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Idioms meaning "everybody"

Dear experts, I feel there's a slight difference in meaning between the following idioms but have difficulty pinpointing it: ALL HANDS AND THE COOK ALL THE WORLD AND HIS WIFE Thank you, YuriRead More...
These two expressions – "All hands and the cook" and "all the world and his wife" – both mean "everybody." _______ "All hands and the cook" is a phrase from the old American west. According to a web site called "Old West Slang," it is "a cattle-range phrase meaning ˜everybody – the whole outfit, even the ornery cook.' " According to another web site called "The American Cowboy," the phrase was used as an emergency call usually to prevent a stampede. It seems as though "all hands and the...Read More...

Noun + noun -- "baby food," "men's clothes," and more

We've been wondering why noun+noun phrases starting with "baby" don't seem to take the possessive form while other "age groups" do: cf, baby food, baby talk, baby clothes with children's books, men's clothes, etc.Any help will be appreciated.Read More...
Oh--I should have made it clear that the comments were about only one kind of noun-noun combination. The noun compounds in the question are those in which the second noun represents something intended FOR the first noun. That is, children's books are books FOR children; men's shoes are shoes FOR men; baby clothes are clothes FOR babies, and cat food is food FOR cats. There are myriad other relationships entailed in noun-noun combinations--far too many for us to treat here. An elephant tusk,...Read More...

"The father of the bride"

Hello, teachers! Please explain these to me. [1] What is "the father of the bride/groom"? [2] Why isn't it "the bride's/groom's father"? [3] Why is it "the advent of Christ", not "the Christ's advent"? [4] Why is it "the resurrection of the dead", not "the dead people's resurrection"? Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
The term "father of the bride" is used when talking about the role of the bride's father in a wedding ceremony. In a traditional Western ceremony (this is not always the case in contemporary weddings), the bride is "given away" by her father. It's an "institutionalized" form. The corresponding term for the bride's mother in a wedding is "mother of the bride," since it is the custom for the bride's mother to be seated by an usher just before the ceremony begins. No corresponding term is used...Read More...

The double possessive

Hello, teachers! Would you please tell me which is correct? 1. Those students of Mr Smith('s) are going to the gym. 2. A cousin of my wife('s) is coming to visit next week. And how about these? 1a. Those students in/of Mr Smith's class are going to the gym. 2a. One of my wife's cousins is coming to visit us next week. I think these [1a & 1b] sound more natural. What do you say? Thank you very much. Best regards.Read More...
Here are postings on the double possessive from the Grammar Exchange Newsgroup of November, 2002: Topic: Possessive apostrophe with 'of' Conf: The Grammar Exchange From: GrammarExchange Date: 22 November 2002 01:35 The construction with "of" plus a possessive noun or pronoun– known as the double possessive, the double genitive or the post-genitive – is sometimes used to indicate one among others. If we contrast your sentence (1) with sentence (1a): (1) We know a lot about this achievement of...Read More...

Answers to "Why are you late?"

Hello, teachers! A; Why are you late? B; Sorry! [______] Which can we use in the place of [______] as an excuse? 1. I was at the bank this morning. 2. I visited the bank this morning. 3. I went to the bank this morning. 4. I have been to the bank this morning. I think these are all possible. Am I right? Or should I leave out "this morning" in #4? Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
"I went to" and "I was at" are OK. "Visited" is not natural in describing a trip to the bank. "I have been to" seems to report on a trip to the bank as the fulfillment of a commitment ("...and that errand is out of the way now"). None of the answers, however, qualifies as an excuse. Just having been at the bank isn't a reason for being late. The speaker would have to supply further information, such as ...and the lines were unbelievably long ...and someone picked my pocket with the money I...Read More...

"To call someone [nickname]"

Hello, teachers! Would you please tell me which is the correct expression? 1. Grandpa still calls Mom [a young lady, a pimple/pizza face]. 2. Grandpa still calls Mom [young lady, pimple/pizza face]. 3. Grandpa still calls Mom [Young Lady, Pimple/Pizza Face]. Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
The following seem right: Grandpa still calls Mom a young lady. Grandpa still calls Mom a pimple face. Grandpa still calls Mom a pizza face. Grandpa still calls Mom "young lady." Grandpa still calls Mom "pimple face." Grandpa still calls Mom "pizza face." In the first group, the object complement – a young lady, a pimple fact, a pizza face – could be considered (by a stretch of the imagination) as a category. Grandpa could be thinking of Mom as a young lady, or as a pimple face, or as a...Read More...

'Some' with a singular count noun

Hello, teachers! Can I use 'some' as a meaning of 'an unfamiliar' instead of the indefinite article? 1. Some/A boy was sitting on the bench crying/weeping. 2. There was some/an old man jogging with Jessica. 3. I bought it at some/a shop in Soho. Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
This is the "stressed" version of the determiner "some." It is not like the "unstressed" one (I bought some yogurt for my cat). It expresses not only unfamiliarity, it can also expresses indifference, a lack of interest in the noun. It says, in effect, "I don't know who or what this person/thing is, and I don't care." The person or thing is not of interest to the speaker. All three sentences are possible with "some," but Sentence 1 with "some" would not lead to a further description of the...Read More...

"In" or "for" with "for a long time"?

Would like to ask the difference between in a long time and for a long time. Here are the examples: I haven't seen her for a long time. I haven't seen her in a long time. Thank you!Read More...
Whether to use "in" + a period of time or "for" + a period of time is a popular question! The Grammar Exchange received a question on this topic earlier this year, and posted a comment on February 12. We are reposting that question and response here: Q : Dear All, Are the following sentences correct ? If yes, what is the difference ? 1) I've not eaten for 3 days. 2) I've not eaten in 3 days. Thank you. Ricky _____ A :"For" is always correct to measure the duration of a period of time, so...Read More...

"Wide of the mark" or "wide off the mark"?

Hello Experts, In" be wide of the mark" why is it of and not off Some clearification would be helpful.. ThankRead More...
The correct preposition in the idiom is "of"--wide OF the mark. The preposition OF in "wide of the mark" seems to be akin to its use in expressions like [to the] left of [to the] right of The American Heritage ®Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000 at http://www.bartleby.com/61/77/W0147700.html has this to say about the idiom: WIDE [...] 4a. To the side of or at a distance from a given boundary, limit, or goal: a shot that was wide of the target. b. Baseball Outside. c.Read More...

Which wording is best?

This question has been sent in by Lina: _______ Hello I really appreciate having kind help here. Now I'd like to rewrite #1. Would you check #1~5? #1 If he had not employed me then, I would still be out of work. #2 If he had not hired me then, I would still be out of work. #3 If he had not given me a job then, I would still be out of work. #4 If he had not given me work then, I would still be jobless. #5 If he had not taken me then, I would still be out of work. Especially I wonder if you...Read More...
#1-4 are all correct and clear. The verb in #5 is not clear. The other sentences are meaningful, but we don't know, without a context, what "had taken" means. If you mean "had hired," you could say "If he had not TAKEN me ON then, I would still be out of work." RachelRead More...

"Between" vs. "among"

Hello, teachers! Thank you very much. Would you please tell me which is preferred, between or among? 1. What's the difference [between, among] this, that, and the other thing? 2. What's the difference [between, among] those five models? Enjoy the warm spring. Best Regards.Read More...
In both cases, "between" is correct. There are distinctions between "between" and "among." One rule most people have heard is that "between" is used to express a relationship between two entities, and "among" is used to express a relationship between more than two entities. However, this is not always the case as this usage note from the American Heritage Dictionary* explains: USAGE NOTE According to a widely repeated but unjustified tradition, " between is used for two, and among for more...Read More...

Sentence with "unless"

Hello!I have question about how to use "not unless". I go to the conversation school. On a lesson, my teacher taught me this: Will you take your umbrella tomorrow? - I won't take it unless it rains. But naturally in conversation, it can be shorter: Not unless it rains. I can understand this very well. Then, how about this? Will you go to Okinawa tomorrow? (no abbreviation) - I'll go there unless there is a storm. In this case, i thought Yes unless there is a storm. But teacher said "No." To...Read More...
Note that Sentence 1 has a negative statement, a pause, then "not unless." The "not in "not unless" is a condensed version of the negative statement, and stands for "I won't go." Compare I won't apologize to him--not ("I will not apologize to him") before he apologizes to me The manager didn't give her a raise for years--not ("he didn't give her a raise") until she took her case to the management The original question was Will you go to Okinawa tomorrow? The only way to use "not unless" in...Read More...

Past participle as adjective?

Dear All, Question 1) Is the word 'preached' in the following sentence an adjective ? "Every Sunday they gather round to hear the Word preached." Question 2) If it is an adjective, is the following sentence identical in meaning: "Every Sunday they gather round to hear the preached Word." Thank you very much. RickyRead More...
The word "preached" in Ricky's first sentence is a past participle. it's the (passive) complement of the verb of perception "hear." It's like Every Sunday they gather to hear [someone] preach the Word Compare: Let's go to the park and see the statue of Martin Luther King unveiled = "see [someone] unveil the portrait of Martin Luther King" In contrast, if we put the past participle before the noun it becomes an adjective denoting a state resulting from the action: Let's go to the park and see...Read More...

"I've thought that WAS..." and "I've thought that IS"

Dear All, Please tell me if my analysis of the statements is correct : 1)"I've always thought that was what she meant." Analysis : Up until the point of utterance, that was what I thought but I'm not so sure now. 2) I've always thought that is what she means. Analysis : I continue to think so and I'm sure. Thank you. RickyRead More...
In Sentence 1, I've always thought that was what she meant ...the speaker has until now thought that "she" meant ["something"] at that time and may or may not still believe it. The sentence could be followed with either ...and I still do OR ...but I'm not so sure about it any more [now that I know more about her situation] To make it clear that the speaker no longer thinks that "she" meant "that," the speaker would say I HAD always thought that was what she meant (but now I'm not so sure...)...Read More...

How to express an earlier time

This question has been sent in by Lina: _______ Dear teacher I'd like to ask two questions about #1. #1 He is not what he was ten years ago. Question 1: Can I use "before" instead of "ago" like #2? #2 He is not what he was ten years before. Question 2: Can I rewrite #1 to #3? Does #3 sound strange? #3 He is not a man who was ten years ago. Yours truly, LinaRead More...
All of Andala's paraphrases are correct. More needs to be said now to answer Lina's questions. Sentence 1 has a present time context. The adverb "before" with a stated time period does not work in a present context. "(X amount of time) before" needs a past context. It would be correct to say He wasn't what he had been ten years before If we eliminate the expression of the time period, however, we can say He is not what he was before The what -clause in Sentence 1--"what he was"--is a nominal...Read More...

"Numbers of" vs. "a number of"

1. Numbers of people visited the fair. 2. A number of people visited the fair. Dictionary.com says 1 is correct, because numbers = A large quantity, a multitude. Any comments?Read More...
Both sentences are correct. You are correct to say "numbers of people" to mean a large quantity, a multitude*, as in your first sentence and in these examples from Google: "¢ New Prevalence Study Suggests Dramatically Rising Numbers of People with Alzheimer's Disease (a headline) "¢ Medicare Agreement Would Make Substantial Numbers Of Seniors And People With Disabilities Worse Off Than Under Current Law (a headline) "¢ Numbers of Americans With and Without Health Insurance Rise, Census...Read More...

Reiterative pronouns: "that that"?

I am confused about the use of the demostrative and relative pronouns "that" and "which." for example, the following looks suspect: Arno said that that boat was his own Arno said that...that boat is his own The focus is first in the statement and then in that the boat is his his property. Lara told Pipin that which was her car was now smashed unrecognizable. Thank you for any answers you can give me.Read More...
I thank you very much for your expert answers. The sentences you gave me are very precise and much better than the originals. I hadn't noticed that sometimes I use older (outdated) English. I am so fond of such wonderful American writers like Poe, Hawthorne, and Thoreau, that I am often tempted to use old styles, even if deemed antiquated by modern readers.Read More...

"An" or "the" with ordinal number

The sentence below is modified from a news article published in a respectable newspaper. "Deputy Democrat leader is not the only one confused by the revolving door at the Prime minister Cabinet, which this week was reshuffled for an incredible eighth time." It seems to me that for should be followed by the , not an here. Is it acceptable to write the sentence this way?Read More...
The indefinite article is often used with ordinal numerals, but with a specific meaning. Ordinals are usually used to specify the order of something in a set, e.g. She was the third child in a family of eleven. The sentence from the news article above shows another, different, use--to introduce a noun phrase that does not occupy an existing place in a set but instead occupies a new position that did not exist before. For this reason it is not "old" information but "new" information, which...Read More...

Phrasal verbs -- rules for separable and inseparable?

Are there any rules to follow to categorize separable and inseparable phrasal verbs? Thank you!Read More...
A relevant question about phrasal verbs was asked last year on the Grammar Exchange Newsgroup. Actually, it included 6 questions, which are numbered and addressed here. It was posted by Gisele: "To answer your questions very briefly: 1- the particle might either be a preposition or an adverb Yes. 2- in the case of separable phrasal verbs, the particle is always (usually?) an adverb (take off your shoes, take your shoes off, take them off) It depends on your definition of "adverb." Quirk...Read More...

Past Simple/Past Continuous

Hello, 1) What were you doing last night? 2) What did you do last night? In the first sentence I am expected to say what was happening at every moment during the specified time. However you might not be doing the same activity for the whole night ! Because if you are talking about one completed action after the other then one has to use the past simple ! Right? In the second sentence I talk about each completed activity. Am I correct in understanding it like that? I can not really understand...Read More...
Another use of the past progressive is to allude to a long stretch of time, without reference to any certain point: What were you doing last night? Your car was gone and your lights were out. --I was out with some friends. Who was doing all that loud talking last night? I couldn't get to sleep until after three. Marilyn MartinRead More...

"On most days" + which tense?

Dear All, What is the difference between the following 2 sentences please ? 1) On most days, she talks about her job. 2) On most days, she will talk about her job. Thank you. RickyRead More...
"On most days" is one of many frequency expressions that introduce repeated or characteristic behavior. The question is about how repeated or characteristic behavior is expressed in the present after frequency expressions such as "on most days," from time to time," "often," "ever morning," and so on. The two verb forms in this kind of context are similar but have some slight differences. The simple present, e.g. "...she talks about her job," after expression of frequency shows habitual,...Read More...

Comma before "but"?

Hello, From the sentence: Thai food is not only delicious but also inexpensive. I wonder if it fine to add comma before but to read: Thai food is not only delicious , but also inexpensive. Thank youRead More...
According to several references, sentences like yours with "not only...but also" connecting two parallel elements do NOT have a comma. Here are examples with parallel adjectives: "¢ Many board games, electronic toys, and computer games are not only enjoyable but also educational*. "¢ It would be not only unwieldy but also unworkable**. Another reference joins two adjectives with "not only...but also" WITH commas: "¢ The place was not only cold, but also damp.*** _____________ There appear to...Read More...

Past perfect tense

Dear All, Please take a look at the following sentence: "From time to time,I come upon a note from someone I'd long forgotten." According to the text books, the past perfect is used to show that one thing in the past happened before another thing in the past. Question:in the above example,the past perfect (I'd long forgotten) suggests another event in the past. What is this past event ? Thank you. RickyRead More...
The omitted past event would refer to your coming upon the note. So a more complete sentence could be: From time to time, I come upon a note from someone that until the moment I came across the note, I had long forgotten. or From time to time, I come upon a note from someone, whom I had long forgotten until the moment I came across the note. RachelRead More...

Adverbs bad?

I have doubts about the use of adverbs. Is it bad or vulgar to use them in formal writing? I even learned that many American teachers tought their students that adjetives are the "enemies" of nouns and adverbs are the "enemies" of verbs and everything else. Whay is this enmity? Are these sentences bad or badly written? Joe came dangerously close to the house Betty talked prematurely The laborer painted the wall partially The bus is slightly too largeRead More...
There's a most entertaining article on this very subject at http://chronicle.com/free/v50/i24/24b01301.htm It's from The Chronicle of Higher Education, and presents both sides of the debate. Marilyn MartinRead More...

"My vacation last summer"

Hello, teachers! Would you please tell me which expression(s) is/are correct? 1. Where are you going to spend [this summer vacation, this summer's vacation]? 2. [My summer vacation of 2003, My last summer vacation, My last summer's vacation, My vacation last summer] was really great. Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
1. Both 2. All howardRead More...
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