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some, any,

How am I supposed to explain the difference between the following pairs of sentences to EFL students? Does one of each sound unnatural? Are there specific situations where one of each sounds odd? 1) I need some money. 2) I need money. (more than clothes and shelter?) 3) She is going to buy some bread. 4) She is going to buy bread. (not rice and pasta?) 5) Does she want any advice? (I'm not sure if she wants some) 6) Does she want advice? (or just information?) Apple.Read More...
Your intuitions about Sentences 1 through 4, and in general about 5 and 6, are absolutely right. When you use the quantifier "some," you have in mind a certain unspecified amount (or number , in the case of plural nouns) of the thing mentioned. If, in contrast, you want to specify only what kind of thing you are talking about, you don't use any quantifier. Sentences 5 and 6 illustrate a slightly different contrast. Actually, there's a three-way contrast: 5. Does she want any advice? (I'm not...Read More...

More than one

Hi,more questions More than one student is/are involved in the incident. does "more than one" modeify a singular or a plural phrase? Thank you from the heart for your time.Read More...
Both singular and plural verbs are used with "more than one," but in different proportions. You will find two very informative threads about "more than one" on the "Questions and Answers" board. The first thread was started on May 02, 2003 with a posting by ananja, titled "There is or there are." It's currently on Page 50 of Questions and Answers. The other thread was started by hogel on August 02, 2004 and is titled "'More than one' and agreement." It's currently on Page 24 of Questions and...Read More...

was living, and lived.

Of the two choices, why is (1) preferred? Is (2) grammatically incorrect? What can I best explain this usage? (1) She was living in Paris when I first met her. (2) She lived in Paris when I first met her. AppleRead More...
The verb "live," together with "stand, sit," and "lie," are called "stance verbs" (Quirk et al., pp.205-6). When they are used in the progressive they indicate a temporary state. Sentence 1 strongly suggests that "she" didn't live in Paris permanently. Google examples: "” said. Wilson and her husband were living in Washington when they first heard about homes made of structural insulated panels. Images ... http://www.constructioncontent.com/ cgi-bin/content/detail_page.cgi?ID=466 "” I was...Read More...

"gotten" VS "got"

One of my students wrote "Since the most important financial city in the United States has finally gotten n back on track, other countries of the Pacific Rim will surely benefit from such an effect. ", and his teacher corrected the sentence and wrote "got", in stead of "gotten". I'm certain of the following phrases where gotten (the participle of "get") is used. He's just gotten the money from the bank. He's just gotten her to do it. How 'bout in idioms, phrasal verbs and other uses that use...Read More...
There's a big difference between the past participles of the verb "get" in UK English (BrE) and American English (AmE). In BrE, the past participle is "got." If the teacher is teaching the students British English exclusively, "gotten" might be frowned on, but it's not "wrong." At the most, it's an American English form that might be considered stylistically inconsistent with the rest of the text. In AmE, the past participle is usually "gotten," but "got" is also used in some expressions,...Read More...

past tense regarding "I was wondering"

A similar question regarding how long the past tense should be maintained. I was just wondering if it was/is possible to come tomorrow. If it was/is possible, i was just wondering if you would/will be available tomorrow? I was just wondering if you'd/will be kind enough to watch this for me while I am/was gone? I was just wondering if Susan was/is there because I am/was supposed to talk to her on the phone now. I was just wondering if you wanted/want me to go now since he is/was here now?Read More...
Many indirect yes-no questions in interpersonal exchanges use the past tense in "I was wondering" as a mark of politeness, by making the utterance more tentative-sounding. If the past tense is used in the included yes-no questions, however, the utterance usually sounds excessively deferential and artificial. Furthermore, clauses about the present that are not the complements of the verb "wonder" are not backshifted to the past. Here are the usual forms, with a few comments: 1. I was just...Read More...

"would" - how long should the "past tense" be kept

I have several questions regarding how long the past tense should be kept in sentenses involving the use of "would" (as I have difficulty explaining it to one of my students). (Some sentences below are purposefully made longer to include more clauses that they might sound a bit awkward.) 1. I'd like it if we were/are friends. I'd like it if we didn't/don't talk about it. 2. You'd think I have/had/would've done it. You'd never think she was/is the daughter of a banker. You'd think there...Read More...
This group of sentences contains several different uses of "would": present counterfactual statement, present request, present suggestions, and expression of present preference. A few of the utterances could be interpreted more than one way. 1. I'd like it if we were friends. This is a counterfactual conditional. Therefore, "were" is correct. I'd like it if we didn't talk about it. Like Sentence 1, this is a present counterfactual conditional. 2a. You'd think I had/would've done it. "Have"...Read More...

To discounts for?

The warning came as the ruling party announced a plan to give its 15 million registered members "high-tech" cards that will entitle them to discounts for products and services from several businesses. Q: Is "to discounts" correct in this sentence? I'm not sure about the function of "discounts" in this sentence.Read More...
"Discounts" is a plural count noun. The verb "entitle" takes a direct object and either an infinitive complement or a to- prepositional phrase as complement. For example "” Your ticket entitles you to sit in Rows U through Z ("to" is part of the infinitive) "” This coupon entitles you to a free soda or small-size popcorn ("to" is a preposition) Google examples: "” The membership fee of $75 entitles you to a variety of valuable member benefits , including Travel Professional magazine,...Read More...

on the other hand, on the contrary.

Are the two phrases interchangeable? On the other hand. On the contrary. AppleRead More...
The two expressions are often classified together as "markers of contrast," but they are in fact quite different in their functions. When you use "on the other hand," the information in the second statement differs in some way from the information in the first. Usually both statements are affirmative, or both negative. Google examples: "” Ms. Golde emphasizes that this is another way that the sciences are structured differently from the humanities. In a science department, students are in...Read More...

Present/past/past perfect in dependent clauses

Dear All, A.The following is from a newspaper in England : "Interestingly, only a few of those present ... had been to Africa.Few seemed to have their facts correct and some even used to think that Africa is one large country. Q: As it is not a general truth ( Africa being one large country ) and the sentence starts off in the past tense, why "is" ? B.Which of the following is correct : 1. Glad to hear that you had had a good holiday. 2. Glad to hear that you had a good holiday. Thank you...Read More...
Sentence A: Either the present or the past tense is OK, although the past tense is more natural. The past tense "was" confines the idea of the people's misconception about Africa to the past situation. It also makes the wrong idea psychologically "remote," since it isn't true. It would also be correct to say "...and some even used to think that Africa is one large country." The present tense of BE is acceptable for two reasons. First, the passage may be relevant to the political realities of...Read More...

Have or has with plural company names

Rachel has asked me to post this question from Joan Frakes: I have a question on has/have. Here is my sentence: Eagle Publications have seven directories closing in September. Do I use have or has? Thank You! MarilynRead More...
In American English, the verb following a company name, regardless of whether the name involves a plural or not, should be singular. The sentence should read "” Eagle Publications has seven directories closing in September. Other examples, from Google: "” Lehman Brothers (NYSE: LEH) is an investment banking and financial services firm. It is a market leader in equity and fixed income sales, trading and research, investment banking, private equity, and private banking. "” Sinauer Associates...Read More...

Position of prepositional phrase

Please consider the phrase below: The box containing the Spanish coins from the 1540s To me, the prepositional phrase "from the 1540s" could modify either "box" or "coins", which leads to difference in meaning. However, someone has argued that this phrase is indeed not ambiguous because the rule of thumb is the prepositional phrase is supposed to modify the noun closest to it; "coins" in this case. What do you think about this argument? Moreover, I suggest the revised version as follows: The...Read More...
The rule of thumb is indeed that the prepositional phrase modifies the closest noun. There's no ambiguity in the original phrase. If the box, and not the coins, were from the 1540s you would write "” The box from the 1540s containing Spanish coins If the coins have not been mentioned previously, however, they're "new" information, and there's no reason for the second "the." The sentence should read "” The box containing Spanish coins from the 1540s (If, on the other hand, the text has...Read More...

beside / besides

Hello, My question is, when the context does not create any ambiguity, and the idea we wish to convey is that of "in addition to", would you say that both "beside" and "besides" are equally fine, or is "besides" still preferable? This is what I found on the dictionary.com site: Some critics argue that beside and besides should be kept distinct when they are used as prepositions. According to that argument, beside is used only to mean "at the side of," as in There was no one in the seat...Read More...
Thanks again, Marilyn! GiseleRead More...

Type of sentence ?

Dear All, Could someone please tell me what kind of sentences are the following ? A."We'd been meaning to do it for ages.The idea was that we leave our London home in January and take over their house in Melbourne for three months." Q: I know "leave" is right but how do you explain the present tense when the rest is in the past tense ? B.Now, as she drove north, she decide she would refuse their offer to stay overnight. Q: A similar question to the one above, but this time, I'm not sure if...Read More...
Sentence B is not right. The verb "decide" should be put in the past form, "decided". Sentence A might be possible - it doesn't sound too bad - it's like saying, "The idea was that we should leave..." - in this case, we're omitting the modal "should", and we're left with the base form, "leave" - i.e., "leave" is definitely not a simple present - it's an example of subjunctive, when the base form is used. This formal structure is normally seen after certain "urgency/asking" verbs (such as...Read More...

such / relative pronoun + "reinforcement noun"

Hello, One of my students recently wrote: "One solution currently being resorted to is the so-called Certification Bodies (CB) Scheme. According to such arrangement one National CB accepts the data and accreditation issued by another National CB member". The part I'm unsure of is the use of "such" – is it grammatically possible? It doesn't sound very bad to me, but I wonder if there's some Portuguese interference at play. If it's actually wrong, I think a possible simple fix would be to use...Read More...
As always, very enlightening and interesting! Thank you! GiseleRead More...

twice the number...that/as + object

Hello, I have some doubts about using "twice". Besides the possibility of a sentence such as, We need twice as many chairs are there are here , Are these other options right? We need twice the number of chairs that are here We need twice the number of chairs as there are here Thanks, Gisele São Paulo, BrazilRead More...
Thank you again, Marilyn. Your comments and examples are always very clear. The way you explained "twice the number (of...) as", highlighting the fact that the of-phrase makes a difference - - was very useful. GiseleRead More...

comma splice

The word 'then' used as a coordinating conjunction to join two independent clauses like the following: 1.- Reba cleaned the house, then she went to buy some groceries. Is the above sentence a comma splice, in which a comma tries to join two independent clauses? Would a semicolon before 'then' or a coordinating conjunction be more appropriate? Are larger constructions, involving a series of 'then,' faulty? 2.- Reba cleaned the house, then she went to buy grocieries, then went back to cook...Read More...
Sentence 1 is correct as written. It would also be correct if it were written as "” Reba cleaned the house and then she went to buy some groceries (There's no need for a comma before "and" because the sentence is brief and uncomplicated.) A true comma splice is the joining of two independent clauses by a comma when they should clearly be written as two separate sentences. For example, it's incorrect to write "” *My tomato plants are thriving, I'm hoping to harvest the first fruits in a few...Read More...

ON SUFFERING

Dear experts, Will it be right to assume that the expressions suffer cold # suffer from the cold refer to different sort of suffering as in: Earlier I was occasionally suffering from cold and headache. We continued here, suffering cold, hunger and other miseries, till the fourteenth day of November. Thank you, YuriRead More...
When you suffer cold or from the cold, you are talking about undergoing the effects of low external temperatures, which affect you badly. "Cold" is a noncount noun. Google examples: SUFFER + COLD "” They stayed there a long time after that, suffering cold and misery on the Maoil, till at last a night came on them they had never known the like of before, ... http://www.dedanaan.com/2005/05/ 16/the-fate-of-the-children-of-lir/6/ "” fishing, hunting or spectator sports. You do not need to...Read More...

DIFFERENT MEN?

Dear experts, Would you discriminate between FANCY MAN and FANTASY MAN? Thank you, YuriRead More...
Marilyn has called my attention to the fact that "fancy man" also means "paramour," or "lover." This is true, so I am adding this here. RachelRead More...

negatives

What does the sentence mean, A or B?: everyone doesn't need to know it. A)No one needs to know it. B)Not everyone needs to know it.(Some need to know it and others not.) Thanks a lot!Read More...
"Everyone doesn't need to know it" is closer to B than it is to A. It is definitely NOT Sentence A. If "no one needs to know it" it means, literally, that no one has the necessity to know something. As it is used, it means that no one SHOULD know it. In other words, keep the subject a secret and tell NOBODY. Sentence B on the other hand -- "Not everyone needs to know it" -- means, literally, that many people should definitely not know it, but a few people can. In other words, only a very few...Read More...

since and ago

Can you use 'since' with 'ago'? For example, 'I have studied English since ten years ago.'Read More...
Here is a comprehensive treatment of "since" used with "ago," previously posted by Marilyn Martin: _______ You'll find a thread on this very topic, started by Hogel, posted April 8, 2004. It contains two questions and two answers, all about "since [time period] ago." Here are my two answers. The expression "since (X) years ago" occurs quite frequently with the present perfect in English. Here are some examples from Google: --Since 12,500 years ago, Glacier Peak has produced only a few ash...Read More...

Verb + object

I wonder how a verb could pass the action to the object in colloquial sentences like these; and if this is a natural way to speak: (The policeman gave Jack a beating to obtain a confession.) 1.- The policeman beat Jack out of a confession (Cindy slapped Jack to get an apology out of him.) 2.- Cindy slapped Jack an apology. 3.- The politician bribed his way to the top. Thank you very much for any clue.Read More...
These sentences contain metaphorical expressions, which don't always obey all the rules of grammar. . First, let's correct a couple of the sentences. The first sentence should read "” The policeman beat a confession out of Jack If you want to make the person the direct object, you have to say "” They beat Jack into making a confession/confessing Similar constructions, in which the direct object is not the thing that is directly acted upon are "” He beat the dirt out of the carpet (he beat...Read More...

sentences are same meaning?

tommy
1. A backhoe which is available onsite has moved the soil in the pit. 2. A backhoe available onsite has moved the soil in the pit. 3. An available backhoe onsite has moved the soil in the pit. which one is the most formal? same meaning?Read More...
All the sentences are correct, and they all have the same meaning. The first one, with the adjective clause, is the most formal. But the others are fine, too. RachelRead More...

today

This should be simple: today is both a noun and an adverb, but one of my students asked why we can't say: "HOw was your today?" instead of "How was your day today?" Is there a clear-cut explanation for this? Thanks, as alwaysRead More...
Very interesting! GiseleRead More...

"with his ship" or "on his ship"

The following is a sentence by L.A. Hill, in an OUP book. Jack was a young sailor. He lived in England, but he was often away with his ship. Is the preposition "with" natural? I would use "on". What do you think? AppleRead More...
You are correct that "on his ship" would be correct. In this case, however, it is also perfectly correct to say "with his ship." "With his ship" can be used to refer to a member of the ship's crew being on the sea on his ship. The man is working and has responsibilities on the ship. You might say that "with his ship" is similar to "with his department" or "with his company." For example, the same man, working for Sony or for Dell Computers might be at a conference "with his department," or...Read More...

Nationality nouns – articles – specific x general (part2)

Thinking again about Marilyn's answer to my original posting written in 2003, "Articles in Generalizations", I was (and continue to be) rather intrigued by the comment on the distinction between what a Brazilian person and a non-Brazilian / someone outside Brazil would say, when referring to the same situation - "...an increase in the production of grains would certainly mean more food for... A Brazilian would more likely continue the sentence like this, ... more food for Brazilians . A...Read More...
Thanks again, Marilyn! I confess I'm not feeling totally confident about having understood everything, but right now I wouldn't even be able to continue asking questions. First I need to properly "digest" the wealth of information, try to put all bits together. Anyway, I would not hesitate to say the Grammar Exchange has been contributing a great deal to my knowledge of the English language. I'm constantly reminded of my status as a learner, which does not bother me at all - actually, one of...Read More...
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