those cute kids will ever become printers now, will they? Gee, I hope they don’t stop reading and writing! And to think of it happening in front of such an interested audience! Oh, I feel just terrible about it.” The underlined phrase is not a complete sentence and also I guess the phrase is used to express a suprise. Is...Read More...
Ray and David, I want to express my sincere gratitude for your kind response. Learning something new always feels great, and thanks to both of you, I have gained a new understanding.Read More...
Last Reply By KDog · First Unread Post

Reported Speech and shifting back the tense.

Do these two sentences have the same meaning? Helen said she loves visiting New York. or Helen said she loved visiting New York.Read More...
Hello, Izzat Hannah—When you ask, " DO these two sentences have the same meaning?," do you mean, " CAN these two sentences have the same meaning?" If so, the answer is, yes, they can. They can both be indirect-speech versions of: Hellen said, "I love visiting New York." But if you mean, " MUST these two sentences have the same meaning in all possible contexts?," the answer is, no, they need not have the same meaning. Ahmed has clarified how it is possible for them to have different meanings.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Past simple or Present perfect with ChatGPT

ChatGPT: I saw the movie already, so I don't want to watch it again. I wonder if it should be (I have seen the movie already, so I don't want to watch it again) .Read More...
This speaker of American English, given a choice between the present perfect or the simple past with "already," does prefer to use the present perfect. At the same time, I do not deny that I commonly hear the simple past. The robot is speaking natural, if a bit unfortunate, English here, at least in American English.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

To hug vs hugging

Hi, I have an ESL student who is questioning these sentences. Which sentence is correct? or are they both correct? Hugging is not acceptable in my culture. To hug is not acceptable in my culture. I wasn't able to give him a good solid answer. Both sentences seem to say the same thing, but the first sentence seems to be much more clear. And, hugging is a verb so it an action that is not acceptable. BUT, to hug seems to be an action as well. I told him that to hug is a preposition phrase (this...Read More...
Hi, Janice—ESL students are standardly advised not to use infinive phrases as sentence subjects. In subject position, gerund phrases tend to sound much more natural. As Ahmed has indicated, infinitives tend to have a much more formal sound in that position. An infinitive can be naturally and correctly used in a variation of your second sentence. This one uses expletive "it": It is not acceptable in my culture to hug. In that sentence, "to hug" is an extraposed subject. "It" doesn't mean...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

the very pattern of the late Victorian clergyman

Hi, How does "the very pattern of the late Victorian clergymanf" relate to the rest of the following sentence? It's from War Game by Anthony Price. Musgrave himself frowned up at him out of a luxuriant frame of hair and sidewhiskers and beard, the very pattern of the late Victorian clergyman . I'd appreciate your help.Read More...
Thank you, David. Here is the passage in question:Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Co-Moderator · First Unread Post

His friends are many.

Hi. Can "many" be used predicatively, as in "John's friends are many"? I'd appreciate your help.Read More...
To add to David's answer above, I think the reason underlying the unacceptability of the first sentence is related to the general restrictions of using "(very) much" as a pronoun in the affirmative: *This is much. *This is very much. - This is a bit much. - This is so much. - This is too much. The same restriction may apply when "(very) much" is used as a determiner in the affirmative: *He has much money. *He has very much money. - He has so much money. - He has too much money.Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Co-Moderator · First Unread Post

'asking' them for something smaller

Hello, everyone, "In the door-in-the-face technique , a large, unreasonable request is made, which is turned down; this is followed by a smaller more reasonable request. People are more likely to agree to this smaller second request when it is placed in the context of the more unreasonable request than if it had been placed at the outset. The success of this technique may be related to the reciprocity social norm , the rule that we should pay back in kind what we receive from others. The...Read More...
Hi, Gustavo, appreciate your clarification. Also, thanks for your nice explanation with ". . . a large request (attending an out-of-town concert), then asking them for something smaller . . .".Read More...
Last Reply By deepcosmos · First Unread Post

Have you bought bread you come here?

Hello everyone, Is it grammatically wrong to say this sentence? "have you bought bread before you come here?" The following sentence appeared in some grammar exercises: ............. you bought bread before you came home? a. had you bought b. have you bought c. did you buy d. will you buy Obviously the examiner wants "will you buy", which is fine, but I am asking about "have you bought". Is it grammatically wrong to say "have you bought bread before you come here?" Thanks in advance, Mr HossamRead More...
Hi, Hossam Nigm, It seems that you are in a hurry. You have forgotten to insert 'before' in the title of this thread. 'Have you bought bread you come here?' is ungrammatical and meaningless. It doesn't sound natural. You can say: - Will you bring bread before you come home? (Indicating future incident) - Do you bring bread before you come home? (Indicating a habit) You can see Rachel's reply for a similar question here: https://thegrammarexchange.inf...r-before-i-come-here No, 'came' here is...Read More...
Last Reply By ahmed_btm · First Unread Post

Should "of all time" include the present moment?

Hello, Does the expression "of all time" should always include the present moment? I mean, I've found this sentence which holds a past meaning but "of all the time" is used in it. Which I found confusing and contradictory: - He is considered "to have been" the best neurosurgeon "of all time".Read More...
To add to Gustavo's correct explanation, I think there is no contradiction about the use of "of all time." At first, it should be made clear that the grammatical concept of time differs from that in real life. "of all time" indicates a statement is true through the time that it is made. It may or may not include the real-time present moment, contingent upon the context. His being the best neurosurgeon of all time was true at the time that the statement was made, with no reference to if it is...Read More...
Last Reply By f6pafd · First Unread Post

"To be" VS "to have been" ( the impersonal passive)

Hello, is there any difference between (1) and (2)? (1) Almodovar's film was considered to be the most innovative. (2) Almodovar's film was considered to have been the most innovative. (1): means that the film is still considered the most innovative While (2): Implies that the film is no longer considered to be the most innovative. This is what I think, and I wanted to confirm this idea.Read More...
Hello, Gustavo, Perfectly understood. Thank you so much for your time.Read More...
Last Reply By Meriem · First Unread Post

until/up to

a. Until now I have received four applications. b. Up to now I have received four applications. c. From last Tuesday until now I have received four applications. d. From last Tuesday up to now I have received four applications. Which of the above sentences are grammatically correct? Many thanks.Read More...
Hi, Gustavo, Sorry, Gustavo. This happened because of my mobile phone. I tried many times to fix it, but it didn't work.Read More...
Last Reply By ahmed_btm · First Unread Post

"Opinion is divided" or "Opinions are divided"

Hello admin, I wonder which phrase I can use to describe different views of people on something. For example: Some people think that playing video games is bad for children. Others, however, believe that it is good for children to do so. Which one is more accurate and natural in writing to rephrase? 1. Opinion is divided as to whether playing video games is good or bad for children. 2. Opinions are divided as to whether playing video games is good or bad for children. Thank you.Read More...
Thank you so muchRead More...
Last Reply By Moon Le · First Unread Post

Should this say "will determine" or "will have determined"?

See here: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2023/03/20/the-un-just-released-a-landmark-climate-change-report-heres-the-timeline-it-gives-us.html There’s a girl sitting in a Grade 5 class today. By the time she graduates from high school, in just seven years, the decisions the world makes around carbon emissions will determine the environment she grows up in.Read More...
Hi, Andrew, I agree with David. One thing is to live in an environment (according to your paraphrase), and quite another is to grow up in an environment—the latter verb, which is the one used in the original text, entails an evolution from childhood to adulthood. A 5th grader would be around 10, and will finish high school at around 18. By the time the girl turns 18, the decisions made during this period will have determined the conditions of the world in which she has grown up.Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Co-Moderator · First Unread Post

Why do you see people write "in the near-term"?

Regarding "in the near-term" (or "in the long-term" or whatever) I assume that everyone in this forum would recommend to not hyphenate. But I've seen instances in the media where a hyphen is deployed in this situation. Is it just an error of some sort? One can search online and see how many examples there are of this: https://ludwig.guru/s/%22in+the+near-term%22. I don't know if it's possible to search just the media and just within the past week, but I saw an instance of this within the...Read More...
Hi, Andrew, According to The Chicago Manual of Style Online: Hyphenation Table , it should not be hyphenated when used inside a prepositional phrase ( in the near term, in the long term ) and should be hyphenated when used as a compound adjective ( near-term proposal, long-term plan ):Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Co-Moderator · First Unread Post

Present perfect or past simple?

Essam Nasr
The pharaohs have built great pyramids. Is it right to use the present perfect in the sentence above because the action happened in the past but the pyramids are still there up to now? Please choose and explain: Garaham Bell ........ the phone. a. invented b. has inventedRead More...
Hi, Essam Nasr, and 'Happy Ramadan', No, the past simple tense is the one that's normally used in this case. I think you miss the point here. When you mention the pharaohs or Graham Bell, the time frame is already established in the past, especially with verbs that happen only once. It is something that happened a long time ago. You can't say 'Naguib Mahfouz has written many great stories. Many people still enjoy reading them.' Naguib Mahfouz passed away many years ago. However, you can...Read More...
Last Reply By ahmed_btm · First Unread Post

The world's poor

Hi all GE members, Can we use the phrase " the world's poor" to mean poor people in the world? Many thanksRead More...
Hi, Tony, Yes, that is correct. Being a collective nominalized adjective, "the poor" means "(all) the poor people." If you say "poor people" (without the article), the collective sense is lost.Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Co-Moderator · First Unread Post

"I would like to ensure that..."

In the following sentence, can we use the past tense in the subordinate clause following "to ensure" when we are referring to something that occurred (in this case) the previous day? – I would like to ensure that my inquiry was received. I ask because something seems a bit off with this sentence, though I am not sure what. I think my doubt comes from the fact that "to ensure" means "to make certain that (something) will occur or be the case". So, can one use the verb in the context shown ...Read More...
Thank you for this clarification, Gustavo!Read More...
Last Reply By MlleSim · First Unread Post

when

a. We'll have to talk about this. Let me know when is a good time. b. We'll have to talk about this. Let me know when will be a good time. c. We'll have to talk about this. Let me know when it is a good time. d. We'll have to talk about this. Let me know when it will be a good time. e. We'll have to talk about this. Let me know when it is a good time for me to call you. f. We'll have to talk about this. Let me know when it will be a good time for me to call you. Which of the above sentences...Read More...
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