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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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enter college, go to college

Hello, How do you use these two phrases? Which sounds more natural? I personally use "go to college" more often. "My sister went to college " seems to mean she is still in college or she finished her college education, while "My sister entered" college sounds like she has just passed the exam and is now a college student. appleRead More...
Thank you, David. AppleRead More...
Last Reply By apple · First Unread Post

before all of you were born

Could one use a. That happened before all of you were born. instead of b. That happened before any of you were born. ? Could one use c. The doors were closed before all of the guests arrived. instead of d. The doors were closed before any of the guests arrived. ? To me, there is a difference between (a) and (b), but I get the feeling that some people use (a) instead of (b). I doubt that anyone would use (c) instead of (d). Many thanksRead More...
Thank you so much David. This is very interesting. I hadn't seen the ambiguity in (a) and (c). Now I do see it! Wouldn't you say that there is a difference between (c) and (d) and that (c) implies that the guests all arrived (more or less) at the same time? And is this one ambiguous as well? c. The doors were closed before every one of the guests arrived. Many thanks.Read More...
Last Reply By azz · First Unread Post

Usage of 'dare'

Hi there, How should I use dare in the following sentence? If John dares to go there, I will tell his Mom. If John dares go there, I will tell his Mom. If John dare go there, I will tell his Mom.Read More...
Hi, Subhajit, An "if"-clause is a non-assertive context (cf. negative statements and questions), so it is possible to use "dare" as a modal in them. When we use "dare" as a modal, it is uninflected and used without "to" -- "dare go" in your example. You can also use "dares to go," in which "dare" is a main verb, not a modal, and needs "to." The only option that is incorrect is "dares go," which confuses the modal and the main verb. However, "dares" + [base form] is occasionally found.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

for five days

a, The library will be closed for five days in June and July. b. The library will be closed on five days in June and July. c. The library will be closed five days in June and July. Which of the above sentences could be used in the following situations? 1. The library will be closed for a period of five days. That period extends from the last days of June to the first days of July. 2. The library will be closed on five different days, some of them in June and some in July, but we don't have a...Read More...

possessives

1 When I say "This is a pig's trough.", so is the word "a" describing or attached to "pig" or "trough"? 2 When I say "This is the pigs' trough.", so is the word "the" describing or attached to "pigs" or "trough"? 3 When I say "These are the women's wallets.", so is the word "the" describing or attached to "women" or "wallets"? Thanks!Read More...
Thank you all your help!Read More...
Last Reply By Kimconu · First Unread Post

will vs be going to. 2

Here is no cloud in the sky. It --------- a lovely day. 1) will be 2) is going to be ......... In grammar-related books, there is a common sentence showing the usage of "be going to". - Look at those clouds. It's going to rain. However, to me, the OP is different. I think "a lovely day" is a mere opinion, and has nothing to do with "what is likely to happen in the near future". So, both #1 and #2 sound correct to me. What do you think?Read More...
Hi, Freeguy, I think you meant to write "There." The natural, native choice here is "is going to be." If you use "will be" instead, the sentence won't be ungrammatical, of course. Your sentence will simply be perceived as nonnative by native speakers. I am planning to write an extended, fabulously researched post on the differences between will and be going to sometime in the near future, since questions in this area crop up regularly on the Grammar Exchange, so stay tuned. As to "a lovely...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

a well-written sentence?

Look below, please: - The design of the new house is similar to those that have already been built, so they prefer to look for modern ones. To me, the sentence is not well written. I believe the correct sentences are: 1) The design of the new house is similar to those houses that have already been built, so they prefer to look for modern ones. 2) The new house is similar in design to those that have already been built, so they prefer to look for modern ones. What do you think? Are you OK...Read More...
The first part is fine. I wasn't actually wondering about the meaning of "they" but about their preferring to look for modern houses/designs as a direct consequence of what was said before.Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Is this language formal enough?

"More than 20 million people have some kind of mental issue" My problem is with "some kind of". I would rather have said, "... have one kind of mental issue or another"Read More...
Thank you, David. And just like "kind of," we also have "sort of": - He has some sort of mental issue (= some type of mental issue). - He has sort of a mental issue (= a condition that could be roughly defined as a mental issue).Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Individual things that make us, us.

The following is an excerpt from the blog posted by "a third culture kid" in the Japan Times. What does "Individual things that make us, us." mean? This sentence looks incomplete and how can you make it complete? “Everyone is different, and that’s what makes life interesting,” Osaka tweeted last year. “We all have our own backgrounds and stories. Individual things that make us, us.” I couldn’t agree more with her statement.Read More...
Hi, Fujibei, I agree with Gustavo's parsing and suggestion for revision. Another option besides "individual things that make us who we are " is to use a reflexive pronoun: "individual things that make us ourselves ." You are right that the sentence is incomplete. It is incomplete even with the revisions we have suggested. The sentence is a deliberate fragment. It can be parsed as an appositive or as a conjunct in relation to the preceding sentence: appositive reading : We all have our own...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

anyways

Hello, I've heard people especially young (uneducated?) people use the word "anyways" when they probably mean "anyway". Is there such an English word as "anyways"? It bothers me so much that I looked at BYU corpus and there are a lot of examples. Is it now accepted to use it in an informal conversation? AppleRead More...
Thank you, David. Wow! Prince of Whales!! Tweeting is sometimes dangerous, because they write and send the messages very quickly. appleRead More...
Last Reply By apple · First Unread Post

Use of hyphen

Is it correct to use the hyphen in the following sentence: "time-saving and cost-saving manner"Read More...
Hello, MaaAdjoa, and welcome to GE! I agree with Gustavo's answer and, like you, share his preference for (1). The hyphen after "time" in (1) is sometimes referred to as a suspensive hyphen . Another option is to use a relative clause: 4- a manner that saves time and money I'm not saying that I prefer (4) to (1). There is a good chance that I would use (1).Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Podcast about Grammar Cops

The author Michael Lewis has a podcast called "Against the Rules." The summary for the episode entitled "The Alex Kogan Experience" is "Everyone hates grammar and ethics cops. Until they need one." I enjoyed this podcast and think that readers of this forum will enjoy it also. This doesn't really fit in the Q&A section, but I don't know where else to post it. The podcast begins with the ethics topic. If you are pressed for time and want to focus on grammar, I suggest going to...Read More...

Which word is the subject?

From a draft study for a US Government agency: "... the analyses were prioritized by first concentrating on systems whose performance are deemed critical to the safe and efficient operation ..." After I changed "are" to "is" in my comments, the author replied: "NO -- Systems is plural" I then asked a tech writer friend who replied: "Depends what is being emphasized as critical - the systems or the performance." Isn't "performance" the subject?Read More...
Gustavo and David, thank you for your replies. In a later email from my tech writer friend, he clarified that he agreed with me.Read More...
Last Reply By StillKicking · First Unread Post

Zero or First Conditional

If you are a well-organised person, you ..................... your time. a) will manage b) would manage c) manage d) managed This sentence was included in our GSSC final exam. Students were supposed to choose only one of the options provided. Do you think it should be first conditional (WILL MANAGE), or Zero conditional (MANAGE)? Thank you very muchRead More...
Great reply .Read More...
Last Reply By Ahmed Mohammed · First Unread Post

Future

Liverpool 's players are known to be skilled. They (are going to win / will win) the match easily. What is the right answer here?Read More...
Yes, I realize that you guys are looking for a detailed explanation, and I have decided to turn this into a research project. Please give me about a week, and I will try to clear up the mystery of will versus be going to to the best of my ability. As a native speaker, I never (or almost never) have to think about it. As a grammar-forum moderator, though, I encounter the question regularly, and I very often disagree with Egyptian "model answers" in this department! The distinction between...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Sentence confusion

My friend and I were playing a game and discussing about some various strategies to finish it as fast as possible and he suddenly asked me this "does that trick work if you abandon the gate.' I'm so confused whether this is correct or not, should it be will that trick work if you abandon the gate? Thanks in advance!Read More...

set things staight again

a. He'll set things straight again. b. He'll set things straight one more time. Do these mean 1. He'll set things straight before and he will do it again. or 2. Things were good at first, then went wrong. He will restore things to the way they were. ? I think from a logical point of view both should mean (1), but people generally use them to mean (2). Many thanks.Read More...
Hi, Azz, Where you said above: "*He'll set things straight before," I'm sure you meant to say "He set things straight before." I think both interpretations are possible. Interpretation (2) might be a case of "excessive conciseness," so to say, but I wouldn't say it's wrong. Context can help, for example: - When we bought this house, this wall was white. Then we painted it gray. Now we'll paint it white again. (Now we'll paint it white + As a result the wall will be white again.)Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

elliptical usage

With their special moon vehicle, they could travel farther from the landing site to investigate more of the lunar environment and collect a wider range of soil and rock sample. ...... Which of the following interpretation is right? 1) ....., they could travel farther from the landing site to investigate more of the lunar environment and (could) collect a wider range of soil and rock sample. 2) ....., they could travel farther from the landing site to investigate more of the lunar environment...Read More...
Hi, Freeguy, Syntactically, either interpretation is possible, and ellipsis is not involved: 1) They could [ travel farther from the landing site to investigate more of the lunar environment ] and [ collect a wider range of soil and rock sample ] . 2) The could travel farther from the landing site to [ investigate more of the lunar environment ] and [ collect a wider range of soil and rock sample ] . In (1), two verb phrases are coordinated as complements of the modal "could": the verb...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post
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