April 2020

differences between 'can' and 'be able to': (non) interchangeability

Hi. The modal 'can' and 'be able to' of ability and possibility are often interchangeable, as far as I know. (1) Health insurance can be very expensive. (2) The word "google" can be a noun or a verb. In both sentences, I don't feel like I can use 'be able to' (e.g. Health insurance is able to be very expensive; The word "google" is able to be a noun or a verb). Am I right in my acceptability judgement? If so, is it because of the inanimate subject + the stative verb 'be'? In other words, in...Read More...
Thank you very much! Now I understand the difference between the two.Read More...
Last Reply By shmom · First Unread Post

a headache

Is there a difference in meaning between :give me a headache and make me a headache?Read More...
Yes, that's right. Something or someone who frustrates someone else may be said to give (not "make") that person a headache. So there are common sentences like "It's giving me a headache," "He's giving me a headache," etc.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

grammar

Which sentence is correct ? it is me Who she likes or She likes me .Read More...
Hi, Ilko—Both sentences are fine. "It is me who she likes" is a cleft sentence related to "She likes me." Since the relative pronoun functions as the object of "likes" in the cleft sentence, you can also use "whom": "It is me whom she likes." And if you wanted to be really formal and old-fashioned you could use "I" after "is": "It is I whom she likes." Of all those sentences, I prefer the simplest one: "She likes me." If I used a cleft sentence, I'd probably omit the relative pronoun and not...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

asking that question

Is this sentence correct: 1) I was asking that question sarcastically to John, 2) I was asking that question to John. 3) I asked that question to John. Gratefully, NaviRead More...
Hello, Navi—In each sentence, I think "of" would work much better than "to." In addition, I would move "sarcastically," in (1), to the position following "was": (1a) I was sarcastically asking that question of John. (2a) I was asking that question of John. (3a) I asked that question of John. Of course, I am assuming that you mean for these sentences to substitute for the indirect-object construction "I asked/was asking John that question." If, instead, the sentences are supposed to mean...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Use of word "Swing"

When you want to ask someone to help you swing what is the correct sentence to be used? Is this correct? "Can you give me a swing? or "Can you please swing me".Read More...
Hi, Angela—If you're sitting on a swing, and you want someone to help you to swing on the swing, you can say, "Could you give me a push?"Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Would, Will or the Present Simple?

I'm trying to make this sentence right bellow but I don't know which one fit (or would/will fit? ) better. What is the difference among those 3? I kind of don't get the usage of "would" here (and I've seen a similar sentence using this modal) and when attempting to know its usage, I got confused because I can see " will stop " and " stop " being used here. Could you please help me?Read More...
Hi, Harry—I agree with Ahmed's choices, and his judgement of "don't stop" as ungrammatical. There is implied conditional meaning here: (1) Josh wouldn't stop being a gentleman for money. (≈ Type 2 Conditional) = If you gave Josh money to get him to stop being a gentleman, he wouldn't do it. (2) Josh won't stop being a gentleman for money. (≈ Type 1 Conditional) = If you give Josh money to get him to stop being a gentleman, he won't do it. (3) Josh doesn't stop being a gentleman for money. (≈...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Two comparisons in a sentence

“Elves > orcs and bards > warriors.” Is what I said to a friend. She thought it was weird that I compared races (elves and orcs) with classes (bards and warriors). Because I used “and” to separate the two comparisons, she read it as if I thought elves were the best, then came orcs and bards, both at second place, and warriors would be both last and least. Now we are wondering wether the misunderstanding was because of my formulation, or my friends interpretation. She said a comma...Read More...
Hello, Dylan, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange. I agree with your friend that a comma would make your sentence a lot more understandable. As it stands, it is ambiguous at best. (I nearly disregarded your question because of ">".) Your interpretation is possible, as is your friend's. I say "at best" because ">" is not a standard mark of punctuation. It is quasi-mathematical shorthand. If your readers aren't thinking that you're thinking it means something like "is greater than,"...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Reported speach

I was told that my friend........................ a bad accident while he was driving. had / had hadRead More...
"Had" is certainly a correct answer, Ahmed. And "had had" works, too: I was told that my friend had had a bad accident while he was driving. I was told that my friend had a bad accident while he was driving. The "time clause" here is the "while"-clause, and it would be unusual to backshift that clause, even if the clause complementing "told" used backshift: I was told that my friend had had a bad accident while he had been driving. Of course, the easiest option for the "while"-clause is to...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

English grammar

Many candidates ..... to realise the difference between written and spoken English A. fails B. fail C. have failed D. is failingRead More...
Hi, Temi, and welcome to Grammar Exchange, There are two possible answers here: 'fail' and 'have failed' . 'Fail', which is likely the model answer here, refers to a statement of fact. 'Have failed' refers to what has happened in a particular interview.Read More...
Last Reply By ahmed_btm · First Unread Post

Conditional if "zero or first" type

ayman
Hello, teachers. I came across this sentence: "If you can answer these difficult questions, you [will be _ are _ were _ would be] an intelligent boy." I see both options "will be / are" can work. What do you think, sirs?Read More...
I know that's what you meant from the very beginning. That's why I mentioned "The word 'boy' itself makes the use of 'will' problematic- unless you are talking to a very young boy. " See Gustavo's answer to a similar question here: https://thegrammarexchange.inf...-or-zero-conditionalRead More...
Last Reply By ahmed_btm · First Unread Post

Past perfect vs past simple

Hi All I am an English teacher and I was wondering if you could help me with a grammar issue. I'm teaching from a B1 Cambridge book. This is the text in question: "Daniel _____ (fly) to Los Angeles on 30th May. He ______ (visit) the city once before and he was in love with it. His first visit ______ (be) in January. They don't have a cold winter in LA and when he arrived in May, the weather ______ (be) only a little warmer than it had been in January." In the 3rd space, would you use past...Read More...
As I understand it, the past perfect is used only to prevent possible ambiguity with time order. I agree with ahmed_btm that “the first visit” is clear enough as a time indicator, as well as “in January”. The past perfect would be clumsy and unnecessary. But so many textbooks are simplified enough to twist rules when it comes to the past perfect tense. I can observe this phenomenon as an English teacher. I hope you set exam questions reflecting the real use or when the kids grow up they’ll...Read More...
Last Reply By Kinto · First Unread Post

Usage of the to refer a species

Hi there, have I used the correctly as to refer a whole species? - Like the ant, the bee lives in a group. Its nest is called a hive that is made of wax.Read More...
Yes, Cambridge English Grammar in Use Unit 76 confirms this. The + singular noun = a type of animal, machine, etc. It’s like using the plural form without articles: “Like ANTS, BEES live in a group. THEIR nest is...”Read More...
Last Reply By Kinto · First Unread Post

collaborative

Do those of you who are up to date on modern corporate lingo use the word "collaborative" when referring to a person? Or can "collaborative" apply only to a task, an effort, etc?Read More...
Hi, Freeguy, I'd use the adjective "cooperative" to describe a person. According to the Oxford Collocations Dictionary, "collaborative" is mostly used with these nouns: Oxford Collocations Dictionary for Students of English, 2nd edition collaborative adj. Collaborative is used with these nouns: effort , endeavour , enterprise , exhibition , initiative , partnership , process , programme , project , research , teaching , venture , work © Oxford University Press, 2009 Notice it is thus used to...Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Writing an e-mail.

When writing an e-mail should it be "Hi team", "Hi sirs" and "Hi everyone"? or "Hi Team", "Hi Sirs" and "Hi Everyone"? I have seen many people using the latter form even when they are common nouns.Read More...
Hi, Angelica, I think they would be capitalized in formal writing. In informal writing, I think it is a matter of style. Some people may see that capitalization here seems more elegant.Read More...
Last Reply By ahmed_btm · First Unread Post

Conditional if

ayman
Hello, teachers. What do you think of this sentence? If there's a fire, ______ the police. [ call _ you will call _ you are going to call _ you would call] I know the answer is "call the police', yet what about "you will / you are going to"? Can they work with different meanings?Read More...
Hi, Ahmed, and 'Happy Ramadan', ' Call' is only expected model answer here. Both 'will' and 'are going to' can work, but need a special context. For example, you can use either of them if 'the fire' is something planned to happen and you are telling another person their role then.Read More...
Last Reply By ahmed_btm · First Unread Post

Direct/indirect

Choose: 1) My brother asked me if we ( went - should go) to the station.Read More...
Hi, Muhammed, The original words of the speaker are "Shall we go to station?" That says the correct choice here is: 'should go'. However, you had better say: My brother suggested that we (should) go to the station. If the original question were 'do you go to the station?'', you would have to change 'we' to 'I'.Read More...
Last Reply By ahmed_btm · First Unread Post

except if, unless

Hello. Could you please help us? Are all of the following sentences correct or some of them? Which ones are correct and which are wrong? Why? Which sentences can we use "unless" in? 1. Except if you have an umbrella, I’ll lend you mine. 2. Except if you take an umbrella, you’ll get wet. 3. He’ll fail his exam except if he studies. 4. I’ll be very disappointed except if he studies. 5. Will it be all right except if I wear a tie? 6. They won’t let you in except if you wear a tie. 7. Except if...Read More...
thank you so muchRead More...
Last Reply By Ahmed Imam Attia · First Unread Post

Perfect Grammar Needed

Hello. I need your help if you could highlight the grammar mistakes. 1. Below just a penny of thought for your concurrence. 2. In order to save time on problem solving 3. Contractor should provide full supporting documentation for their claims for approval in order for further processing of payment with Finance 4. I suggest the above to be done rather you jumping into tons of hard copies, just to dig for 2 aged cases, which I look at is not productive." I hope I and others can learn from the...Read More...
Oh okay thank you so muchRead More...
Last Reply By Misssg · First Unread Post

The before an adverb

Hello. I am new to the forum :) I have a question about superlatives with or without ''the. '' If it is possible to omit ''the'' before an adjective, can it be omitted before adverbs too? For example, ''Which of the boys is (the) strongest?'' The article is optional. But ''She sings the most beautifully.'' Is it optional here too?Read More...
Hi, Rosy, and welcome to Grammar Exchange, Michael Swan, 3rd edition, page (119), says: "After link verbs, superlative adjectives also usually have the , though it is sometimes dropped in an informal style. - Which of the boys is (the) strongest? (your example above) However, we do not use 'the' with superlatives when we compare the same person or thing in different situations. Compare: - She works hardest when she's doing something for her family. 'The' is sometimes dropped before...Read More...
Last Reply By ahmed_btm · First Unread Post

Would or Other modal/verb?

Hello. Sometimes I come across sentences like this: He finished his book and would receive its critics. However, could I say like: [...] and recevied the critics Another example is: Her mother wouldn't let her go to the party. Could I say: Her mother did not let [...]. And there are some times I cannot distinguish the difference between "Could" and "Would" You know that I *could*/*would* help you, but I'm too busy these days. May you please help me?Read More...
Hello, Harry O'Neil, Instead of "its critics" I'd say "criticism" or "critical reviews," since "critics" are the people who criticize. The difference between "would receive" and "received" is that the former suggests some future development, something that took place some time after the book was finished, while "received" refers to a more immediate result. "wouldn't let" could be used to indicate the mother's insistent refusal to let her daughter go to the party, while "did not let" merely...Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Usage of the

Hi there, should I use the in the following sentences or not? 1- Every colony of ants has worker ants. The worker ants/ worker ants protect their colony and the queen ant. 2- Colonies of ants have worker ants. The worker ants/ worker ants protect their colonies and queen ants. I think in the first context, the is needed because it somehow implies ' The worker ants of every colony' . And in the second context the is not needed. And here is another example: 3- Tigers are very ferocious.Read More...
Hello, About your second example, if we use TIGERS in the next sentence, our sentence won't be good because the word tiger was used twice repeatedly . Also according to my knowledge THE TIGERS is used when we are mentioning a group of them not talking Generally. So that I think THEY is the best choice. However Tigers or The Tigers are not wrong, they are just not common or usuall .Read More...
Last Reply By Baran · First Unread Post

Inversion of word order

A quote is written as “ By studying only the general social forms, as Durkheim did, one runs the risk of positing as the principle of greater leniency in punishment processes of individualization that are rather one of the effects of the new tactics of power, among which are to be included the new penal mechanisms .” If I have not misunderstand this quote, what is supposed to be claimed is that,“the new penal mechanism” are among “the new tactics of power”,right? what confused me is that why...Read More...
Hello, womuod, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange. You're right. From a strictly grammatical point of view it could also be understood that the new penal mechanisms are among the effects of the new tactics of power. However, I'd say that it might make more sense to claim the former. "the new penal mechanisms" is a noun phrase, not a noun clause, and is the subject of "are to be included." This is a case of full inversion grammatically enabled by the presence of an adverbial expression of...Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post
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