April 2019

very much a...

Hi, What is the difference between 'He is a loner' and 'He is very much a loner'? Thanks.Read More...
Hi David, Can I use ' a perfect loner' and ' a perfect gentleman' to mean the same thing as 'very much a longer' and 'very much a gentleman'? Thanks a lot.Read More...
Last Reply By kuen · First Unread Post

so warm-hearted

cocoricot
Dear teachers, Please tell me if I write the sentence correctly? "Never before have I met so warm-hearted a woman as my mother." Thank you.Read More...
Hi, Coco, I agree with David, and like his versions a lot better. I have to admit that I made an attempt to answer your question some time ago and, having reached some conclusions that seemed absurd, decided to let it rest. The point is that "before" made it sound as if "I" had met his/her own mother just now! Let's compare with a similar sentence (changing "so" to "such" as suggested by David for the sentence not to sound awkward): - Never before have I met such a beautiful girl as Mary...Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Must /need to

I(need to /must) buy souvenirs for my family while I’m in London next week. What is the right answer in this sentence?Read More...
Hi, Emad Ragheb, I find both alternatives correct. "must" may be more usual, suggesting obligation rather than necessity: it's not that "I" has the necessity of buying souvenirs, but feels under the obligation to do so.Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Tenses

What is the right answer in this sentence :" The fire grew quickly because it...... for many months." (had not rained / was not raining).Read More...
The past continuous is used for actions or states simultaneous with, not previous to, the main verb in the past simple. Also, the "for"-adverbial ( for many months ) requires a perfect tense. Let's see an example with the past continuous: - It was raining when the fire broke out . (There is simultaneity between the rain and the fire outbreak.) - It had been raining for some time when the fire broke out. (Here we can infer that the rain stopped when the fire broke out and thus preceded the...Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Comma used to separate a relative clause

In "Fowler's Concise Modern English Usage", 3rd Edition, p128.5, on commas, it states: "They are also used to separate a relative clause from what it refers back to when the clause is not a restrictive or identifying one. " Two examples are provided: i) "The book, which was on the table, was a gift. " ii) "The book which was on the table was a gift." "Without the comma, the relative clause would identify the book in question rather than give extra information about it." My question: could...Read More...
Thank you very much, David. I understand it now.Read More...
Last Reply By Philip · First Unread Post

Question

He asks where his uncle ....the following week (Will travel ..travels ..was travelling ...were travelling)Read More...
Hello, Ahmed55, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange! Please check the test question again. Did you mean to use the present simple ("asks"), or should it have been "asked"? In the future, please use a title descriptive of the grammatical topic. Also, when you ask a question, please ask the question. Don't make us infer it. Thank you. Again, welcome to the forum.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

it/that

1) She will refuse to sign the agreement because that is what her husband wants her to do. 2) She will refuse to sign the agreement because it is what her husband wants her to do. 3) She won't sign the agreement, because that is what her husband wants her to do. 4) She won't sign the agreement, because it is what her husband wants her to do. Can we tell what her husband wants her to do? Does he want her to sign the agreement or to avoid signing it? Gratefully, NaviRead More...
Hello, Navi, In (1) and (2), "that"/"it" could refer to "refuse to sign the agreement" or to "sign the agreement." However, unless she and her husband are at odds, it is highly unlikely that she would refuse to do something because her husband wants her to do it. Thus, it's natural to assume that her husband wants her to refuse. In (3) and (4), I find it unclear whether her husband wants her to sign or not to sign the agreement. Again, from a pragmatic standpoint, it is more natural to...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

that was in their interest

1) He said they were withdrawing from the deal although that was in their interest. 2) He said they were withdrawing from the deal because that wasn't in their interest. Do these sentences make sense? In them 'that' is supposed to refer to 'the deal'. Gratefully, NaviRead More...
Hello, Navi, No, the sentences don't make sense. Although I wouldn't want to say that it is grammatically impossible for "that" to refer to "the deal" in those sentences, the natural interpretation of "that" is that it refers to their withdrawing from the deal. The issue with the sentences, then, lies in the semantics. Regarding (1), if withdrawing from the deal was in their interest, and that is what they did, then it doesn't make sense to use "although." Regarding (2), the sentence...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

adverb clauses

Q.I wonder which one is grammatically incorrect or awkward in the following sentences. 1. I felt much better while eating breakfast. 2. I felt much better after eating breakfast. 3. I felt much better because eating breakfast. 4. I felt much better until eating breakfast. Thank you.Read More...
Hi, Jiho, It's nice to see you again. Only (1) and (2) are correct, and they have totally different meanings. (3) and (4) are incorrect. "Because" and "until" don't take gerund objects. (There may be exceptions with "until," but none is coming to mind right now.)Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Usage of the past perfect subjunctive

The following is an excerpt from the CNN News on line of April 15 about the burned-down Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. My question is why the past perfect subjunctive is used in “ workers would have disassembled the frame ” and “ it would have been reassembled ” despite the fact that the preceding and following parts are the simple past forms: the carpenters first built the frame … and the beams extended toward the heavens … The prevailing Gothic style called for high vaulted ceilings. To...Read More...
Hi, Fujibei, I'm not sure why you're describing "would have [past participle]" as the "past perfect subjunctive." It doesn't even contain the past perfect, let alone the subjunctive. I suspect you're confusing "would have [past participle]" here with the use of that structure in type 3 (past counterfactual) conditionals, in which the past perfect is used in the "if"-clause. The meaning here is not counterfactual. "Would have [past participle]" is used to indicate that an inference is being...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Must have

In the sentences " you must have held the money continuously for 28 days" and " You must have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks" "must have +verb-ed" appears to mean something completely different from "he must have been ill/must have seen many countries etc, however, I know of no grammar textbook which deals with this difference in meaning. My guess is that 'you must have held the money and you must have worked ' mean that we expect/require that you have held the money/worked...Read More...
Hi, Katze, Yes, your interpretation is correct. Here's another way you can paraphrase it: It must be the case that you have held the money continuously for (at least) 28 days. "Must" has deontic meaning here; it is not the epistemic use of "must," which you were already familiar with. The good news is that you understood the sentence even though you hadn't read about that use of must in a grammar book.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

just as I played the guitar

a. As I played the guitar, he played the piano. b. Just as I played the guitar, he played the piano. c. He played the piano as I played the guitar. d. He played the piano just as I played the guitar. e. He played the piano as I played the guitar. f. He played the piano just as I played the guitar. Which of the above correspond to which of the below: 1. He played the piano while I played the guitar. 2. He played the piano and I played the guitar. 3. He played the piano because I played the...Read More...
Thanks for the revision, Azz. In that case: (e) --> (1) as an afterthought, (3), and (4) as a very strained afterthought (f) --> (2)Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

conditionals

Which is correct: 1) Even if her husband wasn't at the scene of the crime, you should interrogate him as soon as possible. 2) Even if her husband hadn't been at the scene of the crime, you should interrogate him as soon as possible. The idea is that we don't know whether he was at the scene of the crime or not, but you should interrogate him anyway. Gratefully, NaviRead More...
Hello, Navi, In that context, only (1) is correct. I don't think I'd use (2) in any context. If reworded slightly, however, (2) could work in a context in which we knew that her husband was at the scene of the crime and wanted to say that he would need to be interrogated ASAP even if he hadn't been at the scene of the crime: 2a) Even if her husband hadn't been at the scene of the crime, you would still need to interrogate him as soon as possible.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Exhausted

I was exhausted at the end of the exam. I ........ about 12 pages . ( had been writing - had written ) .Read More...
Very good, Hussein. I agree with you completely. The (normal) past perfect is needed in that sentence . If, instead of a quantity of pages, a length of time were given, the past-perfect progressive would work: I was exhausted at the end of the exam. I had been writing for over an hour. The past-perfect progressive in Egyptian2017's example would suggest that speaker had NOT written 12 pages. The sentence may be compared to this: " I was exhausted. I had been running a marathon, but only made...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Unusual Past perfect/past simple relations?

The following sentence was taken from the Cambridge "Quiz your English" app (a screenshot is attached): Is that another example of past perfect for an event that finished after another event in the past simple? if so, how can I explain that unusual sentence? Thanks, YanivRead More...
Hi, Yaniv, I think it is easier to analyze the use of the past perfect there as being analogous to the use of the present perfect in a future-oriented sentence like: By the time it has stopped raining, it will be too late to go to the beach. In each case, at the imagined time , both the statement "It has stopped raining" and the statement "It is too late to go to the beach" were or will be true. Thanks for providing the screenshot. The simple past is also an option in your example ("By the...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

like carefree dancing

Can one say a. I like carefree dancing. instead of b. I like to dance in a carefree manner. ? Can one say c. I hate careless driving. instead of d. I hate to drive carelessly. ? Doesn't (c) mean I hate 'careless driving' in general, no matter who's doing it? Many thanks.Read More...
Hi, Azz, To me, the infinitive forms a unit with the verb of liking, so in (b) and (d) it is clear that the speaker likes or hates to do those things him/herself. The gerund preceded by an adjective in (a) and (c) functions as a noun and creates a sense of detachment: the speaker likes or hates those activities, regardless of who carries them out. However, with other gerunds the speaker's involvement in the action may become more evident, as in: e. I like open water swimming. f. I hate open...Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

generic you in the object of a verb in the past tense

Hi! I was wondering whether generic you (used for people in general) can appear as the object of a verb in the past tense. I got this question when I was reading this article: What's your favorite place that you've played so far? "It wasn't in the United States, it was actually over in Japan when I played there in 2016. I loved playing in the city of Sapporo. The people there — the culture was pretty unique, and they embraced you."...Read More...
I understand, thank you so much Gustavo!Read More...
Last Reply By yasukotta · First Unread Post

Phrase Heads & Licence Complements - Reference Book

In the book "Oxford Modern English Grammar", 5.1.2 - Complements in Phrases it states: "He wasn't particularly fond of Bax" "The Head of this AdjP is the adjective fond which licences the PP..." Essentially I'm trying to determine what complements are licensed by a phrase head for other words. Many thanks, PhilipRead More...
The simplest one, thus far, is the "Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary", pg 545, listing Fond as: "fond adj. 1 (foll. by of)...Read More...
Last Reply By Philip · First Unread Post

Past Cont vs Past Perfect Cont,

Someone next door ................... heavy metal music all night long. I didn’t get a wink of sleep. a) was playing b) has played c)had been playing d) has been playing I think that 'c' is the answer but 'a' is also possible. From one of the mock exams in Egypt.Read More...
Ahmed_btm (and to this day I still have no idea what "btm" means) wrote: My dear friend Ahmed, I believe you meant to write " whom we miss on this forum", and for what it's worth, the name is DocV, not DOCV. There still appear to be formatting issues that are beyond David's control, or mine. I apologize to you, sir, and to my dear friend David, and to Gustavo, and to certain other members. Tara certainly comes to mind. There are others. I say to you all, I beg your pardon. Some of you might...Read More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

will or going to

ayman
Hi, teachers. I'd like to know your opinion concerning sentences like this one. He studies hard. He "will pass _ is going to pass" . He doesn't study. He "won't pass _ isn't going to pass" . I found many references supporting " will ". Longman's editor, Edmond Murphy and other websites. However, I had some argument with some people arguing for " be going to ", while others choose "both options". So, could you kindly tell me what to choose?Read More...
@Hussein Hassan , thanks a million.Read More...
Last Reply By ayman · First Unread Post

seems like (as if)?

Hello! 1. He seems to be happy. 2. It seems that he is happy. (formal style) 3. It seems like ( as if ) he is happy. (informal style) In sentence 2 and 3, I assume that; 1) the conjunctions - ' that ' and ' like ', ' as if' in informal style - lead not a subject complement but a real subject clause (that is, impersonal subject + complete intransitive verb + real subject clause). 2) ' seems ' is justified to function as an complete intransitive verb , which leads a real subject clause.Read More...
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