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"If" or "whether" to introduce a noun clause

"It will be determined if the team has won." This sentence appeared in a text book as "correct," but I feel that it's wrong because "if" cannot head a noun clause. Am I correct? LukasRead More...
Even though I´m still in the process of getting acquainted with the English language (I wonder if there will ever be a time when I will be able to say that I really "know" English well!), it seems to me there´s nothing inherently wrong about starting a noun clause with "if". Actually, what a coincidence, I have just used one ("if there will ever be ..."). ("Whether" is also possible, but I think it doesn´t necessarily need to be used). I think the following sentences, which contain a noun...Read More...

Omission of the definite article with a singular count noun

I understand a title of an organization "Office of ..." needs a definite article, such as "the Office of Student Affairs" unless it is in the headline, where "the" can be omitted. I found, though, expressions like "Students need to apply to Office of Student Affairs..." Is this use, "Office of ..." without "the", in a sentence acceptable? Thanks Ken600 [This message was edited by Grammar Exchange on April 01, 2003 at 07:54 PM.]Read More...
Yes, abbreviated styles occur not only in headlines, but in informal notes, some advertisements and instructions, and commentaries. These abbreviated styles leave out articles or a form of the verb "be." If your sentence containing "Students need to apply to Office of Student Affairs...." occurs in one of those forms, it is acceptable. If it were to appear in a *letter* of instruction (not the instructions themselves), or a website, or a newspaper *article* (not the headline), it could be...Read More...

After a prepositional phrase which begins a sentence...

"In the next room a man and a woman were having a heated argument." In the text it stated this was incorrect; the sentence should have read, "In the next room were a man and a woman having a heated argument." I think that both are correct and there is only a shade in nuance. "In the next room were a man and a woman...." stresses location. Am I right? Lukas Murphy Lukas.murphy@sunywcc.eduRead More...
You are right that both sentences are correct. Many grammar books prescribe inversion of the grammatical subject and the verb after an initial prepositional phrase. This is often the case, as in Down the street marched the high school band. or On the top of the mountain stood a monument to the first explorer who had climbed it. Such inversion does not always occur, however. In many cases, the natural word order of subject-verb is preserved. Both of the sentences in your query above are...Read More...

Articles with proper nouns

How do you explain "a girl," but not "a Judy"? "The US.A." but not "the Canada"? I know from your books that this is the hardest grammar point for students to acquire. Cathleen Faraj Cathleen.Faraz@fcps.eduRead More...
Article usage in English, along with prepositional usage, constitutes one of the greatest difficulties for learners. There are many rules, which only very advanced learners manage to absorb, and an infinite number of idioms. Articles are never used with names of people, except in one way: the one exception is a case where there is an ellipsis (an omission of something). We say "I saw Judy the other day," with no article, but we can also say "I knew A Judy in high school who looked like you."...Read More...

Phonetics

Can anyone tell me how the pronunciation of a vowel will be affected by the consonant following it? For example, leg is pronounced like 'lig' and egg as 'ig'. (Some native speakers insist that they are pronounced with the e as the e in bed or Ted or FedEx.That means, there is no change.) To me,the properties of 'e' or 'i' seem to have changed when they are followed by 'k' or 'g' as in 'leg' or 'tick'. Does this change take place only when 'e' or 'i' is followed by the velar consonants 'g'...Read More...
Pronunciation varies widely among native speakers of English. There is no single dialect of the language, and even speakers who live in the same geographical area often exhibit differing features in their speech. There are a few common features, however, and the pronunciation of vowels in certain positions in syllables can be described. The pronunciation of some "short" vowels (the [ae] in hat; the [E] in let; and the [I] in bit) varies in length depending on the kind of sound that follows...Read More...

'Goodbye, George. May you and John be together...'

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) A touching note on the occasion of George Harrison's death over the weekend appeared in Central Park's Strawberry Fields. Maybe you saw a picture of this in the newspaper or on television: 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?"Read More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) This "may you..." is a different kind of "may" than the modal "may" that you refer to. This is an example of may you used for wishes and hopes, the same kind of may that is expressed but ellipted in "God bless you." This kind of may is often used when speaking in a religious or semi-religious way, or when wishing for things for the recently departed. It is also used to wish good things for somebody in a rather formal way. The structure has the...Read More...

Subject-verb inversion with 'nor'

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) The blue Azar, Third Ed. introduces coordinating conjunctions for combining independent clauses (page 355, chart 16-3). there are examples given for each of the conjunctions except for 'nor'. My students asked me to give an example using 'nor', which I did. Then we realized that the subject and verb are inverted when using 'nor' in this construction, but they are not inverted for the other coordinating conjunctions (and, but, so, for, yet). examples:...Read More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) "Nor" used at the beginning of a clause causes the clause to change to question word order. This inversion happens not only with "nor," but also with other negative and near-negative words and phrases, such as "never," "rarely," "seldom," "scarcely," "not until," "hardly ever," "only if," and "neither." The inversion occurs in the independent clause. In the following examples, the first sentence of each group of two, (a), shows the normal word order;...Read More...

What is the plural? 'Mouses' or 'mice'?

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) I wonder if the plural of mouse (computer device) is mice or mouses.Read More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) I think that a lot of people wonder about this, and the Grammar Exchange does, too. It's not a question readily answered. The American Heritage Dictionary (Houghton Mifflin Company. 1996) says it's both: "pl. mice or mouses ...Computer Science. A hand-held, button activated input device...." The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style by Bryan A. Garner (Oxford University Press, 2000) has this entry: " mouses - is correct when the reference is...Read More...

The plurals of 'fish' and 'fruit'

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) I wonder what the plural of fish is. Some people told me it is "fish" for different species, but if we are talking about fish of the same kind, we can say "fishes." The same happens to "fruit." What is the grammatically correct answer?Read More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) "Fish" can be a singular count noun, and its usual plural is also "fish." "Fruit" as a singular count noun has the plural of "fruits." For example: (a) Bob and I went fishing and we caught 17 fish. (b) There are four or five fish swimming around in my fish tank. (c) On the tropical island, there are wonderful fruits growing all over. (d) You should eat three different fruits per day. However, both "fish" and "fruit" more commonly appear as noncount...Read More...

'Whole' and 'all' -- interchangeable?

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) In what kind of contexts are the words interchangeable? As far as I understand, the difference between these two words lies in being countable or uncountable. However, we can say: the whole world and all the world. Why is this possible?Read More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) Are these sentences grammatically correct? (a) He ate the whole apple (b) He ate all the apple. (c) He ate all the apples. (d) He ate the whole bread. (e) He ate all the bread. ________________________- Yes, all these sentences -- the whole bunch -- are correct. Sentence (a) would be more common than (b); of course, (c) has a different meaning. Sentences (d) and (e) could mean the same thing. "The whole bread" would be referring to the complete *loaf*...Read More...

'There is' or 'there are' a variety?

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) Would you say: There is a variety of ways in which a vacation can be spent. or There are a variety of ways in which a vacation can be spent. I say "there is" because it has to agree with "variety" (singular), but some say "there are," or that both ways are correct. What do you think? DianeRead More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) My corpus search findings on A Variety of NP & was/were/is/are (my corpus, WEC, a collection of famous literary works, about 50 million words; the sentences, of different patterns, are simplified to save space): Subject-Verb: Singular NP: 5 plural, 2 singular 1. A variety of courses was open to her. 2. when a variety of very select foods and liquids was placed 3. there IS A VARIETY OF new distortions of the adjective to be learned 4. There WAS A...Read More...

'I could/couldn't care less'

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) While reading an editorial in today's New York Times, I found this sentence: "America could care less about that." I have always used that expression as an expression of not caring at all about the subject being discussed. A friend always corrected me and said it should be, "I couldn't care less." Which is correct? jskolnik@nycap.rr.comRead More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) Would you believe....both "could care less" and "couldn't care less" mean the same thing: to be completely indifferent. Here is the entry from Atomica*: " couldn't care less Also, could care less . Be completely indifferent. For example: Pick whatever dessert you want; I couldn't care less. I could care less about the editor's opinion. This expression originated about 1940 in Britain and for a time invariably used "couldn't." About 1960 "could" was...Read More...

'Expect' and 'hope'

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) I'd like to know all the possible uses of the verbs "expect" and "hope" and if there is any important consideration about them. Thanks. María Elisa Sánchez. alvarezsanchez@cpenet.com.arRead More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) I don't know of "all the possible uses" of the verbs "expect" and "hope," but here are some comments on the principal differences between them. The American Heritage Dictionary* gives "hope" as a synonym for "expect," along with "anticipate" and "await." "Expect" is defined as "to look forward to the likely occurrence or appearance of someone or something: You can expect us for lunch. "Hope" is defined as "to look forward with desire and usually a...Read More...

Noun clauses in indirect speech

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) I would appreciate your reply on the apparently simple error in the sentence: I'd like to know what did he say. Obviously, the correct form is: I'd like to know what he said. However, I am not sure exactly which rule of grammar is being violated. Do you think the following is correct? ˜What did he say' is used when ˜what' is being used to ask a question, whereas in ˜what he said', ˜what' means ˜that which'. Thanks in advance. Hoping to hear from you soon.Read More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) This last statement about "that which" is partly accurate, and partly not accurate Let's look first at the difference between direct and indirect questions, wh-questions in particular, although the rules for the verb are generally the same for yes-no questions. Direct questions are characterized by inversion"”reversing the order--of the grammatical subject and the "tense-carrying" element of the verb. In the case of the verb be, nothing need be added,...Read More...

'During' and other prepositions

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) What about prepositions that cannot be followed by gerunds, such as "during"? Are there other cases? GiseleRead More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) Hmm - some food for thought! Thanks! Gisele São Paulo, SP BrazilRead More...

Gerund or Participle

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) I have a sentence as follows: That girl is guilty of premeditatedly killing her dog. I want to know whether "killing" is this sentence is a participle or a gerund. Thank youRead More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) Thank you for such an eye-opening explanation! Gisele São Paulo, SP BrazilRead More...

Nouns as adjectives

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) I wonder if it is correct to say 'women jobs'? Wouldn't it be better to say 'woman jobs'?Read More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) You are absolutely correct to want to say "woman jobs," since the usual way to use a noun as an adjective is in the singular. Examples of this common way are apple tree and apple trees , shoe store and shoe stores , and child psychologist and child psychologist . However, there are exceptions to this "rule." One of the exceptions applies to the words "man" and "woman." Unlike most nouns, when "man" and "woman" are used as adjectives modifying a plural...Read More...

'Didn't use to' or 'didn't used to'?

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) On page 52 in the grammar box, there is "Didn't used to" and "didn't use to." We have always taught "didn't use to." If there is not a consensus, why put it in the book? It really messed up my students. Has anyone seen the same structure in other grammar texts? Unless a thorough linguistic data base is assembled, we should refrain from teaching our students something which departs from the "standard written language". Thanks. Osmond Duffis-SjogrenRead More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) The following was sent from Betty Azar. The text comes from the Teacher's Guide to Fundamentals of English Grammar, p. 25. It refers to CHART 2-11: EXPRESSING PAST HABIT: USED TO. _______ "Interestingly, investigation into the question and negative forms of used to showed that there is no consensus on which forms are correct: did you used to vs. did you use to and didn't used to vs. didn't use to. Some references say one is correct but not the other...Read More...

'Much less interesting'/ 'much less fat'

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) Hi My question might sound a bit stupid & primitive for so called native speakers, but anyway I have to ask it. I know that I can say a phrase like : this book is much more interesting than that one. Or: far more interested/a lot more interested than that one. But can I say : this book is much/a lot/far less interesting than that one? Would the second phrase be grammatically correct? And what about short adjectives like "fat, sad" ? I guess , I...Read More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) This is a correction to Rachel's posting. Because Rachel's "summary" of my answer above contains some inaccuracies and confusions, I will again state my conclusions as they were written. Rachel says "Greenrat's question and Marilyn's answer address two things: 1) "Less" is used with long adjectives, but not with short ones." No, I said that "less" is indeed used with short adjective. But it is not used nearly as frequently as it is with long...Read More...

'It's me' or 'It's I'?

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) I know that "It is I" is correct, yet I hesitate to use it. And, I always hear "It is me." What is correct, and, what should I say? Thanks. MC in New York State [This message was edited by Admin on March 13, 2003 at 09:01 AM.]Read More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) In the sentence "It's me," "me" -- an object pronoun -- is in the position of predicate nominative. The edit predicate nominative is supposed to be in the subjective case -- "I," for example -- like the subject, according to Latinate grammar rules. The sentence, strictly speaking, should be "It is I" or "It's I." However, a person seriously using "It's I," or "It is I" in informal speech in the conversation you describe might be considered affected.Read More...

Reduction of adjective clause to adjective phrase

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 2/13/03) I have a question about page 290, chart 13-5, letters (e) and (f) of the Advanced Azar. I was wondering if you might know a more precise rule to explain when it is possible to omit the subject pronoun and change the verb to its -ing form when changing an adjective clause to a phrase. I am helping a student prepare for the Toefl test, and he recently asked me why it was not possible to write, "It is gravity pulling objects toward the earth," instead of...Read More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 2/13/03) The first sentence It is gravity that pulls objects toward the earth is indeed a cleft sentence. A cleft sentence has the "dummy" subject it and a form of be , plus a dependent clause. The dependent clause in a cleft sentence looks very much like a (restrictive) adjective clause, but it is not. Several features distinguish this kind of clause from a restrictive adjective clause*. For one thing, the introductory words in this kind of clause are usually...Read More...

What is aspect?

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 2/13/03) Hi! I'm a second year student,and I cannot understand what is the category of aspect? What is the difference between aspect and tense?I've consulted Longman Contemporary Grammar,but still,it's not clear for me. AnonymousRead More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 2/13/03) This topic would take much more space than we have here to explain fully, but here is a brief snapshot. The distinction between tense and aspect in the English verb system is described by Celce-Murcia and Larsen-Freeman* thus: "Two qualities verbs have are tense and aspect.... tense traditionally refers to the time of an event's occurrence...while a typical aspect distinction denotes whether or not the event has occurred earlier (perfect aspect) or is...Read More...

Singular or plural verb?

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 2/13/03) Researchers have found a combination of substances that helps you to lose weight without post-reduction problems. The above sentence uses "helps" as a singular verb of "that" ( which can represent either "substances" or " a combination of substances"). Is it correct to use "helps" in this particular sentence? ananja ananja@mychi.comRead More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 2/13/03) Researchers have found a combination of substances that helps you to lose weight. ________________ The verb in your sentence can be "helps" if you are referring to the combination that helps. It makes sense if you think of the word "combination" in this way: that researchers have found a combination, composed of substances, that helps you to lose weight. Examples from Google which confirm this kind of thought process are: a) A combination of...Read More...

'Can't have' vs. 'couldn't have

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 2/13/03) Can these two modal perfect forms be used interchangeably or is there any formal usage restriction in either case? I´have found it difficult to explain this to my students.Thanks.Read More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 2/13/03) As you realize, references don't usually address "can't have" vs. "couldn't have" directly. One that does mention it, however, is Betty Azar, in in Understanding and Using English Grammar, 3e (Prentice Hall Regents, 1999). On Page 181, she places "can't have" and "couldn't have" in a chart showing their status on a scale of probability. They are equal. The title of the chart is "DEGREES OF CERTAINTY: PAST TIME," and the section of the chart is "PAST...Read More...

'Results' + ? preposition; 'the' + names of banks

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 2/13/03) Could you mind telling the following sentence is correct or not? Results of ABC Bank, Bank of China and HSBC Bank have been obtained. Thanks Kennethckh kennethckh@hotmail.comRead More...
(Reposted from old newsgroup on 2/13/03) As Rachel points out, "results from " indicates the source of the results. In contrast, "results of " occurs with such nouns as experiment, election, study, search, survey, talks (between parties), pilot program, lottery, improvements, downsizing, shakeup, interview For example: We haven't received the results of the study yet What were the results of your talks with her parents? The noun object of "of" represents an action, process, or procedure that...Read More...
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