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Two-month waiting list

Siva has asked why "two-month" in "two-month waiting list" is hyphenated. An answer appears below.Read More...
Azar presents this structure in Chart 7-3 on p. 106 in Understanding and Using English Grammar, Third Edition. She states: "When a noun used as a modifier is combined with a number expression, the noun is singular and a hyphen (- )is used. INCORRECT: She has a five years old son." The chart shows these sentences: "The test lasted two hours. It was a two-hour test. Her son is five years old. She has a five-year-old son." ______ When you realize that the phrase "two years" becomes an...Read More...

When to hyphenate adjectives

Hi, I read this sentence -- I believe it is wrong, but I am not sure why i.e. there should be no hyphen between real and estate. The sale of his Kensington house to Bernie Ecclestone for just under US$100 million is now a London real-estate legend. I also recently saw Asian-art collector e.g. Sir Percival David, baronet, was part of a generation of Asian-art collectors. I would be most grateful to know why there should be no hyphens. I am really not sure when to hyphenate. Could you please...Read More...
Many thanks to Kafkaesque and Marilyn. Much appreciated. Regards, Siva.Read More...

active and passive phraseological correlates - 'crowded out' and 'be crowded out'

Thanks to Rachel and Kafkaesque (even though proverbial doctors may occasionally differ). I take it, Kafkaesque is a native speaker of US English. 1. Now, it seems to me that the expression CROWD OUT OF SOMETHING does not quite correlate in meaning with its passive counterpart BE CROWDED OUT OF SOMETHING: be crowded out of something – be kept out for lack of room: Mr. and Mrs. Clement were crowded out of the room, but sat in the next peering in at the door eagerly. crowd out of something –...Read More...
This post was sent in by Yuri. Dear Kafkaesque, Many thanks for your prompt comment. I can now see that you are right, and the two CORRELATED authentic forms should be: BE CROWDED OUT OF vs. CROWD SOMEONE OUT OF and not BE CROWDED OUT OF vs. CROWD OUT OF Still it may be of interest to learners to contrast the two UNRELATED phrases involving transitive and intransitive meanings. Gratefully, Yuri P.S. Are you a teacher of English?Read More...

rapier +collocations

Rapier wit is a well-known collocation, but can one say 'He used rapier logic'?Read More...
I guess my experience with this word is limited, but I visualize it as being able to trhrust and parry with it, so some of the pairings, like intelligent, precision, perhaps style are fine. But logic is logic and straightforward. I like the idea that something 'rapier' is sharp, and comes seemingly out of nowhere, honing in on a target, which logic doesn't, in my opinion. I guess this is a semantic rather than a grammar interpretation. And one final comment about search hits - I've seen many...Read More...

transitions - lists & punctuation

Hi all - transitions! Below, I've listed some transition words which I came across in my text: as a consequence thus consequently as a result for this reason My questions are: 1. Do they all follow the punctuation rule as noted in Understanding and Using 19-2 and 19-3 ie: (i) Al didn't study. Therefore..... (ii) Al didn't study; therefore, ..... 1a. What is the significance between the comma and the semi-colon? Can we use the comma instead? (i) Al didn't study, therefore, he failed. (ii) Al...Read More...
"Consequently," like "therefore," is a conjunctive adverb. It can come at the beginning of the sentence, after the subject, or at the end. The punctuation options are those in Chart 19-3, sentences (e), (f), and (g). "Thus" is an adverb when it connects two sentences. It is sometimes called a conjunctive adverb, too. However, it can only begin a sentence. It can come after a semi-colon or a period. It doesn't appear in the middle or at the end of a sentence. It is quite formal. "As a...Read More...

too

Which of the following sentences are correct: 1-This is a car too expensive for us to buy. 2-This is too expensive a car for us to buy. 3-These are cars too expensive for us to buy. 4-These are too expensive cars for us to buy. 5-This is a car too expensive. 6-This is too expensive a car. 7-These are too expensive cars. 8-These are cars too expensive.Read More...
Sentences 2 and 6 are correct. Note that all the sentences have "car" or "cars" as subject complement after the verb "be." This is important to an understanding of what's going on. 1-This is a car too expensive for us to buy. Not correct. 2-This is too expensive a car for us to buy. Correct. 3-These are cars too expensive for us to buy. Not correct 4-These are too expensive cars for us to buy. Not correct 5-This is a car too expensive. Not correct 6-This is too expensive a car. Correct...Read More...

choice between such and this(these)

peteryoung
The impact of [French Revolution] on many societies was enormous, and many positive changes resulted. However, what attracted the attention of many many early theorists was not the positive consequences, but the negative effects of such changes I've come up with an tentative explanation why the author chose 'such' instead of 'these': I guess 'such changes' is a general term, meaning changes of this kind. And it includes other changes not brought about by the French Revolution. And it is...Read More...
Your intuition is right, Erik. "Such changes" means "changes such as these," or "changes like these." The changes mentioned are a subset of the entire set of changes that took place. Then, the writer implies that changes can be positive overall, but negative in part. If the writer had said "the negative effects of these changes," it would refer only to the changes that were mentioned. I'm not aware of any research that attests to the predominance of this particular use of "such" in academic...Read More...

The difference between coordinators and subordinators?

Dear all, I was wondering what the difference between coordinators and subordinators is. Coordinators are words such as "and", "but", "or", "nor", "for", and "so", while subordinators are words such as "because", "when", "if" and so on. A coordinator connects two independent sentence which carries equal weight, while a subordinator connects a dependent clause and an independent clause. Some say that a dependent clause "can not exist alone in a language." I was curious what that meant. Let's...Read More...
When "some say that a dependent clause 'can not exist alone in a language,' " they mean that the entire clause does not exist as a complete sentence. The clause includes the subordinator. In your first sentence, "so" is a subordinating conjunction. The subordinate clause is "so he could get up early the next morning." In your second sentence, "because" is the subordinating conjunction. The subordinate clause is "because he is ill." _______ Neither clause is a complete sentence. Each depends...Read More...

out of fortune

Many thanks to Marylin, Now, how do we discriminate between: RUN OUT OF FORTUNE and COME TO THE END OF ONE'S FORTUNE? Best regards, YuriRead More...
"Run out of fortune" appears to mean "run out of good luck." "Come to the end of one's fortune" seems to mean "run through all of one's money and other assets." See these examples from GuruNet: "¢ Happiness Central - Coming To Appreciate My Fortune of Lifetimes ... If I fail to create further good causes out of current good karma, I can expect to face the opposite when I run out of fortune . ... http://www.happyjeanny.com/essays/coming_ to_appreciate_my_fortune_of_lifetimes.html "¢ New York...Read More...

"A system of" and the head noun problem

peteryoung
It just struck me a couple of seconds ago that the meaning of the word 'system' may be dependent upon the number of words that follow it. I'm not certain though, and I'll try to state my case. Any comment would be very much appreciated. When there are more than one words following 'system', for example: fluid is pushed through a system of pipes or channels. Establishing a System of Policies and Procedure , the word 'system' is not the head noun and therefore plays a secondary role. The focus...Read More...
You've presented an intriguing theory, Peter, but I'm afraid it doesn't hold up under scrutiny. No noun that is the object of "of" (or any other preposition) can be a head noun, except for plural nouns in determiner phrases like "a variety of [causes]," a number of [protests]," and "a bunch of [ruffians]."* Wherever "system of" occurs, it is the head noun. In the sentence you saw, your first reading is the correct one. Here is the original sentence: Society is an integrated system of social...Read More...

redundant 'as a whole'?

peteryoung
Five major figures in the early history of sociological theory - Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Georg Simmel, and Thorstein Veblen - were preoccupied, as were many lesser thinkers, with these changes and the problems they created for society as a whole . My problem is: what's the point of adding 'as a whole' here? Would deleting the phrase result in even a slight change in meaning? Or, what does 'as a whole' mean? Definitions from dicitonaries all converge on 'as a single unit', but...Read More...
Here's a stripped-down version of the original sentence: Five major figures ... were preoccupied ... with these changes and the problems they created for society as a whole. "As a whole" in the sentence doesn't seem redundant to me. I would say that the reason for using "as a whole" in the original sentence is to allow for exceptions within society, i.e. to admit that certain segments of society might not have had problems but that the majority of members of society were adversely affected.Read More...

preposition and gerunds

Hi all - here's a question about gerunds after preposition. 1. The reason for migrating is high taxes 2. The reason for people migrating is high taxes. Q1. In both 1 + 2, 'migrating' is a gerund and object of preposition, yes? Q2. How would one explain 'people' in 2? Is it a subject? object? etc..?Read More...
Yes, in the first sentence, "migrating" is a gerund and the object of the preposition "for." Remember that objects of prepositions are nouns, or words or phrases that function as nouns. A gerund is a noun form of a verb. The formal way of modifying a gerund to show possession is with a possessive adjective or noun. Your second sentence could be, correctly: "¢ The reason for people's migrating is high taxes. "¢ The reason for their migrating is high taxes. _______ However, in informal English...Read More...

the first and (the) second page(s)

I have a problem with number and definite article. If a site is listed in the first page of a search engine, and the site is also listed in the second page, then which of the following expressions a) through d) grammatically correct? Is there any difference in meaning? Inside ( ) are the numbers of google hits. The site is listed in a) the first and second page. (1170) b) the first and second pages. (824) c) the first and the second page. (275) d) the first and the second pages. (53) Thank...Read More...
All the versions are OK. "The" is sufficient for both nouns. Using "the" with "second page" calls more attention to it. I did a Google search for "on (not "in") the..." and got these results: [The site is listed...] a) on the first and second page = 418. b) on the first and second pages = 502. c) on the first and the second page = 64 d) on the first and the second pages = 9 It seems that a and b are the preferred choices. MarilynRead More...

subject operator inversion - conditionals without if

Hi, I'm aware that in conditional sentences without the conjunction "if" an inverted structure may be possible, such as in, Should you need more details, let me know Had she known about it, she would have left Were I in your place, I would be very happy Were they to try, they would succeed My current doubt is related to the "were" sentences. First of all, besides the simple infinitive structure, is it ever possible to use a perfect infinitive? I read a posting in another forum with a...Read More...
Thank you very much indeed, Marilyn. Your comments and examples have helped me a lot! GiseleRead More...

Choice between 'a to b' and 'b by a'

peteryoung
Both [the U.S. and the Soviet Union] wanted the [newly independent nations in Africa] to allow access to their natural resources, to provide sites for military bases, and to render diplomatic support in the UN. In return, both superpowers could offer the new nations economic and technological aid, arms, and sometimes military support in their regional struggles. Finally, both could punish nations that rejected their overtures by withdrawing aid or supporting their enemies. My question is:...Read More...
It's very important to know the context in which a given passage occurs. We have the preceding text, but now we need to know the following text as well. With this in mind, let's look at the two versions"”the original and the suggested paraphrase. I. Finally, both could punish nations that rejected their overtures by withdrawing aid or supporting their enemies. The last idea in the original sentence is about the possible ways the superpowers could punish nations that rejected their offers of...Read More...

piece of work

When someone is referred as "a piece of work" as in a phrase "he is a piece of work", is it considered an insult or complement? I always thought it was a derogatory remark, but then recently I saw someone used it in a context where he was praising someone. Was this a mistake?Read More...
Like Kafkaesque, I had never heard or seen "piece of work" used in any but a derogatory sense. If someone were to say 'You're a piece of work," I wouldn't take it as a compliment. Some dictionaries concur, others do not. For example, Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, at http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=piece+of+work ...tells us: Main Entry: piece of work : a complicated, difficult, or eccentric person In contrast, Dictionary.com, at...Read More...

BY the late 1950s

peteryoung
Here's some excerpts from a history textbook: by the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations were coming to realize that while the U.S. was trying to maintain its global network of pro-U.S. and anti-Soviet allies, it was also facing mounting demands for social and economic refors around the world. By the late 1950s, Communist guerrillas were operating in Laos, and South Vietnam had seen the mergence of Marxist-ledg groups that resisted the repressive but...Read More...
Here's what Quirk et al.* say about this use of "by": "By" specifies an end point. Already, still, yet , and any more are related in meaning: By the time we'd walked five miles, he was already exhausted Contrast: By that time he was already exhausted ['He was then exhausted.'] Until then he was not exhausted. [Before then he was not exhausted.'] (p.692) I've never seen an explanation of sentences with the progressive in the main clause, but here goes. "By" in the two example sentences with...Read More...

except for

Dear experts, I have a problem discriminating BUT FOR and SAVE FOR - do their meanings overlap? Thank you, YuriRead More...
All the dictionaries I've looked at give virtually identical definitions for both these phrases. Looking at Google, I see that "save for" and "but for" are both used before the main clause, with "save for" much more frequent than "but for": "”I've only worn them twice and save for a little crinkling in the vinyl they look new. I'll let them go for $30 (plus shipping) I live in the US. ... http://www.atforumz.com/archive/index.php/t-214595.html "”But for a few holdouts, they did not play...Read More...

cast an anchor

Dear Rachel and Kafkaesque, Many thanks for the latest clarification. Now, does the expression CAST AN ANCHOR mean 'settle down in a place' when used figuratively as in: Once she cast an anchor in America, her hatred for Russia grew even stronger and because of that her philosophical concept was born... Gratefully, YuriRead More...
Yes, you could use "cast an anchor" to mean "settle down." Dictionaries list "cast anchor," in definitions like this: Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) dict.die.net To cast anchor, to drop or let go an anchor to keep a ship at rest.* The phrase is "cast anchor," without the indefinite article. I could not find a definition with "cast an anchor." _______ Google has 170,000 examples of "cast anchor." Many of these,...Read More...

not one of the .....

I have a couple of questions about the following sentence. The CEO announced that not one of the overseas branches is reporting a significant rise in earnings this quarter. 1.Does the sentence mean that not a single branch is reporting a significant rise in earnings this quarter? In other words, no office is reporting............? 2.Or does it mean that the office reporting a significant rise in earnings this quarter is not just one but more than one? 3.Or can the sentence be taken to mean...Read More...
The sentence has the first meaning: no office is reporting a significant rise in earnings – the earnings have stayed pretty low. In order to give the second meaning, that more than one is making the report, you'd have to use an expression like "not just one," "not only is one," or "more than one," for example: (Material here about one successful branch.) The CEO announced that not just one of the overseas branches is reporting a significant rise in earnings this quarter. In fact, reports...Read More...

The sooner... the

Which of the two sentences is better or grammatically correct? The sooner you get your act together, the cheaper the prices are and the fewer are the chances of you missing the PARTY! The sooner you get your act together, the cheaper the prices will be and the fewer will the chances be of you missing the PARTY! Thanks ElianeRead More...
Eliane, neither sentence is entirely correct, I'm afraid. Both sentences refer to specific future outcomes, so the simple present "the cheaper the prices are" and "the fewer are the chances...: don't work. The second sentence, with "will be" does have the first part of the result correct: "”The sooner you get your act together the cheaper the prices will be... But the last part of the second sentence should have "will be" together: ...and the fewer the chances of you[r] missing the party...Read More...

'Hasn't to'

I'd like to start a new thread on "hasn't to.' Since the original question of the negative of "have to/ has to" was asked by Gamal, we now have more information. It is true that the normal and current negative of "has to" is "doesn't have to." As I noted in an earlier posting, I was surprised to see even the 486 examples of "hasn't to" on Google. I also stated that it is correct to use "doesn't have to." That is true. Current grammars and references give the negative of "have to" as...Read More...
Many thanks to Kafkaesque for the references. I've been looking into the "hasn't/haven't to" question and, sure enough, it seems to be current in some modern dialects, mainly, but not exclusively, British. It doesn't belong only to earlier language use. These Google examples attest to its currency in the world of technology: "”there are many derivatives, each Database-vendor uses its own dialect for special ... The user hasn't to worry if the program will kill him files or something else ...Read More...

'At the end of one's rope' or 'tether'?

Dear experts, Would you say that BE AT THE END OF ONE'S ROPE is not equivalent in meaning to BE AT THE END OF ONE'S TETHER? Thank you, YuriRead More...
The expressions are equivalent, according to this entry from the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms: "¢ "end of one's rope, at the Also, at the end of one's tether. At the limits of one's resources, abilities, endurance, or patience. For example, If that loan doesn't come through, we'll be at the end of our rope , or The workmen are driving me crazy; I'm at the end of my tether. This expression alludes to a tied-up animal that can graze only as far as the rope (or tether) permits. [Late...Read More...

have to

I have two questions for the following sentence: "Henry has to go to school on Tuesday." 1- What's the negative form of this sentence? 2- Is "has to" a helping verb here or a main one? I post these questions because I found that we can negate this sentence as follows: a)He doesn't have to go to school on Tuesday. b)He hasn't to go to school on Tuesday. The reference I got this from says that the first is more usual but the other is also possible for single actions I want to know if it's...Read More...
"Have to" and "must" fall under the broad category or "helping verbs," another term for "auxiliary verbs," as Kafkaesque has shown. There are subcategories, too, in some nomenclatures. Quirk* has a section – 3.40 – of "Verbs of intermediate function." The section begins: "In the following sections we examine verbs whose status is in some degree intermediate between auxiliaries and main verbs. These form a set of categories which may be roughly placed on a gradient between modal auxiliaries...Read More...

away with it!

Dear experts, What do you make of the phrase AWAY WITH IT used imperatively? Thank you, YuriRead More...
My first response is "not much." It's an antiquated expression, used rarely in modern English. Google has these examples of antiquated usage: "”When the string begin never so little to wear, trust it not, but away with it, for it is an evil saved penny that loose a man a crown. ... home.att.net/~chidiock/ "”Ascham says, "When the string beginneth never so little to wear, trust it not, but away with it ; for it is an ill-saved halfpenny, that costs a man a crown. ...Read More...
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