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December 2022

Use of the Possessive Case before a Gerund

Sentence in question (from a book entitled 'Advanced English Grammar'): The speaker indicates that the activity of Jim scratching his knee is ongoing at a past moment in time. Am I correct in thinking that a more grammatically correct way of writing this would be with '...the activity of Jim's scratching his knee...'? If not, can you please explain why?Read More...
I am the first to acknowledge the utility, if not necessity, of having "an ear" for a language to act as a guide when initially gauging a structure's grammaticality. In German, " ein sprachliches Fingerspitzengefühl " captures quite nicely this feeling, this "certain inner something" that acts as a linguistic compass. However, I have come to tread very cautiously in this respect, for, as we all know, informal language can take a heavy toll on our sense of "cringeworthiness". How often does...Read More...
Last Reply By MlleSim · First Unread Post

had they ever been

Hello, A non-native speaker wrote the following sentence. I'm puzzled by "had they ever been." I always thought that "had they + past participle" is an inversion of "if they had + past participle" and that it is used in counterfactual sentences. For example, "Had he seen Jane, he'd have fallen in love with her." But there seems to be no counterfactual meaning in the following sentence. How do I make sense of it? Would it better to rewrite it as "if they had ever been"? We retreated to the...Read More...

Wrinkles

"The dog wrinkles its nose?" What is the meaning of this sentence?Read More...
Hi, Sundaran. Wrinkle means "if you wrinkle a part of your face, or if it wrinkles, small lines appear on it. (From Longman Dictionary) wrinkled ... nose • He sniffed the breeches and wrinkled his nose . • She wrinkled her nose against it, then went upstairs and into Jessie's room. • He wrinkled his nose as if the smell was still in his nostrils . • He wrinkled his nose at the smells, thinking that the cowardly little wretches were trying to keep out of his way. • Stephen wrinkled his nose...Read More...
Last Reply By f6pafd · First Unread Post

Can syntax force verbs into a certain logical relation?

Consider these sentences: (1) We don't want to "force" or "impose" any outcome on you. (2) We don't want to "force"—or "impose"—any outcome on you. (3) Nothing will be "forced" or "imposed" on anyone. (4) Nothing will be "forced"—or "imposed"—on anyone. (2) and (4) have em-dashes in order to ensure a particular meaning in which the two verbs (in quotation marks) are interchangeable. But are the em-dashes completely unnecessary? Does syntax already impose this logical relation (of...Read More...
Hi, Andrew—How to force the equivalence reading of "or" is a punctuation topic that I myself have thought about numerous times. First of all, the passive–active distinction cannot be exploited to overcome the different readings of "or." Thus, your four approaches collapse into two. Sentences (1) and (3) will likely be misunderstood unless your intention to have the equivalence reading is already presupposed by your audience. Sentences (2) and (4) have a better chance of receiving the...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

as you like it

a. I cooked the pie in a clay dish as you like it to be cooked. b. I cooked the pie in a clay dish , as you like it to be cooked. Is there a difference in the meanings of the above sentences? Does the comma change anything? I think in (a), I cooked it in a clay dish and in the manner you like it to be cooked. In (b) you like it to be cooked in clay dish and that is how I cooked it. But maybe (b) is ambiguous? ============================ c. I cooked the chicken well as you like it to be...Read More...

the fact that...

I don't know if questions about meaning are allowed in this forum, but since semantics is considered part of the broader realm of grammar, I want to ask about the following use of "the fact that." If the question is unsuitable, feel free to delete it. The following definition of "show me the money" is taken from the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English: Used to tell someone to give or pay you a lot of money, rather than just talk about the fact that they will give it to you I'd like to...Read More...
Hello again, Ray—Yes, I do infer from that sentence that John is going to Boston, whether "John is going to Boston" is intepreted as the present progressive with factual present-time reference (John is on his way to Boston) or as the present progressive with factual future-time reference (John will be going to Boston).Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

as to his child

1) He talked angrily to me as to his child. 2) He talked angrily to me, as to his child. 3) He talked angrily to me just as to his child. 4) He talked angrily to me, just as to his child. Do these sentences mean: a-He talked angrily to me and to his child as well. b-He talked angrily to me in the same way he talked angrily to his child. or c-He talked angrily to me as if I were his child. Gratefully, NaviRead More...
Hello, Navi—Here is my solution set: (1) --> incorrect (2) --> (a) and/or (b) (3) --> incorrect (4) --> (a) and/or (b)Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

things that you cannot do

Are these sentences correct: 1) There are things that you cannot do and not tell your family that you've done them. 2) There are things that you cannot see and remain the same person. 3) I did something that no man can do and remain the same. 4) I did something that when a man does is, he is changed forever. Gratefully, NaviRead More...
Hello, Navi—The only one that is totally ungrammatical is (4), and that's probably because you intended to type "it" where you typed "is." However, I dislike all the examples and strongly prefer these revisions: (1a) There are things that you cannot do without telling your family that you've done them. (2a) There are things that you cannot remain the same person after seeing. (3a) I did something that no man can remain the same after doing. (4a) I did something that changes a man forever...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

worse surgeons

Hello Team. Could you please tell me your thought about the following sentence which I have read in an outside book in Egypt? - It's known that women are worse surgeons than men. Thank you.Read More...
What data points, if any, back up such a ridiculous notion? I respectfully suggest that the speaker is using what they deem to be an already present sexual bias against women, such outdated notions are neither correct, nor quantifiable, in fact, I REFUTE; Women are far superior surgeons; their congressionally lauded performances in Iraq and Afghanistan prove it is so.Read More...
Last Reply By Shiv Raj · First Unread Post

hyphen

Hello. Could you please help me choose the correct answer? - Which words of the following sentence have the correct place of the hyphen? The novel The Martian Chronicles has twenty two chapters. a) novel-The Martian Chronicles b) twenty-two-chapters c) twenty-two d) Correct as Is Thank you.Read More...
Hi, Ahmed Imam, I don't know why this should be a problem, but it is quite clear that the correct answer is ' c '. All comp ound numbers from twenty-one through ninety-nine should be hyphenated.Read More...
Last Reply By ahmed_btm · First Unread Post

How do you use "timing" vs." timings"?

See the bold (not sure if it matters or if "timing" shouldn't be used when you're talking about different events): he unfortunate timing of elections means that the German and French governments don’t have to fear electoral backlash in the near future—pro-diplomacy demonstrations might therefore have a disadvantage.Read More...
I totally agree. Being abstract, singular "timing" refers to plural "elections." Something similar could be said of "the planning of elections."Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Co-Moderator · First Unread Post

When do you use "prospects" vs. "prospect"?

See the bold (not sure if it matters which you use): I want to talk about a broad point about diplomacy—isn’t it important to stress that we can’t know what the prospects for a goal are until efforts are made?Read More...
So do I, similarly to what happens with "expectations" (which appears in the definition above) and "chances."Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Co-Moderator · First Unread Post

Being

"Bhagya also did not report to work for five days prior to the complaint being filed against her." Dear Sir In the above sentence, why did they use "being"? Is it the replacement of "was"? Read more at: http://m.timesofindia.com/articleshow/6510513.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst Read more at: http://m.timesofindia.com/articleshow/6510513.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppstRead More...
Yes. However, The correct way of saying it is "the passive form of the V-ing with its notional subject used as the nominal object of the preposition." As the main verb of the sentence is "REPORT," which is in the active voice, the sentence should not be considered a passive one. The prepositional phrase is used as an adverbial of time.Read More...
Last Reply By f6pafd · First Unread Post

London is famous for its tourist place. London is famous for its tourist place.

"London is famous for its tourist place." Dear Sir In the above sentence why did they use "is"? I just want to know that is it "present continuous tense or what tense is this? What "IS" means here? Is it "IS" a main verb? What is the meaning "IS" here?Read More...
Thank you David for your support, as always...Read More...
Last Reply By Sundaran · First Unread Post

Would an adverb on the end of the sentence need a comma to eliminate ambiguity in an "I think" statement?

See here (I don't want "ultimately" to be seen as attaching to "think"): So I think that’s the bottom line ultimately.Read More...
Hi, Andrew—A comma would be good after "line," since "ultimately" modifies the whole clause "that's the bottom line." If you wish not to use a comma, you could place "ultimately" after "is." With other placements, the comma is desireable: So , ultimately, I think that's the bottom line. So I think that , ultimately, that's the bottom line. So I think that's ultimately the bottom line. So I think that's the bottom line , ultimately .Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

had died - was dying

Hello Moderators. Could you please help me choose the correct one? Why? - One day, the boys found a man in the forest. He (had died - was dying). Thank you.Read More...
Hello, Ahmed Imam Attia—Both are OK. With "had died," what they found was a dead man; with "was dying," what they found was a man about to die.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Infinitive or gerund

Dear sir, Concerning this question -Because of the bad weather conditions, British Airways regrets……..its flight to Cairo. a) to cancel b) cancelling I think b (cancelling)is ok here. It means the action is done. If we choose “to cancel” it refers to something that it hasn’t been done yet, but we feel regret in our mind to do it.If we say “to cancel” the passengers may think the flight cancellation is still under discussion.I think gerund means; 1-cancelling 2-regretting.Read More...
I’m so grateful. Thank you.Read More...
Last Reply By Mohamed A.Siead · First Unread Post

causative had, got

Hello Moderators. Could you please help me? Which one is correct or both? - I (got - had) my bike broken last week. Thank you.Read More...
Both are correct. They are slightly different." Strictly speaking, I got my car broken" means that something was done to my car, but I was not to blame because the accident was someone else's fault; while "I had my car broken" means that I have caused the accident, and I am responsible for it.Read More...
Last Reply By f6pafd · First Unread Post

adjectives

What is wrong with this sentence: 'I bought a nice Italian red dress.'Read More...
Hello, Emad—Unless you have special reason to emphasize that the red dress is Italian, the normal position for country-of-origin adjective modifiers in a sequence of cumulative adjectives is right before the head noun modified: I bought a nice red Italian dress.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

‘they were being tested’

Hello, everyone, “Imagine this scene. There are six people in an elevator with an actor hired by researchers. The actor drops a bunch of coins and pencils. They fall to the floor with a clatter. And then, as the elevator goes down floor by floor, not one person moves a muscle to help. The people in the elevator have to notice the actor picking up the coins and pencils on the floor. But each person is surrounded by five others who are doing nothing. If the people knew they were being tested,...Read More...
Hi, Gustavo, appreciate your comment. " If the people knew that they were being tested, ..." . Is my assumption below justified?; 1. ' knew is unreal and ' were ' is real. 2. However, you don't change ' were ' into ' are ' according to the rule of 'tense simplification in subordinate clauses'.Read More...
Last Reply By deepcosmos · First Unread Post
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