All Forum Topics

"there"

Instead of "If it hadn't been for your help, I couldn't have come this far.", can you say "If there hadn't been your help, I couldn't have cme this far."?Read More...
Yes, it would be grammatically possible to say, "If there hadn't been your help, I couldn't have come this far." This is a past unreal conditional. The if -clause is in the past perfect form, and would have (or could have , in this case) + the past participle in the result clause. In fact, there is a song with this construction, "If there hadn't been you,"( instead of "If there hadn't been your help"), plus the "would have" + the past participle: IF THERE HADN'T BEEN YOU By: Billy Dean A man...Read More...

Two successive possessives

Is it correct to say: They went in Mary's father's car. If no, what's the right way. If yes, is there a better way, e.g. "of" Thanks.Read More...
It's perfectly correct to say "Mary's father's car." In fact, using the two possessives in this sentence is the best way to say that they went in the car of the father of Mary. "Of" would be possible, but awkward. You could also say, "They went in the/ a car that belonged to Mary's father," but it would put more emphasis on the car than there is in your sentence. RachelRead More...

'Person'

I would like to know how the following can be classified in terms of 'person'? Are they first person, second person, or third person? you and I My brother and I you and John Mr Brown and Mr White Many thanks. HenryRead More...
"You and I" is a form of "we." It's the first person plural. "My brother and I" is a form of "we." It's the first person plural. "You and John" is the plural of you. It's the second person plural. In English, the singular and plural forms of the second person are the same. "Mr. Brown and Mr. White" is a form of "they." It's the third person plural. RachelRead More...

Lest

When using "lest" in the following sentence, which one is correct: I wear heavy clothes for fear of cold. 1) I wear heavy clothes lest I catch cold. 2) I wear heavy clothes lest I should catch cold.Read More...
Here's the previous posting on lest : Here's what Michael Swan* says about "lest" Lest has a similar meaning to in case or so that....not ....It is very rare in modern British English, and is found mostly in older literature and in ceremonial language. It is a little more common in formal American English. They kept watch all night lest robbers should come. We must take care lest evil thoughts enter our hearts. Lest can be followed by a subjunctive verb.... The government must take immediate...Read More...

apple/pineapple

According to the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary ,apple and pineapple can be countable or uncountabe.Then are these sentences correct? Any differences in meaning? 1a. I want six slices of (the/an) apple. 1b. I want six slices of apple. 2a.I like eating apple/pineapple. 2b.I like eating apples/pineapples.Read More...
Not all dictionaries list these fruits as being both count and noncount. The Collins COBUILD*, for example, is one that doesn't. However, you can use the names of almost any fruit in a noncount sense. It differs from the count noun in that the concept of a noncount noun is quite abstract. So in the first sentence, 1b, if a person is thinking of six slices of apple, s/he is thinking of six slices of any apple at all, not any particular apple, as s/he would be in 1a. In the second sentence,...Read More...

Like + gerund?

Hi, Here is something which is a bit unclear. 1) She likes dressing in colourful clothes. 2) She likes to be dressed in colourful clothes. Which is the correct way of expressing when I want to tell about the way some one likes to dress? Thanks a lot.Read More...
Both sentences are correct. In the first sentence, she likes the act of dressing in colourful clothes. It's the action that she likes, but it also includes the result of being dressed. You could also say, for the first sentence: She likes to dress in colourful clothes. _______ In the second sentence, she likes the result that comes from putting on colourful clothes. She may or may not like the action of putting on the clothes. You could also say, with the same meaning: She likes being...Read More...

Longest / oldest ?

Hi , Please could you tell me if this is correct? 1) Jenny is my longest friend. OR 2) Jenny is my oldest friend. OR 3) Jenny has been my oldest friend. Which is the most correct sentence?? Thanks a lot JaybelRead More...
When talking about how long a person has been a friend, we can express the idea in two ways: 1) Jenny is my oldest friend . 2) Jenny has been my friend longer than anyone else . _______ In the first sentence, "oldest" in this sense does not refer to age, although it is easy to think that it might. It means that the friend has been your friend longer than any other friend. When you use "longer" in the second sentence, it's the comparative of "long" as in "a long time." RachelRead More...

Semi-colons after colons

Hi, Grateful for your assistance - yesterday someone told me you have to use semi-colons after a colon. I was surprised - as I did not know that. Do you have to have semi-colons in a situatin such as this? Sentence: But nothing topped Jewellery Circles' theme-party for loyal customers: Shelly Smith; Stella Brown; Les Smith; and Sean Low. Any idea where this idea for semi-colons comes from. Before hearing that, I would have put commas after Smith, and again after Brown and nothing after Les...Read More...
Your sentence would not be correct with semi-colons. As you believe, there should be commas after each name, not semi-colons. You would use semi-colons after a colon in a series when any element in the series contains an internal comma, sentences, in sentences like the following. "¢ Between 1815 and 1850 Americans did the following: they constructed elaborate networks of roads, canals, and early railroad lines; they opened up wide areas of newly acquired land for settlement and trade; they...Read More...

every one

a. About every one of his books, I thought that it was his best book at one point in time. b. Every one of his books seemed to me to be his best at one point in time. c. Every one of his books has seemed to me to be his best at one point in time. d. At different points in time, different books of his seemed to me to be his best. Which of the above are grammatically correct?Read More...
All the sentences are awkward and even unclear. The placement of "at one point in time" in sentences a, b and c makes the sentences ambiguous. Is the speaker saying that a book was excellent at one point in time but not at another? Sentences a, b, and c are not OK because of the placement of "at this point in time." Sentence d does not have this problem of incorrect phrase placement, but it is heavy and awkward. _______ If the speaker is trying to say that he, the speaker, has thought – at...Read More...

the verb "deem"

Hello, Regarding the usage of the verb "deem", is it acceptable, and in fact can it actually be good, depending on the case, to include the preposition "as"; or is the preposition always best omitted? A simple Google search confirms that " deem/deemed as" is often found in the written language – still, as we all know, the Internet is not a very trustworthy source of information. I didn't really have time to research more properly (if only the day were twice as long...), but in the ultra...Read More...
Thank you very much, Marilyn! GiseleRead More...

Correct use of commas

Hi, Sentence: Belonging, identity, freedom and traditions all pull Ying, the central character, a young Chinese girl growing up in Glasgow, in many directions. I am just wondering if the commas are correctly used. There are two extra pieces of information in the middle of the sentence - and in my opinion there needs to be another comma after the word character and after the word Glasgow. Do you agree that is correct? Thanks for your assistance.Read More...
Thanks - very helpful.Read More...

much different, very different, a lot different.

I know that we can say the following sentences. 1. The school was very different. 2. The school was much different. 3. The school was a lot different. Then, can we say, 4. She was much happy.? It doesn't sound right, but I wonder why. Both "different" and "happy" are adjectives. AppleRead More...
Let me clarify. It was an oversimplification to imply that there are only two kinds of adjectives "” gradable and absolute. Actually, there are no airtight categories that can't be breached. (The classic example of a nongradable, absolute adjective is "pregnant," but even this one is occasionally made gradable in an utterance like "She was very pregnant when she went up onto the roof to get the cat.") "Alone," under most circumstances, is absolute, but one could say "” Herbert felt very...Read More...

being + adj

Is it correct to say: She is being funny? What's the rule?Read More...
Yes. "She is being funny" is a fine sentence. In this case, "is being" means "is acting." It means that she is acting funny (comical) at this moment, probably joking. It is different from "she IS funny." "She is funny" means that she is funny all the time, but "she is being funny" means that she is being funny at this moment only. _____________ Here are some other examples: "¢ Tom doesn't usually pay attention in class. Today, however, he is being very attentive because he wants to be...Read More...

Commas before the word "which"

Hi, Just wondering if you could assist. Should there always be a comma before the word "which" e.g. 1. Exploring Education is an exciting dimension of the EIF which is not just about Scottish culture but is also about appreciating and being exposed to the best the world has to offer, too. If it was me I would not put a comma after the word "EIF" - is that ok. 2. In Asia, Kiy managed the Mercantile Athletic Club, Jakarta, and the Heritage Club, Bangkok, amongst others, following which he was...Read More...
Thanks.Read More...

in/on (afternoon)

Why do we say: "I love a hot chocolate in the afternoon" but "I love on hot chocolate on cold afternoons"? ~Thanks~Read More...
"In the afternoon/morning/evening" (but "at night") are fixed expressions, similar to "during the day" or "at noon/midnight." They can't be altered with other words like adjectives. "Cold afternoons" is an indefinite plural meaning "any afternoons that are cold." It's the plural of the singular "a cold afternoon." You can say "” I love a hot chocolate on a cold afternoon/on cold afternoons Other pairs could be "” I was born in the morning/on a frosty morning "” It's better to water the lawn...Read More...

better than if

The fact that I wrote it alone made the story better than if my Mom had helped me write it. Is the above sentence grammatical?Read More...
Yes, the sentence is grammatical and natural. It has an ellipsis (omission of words) that makes the sentence more concise and effective than if all the words were used. The full version of the sentence would be "” The fact that I wrote it alone made the story better than [it would have been] if my Mom had helped me write it. Other examples, from Google*: "” By living together and pooling resources, a couple can live more economically than [they could] if each person lived alone. To determine...Read More...

to star - active /passive; transitive/intransitive

Hello, Are these sentences possible? Are they equally good? (X = name of an actor) The movie stars X The movie is starred by X X stars the movie X stars in the movie Thanks, GiseleRead More...
Dear Marilyn, Thank you very much indeed for your comments. I really appreciate the thoroughness of your answers - I always learn so much from the Grammar Exchange site. I definitely should visit the site more often! Keep up the excellent work! Gisele Sao Paulo, BrazilRead More...

subject-verb agreement

More and more advertisement(s) is/are getting violent. --> 'more and more advertisement is ...' is right or 'more and more advertisements are...' is right?Read More...
"¢ More and more advertisements ARE getting violent. "Advertisement" is a count noun. The plural form, "advertisements," needs a plural verb. The related noncount noun is "advertising." This refers to the more abstract idea of all advertising, not separate ads ("advertisements"). With the word "advertising," the sentence would be: "¢ More and more advertising IS getting violent. RachelRead More...

Use of the word - a

Hi, I think this sentence should read - The Ottomans and collectors from further west had a similar confidence in celadon's ability to do more than provide an attractive accompaniment to their food and drink. My friend says that there is no need for "a" before the word similar and she reasons that as you don't need "a" if you did not have the word similar but only confidence then it is ok to delete. She wants it: The Ottomans and collectors from further west had similar confidence in...Read More...
ThanksRead More...

When to use capitals

Hi, The following text is from the Edinburgh International Festival webite: The Edinburgh International Festival is over fifty years old and has earned its reputation as one of the world's greatest celebrations of the arts. You can find out how the Festival is funded by reading the Annual Review, how it has developed since its inception in 1947 under history or how you can join in with the festival in various ways. I would be most grateful if you could confirm the proper use of capitals. 1.Read More...
Thanks.Read More...

Why is there no apostrophe?

Hi, One of the Events of the Edinburgh International Festival is the Bank of Scotland Fireworks Concert. Why are all references in the media to Bank of Scotland and not Bank of Scotland's Fireworks Concert. Grateful for enlightenment. Warmest regards, Siva.Read More...
Hi Marilyn, Thanks. So should we follow how the Bank of Scotland wants it or do we if we are writing about it - use an apostrophe. I am concerned that people reading my work will think I don't know how to use the apostrophe properly. What would you do in these circumstances?Read More...

'Constancy' and 'consistency'

Dear experts, Do the following share one meaning in common or are they not interchangeable in any context: consistency n., constancy n. consistency (k@n"sIst@nsI) n. – 1. the ability to maintain a particular standard or repeat a particular task with minimal variation: Consistency is important in performing this job. 2. coherence: reasonable or logical harmony between parts: The plot lacked consistency. 3. level of thickness or smoothness: level of thickness or smoothness of a mixture: Blend...Read More...
"Consistency" and "constancy" do share the meaning of steadfastness, but they are not really interchangeable. "Consistency" describes repeated actions, all having the same characteristics: 1. a. Correspondence among related aspects; compatibility: questioned the consistency of the administration's actions with its stated policy. 2. Reliability or uniformity of successive results or events: pitched with remarkable consistency throughout the season. _______ "Constancy" refers to an ongoing...Read More...

clothes

Are these sentences correct? 1a. How many clothes should I bring? 1b. How much clothes should I bring? 2a.You should bring five clothes. 2b.You should bring five clothes items. 2c.You should bring five pieces of clothes. 3a.How much is these clothes? 3b.How much are these clothes?Read More...
According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (2003) the words "clothes" means "the things that people wear to cover their body and to keep warm." It is always plural but not countable. 1a. How many clothes should I bring? This is OK. 1b. How much clothes should I bring? Not correct, because "clothes" isn't a mass noun. You could say "” How much should I bring in the way of clothes/clothing? "” How much clothing should I bring? 2a.You should bring five clothes. Not correct...Read More...

"I would like." implied object?

"Would you like a sandwich?" -> "Yes, I would like." Is this correct grammar, or must I say "Yes, I would like one?"Read More...
"Would like" needs an object, something after it. In your sentence, "one" must complete the sentence: "Yes, I would like one." _______ You could also, however, give an even shorter response. You could say just: "Yes, I would." That's a short answer, using only the subject and the auxiliary verb from the question "would you like?" _______ The object of "would like" can be a noun, as in your question, or it can be a verb, as in: "Would you like to go to the beach this weekend?" If the object...Read More...

Be anxious that

Are these all acceptable? If so, which is recommendable? [1] 1-1. I am anxious that she might walk out on me. 1-2. I am anxious that she could walk out on me. 1-3. I am anxious that she should walk out on me. 1-4. I am anxious that she walk out on me. 1-5. I am anxious that she walks out on me. [2] 2-1. I was anxious that she might walk out on me. 2-2. I was anxious that she could walk out on me. 2-3. I was anxious that she should walk out on me. 2-4. I was anxious that she walk out on me.Read More...
It is also possible to use a subjunctive form in a "that" clause following "anxious." The meaning is similar to "It is absolutely vital (to me) that..." This form also would take the subjunctive. Google showed a few verbs, not "walk," with this construction. Here are examples of "be" and "have" in the subjunctive in "that" clauses after "anxious": ... It is for the foregoing reasons that the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources is anxious that GSI be provided with the...Read More...
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