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Verb forms in questions

Why is it that sometimes helping verbs are necessary in forming questions and sometimes they are not? example - "who visited you?" vs. "who did you visit?"Read More...
A simple way to look at it is to consider the following. In general you don´t need to use an auxiliary/helping verb when you´re interested in the performer of the action, in other words, in the subject part of the answer: Who visited you? Many people visited me Who usually wins? Bob usually wins Who has been practicing? Everybody who wants to improve has been practicing Who will go? Some people will go Who would have prefered to stay? A few people would have preferred to stay What...Read More...

The noun "curiosity"

I read something today which I thought would be considered grammatically wrong in standard textbook English, but I wasn´t totally sure. It was a sentence where the noun "curiosity" was followed by the preposition "of", followed by a gerund; something like: "He no longer has the curiosity of reading tourist guides". I´m aware that one can be "curious about something" or "curious to do something" or there may be "curiosity about something" but is it normal to say "have the curiosity of doing...Read More...
You are correct in stating that the preposition "about" follows "curiosity." This definition of curiosity would be "a desire to know or learn," as in "We're very curious about the source of his funding." It may be, however, that the sentence you are remembering does not mean curiosity *towards* something, as "curious about" would mean. It may be that "curiosity" is a synonym for "peculiarity" or "strange or odd aspect," which is one of the definitions in the American Heritage Dictionary of...Read More...

"Was being"

Hallo, It`s greenrat again. I`ve got a question to ask. When do we say "He was being unfair / He was being funny"? What is "being unfair"? Gerund or participle? And what do we need that structure for? Is it past continuous or not? I mean why would we use it instead of simple past like "he was unfair"? Thank u / wish u all the best yuri greenrat@yandex.ruRead More...
In "Understanding and Using English Grammar, Third Edition," by Betty Azar, there are these words as part of an explanation of "as/is/are being + adjective" on Page 17: "...(b) Jack doesn't feel well, but he refuses to see a doctor. He is being foolish. (c) Sue is being very quiet today. I wonder if anything is wrong." The short explanation that goes with those examples is: "Sometimes main verb "be" + an adjective is used in the progressive. It is used in the progressive when it describes...Read More...

Regret doing == regret having done?

S1 I regret having called him a thief, but I regret even more his stealing my watch. S2 I regret calling him thief, but I regret even more his having stolen my watch. S1 comes from the Longman Contemporary English-Chinese Dictionary (1988:1186), an English dictionary with Chinese translation. S2 is my imitation of it. Do S1 and S2 have the same meaning? (I think they mean the same because, in these sentences, what one regrets is something that has already taken place.) Thank you.Read More...
Yes, S1 and S2 have the same meaning. As you know. "regret" + the gerund refers to a time in the past. The meaning of the verb "regret" ensures that, when used with the gerund, the situation referred to is in the past: (a) I regret leaving my job. (b) I regret marrying too young. (c) I regret not being kinder to my old grandmother. These sentences have the same meaning as (d) I regret having left my job. (e) regret having married too young. (f) I regret not having been kinder to my old...Read More...

"Who is..." or "who are..."

When you ask, "Who is coming to your party?" but you know there will be many people, why do we use "who is" rather than "who are"? There must be a simple answer to this, but I can't seem to come up with it. Thanks for your help, Lois Bascom loisbascom@schooloflanguage.comRead More...
(Rachel, I couldn't reach you by email.) It is true that Q1 and Q3 are the default question patterns with regard to S1. When we use them, we do not presuppose what the "what" is and the number of it and both a singular and plural answer are acceptable. What I intended to say in my previous post is that, sometimes, we might presuppose the number of the "what". Such presuppositions might occur in both questions and statements. Students often have difficulties in understanding the subject-verb...Read More...

Phrasal verb: "put up with "

I am attending an Applied Linguistics class this spring at the School for International Training (SIT). This week we've been engaged in a lively debate about a particular phrasal verb. Here goes... "put up with" Is it a verb + particle + particle or verb + particle + preposition? We've been using "The Grammar Book" by Marianne Celce-Murcia and Diane Larsen-Freeman as our main resource. Our instructor has encouraged us to explore other avenues of enlightenment outside of our text. We hope you...Read More...
Dear Richard, I don't know the answer to your question. The term particle is used in various ways by various grammarians and dictionary writers, it seems to me. The Collins COBUILD dictionary says "put up with" is a verb + adverb + preposition. I think that seems a good analysis. In a phrasal verb, a particle can be either a preposition or an adverb, depending on its function. So "put up with" = verb + particle + particle OR verb + adverb + preposition OR verb + particle + preposition? Are...Read More...

Modals and simple pres/past with expressions of urgency

Originally posted March 28, 2003 11:10 PM I found in a corpus that in "suggestion-that clauses ""must","could","might" can also be used. e.g. ...suggestion that she ought to have a man to knock round and look... ...suggestion that it would seem more natural for her to summon Sophy Viner... It is the same case with "essential that" clauses: ...suggestion that any one are... her could be sick.... ... a Reference Number will be given and it is essential that this number is written in the space...Read More...
Some modal auxiliaries-- notably should in British English--as well as the simple past and simple present tenses of verbs, do occur in noun clauses after 1) verbs of suasion like suggest and 2) adjectives of urgency such as essential , but they are used in different proportions in AmE (American English) and in BrE (British English). In addition, the simple present and simple past of verbs in the noun clause, rather than the subjunctive form, are sometimes found in AmE and very often in BrE.Read More...

Special meaning of "though"???

Needless to say, word soon spread about Nivea in A&R offices across the country. Both manager and artist had their sights set on Jive Records, though impressed at the company's incredible winning streak through such acts as Britney Spears, R. Kelly, Nsync, The Backstreet Boys and Joe. The above sentence is an excerpt from an article about Nivea Hamilton. You can see the whole article at http://www.hiponline.com/artist/music/n/nivea/ I have 2 questions about this sentence. 1. What does...Read More...
1. It has no special meaning- it was misused. "Though" is usually used to demonstrate to opposite conditions/situations: "Both artist and manager didn't want to sign with Jive Records though they were impressed by its track record." Another way to say it would be: "Although the artist and manager were impressed by Jive's achievements, they still did not want to do business with them." 2. "Impressed" is used with the preposition "by". Hope this helps.Read More...

"Fruit" -- always a noncount noun?

Can "fruit" be a count noun as well as a noncount noun? Kayn Karyn.DeParis@adelphia.netRead More...
Two more common words of the similar nature: food and tobacco. Generally known as non-count nouns, they also occur in the plural when it comes to different kinds of foods or tobaccos. Chuncan FengRead More...

"The third" or "a third"?

We usually use "the" with ordinal numbers. But sometimes "a/an" is used with them such as "a third" and so on. What is the difference between "the third" and "a third" ? Thank you. KenRead More...
It seems to me that "a third" plus a singular noun does suggest "yet another ..." or "one more ...". A non-native speaker of English, I often fail to express myself.Read More...

"Whole nother"

This may not actually be a "grammar" question, but it's an interesting phenomenon: Why do we often say "a whole nother" instead of "another whole," as in, "The piece of cake was so good, I ate a whole nother one"? Susan sgzamora@hotmail.comRead More...
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language (Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company) has this entry for "nother": noth·er (nÅ­TH'É™r) adj. Informal . Other. Usually used in the phrase "a whole nother," as in the sentence That's a whole nother story . [From alteration of ANOTHER (interpreted as "a nother").] RachelRead More...

Names of sports teams -- singular or plural?

What about plurals in the use of sports teams: The Bulls are a good team. The Magic is a team from Orlando. During World Cup soccer, many announcers were using sentences such as, "The U.S. are in the quarterfinals." Is this a difference in British/American/World English? Jon jlath@lssm.orgRead More...
The question of subject-verb agreement with the names of sports teams has come up before, and was addressed on the old Newsgroup. Here is a passage from the Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English * (BrE=British English; AmE=American English): "Another special case is the use of plural concord with singular proper names where they denote sports teams: Reg, see where Tottenham are in the league? (CONV) England have been here almost a week, practicing every day in sauna-bath temperatures...Read More...

"Supposed to"

Do sentences with "was/were supposed to" always signal past unfulled expectation? Suzan suzanoni@metu.edu.trRead More...
Be supposed to expresses both expectation and mild obligation. Quirk et al.* describe it thus: "As [a semi-auxiliary], be meant to and be supposed to have meanings similar to those of ought to ..." (Section 3.47, note (b)) Examples of the expectation meaning, from a Google search, include — Mr Haider said that the equipment, which was supposed to arrive by June 14, would now be here sometime next week. — He was not supposed to die. It was not his destiny. He was supposed to recover from this...Read More...

"Used to" -- which auxiliary

Which auxiliary refers to "used to": "did" or "was"? A: I used to be a French teacher. B: Really! I did, too. OR B: Really! I was too. What I want to say is "I was, too." Is it correct? Barbara barbara@bsml.comRead More...
The auxiliary that represents "used to" in a short answer is normally "did," as in: A: I used to live in Chicago. B: I did , too! A: The Smiths used to have a comfortable retirement plan. B: A lot of people did , before the recession. A: I used to teach French. B: Really! I did , too. However, there is an exception: when "used to" is used with "be." In this case, the auxiliary is "was" or "were": A: I used to be a student in Chicago. B: I was , too. A: The Smiths used to be rich. B: A lot of...Read More...

Modals of possibility

Which one of the following modals expresses the highest level of probability: may, might or could ? What's the difference: I may go to the store I might go to the store I could go to the store? Please give examples and explanation. Szilvia szekelyszilvia@hotmail.com [This message was edited by Grammar Exchange on April 06, 2003 at 08:01 AM.]Read More...
"May," "might," and "could" are used almost interchangeably to express the possibility that something will happen. Your three sentences above mean the same thing – that maybe you will go to the store. There is a very slight difference among these words. According to Michael Swan* "may" is a little stronger than "might": " Might is mostly used as a less definite or more hesitant form of may , suggesting a smaller chance – it is used when people think something is possible but not very likely.Read More...

Noun clauses beginning with "that" in subject postion

How common are that noun clauses in subject position in written academic discourse? Do you include information from corpus research? Thank you. Suzan suzanoni@metu.edu.tr [This message was edited by Grammar Exchange on April 06, 2003 at 07:49 PM.] [This message was edited by Grammar Exchange on April 07, 2003 at 06:46 AM.]Read More...
It's best to take the questions in reverse order: Do [we] include information from corpus research [in our responses to questions]? Yes. The Grammar Exchange team uses the Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English by Douglas Biber and four other authors,* which is an excellent source of information from corpus research. The corpus used by the team of authors"”known as the Longman Spoken and Written English Corpus (LSWE)"”consists of more than 40 million words, representing four...Read More...

"As if" + which form of verb?

Which is correct, and why? He looked as if he saw a ghost. He looked as if he had seen a ghost. Ingrid holm@acad.umass.eduRead More...
Both sentences are correct, but, because the verbs have different aspects, they have different meanings. The verb saw in 1) indicates "same time," while the verb had seen in 2) indicates "previous time." 1) He looked as if he saw a ghost (at that moment) With past context "as if" sentences, if the verb in the subordinate clause is in the simple past, the time reference of the two verbs is the same: the "looking as if" and the "seeing" are both past; they occur at the same time. (Sentence 1)...Read More...

"Going home"

Why do we say: "I'm going home " and NOT "I'm going to home "? We say: "to the store,""to the airport" -- why is "home" different? Susan smiller@bement.orgRead More...
The word "home" is a common noun, of course. However, "home" also functions as an adverb. "Home" in the sentence "I'm going home" is an adverb. As an adverb it means, according to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language*, "At, to, or toward the direction of home: going home for lunch ." There are several adverbs used to express position or direction which are like "home," (and as adverbs, appear without a preposition or an article) including abroad, around, ashore, away,...Read More...

"Graduate" or "graduate from"

Which is correct: I graduated from high school. I graduated high school. Jan jansears@hotmail.com [This message was edited by Grammar Exchange on April 05, 2003 at 10:35 AM.]Read More...
Several, if not all, grammar references and dictionaries* accept only graduate from , and not just "graduate." The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage states this: A person may graduate from a school or be graduated from it. But never They graduated high school For interesting background, see the attachment from Atomica Online (bolding and underlining supplied by Rachel). _______ Rachel * The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style , Oxford University Press, 2000; The American...Read More...

Pres. perf. simple vs. pres. perf. continuous

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 3/14/03) Could you tell me which one is the correct answer of the sentences below? Why? 1) Somebody has been eating/ has eaten my chocolates. There aren't many left. 2) Thank you very much for the camera.I have been wanting/ I have wanted it for ages, Hakan BüLKEN serhannevin@ttnet.net.tr [This message was edited by Grammar Exchange on March 24, 2003 at 10:46 AM.]Read More...
Reposted (and slightly edited) from old Newsgroup on April 5, 2003 The last part of Sentence 1 gives a clue as to which form of the verb to use. There aren't many chocolates left, but there are some, so the entire supply of chocolates has not been consumed. Therefore the speaker would not say "Somebody has eaten my chocolates." That would be said only if there were no chocolates left at all. Because the speaker sees evidence of chocolate-eating activity, but sees that not all the chocolates...Read More...

'Will' after 'if' and 'when'

I would like to take the opportunity to ask something about a different point. It is sometimes emphasized in grammar books that using "will" is not possible after subordinating conjunctions such as "if" and "when". I think this happens only when you´re talking about true adverbial clauses, but not in the case of noun clauses and adjective clauses. After all, even though it´s considered ungrammatical to say things like "I will go with you tomorrow if I will have time", and "When he will...Read More...
Gisele's intuitions are sound. There's a lot to say about the "rule" against using will after if and when . As Gisele says, in a true conditional clause, English uses the simple present to refer to the future: ∑ If I have time I will go with you (correct) ∑ ?If I will have time I will go with you tomorrow (not correct) Similarly, we do not use will to indicate future time in a when -clause: ∑ When he arrives tomorrow I'll tell him about it (correct) ∑ ?When he will arrive tomorrow I...Read More...

Subjunctive *with modals* in noun clauses?

In the Blue Azar, it is stated that with subjunctive noun clauses, "should" and "ought to" are acceptable in the noun clause. I teach my students that no modals are acceptable -- that the noun clause verb must be in the base form. What are others doing? Diane christod@scc-fl.eduRead More...
To clarify one point: Ought to is not used either in British English or American English noun clauses after verbs and adjectives of urgency. The "blue Azar" says "In British English should + simple form is more usual than the subjunctive." (p.263, note) The book does not mention ought to in such clauses. Marilyn MartinRead More...

Adverbial and noun phrases

Is it right to say that generally speaking, when we have - ing noun phrases, the -ing word is a gerund (and the noun phrase can be replaced by a noun), and in -ing adverbial phrases, the -ing word is a present participle (in which case the ing phrase cannot be replaced by a noun). Are the following ways of classifying the words/phrases correct? While going there, he came up with a good plan while going there = adverbial phrase while = subordinating conjunction going = participle After...Read More...
Gisele asks: Is it right to say that generally speaking, when we have – ing noun phrases, the – ing word is a gerund (and the noun phrase can be replaced by a noun), and in – ing adverbial phrases, the – ing word is a present participle (in which case the – ing phrase cannot be replaced by a noun). Grammar Exchange: Yes, this analysis is correct. Sometimes one finds mixed constructions , such as "He was accused of driving erratically," which are discussed on this board below, under the title...Read More...

Interrogative form

(Reposted from old newsgroup on 2/13/03) Do the two following questions have the same meaning? (1) Had you seen him? (2) Hadn't you seen him? Can I use both of the above sentences to replace the other in any given context? Elevation i_hagerty@hotmail.comRead More...
Had you seen him? Hadn't you seen him? The first question, affirmative, is open: it assumes a 50-50 chance of the answer being either yes or no. The second, negative, question is different. It carries two possible meanings: Is it the case that you hadn't seen him? Is it not the case that you had seen him? To illustrate the two different meanings, look at these exchanges: 1) A: I was appalled when I saw Mike the other day. He had grown a horrible moustache that makes him look terrible. B: Oh,...Read More...

"Formula" sometimes doesn't make sense

What's wrong with this sentence? As soon as I finished my homework, my brother broke his arm. Reason for question – some grammatically correct language fits a "formula" but doesn't make sense. How can I bridge between the formula/rule and the resulting real meaning (or meaningfulness) of the sentence? Rachel Burns r_silver@yahoo.comRead More...
The sentence you constructed does follow an acceptable grammatical pattern, based on a "rule" or "formula," but it doesn't have logical meaning. Language use is based on communication of ideas. The eminent Danish linguist and grammarian Otto Jespersen wrote in the early twentieth century that one could construct any number of grammatical sentences that would be totally nonsensical, giving the example sentence "Your horse had been old," which is perfectly grammatical but devoid of any real...Read More...
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