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"Make" + object + ~ing or ~ed form

I know that "make" is a causative verb being followed by object and infinitive verb, as in "I made him go." But, I'd like to know if ~ing or ~ed form (participles) can take the place of the infinitive.Read More...

There is no point ~ing and It is no use ~ing

I feel the two phrases are very similar, but seems not exactly the same. Could you help me find any difference between the two expressions, either in terms of meaning or of context? Thanks once more.Read More...

Phrasal verb: "fall over"

Hello, Can the phrasal verb "fall over" be used in the following sentence as "come across" something? or to discover something. 1) While I was going through the boxes I fell over some old memories. 2) When I was reading the article I fell over this juicy piece of information. Is it used in the colloquial language. Thank YouRead More...

"With my foot on the seat of his pants"

Could you help me with the following expression? I paid"”with my foot firm on the seat of his pants. My guess is that he paid the money but didn't completely trust the payee, so, he has all the information necessary to get it back when the time comes. Am I possibly right? I couldn't find this idiom in my dictionaries. Thank you. appleRead More...

" Born in " or " Born at "

Please help me to find out which one of the following is correct: 1- I was born at New York. 2- I was born in New York. I have come across both "Born at" and " Born in", so which one really is correct. Thank you. CyrusRead More...

"Connect someone to someone" vs. "connect someone with someone"

Dear experts, Would you say that CONNECT SOMEONE TO SOMEONE can replace CONNECT SOMEONE WITH SOMEONE in all four meanings (resp. contexts): 1. There is not yet any reason beyond the resemblance in the place-name to connect the people of Ahhiyawa with the Achaians of Greece. 2. Operator, will you please connect me with Mr. Jones? 3. She had an acquaintance in Germany who could connect me with a family for whom I could be a housemaid. 4. (usually Passive) Her family is connected with the...Read More...

"At a stretch" or "on the stretch"

Dear experts, Would you confirm that the expressions below have only ONE meaning in which they are freely interchangeable: at a stretch on the stretch at a stretch - 1. continuously; without interruption: It was impossible to work for more than an hour or so at a stretch. 2. by making a special effort; by stretching one's resources: We have provided food for only fifty people, but we might be able to make it do for sixty at a stretch. on the stretch - 1. tightened and extended: The mariner...Read More...

"Who he is," or "who is he" in noun clauses

Please look at the following sentence. (1) Who is he? When this sentence is embedded in another phrase "we can not tell", it becomes, (2) We can not tell who he is. Not, (3) We can not tell who is he. Am I correct up until here? Then please look at the following sentence that I found in The Boxcar Children series (4) In those days, we could not tell who was a friend and who was an enemy. We don't have to change this to (5) We could not tell who a friend was and who an enemy was? I feel (5)...Read More...

"A lot of the time"

Please consider the following sentence: Computers may not really think, but, driven by emotion, hormones, ego, reflex or whatever, neither do we a lot of the time . I am not sure about the use of the phrase a lot of the time here. Is it different, in terms of meaning and usage, from a lot of times in the following sentences? A lot of times when someone enters the judicial system, they're trapped there forever. We know we tried to do something. It helps, and a lot of times it works.Read More...

"On the run" or "on a run"

Dear experts, Would you confirm that the expressions below share only ONE meaning in which they may be interchangeable (YES/NO): on a run on the run on a run - 1. running: Colonel Armant came on a run to find out who gave the order to fire. 2. (of a dog) on a leash: My parents live in rural yet townish sort of area - we had a dog we kept on a run. 3. (of a dog) exercise in running: Likes to go for long walks in the park and good for anyone who wants to take a dog on a run. 4. on a single...Read More...

"Weep about something" or "weep at something"

Dear experts, Would you concede that there's indeed some subtle difference in the meaning of the expressions below, which makes them non-interchangeable without detriment as to meaning: weep about something weep at something weep about something - cry to express one's grief concerning smth.: Even northern ministers present at that meeting conceded that Ironsi seemed genuinely upset by, and wept about the death of his military colleagues. weep at something - cry in the presence of that which...Read More...

"To hold hostage"

What is the function of the word "hostage" in the following sentences? Her husband was held hostage by the hijackers. The hijackers held her husband hostage. Every dictionary I consulted only lists this word as a noun, but it doesn't seem to functioning as a noun in these sentences unless we say "as a hostage." Anyway, the expression is generally just "to hold hostage." Thanks!Read More...

"Babys"

Hello, I saw an advertisment in the paper which read as "Babys and kids"..can babys be spelt in this way? Thank youRead More...

"A quarter," "(a) half"

In response to the question "What time is it?", we can say something like (1) It's a quarter to seven. (2) It's half past eight. Is there a logical reasoning behind why there is a determiner "a" before "quarter" and no determiner before "half"? There are usage where "half" is used with "a". (3) One and a half months have passed since..... (4) a half pound of..... Thank you. appleRead More...

Bare infinitives

I have a question about the word "cry" in the following sentence: She did nothing but cry all day. A student of mine asked me why "crying" cannot be substituted for "cry" in this sentence. Even though I know that "crying" is ungrammatical, I had a difficult time explaining why. After searching for an answer in various grammar books and on the Internet, all I could find were the following rules: 1. "The infinitive is used without the particle TO in conjunction with the following expressions:...Read More...

"Turn something on its head" vs. "turn something upside down"

Dear experts, Would you agree that the expressions below share only ONE (metaphorical) meaning in common: turn something on its head turn something upside down turn something on its head - (also: stand something on its head) cause a complete reversal of what is regarded as the norm: Suddenly, Jayne's once sane life is turned on its head, and not even her closest friends are what they seem. turn something upside down - 1. reverse smth. physically: Wolfe uncorked the bottle and turned it...Read More...

Semantic relevance of the article: "take air" vs. "take the air"

Dear experts, Would you confirm that the expressions below are not freely interchangeable variants of the same phrase but parttial synonyms sharing only ONE meaning in common, and can be represented as: take air take the air take air - 1. (of rumors, etc.) become known; be made public: These words were all that passed between Porteous and his prisoner; but as they took air... they greatly increased popular compassion for Wilson. 2. go out for a walk; go out of doors: Guests went out to...Read More...

Azar on reduced clauses

(Here's the last word from Betty Azar about "reduced adverb clauses.") Also, I think it's important to recognize that teaching modifying participial phrases as "reductions of clauses" is basically only a pedagogical means of demonstrating the meaning of such phrases. Rather than saying they are "reduced," one might more accurately say they are what you might call "equivalent structures" -- two structures with equivalent meanings. It's just that in teaching, one takes the known, in this case...Read More...

Reduced adverb clause (#3)

This is the third and last of the questions posed to Betty Azar by a teacher of ESL. 3) What governs the use of "having + past participle"? For instance, the sentence "He decided to paint his house because he found a small hole on the ceiling" could be reduced to "Finding a small hole on the ceiling, he decided to paint his house" but I don't think "They decided to get married because they won the lottery" can be reduced to "Winning the lottery, they decided to get married." It sounds much...Read More...

"Far and away"

Dear experts, Could you possibly provide definition for FAR AND AWAY as used in these specific contexts: 1. Although there are scores of guests, there are also days when everyone else in the house is out and away and she writes a melancholy note on loneliness. 2. The 'loft' is out and away from the house which allows for your privacy. In the loft is a private bath, full sized bed, decorated in country primitive style. Thank you, YuriRead More...

"On the contrary" vs. "to the contrary"

Dear native speaking experts, Would you agree that the following expressions share only ONE meaning in common and can be differentiated as follows (YES/NO?): on the contrary to the contrary on the contrary - 1. in opposition to what might be expected: She did not exult in her rival's fall, but, on the contrary, commiserated her. 2. on the other hand: People used to say that a Broadway musical was written for musical slobs. Mr. Sondheim, on the contrary, assumes that you have heard some Ravel...Read More...

Semantic relevance of article: "Ring the bell" or "ring a bell"?

Dear experts, Would you confirm that the use of article is relevant for discriminating the expressions below, or are they freely interchangeable in their respective contexts: ring a bell ring the bell ring a bell - (coll.) sound familiar; remind of smth.: The name of the company rang a bell. One of my neighbors worked for them during the war. ring the bell - (coll.) 1. (also: ring bells) be met with approval; be a complete success: The Vice President's speeches ring the bell with certain...Read More...

"Put it on the line" and "Put money on the line"

Dear experts, Both expressions below deal with money matters: put it on the line put money on the line You fellows always PUT IT ON THE LINE for me every pay day. The California government is PUTTING MONEY ON THE LINE to get a fleet of steam cars on the road. Could you comment on the difference in their respective meaning. Thank you, YuriRead More...
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