All Forum Topics

Gerund or participle

Hello, teachers! - I saw a video clip of [your, you] singing, provided by your manager. In this sentence, which is the correct choice? I thought 'singing' was a gerund, so both were correct, but someone says it is a participle and 'your' is incorrect. Is she right? Is it possible for a video clip, not "you", to sing? Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
I think the fact that it was a video allows the singing to be considered either way "” as a completed action (gerund) or as an action in progress (participle). A lot depends on the nature of the verb phrase. If the -ing form is perceived as a completed action it is a gerund and can be used, in formal English, with the possessive. If, on the other hand, it is perceived as depicting an action in progress, it is a participle. Not all verbs allow the possessive + gerund. For example, "” I saw a...Read More...

'That,' 'who' and 'whom'

Here is a multiple choice question as to the relative pronouns. The answer key says (1) that is correct. Why aren't whom and who acceptable? He is not the coward ( ) he was ten years ago. 1.that 2.who 3. when 4. whom AppleRead More...
What an interesting point; I'd never thought about it. When I saw Apple's multiple choice question, I was a little intrigued. My instinctive answer was "that" as it just sounded much better. Still, as I continued to reflect on the other options, "who" and "whom" seemed to be okay too, based on some "rules" about adjective clauses which I have come across in many books. "Rules" can be so dangerous since they rarely account for all possibilities! Thank God gut-feeling can assist us too in...Read More...

'Who' as a noun

Hello, Is it possible for the relative pronoun "who", which normally requires an antecedent noun/pronoun, to be used independently, or do we need to say "he who / the one who / the person who, as in: 1 - Who thinks he knows it all is deluded 2 - Beware who thinks he knows it all 3 - The most untrustworthy person is who thinks he knows it all 4 - Seeking the wisdom of who thinks he knows it all can lead to trouble The sentences sound uncommon, if a little old-fashioned, but relatively okay to...Read More...
Dear Marilyn, How I love to be part of this community of English lovers - the answers I get are always so thorough, illuminating and helpful! Thank you very much indeed for the great work all of you at the Grammar Exchange have been doing! It's certainly a privilege for me to be able to draw on your knowledge! Best, GiseleRead More...

'To freak' vs. 'to freak out'

Hello, teachers! Would you please tell me the difference in meaning between these two sentences? 1. The dog freaked the boy out. 2. The dog freaked the boy. Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
Very casual English has progressed even further, making 'hang" into a full noun meaning "place to hang out." Here are a few examples from Google: "” It's a great show because it's in such an intimate setting (someone's house), it's a great hang, and the snacks and beer/coffee are tasty. "” Ubud is our next stop. It's a centre well know for its artists, and it's a regular hang for us . "” I've been there [a certain pool parlor] - it's a cool hang. Marilyn MartinRead More...

'To chase' vs. 'to chase after'

Hello, teachers! Would you please tell me the difference in meaning between these two sentences? 1. The dog chased after the boy around the house. 2. The dog chased the boy around the house. Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
Both "chase" and chase after" can be used, but not equally with "around the house." When you use "chase after" you don't usually use "around" + a noun. Google results (where * stands for "any word," in this case the direct object of the verb): "Chased after * around the" = 30 "Chased * around the" = 5,860 '"Chased after * around the house" yielded one example. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, at http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary ...gives this information: CHASE Function: verb...Read More...

Expletive subject and true subject: 'it is you that is' or 'is it you that are'?

From the following two sentences: 1). It is you that are crazy. 2). It is you that is crazy. It seems to me that sentence (1) is the correct one. However, if the sentence is changed to: 3). It is not you that are crazy. 4). It is not you that is crazy. Now, it seems to me that sentence (4) is the correct one. Is my understanding correct here?Read More...
Of the first two sentences, 2) is the one you would hear more frequently. It is informal and is correct: "¢ It is you that is (that's) crazy. Of the second two sentences, 2) is also the one you would hear more frequently. It is informal and is correct: "¢ It is not you that is (that's) crazy. _______ A passage from Quirk* about cleft sentences states: "In relative clauses and cleft sentences, a relative pronoun subject is usually followed by a verb in agreement with its antecedent. It is I...Read More...

'One' or 'it'

I know the basic usage of "one" and "it", but in the following situation, which is correct? You need a quarter to buy a drink or something but you don't have one, so you're asking a friend next to you to spare you a quarter. A: If you have a quarter, could you lend me one? B: If you have a quarter, could you lend it to me? C: If you have a quarter, can I borrow one? D: If you have a quarter, can I borrow it? I have an impression "one" is better, unless both the speaker and the listener...Read More...
Actually, B and D are correct. When you are asking about "a quarter," you are asking about only one quarter. While in the if-clause, the first clause, the quarter is one of many, in the second clause this quarter is referred to specifically. The pronoun reference in the second clause, to that one quarter, would be "it," to be specific, as in B and D. You might change the first clause to: "If you have any quarters," or "If you have some quarters." In this case, the second clause could be,...Read More...

Do we need 'it' or not?

Hello, teachers! - The event still hurts to think about [it]. Do we need 'it' or not? A native speaker says we need it, but IMHT it isn't necessary, as in "That is too heavy to lift [it]." What do you think of my thought? Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
I think that your thought is excellent to read about. (No "it.") Not only do you not need "it" in the example sentence, but you should not use it. The sentence should be: "¢ The event still hurts to think about. Actually, the sentence could be improved in this way: "¢ It still hurts to think about the event. _______ A passage from Practical English Usage* states: Note that we do not put an object pronoun after the infinitive or preposition in these cases: Cricket is not very interesting to...Read More...

That [be] the last time + 'will'

Hello, teachers! Would you please tell me which tense is best? 1. If you do this again, it will be the last time I [forgive, will forgive, am forgiving] you. 2. This is the last time we [are, will be, will have been] together before you move to Tokyo. Let's make the most of it. Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
1. If you do this again, it will be the last time I [forgive, will forgive, am forgiving] you. Any of the above will do. The pronoun "that" is more natural than "this," since the speaker is not associated with the other person's behavior: 1. If you do that again,... 2. This is the last time we [are, will be, will have been] together before you move to Tokyo. Let's make the most of it. Any of the above will do, although the "will"-future seems more natural. Marilyn MartinRead More...

the perfect continuous

Hello I'd like to ask about the perfect tense. If you want to talk about the action which began in the past and is still continuing, you will use the present perfect continuous. However, sometimes the present perfect simple seems to be used for the same situation. Would you take a look at the following sentences? 1) It has been raining hard since last night. 2) It has rained hard since last night. Instead of 1) do you use 2)? Here is another sentence. 3) Mary was angry because she had waited...Read More...
If the action or activity is still in effect, the present perfect continuous is used, as we know. The present perfect continuous is also used when the speaker wants to call attention to the long duration of the action, even if the action or activity is no longer in progress. Many verbs can be used for this purpose. It's very hard to find Google examples of the present perfect continuous in which it's clear that the activity is no longer in effect, but here are a few: "” Yet, despite all...Read More...

'Harder than,' 'more than,' 'better than'

Hello I'd like to ask about how to use "more". Would you take a look at the following sentences? 1) If I had studied harder, I could have passed the exam. 2) If I had studied more, I could have passed the exam. Can I use "more" instead of " harder"? If so, do they express the same meaning? Thank you.Read More...
I am not sure that "better" really is preferred to "more" in sentences like yours. "More," as well as "better," is not unnatural, and is perfectly grammatical With the verb "like," you can use "better" to mean "in a more excellent way," as in this entry for "better" from the American Heritage Dictionary*: adv. Comparative of well2. "¢ In a more excellent way. A second listing gives this definition: "¢ To a greater extent or degree better suited to the job; likes it better without sauce. So,...Read More...

It won't be long before + "will"

Hello, teachers! Would you please tell me which is better, with or without 'will'? - It won't be long before we [will] suffer from a shortage of water. Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
The simple present is OK, and also "will + verb." With the verb "suffer" it would be more idiomatic to use the progressive: "” It won't be long before we're suffering from a shortage of water," ...which highlights the situation of being without water. (It's also more idiomatic to say "a water shortage," unless you are referring to a shortage of a certain kind of water, e.g. drinking water or water for a particular purpose.) This construction (also "It won't be long UNTIL...") allows a...Read More...

Long since

What is the function of "since" in (1)? (1)They have long since disappeared I'm fine with the meaning. It's not a conjunction as in "I haven't seen her since last week". Apple .Read More...
Thanks to PromegaX for the dictionary information. The idiomatic phrase "long since" is equivalent to "a long time ago" or, with a past perfect or future perfect verb, "a long time previously." With stative or other durative verbs, it means "for a long time" (see below). The examples below are from Google. Here's an instance from Google of its use alone, without a verb or even a sentence: "” Berkowitz: This experiment is presumably over now, right? "” Newhouse: Yes. Long since. There's a...Read More...

It looks like rain.

What is the part of speech of"rain" in the following sentence (1)? (1) It looks like rain. Is it a noun? AppleRead More...
Used literally, the word "rain" is a noun: What's that on the window? "” It looks like rain Idiomatically, it could be perceived as a verb: "” It looks like [it's going to] rain. But the most likely part of speech is noun, since there can be other similar nouns in that position. Examples are from Google. "” Well just looked at the weather forecast for this weekend and it looks like thunderstorms Saturday and Sunday...not the best of camping conditions. "” Looking at the current weather...Read More...

'Deliver' or 'delivery'?

This question has been sent in by Soraya. I am really curious about signs that say: FREE DELIVER. Is this right? Shouldn't it say FREE DELIVERY? I couldn't find the word "deliver" as a noun, but only as a verb. I am correct?Read More...
The sign is not English. If it had the two words transposed it might make sense: "DELIVER FREE" ("We deliver free.") In this case the word "free" would be an adverb. It's possible that the signs are written by non-native speakers. The correct form is "FREE DELIVERY." Marilyn MartinRead More...

Antecedent in a nonrestrictive relative clause?

This post from Ananja was inadvertently removed from the board, and is herewith reposted. Marilyn Martin posted August 28, 2004 08:39 AM I've recently come across an interesting sentence from a news article. It says: Thailand had slaughtered 30 million birds, about the same number as Vietnam , where at least 14 people have died of bird flu and which reported two more cases of the disease. (Reuters) It seems to me that where and which share the same antecedent, Vietnam . What intrigues me is...Read More...
There's nothing anomalous about the sentence. It has an appositive ("about the same number as Vietnam") and a nonrestrictive relative clause modifying "Vietnam." An appositive is not a full nonrestrictive relative clause, although it can be considered a "reduced" nonrestrictive. The same applies to two or more nonrestrictives in a row, each modifying something in the previous one. There's no rule against using the last noun in a nonrestrictive relative clause "” or in an appositive, as in...Read More...

'In the grounds' or "on the grounds'

Hello everybody, Can I say, ˜He is somewhere IN the grounds' when grounds means land or gardens round a building? Can I use ON instead of IN? Thank you. Aneeth PrabhakarRead More...
Yes, you might say :He is somewhere in the grounds" referring to lands or gardens round a building, as in these examples from Google.: "¢ SCULPTURES in the grounds OF THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF AUSTRALIA. The front of the National Gallery of Australia, from the corner of ... rubens.anu.edu.au/student.projects/garden/nga.html – "¢ The Crystal Palace/ The Great Exhibition of 1851 ... Three-quarter size models of the parliament buildings of Empire and Commonwealth countries were erected in the...Read More...

It/I feel (like) the flu.

Hello, teachers! A. I'm not feeling all that well. / What do you have? / [____] B. I'm not feeling all that well. / What's wrong with you? / [____] Would you please tell me if these are all acceptable in the blanks? [Meaning; It seems I've got the flu.] 1. It feels like the flu. 2. It feels the flu. 3. I feel like the flu. 4. I feel the flu. Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
In your first conversation, you could say: A: I'm not feeling all that well. B: What do you have? A: It feels like the flu. The other sentences listed do not quite fit. You might also say, however: A: I feel like I have the flu. Or A: I think I have the flu. The second sentence could be answered in this same way, with any of these responses: "It feels like the flu," I feel like I have the flu," or "I think I have the flu." The sentences "It feels the flue," I feel like the flu" and "I feel...Read More...

'Dreamed' or 'dreamt'

Last night I (dreamed/dreamt) that I was doing a century ride on my bike. What is the difference in usage between 'dreamed' and 'dreamt'?Read More...
The American Heritage Dictionary* lists the forms of dream like this: "¢ v., dreamed or dreamt (drÄ•mt), dream"¢ing, dreams. _______ Garner's Modern American Usage** has this entry: "¢ dream has the past-tense and past-participial forms dreamed and dreamt. In both cases, dreamed is slightly more common in American English, dreamt much more common in British English. _______ Practical English Usage*** notes the following differences in verb forms between British and American English: "¢ burn,...Read More...

compound noun or possessive "of"?

One of my students asked me to distinguish these sentences. But I'm unsure about the proper way to explain to them. Maybe experts here can give me a hand. 1. We're learning how to solve the computer problem 2. We're learning how to solve the problem of computer. 3. We're learning how to solve the problem for computer.Read More...
Sentence 1, with the phrase "the computer problem" is correct. The phrase "computer problem" refers to a problem (singular) involving one computer, a few computers, or several computer. The word "computer" modifies the noun "problem." All the examples below are from Google. "” American said it had to cancel about 100 flights on Monday as a result of the scheduling mess caused by the computer problem. "” In New Brunswick, about 10,000 public servants, including Premier Bernard Lord and...Read More...

'Left school' -- completed or not?

When you say someone left school, does that mean he graduated or he dropped out? We'd never know what level of education, would we? James left school in 1993. AppleRead More...
The available evidence is inconclusive. It suggests that in the U.K. "leave school" can mean the same as "graduate," or it can mean the opposite: "drop out of school without graduating." In the U.S. "leave school" does not imply graduation; it usually means not finishing all the requirements for a diploma. The more common term in the U.S. and Canada for leaving school before completing one's studies is "drop out (of school)." Dictionary sources are not consistent on the subject. For example,...Read More...

Preposition + '-ing' + '-ing' possible?

henrique
A friend of mine showed me a composition and asked me to confirm if it is possible to have the following statement: "in spite of my being having...". Is? it possibleRead More...
No, the sentence is not possible. You could use the possessive with the gerund form of "be" after the preposition "in spite of ," as in these sentences from Google: · ... In spite of my being a self-confessed Lord of the Rings obsessive, I did not think for a single moment of this film - what is Frodo doing here? ... · ... I had a great childhood and high school was great in spite of my being overweight, mainly because I am blessed with a great family and parents who truly love ... Or, you...Read More...

'Olympic Games' -- 'is' or 'are'?

I've heard 'the Olympic Games is/ has/ was,' as well as 'the Olympic Games are/ have/ were.' And, 'the Games is/has/was,' and 'the Games are/ have/were.' To complicate the matter, announcers have said 'Every Games....' 'Olympic Games' -- singular or plural? Thank you. HowardRead More...
The topic of the Olympic Games is very current. The Grammar Exchange responded to this very question – whether or not "Olympic Games" as subject takes a singular or plural verb – on June 30, 2004 (see that posting). The phrase "the Olympic Games" usually takes a plural verb, as in these examples from current news articles: "¢ The Olympic Games include nearly all the countries in the world, and competitors from all take part in many of the events. They all abide by the same rules. ... "¢ ...Read More...

'Check that...' or 'check whether'

Which one is correct? A) I want you to check that you have locked the door. B) I want you to check whether you have locked the door or not. Which one do you choose -- "that" or "whether"?Read More...
They're both correct, but "check THAT..." is different from "check WHETHER..." A very similar query was posted on June 30, 2004, about "check THAT vs. "check IF." "Check WHETHER" is a slightly more formal version of "check IF"; otherwise they mean the same thing. Here are Kis2337's query and the response: Hi! Good afternoon! I've got a question. Would you please answer it? Check that the landing area is safe. Can I use 'if' instead of 'that' in the sentence? THANKS A LOT! The expressions are...Read More...

What's their intent(ion)?

Yesterday, while waiting in line at my bank, I noticed a sign that read, "It is our intent to provide prompt access to funds deposited by customers." It got me to wondering: Could they have used intention instead of intent ? Is there a difference in meaning between the two words? Was their choice of words intentional?Read More...
PromegaX's instincts match this definition from the American Heritage*: in·ten·tion SYNONYMS intention, intent, purpose, goal, end, aim, object, objective. These nouns refer to what one plans to do or achieve. Intention simply signifies a course of action that one proposes to follow: It is my intention to take a vacation next month. Intent more strongly implies deliberateness: The executor complied with the testator's intent. Rachel _______ *The American Heritage Dictionary of the English...Read More...
×
×
×
×