All Forum Topics

What about it?

Dear experts, Would you concede that the expressions below are NOT interchangeable in any of their meanings: what about it what about that what about it - 1. is used as an expression of annoyance: Martha said: 'That boy is wearing a green coat.' Ian answered: 'What about it?' 2. is used as an inquiry as to the course of action: Your head keeper says we must have two guns apiece. Now - what about it? 3. (euph.) is used as an invitation to make love: The woman giggled... 'Come on, what about...Read More...
In the example sentences, sentence 2) could also be, "How about it?" It could also very well be "What about THAT?" Sentence 3) is not correct; the expression would be, again, "HOW about it?" "How about it?" can refer to any kind of action which has already been defined by the context. Finally, "What about that!" and "How about that!" are both used to express surprise, admiration or praise, as in your example. Now, how about -- "How 'bout them apples?" RachelRead More...

Literal vs. metaphorical: expressions with "wink"

Dear experts, Can both expressions give someone A wink give someone THE wink be used both literally and figuratively, for according to a dictionary: give someone a wink – wink at smb. in order to give a private signal of some kind: ˜I'll never believe there was anything between him and Mum...' ˜Don't make me laugh,' Vic said, giving Tom a wink. give someone the wink – (fig.) let a person know smth. quietly; give smb. a hint: I'll give you the wink when it's safe to come in. Thank you, YurRead More...
"Give someone A wink" is an expression indicating that something is a joke or a secret. "Give someone a wink" or "give something a wink" also means "just wink at," and can be used as an expression to mean that a rule or law is not going to be taken seriously, that loopholes will be found. In the Grammar Exchange's references, the expression "give someone THE wink" does not appear. However, if you readers find this expression, please post it here. Here's one, though, entered as British...Read More...

Inversion after "than"?

I know that in most cases, there is no inversion of subject and verb after "than." For example: Tom is taller than I (am). Jan reads faster than I (read). or Jan reads faster than I (do). However, there are some sentences in which we do need to invert the subject and verb after "than." For example: The infants of humans are more helpless than are those of most other animals. Are there rules about when we need to invert the subject and verb after "than"? In the above examples, are there...Read More...
Inversion after than , as shown in your example, is now considered very rare and deprecated by some grammarians. Burchfield (1996)* states that "In certain kinds of comparative (followed by than ) clauses: Poland's power structure included neither more nor fewer Jews than did the power structure in Romania or in Hungary. This type was censured by Fowler. Visser (p.170) traces the construction back through the centuries to Chaucer but admits that it has always been rare." This inversion is...Read More...

Not in it!

Dear experts, could you comment on the phrase NOT IN IT as used here: Have you seen his new BMW? - The old Opel isn't in it! Is this expression current? Thank you, YuriRead More...

Parentheses

1. My voicemail box, and 70,000 other boxes in Austin, is down until tomorrow. 2. My voice mail box and 70,000 other boxes in Austin are down until tomorrow. What are the differences between the above two? Can parenthetical verb phrases be added? _____Read More...
In sentence 1 -- with the commas after "box" and "Austin"-- the subject is singular: voicemail box. This sentence would be similar to: My voicemail box, as well as 70,000 other boxes in Austin, is down until tomorrow. My voicemail box, together with 70,000 other boxes in Austin, is down until tomorrow. The verb is singular. ___________ Sentence 2 has a plural subject: My voice mail box and 70,000 other boxes. The verb is plural. _______ Sentence 1 could have the additional material in...Read More...

As

(1) As virtually all the nation's 50 busiest airports are, New York's were built for an age of propellers. (2) New York's were built for an age of propellers, as virtually all the nation's 50 busiest airports are. Can the (2) be written as (1)?Read More...
If the context is very clear, sentence 2) could be interchanged with sentence 1). Usually, however, the subject is stated in the first clause. An interchange like this might be possible, clearly showing the context first: A: Are all airports obsolete? Even New York's airports? B: New York's were built for an age of propellers, as virtually all the nation's 50 busiest airports are. As an introductory statement, though, and for perfect clarity, only 1) would be a beautiful sentence. RachelRead More...

Taking stands

Dear experts, 1. Would you agree that the expressions below are interchangeable in only ONE and not both meanings (simple YES/NO would be fine): take a stand on something take the stand on something take a stand on something - (also: take one\'s stand on something) adopt a firm position concerning smth.; assert one\'s point of view: He sent a selection of newspaper pieces to the authorities with the request that they take a stand on the matter. take the stand on something - 1. vouch for...Read More...
To reply to Yuri's questions about take a stand on something take the stand on something: _______ take A stand on something - (also: take one\'s stand on something) adopt a firm position concerning smth.; assert one\'s point of view He sent a selection of newspaper pieces to the authorities with the request that they take a stand on the matter. "¢ Yes, "take A stand" is good here, but NOT "take one's stand." _______ take THE stand on something - 1. vouch for smth.; stand surety for smth.:...Read More...

Tense sequence or conditional ?

Dear all, Please take a look at the following sentence : "The article reported that Britain's most famous museums and art galleries might lose their government grants unless they MANAGED to attract more visitors from ethnic minorities and low-income families." Question : Is it 'managed'( past tense ) because the writer is following the "tense sequence" or because it is "conditional" ( in that the museums and galleries have not attracted more visitors from the ethnic minorities and low-income...Read More...
The writer is following the sequence-of-tenses-rule. Try this: Change the reporting verb to the present tense. Start the sentence with "The article REPORTS. Then the sentence naturally flows like this: The article REPORTS that Britain's most famous museums and art galleries might lose their government grants unless they MANAGE to attract more visitors from ethnic minorities and low-income families." ______________ "Unless" is used in conditional sentences to mean "if not." According to...Read More...

Prepositional phrases in appositives

The net is filled up with saying that appositives are nouns. Quirk and Greenbaum[1] made an interesting observation: Prepositional phrases may thus be non-appositive or appositive, and in either function, they can be restrictive or non-restrictive: This book on grammar (non-appositive, restrictive) This book, on grammar(non-appositive, non-restrictive) The issue of students grants(appositive, restrictive) The issue, of student grants(appositive, non-restrictive) I am interested in seeing...Read More...
Thank you, Rachel for the explanation. How do one distinguish between appositive phrase/clause and restrictive phrase/clause, as Quirk and Greenbaum showed different combinations?Read More...

Cause-effect

What is the difference between 1 and 2? 1. About twice a month, having accumulated enough evidence , the police would feel obliged to stage a raid. 2. About twice a month, on having accumulated enough evidence, the police would feel obliged to stage a raid.Read More...
Almost no difference. "ON having accumulated enough evidence" (as well as "UPON having accumulated enough evidence") implies that the police took their action immediately after the accumulation of evidence, whereas without the preposition, they might not have acted immediately. RachelRead More...

In that, in case that, in which case

Do the following subordinators mean the same? in that in case that in which case in the event thatRead More...
"In that" means "because": "For the reason that, because, as in In that you will be busy for the next few weeks, let's go over your paper now. * "In that" can be used to introduce a dependent clause either before or after the main clause. _______ "In case that" and "in the event that" both mean "if something should happen." "...... If it should happen that. For example, In case[that] he doesn't show up, we have a backup speaker . ."* In this sentence, you could also use "in the event (that)...Read More...

Part of speech of "Come"

Consider the sentences below: Come Christmas morning, some women will find more than a little sparkle beneath the Christmas tree. Come Christmas Eve, he will visit four churches between 4 and 11 pm to participate in services. I wonder what is the part of speech of come in these situations.Read More...
What an interesting discussion! PromegaX's explanation is indeed elegant. I have found additional support for both statements: that "come" is a verb and that "come" is a preposition in the sentences. _______ In Quirk*: "Present subjunctive come is used in a temporal clause (generally initial) without a subordinator: Come winter , we'll have to pay a good deal more for vegetables and fruit. [˜When winter comes,...' " _______ In the Collins COBUILD English Dictionary** "You can use come before...Read More...

May you stay longer?

Hi - I was looking at the older postings and came across the one below (page 11). Goodbye, George. May you and John be together forever. How can "may you" be explained? We tell our students, when discussing modals, that "may you" does not exist. We use ""May/Can I?" and "Could/Can/Would/Will you?" Is it incorrect to say the following? (permisison or possibility) 1. May you come to the party tonight? 2. May you sing with us? 3. May she stay? 4. May they leave their bags here? ThanksRead More...
The post of Tes is related to the another one--part of speech of "come". From http://www.orlapubs.com/AL/L8.html 1. May she win (optative may) 2. She may win (potential) 3. Whoever she may be (concessive)Read More...

Contrast: "but" and "although"

What are the differences between but and though/although, other than subordination-coordination.Read More...
Please consider the following two sentences: Although these products are expensive, retailers have no problem selling them. These products are expensive but retailers have no problem selling them. You can see that although they are very similar in meaning, although and but are with different parts of the sentence. As illustrated here, we use but to show an unexpected result or a result in contrast to our expectation, whereas although is used to show a situation that has a surprising result.Read More...

Adverbial Participle

Could somebody shed light on using participles as adverbs in EnglishRead More...
This phrase, as well as the examples in my previous posting, are adverb phrases, or what Betty Azar calls "modifying adverbial phrases" in Chapter 18 of Understanding and Using English Grammar. Rachel _______ *Understanding and Using English Grammar, Third Edition, by Betty Azar. Prentice Hall Regents. 1999Read More...

Gerund vs. Infinitive?

Dear experts, Would you confirm that the use of gerund or infinitive in the sentences below is not random (i.e. gerund and infinitive are not interchangeable there) without detriment to the meaning: regret doing something regret to do something regret doing something - feel sorry to have done smth.: I don't regret leaving my last job at all. regret to do something - be sorry that one must do smth.: Dr. Wimpole regrets to say that he cannot answer readers' letters. remember doing something...Read More...
Yes to all. The gerunds and infinitives of these verbs vary in meaning exactly as you have described them. RachelRead More...

Meaning of "keep its peace"?

Dear experts, When the expression KEEP ITS PEACE is used with reference to a country does it refer to keeping peace inside the country or to refrainig from warfare, or both meanings may be possible? What about: Mr. Izetbegovic keeps convincing the public that the rejection of the Belgrade agreement was his great victory, since Bosnia has kept its peace. Thank you, YuriRead More...
It appears that either meaning may be possible. Depending on the context of your sentence, the reader would probably understand one way or the other. Here's a definition of "keep THE peace": "Maintain public order; prevent strife. For example, President Clinton ordered troops to Bosnia to keep the peace . This expression dates from the 1400s and was originally used more in the first sense, that is, of police keeping public order. It gained extra currency in the second half of the 1900s when...Read More...

Dated or current euphemism: "on one's way"?

Dear experts, Is the euphemistic expression ON ONE'S WAY familiar to contemporary speakers: on one's way - pregnant (also: on the way): The party is gone, fellow Hector, she is gone; she is two months on her way. Thank you, YuriRead More...
"On one's way" refers to travel, or a figurative journey: "¢ He's on his way to Italy. (He's on the plane now, for example.) "¢ She's on her way to being the president of the organization. She's very ambitious, and is, indeed, brilliant. _______ About an expected baby, you could say: "¢ A baby is on the way! (A baby is figuratively in transit now.) We're expecting a baby/ boy/ girl in May. In your sentence above, you could say: "¢ The party is gone, fellow Hector, she is gone. She's...Read More...

"Get" and "be"

Hi, I'd like to know about the difference between get and be. 1)I'm nervous. I'm excited. 2)I got nervous. I got excited. Thank you.Read More...
The new example sentences that Poobear has written need context. Here's some context: "¢ I was excited a while ago, but now I am bored/ am getting bored/ have gotten bored.. "¢ I got excited a while ago, but now I am bored/ am getting bored/ have gotten bored. "¢ I was getting excited a while ago, but the doctor calmed me, and now I am relaxed. "¢ I used to be/get excited about things, but I've lost interest and now I get bored very easily. (In this sentence, when you say "I get bored,"...Read More...

Syntactic category of "it"

What syntactic category does IT in the following sentence belong to? I am fine with the meaning of the sentence. I just want to be able to explain what that IT is when asked. How do you like it here? mitsukoRead More...
The Collins BUBUILD* has this entry, among 12, for "it": "You use it with some verbs that need a subject or object, although there is no noun that it refers to. Of course, as it turned out, three-fourths of the people in the group were psychiatrists....I like it here....We live in a world in which only the strongest can make it to the top. " So this "it" in your sentence, " How do you like it here?" is a singular pronoun, direct object of the verb "like," representing a kind of amorphous...Read More...

Which tense when talking about someone who has died?

Hello, I'm sorry to ask a question about a sad topic, but which tense do I use when talking about someone who has died. I ask this because in obituaries,I often see the past and present tense being used. For example : The following sentence is from Elvis Presley's obituary: "Sources close to the Presley routine said he has recently been a heavy cocaine user." Why is it 'has' and not 'had' as Elvis is already dead? We also read 'He is survived by his wife and daughter.', but we say "He had 2...Read More...
In your example, you are correct in observing that "had recently been" would be the appropriate verb phrase following "said." Although "has been" might be used in reported speech after "said," in a sentence like this (not from an obituary)-- Sources said that there has been a lot of recent activity, and that more can be expected – it is possible only because there still could be more activity. Certainly there was no possibility at the time the obituary was written that the deceased Elvis...Read More...

Sharing a meaning: "get onto someone" and "get to someone" ?

Dear experts, Many thanks for the previous and I'd rather you relied more on your native speaker's 'feel' and not so much on dictionary data which, as often as not, lags behind the actual usage and is mostly prescriptive in nature, whereas I am after describing 'what is' and not what 'should be'. Now, would it be right to assume that the expressions below share only ONE meaning in common? Just try substituting one for the other and see in which cases it may 'jar' on the 'sensitive native...Read More...
The impressions below are off the top of my head. My comments are preceded by bullets. get onto someone - 1. get in touch with a person: I'll have to get onto Sarah about the deadline. "¢ Both. 2. scold or reprimand smb.: She's always getting onto the children for one thing or another. "¢ Neither one: She's always NAGGING/ GOING AT the children... 3. keep asking smb. to do smth. and so bother or annoy the person: She's been getting onto me for a year to buy her a new coat. "¢ Neither one:...Read More...

"Was" or "am" or both ?

Hello, Please take a look at the following sentence - 'You must have seen that I WAS no longer the thoughtless person who had urged you to do selfish things ?' I'm inclined to use 'AM'. What do you think ? Many thanks. Regards, RickyRead More...
The time frame is past, as shown by the verb must have seen . The usual practice is to continue the past tense in the dependent clause, following the "sequence of tenses" principle, even though the statement in the dependent clause continues to be true in the present. If the speaker wishes to focus on the fact that the speaker is still, at the present moment, "no longer the thoughtless person who had urged you do do selfish things," the speaker may use am : You must have seen that I am no...Read More...

"In" and "for": interchangeable?

In the following examples I have gleaned from the corpus, are IN and FOR interchangeable? In (2) only In seems to sound natural, but in others both seem to sound acceptable. Any comment would be appreciated. (1)Many hostages hadn't eaten in days and were immediately given dinner, Russian Television reported. (2)ISI says the system is particularly valuable in accelerating cash flow. An invoice that once was processed in days or even weeks can be processed within minutes after delivery has...Read More...
"In" in your first sentence -- "Many hostages hadn't eaten in days and were immediately given dinner, Russian Television reported" – can be interchanged with "for." Michael Swan explains in Practical English Usage*: "After negatives and superlatives, 'in' can also be used to talk about duration. This is especially common in American English. I haven't seen him for/in months. It was the worst storm for/in ten years ." Your sentence # 1 fits this category; "for" could be used interchangeably...Read More...
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