January 2019

idiom: hire a window

I have heard of this idiom "hire a window" from one of my non-native English speaking friends. He said it means that you cheat on major assignments, exams, and other academic work by hiring someone to do them for you. I tried to look it up in dictionaries, but I could not find it. Then, I asked him where he heard it. He said he doesn't remember. I am pretty sure he made a mistake. If it is wrong, what is the correct idiom? Thank you very much for your help.Read More...
In Cantonese, we call it “hire a gun” transliterally to mean that a third party is being asked or engaged to do examinations or to write study assignments on one’s behalf. The words “gun” and “ window” sound the same in Cantonese. This means that someone has been “creative” and made up the term “hire a window”, which, of course, makes no sense at all.Read More...
Last Reply By terry · First Unread Post

correct word order

(1) Tom sings for three hours at home every day. (2) Tom sings at home for three hours every day. (3) Tom sings for three hours every day at home. (4) Tom sings every day at home for three hours. I am not sure which word order sounds natural to native English speakers. Please help me. Thank you very much for your help.Read More...
All four sentences (word orders) sound perfectly natural to me, Ansonman. You could even experiment with putting some of those phrases at the beginning: (5) Every day, Tom sings for three hours at home. (6) Every day for three hours, Tom sings at home. (7) For three hours every day, Tom sings at home. (8) At home, Tom sings for three hours every day. (9) Every day at home, Tom sings for three hours. (10) At home every day, Tom sings for three hours. (11) For three hours at home every day,...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

One in five youngesters gets anything

Hussein Hassan
Hello, there Would you please, help me understand the following sentence: According to medical experts, one in five youngesters gets anything between two and five hours' sleep at night less than their parents did at their age. I'll attach the whole text. The point is that I can't understand what "anything" means here? Each word you write is appreciated.Read More...
For me, "less" would work much, much better before "sleep." I would also change "anything" to "anywhere" (similar to DocV's "somewhere") and "did" to "got." I don't think we need to worry about the two instances of singular "their." According to medical experts, one in five youngsters gets anywhere between two and five hours' less sleep a night than their parents got at their age.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Sound /look

She decided not to buy the dress. It (sounded - looked) old fashioned. What is the right choice in this sentence?Read More...
Hello, Emad, I believe DocV is poking fun at the option "sounded" because normal dresses don't emit sound and thus do not sound a certain way. I suspect the authors of the test question may have had in mind an old-fashioned appearance that was inferred on the basis of a heard report about the dress. For that other meaning, you could use "It sounded/sounds as if it were old-fashioned," where the first "it" is a dummy and the second "it" refers to the dress. I talked to Sally, who is still at...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

(the) additional services

(1) Customers need to pay more for (the) additional services they request for their computers. (2) You need to let us know in advance for (the) additional services for your stay in our hotel. I am not sure whether or not the definite article is required in both sentences. Please help me. Thank you very much.Read More...
Your clear explanation has helped me understand how to construct these sentences better. Thank you very much.Read More...
Last Reply By ansonman · First Unread Post

get there vs go there

I have heard of these questions asked. (1) How do you get there? (2) How do you go there? I don't understand the difference in meaning between the two questions. Could you please explain the difference? Thank you very much for your help.Read More...
I really appreciate the clear explanations you both gave me. Thank you very much.Read More...
Last Reply By ansonman · First Unread Post

Must

1- I really ..... visit my grandmother in Alexandria more often. ( needn't - have to - need to ) 2 - listen to me ! You ...... get a new pump for the fish tank soon. This one doesn't work well. ( must - needn't - need to ) 3- the doctor says I ..... lose 10 kilos. ( must - needn't - have to - need to )Read More...
Thanks for clarification , I would like to state that these questions are from a test.Read More...
Last Reply By egyptian2017 · First Unread Post

...and it rains right now.

Hi there, This is an extract from Charmed by Canadian author Michelle Krys. What do you think about the simple form rains? Should she have written is raining instead? Why? (Why not?)Read More...
Hope, First of all, thanks for citing your source. This enabled me to find a number of excerpts from the novel online, including the chapter containing the passage you've quoted here. I like the first "rains" (“It hardly ever rains in L.A. ..."), but not so much the second (" ... and it rains right now."). I would have written it more like: 1: ... but it would have to rain now! To me this expresses the character's frustration and her futile rage against the universe and God (or the gods)...Read More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

not three

-Three people witnessed the murder. a. -No, not three people witnessed the murder. Four people did. b. -No, it wasn't three people who witnessed the murder, it was four people. c. -No, three people didn't witness the murder. Four people did. In this context, which of the sentences a-c work? (c) would normally mean that there were three people (out of a group) who didn't witness the murder. But in this context, the speaker is repeating something that has already been said. I am not sure (c)...Read More...
I agree with David's comments. In particular, David's point was the unstated reason behind my rejection of (a), and I suspect it was Gustavo's reason as well. Azz's (c) and my (c1) must both be understood to mean that three people have been positively confirmed as not having witnessed the murder. It would perhaps be better stated as: c2: We definitely know of three people that cannot possibly have witnessed the murder. We also know of four people that were definitely there at the scene, and...Read More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

"not a" vs "not any"

Hi there, are both not a and not any sound natural in the following examples? Yesterday was mothers' day but I did not post any photos with my mother on social media. I think importance of my mother to my life cannot be described by just clicking pictures or posting them on social sites on mother's day. Yesterday was mothers' day but I did not post a photo with my mother on social media. I think importance of my mother to my life cannot be described by just clicking a picture or posting it...Read More...
Subha, I like (4) better than (3). There are so many things wrong with (1) and (2) that I'm not even going to begin to talk about them. DocVRead More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

"I probably will" VS "I would"

Helen: Would you attend my party tomorrow? John: I probably will. Helen: Would you attend my party tomorrow? John: I would. Does the answer 'probably will' equal to 'would'? If not, what's the difference?Read More...
Wemcho, I think that with a present tense verb in the first sentence, as you have in (#8), I would want to see either a future tense verb or something akin to a conditional in the second sentence. 8a: It's five o'clock now. Sooner or later, Peter will finish his homework. 8b: It's five o'clock now. Sooner or later, Peter must finish his homework. By the way, Gustavo, thanks for your support in your earlier post. You make an interesting point with (#6). DocVRead More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

is looking or looks

Hi These are two examples from the book Grammar in Use. Why in the first sentence both continuous and simple are used but in the second only simple? 1. I hear you're having your house repainted. How 's it looking? (or How does it look?) 2. I bought this new dress today. How does it look?Read More...
Sorry DocV, I just wanted to test whether we can send an empty post or not. Then I deleted the empty post. I was not offended at all. I know it was only a joke.Read More...
Last Reply By tara · First Unread Post

Word order

1. Mr James Parker in his book “Over the Rainbow” suggested that a successful business has the following characteristics. 2. In his book “Over the Rainbow”, Mr James Parker suggested that a successful business has the following characteristics. 3. Mr James Parker suggested in his book “Over the Rainbow” that a successful business has the following characteristics. which one is correct? And which one do you prefer? It seems to me that 1 and 2 are correct. Where should “in his book xxx” be...Read More...
I am in complete agreement with David here. The indicative "has" and the subjunctive "have" both work, and the choice of which to use changes the meaning of the sentence entirely. I neglected to make that point clear in my previous post. DocVRead More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

Word Order

ahmad
Hello, everyone, A. Approval is accorded to the change as requested for. B. Accorded is approval to the change as requested for. C. The change as requested for is accorded approval. 1. Are any of the above sentences acceptable? Thanks.Read More...
Gustavo, thanks a lot for your help. DocV, it is great to hear from you. During my unfortunate absence, I immensely missed the ever-ready helpful responses of Gustavo, the enlightening and unrivaled erudition of David, and of course, that inexpressible joy that I feel hearing from you. Thanks.Read More...
Last Reply By ahmad · First Unread Post

In/of

ahmad
Hello, everyone, Merriam Websters Dictionary defines Contraband among other ways as: "illegal or prohibited traffic in goods" https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contraband 1. Why is there an in and not an of before goods ? Thanks.Read More...
Thanks, Gustavo. It really helped.Read More...
Last Reply By ahmad · First Unread Post

comparative

A. It took three times longer than I expected. B. It took three times as long as I expected. A controversial question. Do the above sentences have the same meaning?Read More...
That's a fair question. As with many such expressions, many speakers don't really think about the literal meaning of the words they're saying. Another common example in English began with the expression "I couldn't care less", which is intended to convey the idea that the speaker does not care at all, so it would be literally impossible for him to care any less than he already does. Another similar expression is the more sarcastic "as if I could care", whereby the speaker implies that it is...Read More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

remain;remains

1.Where they came from and why they disappeared __________ an open question. a. remain b. remains Are they both correct? 2. Where they came from and why they disappeared ____________ open questions. a. remain b. remains Are they both correct? Thanks!Read More...
Thank you very much, David, for sharing that quote. It's an extraordinary coincidence that you should have found that text. Personally, I'd opt for the singular above, as "unclear" clearly refers to the content of those questions and not to those clauses as questions. With the verb "be," the best proof is, I think, extraposing the subject: - What he thought of it and what he suffered was unclear. - It was unclear what he thought of it and what he suffered. That's a clever remark. With...Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Do you have 'any' books? 'vs' Do you have books?

Hi there, do I need to use any in questions and negative sentences when using plural nouns? Is it necessary to use any in the following sentences? I have found a site Do you have children? vs. Do you have ANY children? Is there a difference? | Ask The Editor | Learner's Dictionary that says It is not necessary. If I omit any will that be grammatical? Here are some examples: Hey John, do you have any books? Last month, I visited a rain forest. I did not see any animals there. To me It seems...Read More...
I wouldn't say it is mandatory, but usual. I did not see animals there sounds as if the person saw something else, that is, anything but animals.Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Singular Or Plural Nouns With "No" When "Except" Is Used

Should I use singular countable nouns or plural countable nouns with no along with the word except ? There is no scientist who is as renowned as Einstein except Stephen Hawking. There are no scientists who are as renowned as Einstein except Stephen Hawking. I have no book except this red one. I have no books except this red one. I know it is more natural to use no with countable plural nouns in general. So we would generally say "There are no scientists in the hall." and "I don't have any...Read More...
The reason might be that you are contrasting a plural noun with a singular one. However, I have to say I like none of those sentences, and would resort to "only" to express those ideas in a more natural way, for example: - The only scientist who is as renowned as Einstein is Stephen Hawking. - This red book is the only one I have.Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Spaghetti and meatballs is/are my favorite dish.

Hello, Spaghetti and meatballs is/are a good meal. Spaghetti and meatballs is/are a good dish. Chicken and biscuits is/are a good meal. Chicken and biscuits is/are a good dish. My question is - Is “is” or “are” correct in these situations? ThanksRead More...
I know, DocV. I used it as a joke. Speaking more than one language is something one acquires. Also, I used "born" as attached to the verb "be," not as an adjective for "polyglots": We were born / polyglots // They were born / poor.Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

A/the tiger

Hi there, suppose in an exam I am told to write a paragraph about "tiger"? Should I start with a or the ? A/the tiger is a ferocious animal. It eats flesh. It has four legs. Its skin is yellow with black stripes on it. Do they both sound natural? Can I say "A cheetah is faster than any other animal."? Or should I say "The cheetah is faster than any other animal."?Read More...
Hi, Subhajit: In each case, "a" is possible, but "the" is much better .Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Save

What is the best answer in this sentence :"Good swimmers (save - do) their power for the last distance.Read More...
Hello, Emad, "Save" is the better answer, of course. "Do their power" is meaningless. The sentence is a bit awkward. Here is a better way to phrase the idea: Good swimmers save their energy for the last part of the race.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post
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