Skip to main content

All Topics

"As long as" vs. "so long as"

(As long as, So long as) I live, I will not forget her. Which is correct? Why? thanksRead More...
Both are correct. Here are definitions for the meaning of "during the time that": "¢ as long as (from the American Heritage Dictionary*): conj 1. During the time that: I'll stay as long as you need me. "¢ as long as (from the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms**) 1. For the period of time that, as in You may keep the book as long as you want, that is, keep it for whatever time you wish to. "¢ so long as (from the American Heritage Dictionary*): conj . During the time that; while: We will...Read More...

Past or past perfect?

I heard that Jean (just moved , had just moved)into a nice condominium overlooking the lake. Which is correct? If both are correct, is there any difference in meaning? thanksRead More...
Neither one is incorrect, but they belong to different time frames, and to different speech registers (levels of usage). Past time frame, standard American English: About two weeks ago I heard that Jean had just moved into a nice condominium overlooking the lake Past time frame, informal American English: About two weeks ago I heard that Jean just moved into a nice condominium overlooking the lake Present time frame, informal American English: I heard that Jean just moved into a nice...Read More...

Let's...

I found the following sentences from CNN: If you are a younger couple without a lot of assets, a joint account can work well. This let's you build together from the ground up . Jeff Opdyke, author of "Love & Money," calls this "financial intimacy." I first thought there was an error mistyping let's for lets here. However, when I did a search in google, I found a number of examples using let's when lets should be called for. I wonder whether this use of let's is grammatical. Thank youRead More...
There is never supposed to be an apostrophe in the third person, present tense of LET or of any other verb. Apostrophes are used in the genitive form of nouns (John's business; a women's college; Mary's portrait) or to indicate the omission of one or more letters of words (You didn't; she's here; we've arrived; let's leave early). The apostrophe in "let's" marks the omission of the "u" in the pronoun us . But Ananja is (unfortunately) correct: I've checked on Google, and, to my astonishment...Read More...

Modifier

Which one of the following is gramatically correct? 1. Traveling the back roads of Hungary, in 1905 Béla Bartók ]began his pioneering work in ethnomusicology. 2. Traveling the back roads of Hungary in 1905 , Béla Bartók began his pioneering work in ethnomusicologyRead More...
A comment on Rachel's reference to some grammarians' classification of the participial phrase as an "adjective": "Traveling the back roads of Hungary (in 1905)" is a participial phrase functioning as an adjective to modify Bela Bartok, according to the description of many grammarians. " This classification can be understood better if we place the participial phrase after the grammatical subject and expand the participial phrase to a (nonrestrictive) relative clause, often called an adjective...Read More...

Psychological immediacy

Does any one feel that (1) below is more psychologically immediate for the speaker? Or is there no difference between the choices? (1)I'm going to Africa next year. (2)I'm going to go to Africa neat year. N.B: (2) is the auxiliary (be) going to + verb.Read More...
The (b) examples also seem to imply that the decision is not as stable as in the (a) examples.Read More...

Conditionals

Dear all, Scenario : 2 teachers, A and B, talking about a student who gave a poor presentation.. A to B : "If he were my student, I would sit him down and go through the presentation with him to show him where he went wrong." - 2nd conditional. Could A have also said : "If he were my student, I would have sat him down and gone through the presentation with him to show him where he went wrong." - mixing the 2nd conditional (If he were...) with the 3rd conditional ( I would have ... ) What is...Read More...
"If he were my student, I WOULD SIT him down and go through the presentation with him to show him where he went wrong." This means that you have the opportunity to do this. You would do it now or at some time in the future. "If he were my student, I WOULD HAVE SAT him down and gone through the presentation with him to show him where he went wrong." This means that you don't have the opportunity to sit him down any more. You've missed it. But if you had had the opportunity to sit him down,...Read More...

Acceptable translation?

Dear experts, Would you say that the apparently translated piece of prose below is acceptable English to be used as a quotation: Tadek shivered at a thought of a sudden storm in such conditions as they were right now, so vulnerable! He would not like to stir up a net of hornets. Or to wake snakes either. Thank you, YuriRead More...
One could also say: "....He would not like to stir up a hornets' nest, nor awaken a nest of snakes"... Don't you think? RachelRead More...

Mindbending grammar

They either arrive in Thursday, or they arrived last night-though originally they arrived on Saturday next. OK in spoken English?Read More...
"They either arrive on Thursday or they arrived last night – although originally they were planning/ planned/ had planned to arrive on Saturday next" would be OK. However, the sentence would be clearer if you changed one of the constructions, at least: They may arrive/ may be arriving/ might arrive on Thursday, or they may actually have arrived last night/ may already have arrived – although originally they were planning/ planned/ had planned to arrive on Saturday next. Rachel _______ BTW,...Read More...

Semantic relevance of the article?: "in charge of" and "in THE charge of"

Dear experts, Would you confirm that we may only say: be in charge of something - be in control of smth.; responsible for smth.: As is the custom with elevator-boys, the lad in charge of the elevator started it before closing the door. but not: BE IN THE CHARGE OF SOMETHING. Whereas we say: be in the charge of someone - be under the care or supervision of a person: She has been in the charge of her grandmother since her mother and father died. but not: BE IN CHARGE OF SOMEONE, or are the two...Read More...
Yes, confirmed. Isn't it strange that "be in charge of someone" means to control someone, yet "be in THE charge of someone" means the opposite – to be in the control of another? ___________ Here are definitions from The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms*" in charge 1. In a position of leadership or supervision, as in Who's in charge here? or He's the agent in charge at the ticket counter. [Early 1500s] 2. in charge of. Having control over or responsibility for, as in You're in charge of...Read More...

An expression: "walk the plank"

Dear experts, Could you comment on the METAPHORICAL, FIGURATIVE meaning of the expression WALK THE PLANK, whose original literal meaning relates to murder by drowning. Thank you, YuriRead More...
I believe this idiom came from the way pirates disposed of their captives in the old days. The pirated tied the captives up and forced them to walk blindfold along a plank laid across the bulwark of a ship. The captives had to keep moving until they became unbalanced,fell into the sea and drowned. Today, this idiom is often used in the meaning of " to be forced out of a job " or to get fired.Read More...

Punctuation and ellipsis in a complex sentence

The following sentence stumped me. Is there any ellipsis in the second clause? 1. It would not show that some people have not survived, and in good health, for twelve years after having been infected.Read More...
The term "ellipsis"covers more than the omission of one or two kinds of sentence element. Quirk et al.* describe several kinds of ellipsis and give examples of each. Their illuminating discussion can be found in Sections 12.30-12.70, on pp.883 to 913. Marilyn Martin *A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (Longman, 1985)Read More...

"For" and "to"

Hello. could you please tell me about the difference between "for" and "to" in showing direction? 1)I have to take my sister to the zoo. I go to school. I got to the station. 2)This is for you. The bus's leaving for Kyoto. I bought them for Christmas. And do they show direction? Thank you. poobearRead More...
Yes, one idiomatic meaning of "go to school" is "attend school," as Reginald has pointed out. Another meaning would be "go" in the more literal sense, followed by the preposition "to," which means "move in the direction of something." Poobear's first sentence could be interpreted either way, depending on the context. The second sentence posted today – "I go (or, "I'm going") to school earlier this morning because I have a lot of things to do at school today" – can mean only that Poobear is...Read More...

Scope

1. Psychologists have advocated that parents discipline male children as they would daughters. 2. Psychologists have advocated that, as they would daughters, parents discipline male children. In 2, the scope of as-clause lies within that-clause, whereas in 1 it can extend to main clause. Your comments/corrections are appreciated.Read More...
The as-clause is within the that-clause. If it were within the main clause it would belong to the verb "advocate," not "discipline." You don't advocate a daughter, you advocate that something be done. Marilyn MartinRead More...

Using "will" or "are". Is it all the same?

As you will be aware by now, Miss Moneypenny is retiring. As you are aware by now, Miss Moneypenny is retiring. Is there a difference in reasoning when using "will be" or "are" above?Read More...
The speaker who says "As you ARE aware by now" leaves no doubt about the hearer's awareness. It's a very direct statement of certainty. You will find it in an utterance like As you ARE aware, sir, we do not tolerate bringing snakes or other wildlife into this restaurant. Please remove this creature from the premises immediately Using "As you WILL BE aware by now" leaves a tiny degree of uncertainty, just enough to avoid making the assertion too direct. WILL BE "downtones" the force of the...Read More...

Synonymous phrases: "knowing ...answers" and "knowing....tricks"...?

Dear experts, How would you differentiate between: know all the answers know all the tricks of the trade People who are successful in one field should be careful about suggesting they know all the answers in other areas. I could tell by the way he directed his helper, that he knew all the tricks of the trade. Thank you, YuriRead More...
"To know all the answers" is "to know everything there is to know." For example (from a Google search): In real life (outside the classroom) the students will be put in situations where they don't know all the answers or they don't know all the words etc. .. Some of the graduate students agreed with Joseph. They were surprised to find they didn't know all the answers . A much more common expression than "KNOW all the answers is "HAVE all the answers." "On Google, "have" in this expression...Read More...

Heading for the hills

Dear experts, Are both of the expressions below current in US English? How would you differentiate their meanings: go over the hills and far away head for the hills Winter in the Highlands is not a time to go over the hills and far away, not if you have any sense. In the smaller cities, better accommodations can be found for half the price of Prague hotels. So head for the hills as soon as you can break yourself away from Prague. Thank you, YuriRead More...
The expressions could be used interchangeably here. They are not necessarily used in a literal sense, although they might be. Both "over the hills and far away" and "head for the hills" are expressions that came into English from songs or movies. _______ "Over the hills and far away" came from a Revolutionary War song. Since then, it has been used in other songs, as well as in phrases just to indicate a far-away place, as it is in your example sentence. Originally it meant to escape to a...Read More...

Functions of "a"

I have found the following sentence in a court procedure report. (1)The plaintiffs' expert testified that the standard deviation for this distribution was 3.83, or a less than a one in one thousand chance of having randomly occurred. (2)This distribution has a less than one in one thousand chance of occurring randomly. My question is what are the three determiners in bold? Are they all grammatically necessary? What functions do they have? appleRead More...
It's no wonder these sentences are hard to interpret. They would benefit from additional punctuation with hyphens. Several of the elements in these sentences that are written without hyphens belong together, since they form a complex premodifier of the noun "chance." Look at this progression, which has the units clearly joined with hyphens, and you will see the function of "a." (The progression of examples is based on Sentence (2), for reasons explained below). (2)This distribution has a...Read More...

"Cannot," "can't," and "can not"

Dear experts, I was told sometime ago that CANNOT or CAN'T is quite different from CAN NOT. I tried to apprehend the difference, but I failed. I tried to find OFFICIAL or FORMAL explanation, such as in Cambridge dictionary or AHD, etc, I did not succeed, either. I wonder if you would give me a hand about it/them. Thank you. Best regards leftRead More...
The usual grammatical explanation is that can't and cannot negate the modal, (negative ability, possibility, or permission) while can not negates the main verb, as in If you want to discourage your ex-boyfriend's calls, you can not answer ("can refrain from answering") the phone when you see his number on the Caller ID Imagine my surprise when I found, on Google, that all three forms are used to negate the modal! The only difference is that with the two separate words, can not , the not is...Read More...

Fronting?

Hi All: (1) What he lacked in formal art training, he more than compensated for in his energy and desire to succeed. (2) He more than compensated for what he lacked in formal art training in his energy and desire to succeed. Are the above two constructions equivalent? Is (1) an example of fronting?Read More...
Thank you very much, Marilyn. First, that sentence stumped me. I recalled your previous post on fronting , which helped me understand the same.Read More...

Similar expressions: "in sight of someone" and "in the sight of someone"?

Dear experts, Would you confirm that the expressions below share only two meanings in common or are they fully interchangeable: in sight of someone in the sight of someone in sight of someone - 1. near enough to see a person: We came in sight of some men, with hay-packs ready for the downward leap. 2. near enough to be seen by a person: The prosecution wanted the officers to testify behind a screen in sight of lawyers and defendants but hidden from the public. in the sight of someone - 1. =...Read More...
Rachel's take on Yuri's sentences at the bullets: in sight of someone in the sight of someone in sight of someone - 1. near enough to see a person: We came in sight of some men, with hay-packs ready for the downward leap. "¢ Only this. NOT "in the sight of." 2. near enough to be seen by a person: The prosecution wanted the officers to testify behind a screen in sight of lawyers and defendants but hidden from the public. "¢ Only this. NOT "in the sight of." in the sight of someone - 1. = in...Read More...

Can "for" be omitted?

Can "for" in the following sentences be omitted? 1. I have lived here (for) 40 years. 2. Have you lived here (for) 40 years? 3. I haven't seen her (for) 40 years. Any rules for the omission? appleRead More...
"For" in expressions of time can be omitted in most, but not all, affirmative utterances. "For" can't be omitted in affirmative utterances with an indefinite plural time expression, as in My husband has no interest in his appearance. He's needed a haircut for weeks I don't know what's wrong with my cat. She's been acting strangely for days Oh, Mr. Cruise, I've been an admirer of yours for ages ! In these kinds of expressions, the omission of "for" is not possible. Marilyn MartinRead More...

Partially synonymous expressions: "fur fly" and "feathers fly"?

Dear experts, Would you say that the expressions below are not FULLY interchangeable, sharing one meaning only: make the feathers fly - (coll.) 1. start working with the utmost vigor or energy: When Mrs. Hale did her spring cleaning she made the feathers fly. 2. quarrel violently; create a disturbance: Let's keep our sense of humor and try not to make the feathers fly in all this controversy. make the fur fly - (coll.) = make the feathers fly 2: When the boss finds out that they failed to...Read More...
"Make the fur fly" does indeed describe a violent verbal confrontation or altercation. "Make the feathers fly" may be a variant of that expression, but I've never heard it. I'm not familiar with "make the feathers fly" in regard to vigorous physical work. Maybe other readers will know more about this usage. Marilyn MartinRead More...

Direct object/indirect object

Hello, Could you please tell me about the following sentences? 1)I'll make you some coffee. I'll make some coffee for you. 2)Cathy bought her boyfriend a book as/for a birthday present. Cathy bought a book for her boyfriend as/for a birthday present. 3)I gave my dad gloves for Christmas. I gave gloves to my dad for Christmas. Do they have the same meanings? And are they interchangeable? Thank you. poobearRead More...
Thank you,Marilyn. I'd been wondering about it. But I think I understand it now. Your explanation is "new" to me. Thanks again. poobearRead More...

But / However

Hello All, Could I get an explanation for the following two sentences please. 1)I learnt French easily, but I didn't like my teacher. 2) I learnt French easily. However, I didn't like my teacher. When does one use however and when but ? Both of them are used for contrast, which one is used when? Thanks in advance.Read More...
It's clear that but in your sentence above functions as a coordinating conjunction. It joins two independent clauses. The tricky part is however in the second sentence. I call this use of however a transitional word . As the name implies, its function is to show a logical relation between two sentences. People tend to confuse it with the conjunction. Transitional words ,such as however, thus, moreover, on the otherhand , indicate only logical relations between sentences, not grammatical...Read More...

Branching off/out

Dear experts, Would you agree that the following phraseal verbs share only ONE meaning in which they are interchangeable: branch off branch out branch off - deviate from an original direction: At the bridge a little road branches off from the highway and follows the river. branch out - 1. (of a tree) spread out into branches: The tree branched out in every direction, casting a vast shadow over the house. 2. = branch off: After a pair of bends in descent the asphalt finishes and the road...Read More...
Your analysis is correct. (The verb in Sentence 2 should be "ends" rather than "finishes.") Marilyn MartinRead More...
×
×
×
×