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'blue devil' and 'blue devils'

Dear experts, Many thanks for your prompt, clear, and exhaustive explanation. Should we discriminate between the idiomatic expressions BLUE DEVIL and BLUE DEVILS? Best regards, YuriRead More...
A "blue devil" is different from "blue devils," according to the American Heritage*: blue devil n. 1. Slang . A blue capsule or tablet containing barbiturate amobarbital or its sodium derivative. 2. blue devils Informal . A feeling of depression; despondency. _______ According to the Dictionary of American Regional English**, "blue devils" is usually used in the plural to mean melancholy, low spirits, the blues. It includes in its citations: From Thomas Jefferson: "We have something of the...Read More...

future time certainty and progressive

If the speaker is almost sure about certain thing, we can use "should", as in "Kay should do well on the test." Can the auxiliary "should" be used in the progressive? For example, if I am almost sure that Jane will take a nap this time tomorrow, can I say "Jane should be taking a nap at this time tomorrow."?Read More...
It's true that we say "Well, I'd better be going" when we want to leave, or "I'd better be getting ready to go." This expression is formulaic, and can be used with second and third persons, as a suggestion. For example, "”You'd better be going, or you'll miss the last train Otherwise, without a specific point of time in the future, the progressive is not used. If you specify a particular point of time, however, you may use the progressive, to express an activity that should be in progress.Read More...

hardly, rarely, seldom

Of the three similar meaning expressions below, "rarely" gets 696 hits, "hardly ever" gets 480, "seldom" 95. Is this simply the matter of frequency? Any other differences in nuance; locality, age of speakers, etc? 1. I hardly ever go to bed before midnight. 2. I seldom go to bed before midnight. 3. I rarely go to bed before midnight. AppleRead More...
I don't think it's possible to generalize about the occurrences of these three expressions. Of the three, "hardly ever" is a bit more informal. Google counts: seldom wakes up = 131 seldom tries = 3,820 seldom went = 47,000 hardly ever wakes up = 352 hardly ever tries = 770 hardly ever went = 14,700 rarely wakes up = 630 rarely tries = 790 rarely went = 85,300 MarilynRead More...

To be comprised of

I was taught that "to comprise" should not be used in passive constructions i.e. to be comprised of. However, a few dictionaries I have consulted suggest that the construction is not only grammatical but also common in formal speech and writing. (a) The United States of America comprises 50 states. (b) The United States of America is comprised of 50 states.Read More...
"Be comprised of" is now used by many speakers, and even finds its way into some, though not all, formal speaking and writing. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000., at http://www.bartleby.com/61/72/C0537200.html explains: USAGE NOTE: The traditional rule states that the whole comprises the parts and the parts compose the whole. In strict usage: The Union comprises 50 states. Fifty states compose (or [/i]constitute[/i] or make up) the Union . Even...Read More...

ON BEING PRESSED

Dear experts, Many thanks for the previous responses. Now, will it be right to assume that whereas the active construction PRESS SOMEONE FOR SOMETHING means ˜demand something from a person', its passive counterpart BE PRESSED FOR SOMETHING can only be used to mean ˜to have too little of something' – in other words, the phrase ˜I am pressed for money' will never be understood to mean ˜they demand money of me'? Gratefully, YuriRead More...
It's not quite that simple. "To be pressed for [noun]" can have two meanings, depending on the nature of the noun. For example, in "be pressed for time," "pressed" is a participial adjective meaning "without enough [of something]." This is because it's impossible to press someone for time. 'Pressed" is an adjective; otherwise we couldn't say "I'm very/a little pressed for time." In contrast, in "be pressed for answers," "pressed" is a true past participle and the construction is a true...Read More...

afterward

Can "afterward(s)" be used in the future tense? AppleRead More...
Yes, by all means "afterward(s)" can be used for the future. Here are ten Google examples just from the string "will * * afterwards": "¢ Refreshments will be served afterwards to all present. Annual Report. The Annual Report for 2004 has been published and is being sent to Fellows with this ... http://www.therai.org.uk/rainews/ - 29k - Oct 24, 2005 "¢ The Atrium cafe will be open afterwards . Location:, Parkview Church. Time:, 9:00 PM. Contact:, 247@ui-247.com. Thursday, October 27th, 2005...Read More...

seem to

What is the difference between the following sentences? 1. He seemed to live in Greece five hundred years ago. 2. He seems to have lived in Greece five hundred years ago. 3. He seemed to have lived in Greece five hundred years ago. The second sentence appears in an article like this: "Little is known about Aesop. He seems to have lived in Greece five hundred years before the birth of Christ...." I wonder if the first sentence can substitute for the original one.Read More...
Thank you, Marilyn. You made it so clear.Read More...

sorrow

Which is correct: 1-The sorrow of his death was great. 2-The sorrow at his death was great. 3-My sorrow at his death was great. 4-The sorrow that I had that he died was great. 5-My sorrow that he died was great. The first two are supposed to mean that the sorrow caused by his death was great. We don't know who felt that sorrow.Read More...
Sentence 1 here is not the same situation as Sentence 1 in your previous posting. In your previous posting, since the person was dead, s/he could not have felt joy. This time, because the person was alive, there are two possibilities: "”The joy of his coming back was great (he felt great joy) "”The joy of his coming back was great (people felt great joy) Sentence 2 is correct. Both sentences would be more natural with "his return" instead of "his coming back." MarilynRead More...

who are playing?

Dear All, While looking at a picture of two men playing tennis, I was wondering if the question "Who are playing ?" could be asked. "Who are playing?" doesn't sound right against "Who is playing ?", so my question is : Is is always "Who is playing ?" even though more than one person may be involved ? Thank you. Regards, RickyRead More...
The pronoun "who" as subject of the main verb is always singular, even if the question is about more than one individual. Google examples: "” I really need your help. If someone could please tell me who is in the picture from left to right. Thank you so very much!! [img][/img]. ... users.boardnation.com/~vivanicholas/ index.php?action=recent "”Take a look, if the picture doesn't have the people in it named properly, please "comment" on it and tell me who is in the picture. ...Read More...

COMING UP

Dear experts, May we assume that COME UP TO SOMETHING and BE COMING UP TO SOMETHING are not interchangeable and have different meanings as in: 1. The boots came up to her knees. 2. Your work has not come up to expectations. 1. It's COMING UP to your birthday/exams... 2. It's COMING UP to 4 o'clock. Thank you, YuriRead More...
You're right to believe that the two expressions are different. The non-progressive tenses (comes/come/came/has come, etc.) are literal; the expression with the verb in progressive aspect is metaphorical, expressing movement in time toward a coming event. Often the progressive use has the impersonal "it" or a personal subject associated with an impending event. SIMPLE FORM, LITERAL MEANING: "”Situation #1: The bully comes up to you and says, "I feel really sorry for you, you can't do...Read More...

The Devil (or the devil) is in the details. Proper nouns

Hello, I am doing a Master's degree in translation. One of my research projects for a terminology class is about proper nouns in expressions. I am currently looking at proverbs in English and French that contain either the words "God" or "the devil" (or sometimes, "the Devil"). I know that proper nouns take a capital, which would seem to exclude using any proverbs where "devil" is not capitalized, yet there is just enough incidence of the word appearing capitalized to make me wonder. So,...Read More...
Thanks for your answer.Read More...

'Like anything' and 'as anything'

Dear experts, How do we discriminate between idiomatic units AS ANYTHING and LIKE ANYTHING: He waved to us and we waved back like anything. Thank you, YuriRead More...
"Like anything," as used in your sentence, intensifies the verb "waved back." "Like anything" is entered into various dictionaries as an idiom. This entry is from The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms*: "like anything Extremely, vigorously, as in She cried like anything when the dog died . This idiom probably substitutes anything for a swear word." Under "anything" in the American Heritage Dictionary** "like anything 1. To an exceeding degree: We worked like anything to meet the...Read More...

contact clause

dear I have this sentence so strange, so I want you to explain it to me -There is a man next door says you know him- that is so strange In grammar book calls it CONTACT CLAUSE Please tell me this way being very common in English? Thank youRead More...
The sentence is indeed strange! This sentence might be heard in a conversation. The sentence is "contracted" – it is really two sentences run together, as they might be in spoken language. The correct statement, in standard written English, would be: There is a man next door. He says you know him. OR There is a man next door who says you know him. "Sentence" like your example might be heard in a movie, like this: [Knock, knock] Resident: Who is it? Detective: The police, ma'am. Here's my...Read More...

it was he

dear I have these sentences so strange to me, so I write you a question to ask if they are right or wrong It was very HE to steal my money Not It was ver Him to steal my money I saw it in in grammar book so I wnat to ask if I can change it into the following sentences It was very HE that/who stole my money It was very HE stealing my money Please explain them to me. Thank you for your relyRead More...
None of the sentences above is correct. The sentence can be: It was he who stole my money. It was he that stole my money. It was he (who was) stealing my money. _______ "Very" is an adverb. "He" is a pronoun. An adverb can modify a verb, an adjective, another adverb, or a sentence. It cannot modify a noun or a pronoun. Some adverbs are in the category of "intensifiers," which means they intensify, or make stronger, the meaning of the adjective or adverb they modify. "Very" is one of these...Read More...

hyper and hypo

dear I have the thought of using hyper- and hypo- in the comperative like this Instead od saying He is more active than I Can I write it like this He is hyperactive than I ? Because hyperactive = more active Please tell me about this point Thank you for relyRead More...
"Hyper" is a prefix. It means excessive, or much more than the usual. However, it does not serve as a comparative; you can't use it instead of "more," and the word it attaches to is not followed by "than." A comparative sentence would be: a) He is more active than I. A possible comparative sentence would be: b) He is more hyperactive than I. Sentence b) would be somewhat unusual. For this sentence to be true, both the speaker and the listener would have to know that the speaker is...Read More...

Internet or internet? E-mail or email?

I have seen "internet" both capitalized and not capitalized. I have seen "e-mail" with a hyphen and without. Which forms are correct?Read More...
All the references I've consulted give only "Internet," with a capital letter, as in "the Internet." This is the Internet that we know, and that we are using right now. However, according to Wikipedia , an online encyclopedia, there is a generic meaning for "internet" that does NOT begin with a capital letter: " This article is about the Internet , the extensive, worldwide computer network available to the public. An internet is a more general term informally used to describe any set of...Read More...

'Try to do' vs. 'try and do'

Dear colleagues, This question has been sent in by Olga Kuzmina Will you please explain the difference between 'try to do sth' and 'try and do sth'? Best regards, Olga KuzminaRead More...
The expressions mean the same thing, but they belong to different registers. Standard English, the style you would use for most purposes, uses "try to." "Try and" is a colloquial variant. It is not strictly grammatical, nor does it make logical sense, but it's widely used in casual conversation. Some speakers never use it, while others are comfortable with it. "Try to" can be used in any verb tense: – I try to/will try to/have tried to/tried to call my mother every day "Try and" works only...Read More...

Is "Rawhide" a slang for "chaps"?

Some of you may remember a classic TV western series "Rawhide" and its theme song by Frankie Lane. (Rollin', rollin', rollin' ...) ttp://www.coquet-shack.com/lyrics/Laine_Frankie/Rawhide_2675.php A friend of mine says the word "rawhide" is used in the lyrics as a slang for "chaps". I think the word rather means "a whip made of rawhide" and/or a metaphor for "cowboy". I searched for examples with google but unable to get definite result. Any clarification on this issue would be appreciated. kenRead More...
"Rawhide" is defined in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate as "1. a whip of untanned hide. 2. untanned cattle skin" So it refers to the material, or the whip itself. Chaps were and are normally made from leather; less expensive ones could possibly be made from rawhide, but they wouldn't be very durable. I don't think "rawhide" is a slang for "chaps." BarryRead More...

capacity x capability

Hi, Is it possible to use the word capacity with the meaning of capability? thanks ElianeRead More...
In some situations, "capacity" and "capability" are synonyms. Here is the entry for "capacity" from the American Heritage Dictionary*: ca"¢pac"¢i"¢ty n., pl. -ties. 1. a. The ability to receive, hold, or absorb. b. (Abbr. c.) A measure of this ability; volume. 2. The maximum amount that can be contained: a trunk filled to capacity. 3. a. Ability to perform or produce; capability. b. The maximum or optimum amount that can be produced: factories operating below capacity. 4. The power to learn...Read More...

Overrode? Overridden?

This question has been sent to the Grammar Exchange by Chiara Termini. I am a bit confused about the verb 'override' and its use in the past (or present perfect) form. Is it correct to use the past tense 'overrode' or do we have to use always the present perfect 'have overriden' ? My collegue is stating that 'overrode' is never used... Can I say: ' I overrode the warnings on my screen (yesterday)' and not 'I have overridden the warnings on my screen'? Or is it 'override' a 'special' verb?Read More...
"Overrode" is perfectly correct. It is the past tense form, as you note, of "override," so it is used where the simple past tense is called for. There are 524,000 examples currently on Google. Here are several from the first two pages: "¢ BBC NEWS | Politics | Blair ' overrode terror warnings' Tony Blair opted for war against Iraq despite warnings it could raise risks of terrorists getting weapons of mass destruction, it emerges. http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/homepage/int/...Read More...

Coordinating conjunctions

1-They can have positive and negative functions in different situations. 2-They can have positive or negative functions in different situations. 3-They can have positive or negative functions depending on the situation. Which of the sentences above corresponds to which of the sentences below: a-In any given situation they can either have positive functions or negative functions. b-In any given situation they can both have positive functions and negative functions at the same time (they could...Read More...
You have sent quite a puzzle! With some thought, a person can match up the meanings of the sentences, but the meanings are not apparent, or even unambiguous. These sentences need coordinating conjunctions to clarify them. I believe that your description (a) describes sentences 2 and 3; description (b) describes sentence 1. How about these sentences: 1 – They can have both positive and negative functions in any given situation. They can have both positive and negative functions, depending on...Read More...

TOO MUCH OF A MUCHNESS

Dear experts, It seems the expressions below are not interchangeable in any contexts. Please comment: AS MUCH # AS MUCH AGAIN Thank you, YuriRead More...
The two expressions don't mean the same thing. "As much as" can express equality (she doesn't earn as much as her husband) or a maximum amount that can be reached (A full-grown panda can weigh as much as 300 pounds). "As much again as" means "twice as much as." Google examples: – Also, it does radiate heat "” almost as much again as it receives from the Sun. This heat is released by the radioactive decay of elements within the planet ... calspace.ucsd.edu/virtualmuseum/ita/08_1. – is not the...Read More...

"Including" + a prepositional phrase

I have been bothered by journalists' increasing use of the word "including" immediately before a prepositional phrase. (See example below, from today's Washington Post .) Instinctively, I chafe when I see this, but I have a hard time explaining to communication professionals WHY it is wrong. Can anyone help? The more thorough the explanation, the better... [The example below comes from a report on special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald's investigation into the possible involvement of Vice...Read More...
The problem is that "including" is a preposition, and a preposition is followed by a noun, a pronoun, a noun clause, or a gerund. The definition of "preposition," according to the American Heritage Dictionary is this: "¢ preposition n. (Abbr. prep.) A word or phrase placed typically before a substantive and indicating the relation of that substantive to a verb, an adjective, or another substantive, as English at, by, with, from, and in regard to . _______ Your sentence would certainly be...Read More...

Auxiliaries to avoid repetition

Is it correct? He ought to see the doctor, and so ought I. You oughtn't to smoke so much, and I oughtn't either. I used to smoke a lot, and so used he. I used not to go out so often, and he usedn't either. ElianeRead More...
Yes, "didn't use to" (without the final "d" at the end of "use") used to be considered by some as the correct way to write this phrase. And it still is. However, "didn't used to" is also considered correct by many. _______ Betty Azar addresses the lack of consensus on this point in the Teacher's Guide to the Fundamentals of English Grammar*. Click on the attachment to read it. Additionally, in the current edition of Fundamentals of English Grammar, page 52, in a note under Chart 2-11, she...Read More...

"rather than" and "instead of"

Dear all, I've been confused with the two phrases "rather than" and "instead of". They seem to function the same and carry similar meanings. For example, (1)She used her English name instead of/rather than her Latin one. (2)He watched TV instead of/rather than doing his homework. The two phrases seem to be exchangeable in both (1)and (2). However, (3)is correct and (4)is incorrect. (3)She is cute rather than beautiful. *(4)She is cute instead of beautiful. Besides, which category should we...Read More...
The phrase "rather than" can serve as a preposition or a conjunction. It has two functions. One of the descriptions of "rather than" is as a phrasal preposition in the Collins COBUILD Dictionary.* Example sentences are The problem was psychological rather than physiological.....Sedge is similar in appearance to grass but has a solid rather than a hollow stem...The dark star in Nova Musae 1991 is a black hole rather than a neutron star...When I'm going out in the evening I use the bike if I...Read More...
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