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Use of Quotes

David, Moderator
Our Policy on the Use of Quotations We understand that members occasionally desire or need to ask grammar-related questions about sentences or phrases that were written by others, and it is perfectly acceptable for you to do so. However, if you wish to include sentences or phrases in a post that were not originally written by you, you must do two things: 1) You must show punctuationally that they are not your words. 2) You must cite what you have taken the text from. The easiest way to...Read More...

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"within' + a preposition that is not "of"

I know 'within" means before a certain period of time has passed. I have trouble using it correctly. I have written a few examples below with it. (1) Everyone will receive a raise within five days after the management and the union reach an agreement and complete all the paperwork. (2) John asks me, " Within what period from the date of purchase do you choose canned foods that are safe to eat?" I reply, "I usually choose canned foods that expire within one year of the date of purchase." Some...Read More...
Hi, Ansonman, "within" can in fact be used with the preposition "of," as in this example from the Longman dictionary: - Within an hour of our arrival Caroline was starting to complain. Example (1) is fine to me. "of" and "from" could not be used in this case in which a clause follows. The present perfect could be used in the time clause: (1') Everyone will receive a raise within five days after the management and the union have reached an agreement and completed all the paperwork. In (2),...Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

not where

Are these sentences correct: 1) He was supposed to write a short story, but not like this, not where one has to know a lot of history to understand what the story is about. 2) You're supposed to write a short story, but not a complicated one, not where the writer has to be an expert in history. If they are, what does 'where' refer to in them? Gratefully, NaviRead More...
Hi, Navi, I wouldn't say that "where" is incorrect but only vague. As a teacher or editor, I think I'd correct it as follows: 1) He was supposed to write a short story, but not like this, not one in which one has to know a lot of history to understand what the story is about. 2) You're supposed to write a short story, but not a complicated one, not one in which the writer has to be an expert in history. I prefer (2) because in (1) "not like this" refers to the manner, not the subject-matter...Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Nouns

Hello, I’d like to know why these nouns use the -ing form instead of the simple form. I’d appreciate any help. ej. “A dress fitting” instead of “a dress fit.” “A drinking problem” instead of a “drink problem”. But, this example use the simple form: “Dance floor” instead of “dancing floor”. Thanks in advance.Read More...
Hello, P.J., and welcome to the Grammar Exchange! In: "fit" does not work as a noun to mean what "fitting" denotes (the act of trying clothes on to check whether they fit). In: "drinking" refers to the action of drinking, while "drink" refers to one particular drink or act of drinking. Just as we speak about "eating disorders" (NOT "food/meal disorders"), we speak about "drinking problem." This: is perhaps the hardest to explain and, therefore, the most idiomatic. I think it has to do with...Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

play them off against one another

Is there a difference between: 1) Play them off against one another and 2) Play them against one another If yes, what is the difference? Gratefully, NaviRead More...

Each vs both

The following sentence is from New Hello, Third Secondary, Egypt. My parents ….. have a mobile phone. a) all b) each c) every d) both The model answer is both, but I wonder if 'each' is also a possible answer. However, is it necessary to use commas if 'each' is another possible answer, i.e My parents, each, have a mobile phone? Thanks for anyone who can help me out!Read More...

done/finished doing something

I have made up an example below. (1) I have finished cleaning the room. Most of my non-native English speaking friends think my sentence is wrong. So, they revised it to make the two sentences below. (2) I am done cleaning the room. (3) I am finished cleaning the room. They have heard a lot of people say (2) and (3). I don't think they are grammatical. I could be wrong. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ (A) Is...Read More...

come here for three days vs come here three days

I have made up two similar sentences below. (1) Tom will come here for three days next week. (2) Tom will come here three days next week. Some of my non-native English speaking friends and I think "for three days" means three consecutive days . The second sentence without "for" means three days that are not consecutive . But, my other friends think (2) is grammatically wrong when it is missing "for". Please help me. Thank you very much for your help.Read More...

Future simple or present continuous?

"When he finishes his exam, he ...........to London." A- will travel b- is traveling I think "is travelling" is correct as it shows that he has arranged to travel to London, but I have never seen a present simple and a present continuous in one sentence.Read More...
Please see my comments in this thread .Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

I am wanting

Hi What is the difference between "I'm wanting something" and "I want something"? I read in the thread below that : "'I want him to go to nursery school.' has a subtle difference in meaning from 'I'm wanting him to go to nursery school.' The first is a simple statement of fact - and expresses a feeling you have that you have no doubt about. The second is more refelctive: you have had internal doubts - or possibly you think someone may challenge or be surprised at your view. " Can you please...Read More...
Thank you both very much About this that you said" If you'd like suggestions as to how to make your presentation even more elegant, send me an e-mail.", Sorry, "state verbs express states or conditions which are relatively static .", how can we use them to express a temporary condition?Read More...
Last Reply By tara · First Unread Post

shamming a transaction

I have made up an example below. (1) John and I went to an antique show yesterday. We noticed that one seller and one buyer were shamming a transaction to make others think his vases were very rare and valuable. Is it correct to say "shamming a transaction"? Thank you for your time and help.Read More...
Hi, Ansonman, "sham" does not work as a verb. You could say that they were (1) feigning a transaction, or (2) bargaining over a transaction. While (1) implies that they were just pretending so the transaction was a fake, (2) means that they were actually discussing the price, presumably to make others believe that the pieces were expensive.Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Lack Of Parallelism Or Something Else?

1. Roozbeh is a crazy sleeper. He often talks in his sleep. One time, I heard him say, “More wings! More wings! More wings!” Sometimes he looks right at you, talks to you, even asking how you are , but he never remembers it in the morning. 2. Roozbeh is a crazy sleeper. He often talks in his sleep. One time, I heard him say, “More wings! More wings! More wings!” Sometimes he looks right at you, talks to you, even asks how you are , but he never remembers it in the morning. My student thinks...Read More...
Hi, Freeguy, Your reasoning is good, except for one thing: it doesn't account for the use of "even," which wants to introduce a grammatical structure of the same type -- in this case, another finite verb phrase in the simple present. I would add "and": 2a) Sometimes he looks right at you, talks to you, and even asks how you are, but he never remembers it in the morning. Your interpretation would work with "even" if the participial modifying phrase were a member of a series or at least a pair...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Reflexive vs object pronoun

Hello, Micheal Swan believes after prepositions of place , we often use a personal pronoun (me, you etc) if the meaning is clear without a reflexive. Compare: (1): She took her dog with her. (NOT ... with herself.) (2): They divided the money among them. (NOT ... among themselves) (3): Close the door behind you. However, I wonder why the following, although using a prepositions of place, is correct: (4) He placed his little dog beside himself on the couch. As a matter of fact, I don't know...Read More...
It means that each case is different, so you will have to decide which pronoun to use according to the specific circumstances.Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

cold like they have been ... or as cold as if they have been .... or as cold as when they have been

My city is very cold in winter. If I leave drinks outside my door for ten minutes, they'll get very cold. You don't even need a refrigerator to make them cold. I am going to make up three similar sentences about that. (1) The drinks are very cold like they have been refrigerated. (2) The drinks are as cold as if they have been refrigerated. (3) The drinks are as cold as when they have been refrigerated. I am not sure how to say this in the correct way. Please help me. Thank you very much for...Read More...
This brings back memories of winter at Kent State University when I was seventeen. Those of us that lived on the upper floors of the dormitories and didn't have refrigerators would set our beers on the outside windowsills to keep them cold. The problem was that some students were very adept at knocking the beers off the sills with snowballs, so I always kept mine on a tether. None of your sentences is incorrect, but I prefer 4: The drinks are as cold as if they had been refrigerated. DocV...Read More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

7pm before I AND before I did at 7pm

(1) John got here at 7pm before I. (2) John got here before I did at 7pm . Is it wrong to put a specific time + "before" in one sentence? Thanks a lot.Read More...
Ansonman, Both sentences are awkward. (1) at the very least needs a comma after "7pm", and I would add "did" at the end. Even so, I hope you understand that the two sentences mean different things. I would suggest these rewordings for clarity: 1a: When I arrived, I found that John had been here since 7pm. 1b: When I arrived, I found that John had been here at 7pm. 2a: When I arrived at 7pm, John was already here. 2b: When I arrived at 7pm, John had already been here. In (1), (1a), and (1b),...Read More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

"past perfect" vs "present perfect"

Should I use present perfect or past perfect in the following context? Are they both correct? Jason, did you see yesterday's match between Liverpool and Chelsea? What a match it was! I have never/had never seen a match like that before. I think both are correct but I am not sure. I think If I use past perfect it mean "before yesterday's match" and If I use present perfect it brings my experience to the present day.Read More...
Hi, Subhajit, You have already asked this question, in the bottom segment of the thread below. You have duplicated your example word for word : https://thegrammarexchange.inf...2#590585063423918172 Was there something you didn't understand in the answer I gave you there? It was just three months ago.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

family

The Smith family is/are from the U.S.. Which one is correct, is or are? I think both are fine. It depends on whether you consider them separately or as a whole group. Thanks.Read More...
Yes. The old thread below didn't come to my mind automatically, as it occurred a few years before I joined GE, but it came up when I used the Search function: https://thegrammarexchange.inf....cc/topic/the-family Here are a couple of other old threads dealing with this eternally recurring grammatical topic: https://thegrammarexchange.inf...pic/my-family-is-are https://thegrammarexchange.infopop.cc/topic/family-4Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Past perfect

The following sentence is in the school book: "I had waited until my car was repaired." What is the difference in meaning between the previous sentence and the following one: "I waited until my car had been repaired"Read More...
Hello, Ahmed A., Your use of "the" in "the school book" is worth considering. By using the definite article there, you are presupposing that your readers (I and others) will know which school book you are referring to, whereas none of us has any idea which book you are referring to. Thus, it would have been better to use "a school book." Of course, we would prefer to know the name of the book and who wrote it. There is very little difference in meaning as far as the "until"-clause is...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

present continuous or be going to

Hello, teachers I found this question in an outside book "not a school book" __ He has filled up the bucket with water. He ........the car. ( a- is washing / b- is going to wash). My choice is "is going to". As far as I understand, both the progressive form and be going to are sometimes interchangeable (when they express the future). Yet, the present continuous implies arrangements while the "be going to" form refers to intentions or decisions in addition to "present reality". That's why I...Read More...
Thanks a lot, sir. I see eye to eye with you. I didn't like sentence either. I was asked to give my opinion about it, that's why I preferred asking yours.Read More...
Last Reply By ayman · First Unread Post

your assignment to complete tonight/infinitive question

Which are correct: 1) These are my shoes to wear at home and those are my shoes to wear at work. 2) These are my shoes for wearing at home and those are my shoes for wearing at work. 3) This is your assignment to complete tonight. 4) These are my books to take to my office and those are my books to take to my girlfriend's place. 5) These are your forms to complete and hand in by Tuesday. I don't think there is a 'for + gerund' form possible for 3, 4 and 5. Gratefully, NaviRead More...
Navi, I don't have a problem with any of your five examples. I agree. I could imagine a "which" clause, though: 3a: This is your assignment, which is to be completed tonight. DocVRead More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

meaning of "a humbling experience"

What does Sir Kazuo Ishiguro mean by a humbling experience in the following? ”Humbling" in this context cannot mean "something makes him feel insignificant or inferior" as some dictionaries define, can it? Sir Kazou, 64, was today knighted for services to literature by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace. Speaking afterwards, the best-selling author described it as 〈a 'humbling experience'〉. He added: 'It is all part of my story of coming from a different country and growing up in this...Read More...
Re: meaning of "a humbling experience"Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

in & from

You can learn about China ( ) books. A. in B. from I think both work here. I need your opinion. Thanks.Read More...
Hi, Ruifeng: I share DocV's preference ("from"), but you are right that both work. The reason "from" works so well is that it gives the sense that the books act as teachers. Compare: You can learn about China from Ruifeng. That sense implies that the addressee can be taught things about China by you. That is how he will learn about China. With "in," the sentence could be used in answer to the question " Where can I learn about China?" Compare: You can learn about China in films and books. It...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Odd or something

Q1: When we describe a figure or number between 20 and 30, we can say twenty odd or twenty something. Are there any other expressions with similar meanings? Q2: Do we need to add a hyphen ie twenty-odd, twenty-something? I guess the use of a hyphen is optional. Is it true? Q3: Is the above use confined to any particular use only? For example, in the use of an approximate age of a person, is it restricted to twenty something or, in other words, can “xxx something”, in fact, be used in any...Read More...
Many thanks, DocV.Read More...
Last Reply By terry · First Unread Post

noise

Stop making ( ). The students are studying. A. noise B. noises C. a noise Which is correct? I am confused. I have asked about "noise" before, but I still don't know what rules my choice should be based on. Thanks.Read More...
Ruifeng, "Noise" works as both a mass noun and a count noun. The best answer is (A), where it is a mass noun, but it is also possible to use (B). (C) doesn't work because it means "a single instance of noise", but if someone were making the same obnoxious sound for a prolonged duration, you could say: D: Stop making that noise . DocVRead More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post
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