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"For" & "during"

Hello, teachers! In both sentences, can we use both 'for' and 'during'? 1. I went to the Philippines last year. / How long were you there? / [For, During] the whole summer. 2. He lived in the Philippines [for, during] his whole boyhood. Thank you very much. Enjoy the getting-warmer weather. Best Regards.Read More...
My responses to Hogel's questions in italics: Hello, teachers! Let me confirm my thought, please! [1] We had a good time together [for, during] the five days in Paris. According to the context or meaning, both are possible, but the following are more natural and preferred. Am I right? a. We had a good time together for five days in Paris. Yes, this sentence is fine without the article as you've put it to measure the duration of time in Paris – five days. However, there could also be the...Read More...

"Since[time] ago"

Hello, teachers! I think I was taught that the expression 'since [time] ago' is incorrect and it should be 'for [time]'. However, I often hear that 'since [time] ago' is also correct and common, and on the Internet through Google, I have found so many sentences with the expression. Is it really correct? - Please check my thoughts. I haven't heard of anything about him [_____]. a. since many years ago. [I think this is common, but it is very informal or incorrect.] b. for/in years. [I think...Read More...
A Google search shows what I meant by saying "it's not so common to use "since"; it's more common to use "in" or "for" [with an imprecise time period] (the * indicates "any word"): 1) Haven't * SINCE many years AGO = 0 Haven't * FOR many years = 22,000 Haven't * IN many years = 1,580 2) Hasn't * SINCE many years ago = 0 Hasn't * FOR many years = 663 Hasn't * IN many years = 598 Hogel's example sentences have a negative verb, but here are some figures for the affirmative version ("in" doesn't...Read More...

"Layabout"?

This is a "lie" vs. "lay" question: Why is it that a person who lies around a lot, doing nothing, is a "layabout," not a "lie about"? HowardRead More...
According to The Random House Unabridged Dictionary of English (1977) the noun "layabout" dates from the period 1930-35. It's "[a noun] derived from the use of the verb phrase lay about , [which is a] nonstandard variant of lie about ." For many years speakers of English have used the verb form "lay" ("put, place") when they mean "lie" ("be in or assume a recumbent position"). This usage is very common in spoken English but is still considered incorrect. The noun "layabout" was formed from...Read More...

Past verbs in conditionals

Dear All, Swan in his Practical English Usage writes the following : "Instead of would + infinitive, past verbs are generally used with conditional meanings in subordinate clauses." My question is this : do we change ALL the verbs into past verbs ? For example, take a look at the following sentence ( which does not follow the principle in Swan's): "We do like visiting your websites but we would appreciate it if you slow down and think about what you're doing and where you're submitting to."...Read More...
The example is grammatically correct, with all the verbs backshifted. This includes the two main verbs in the if-clause and the two verbs WERE DOING and WERE SUBMITTING in the embedded what- (noun) clause. The total effect of this ultra-backshift is a high degree of tentativeness, which makes the request ultra-polite. It would also be correct, however, to use the present tense in all the verbs in the if-clause, a usage which would be contrary to prescribed rules. That would be less...Read More...

Past forms for verbs referring to future

I have these future in the past questions that I hope you could help me with: 1) I was wondering if you could tell me where he is now. 2) She promised we would talk about it when I come to your party tonight. 3) She promised me she would come to your party tonight/tomorrow. 4) At first we didn't know if we should approach you. But finally we thought we should let you know that there are other people out there who are against the act too. _______ For the first question, I don't know if I...Read More...
I finally got the idea. Thank you.Read More...
Last Reply By yihu · First Unread Post

"Or" + "be"

When a subject is connected by "or," does the verb always agree with the nearer one? "He and his parents are here" is correct. But what about "You or I am here" or "I or you are here"? What is the verb? RobertaRead More...
Your understanding of the rule is correct. When two nouns, pronouns or noun phrases are joined by or or either...or , the number of the verb is generally determined by the number of the last noun or noun phrase. This is another example of attraction rule (= the verb tends to agree with a noun or pronoun or noun phrase that closely precedes it.) Either the workers or the director is to blame for the disruption. Either the director or the workers are to blame for the disruption. Quite often,...Read More...

The position of an adverbial word or phrase

Hello, teachers! Please help me with these sentences. 1. I met my old friend by accident in a bookstore. 2. I accidently met my old friend in a bookstore. 3. I met my old friend accidently in a bookstore. I think #1 & #2 are natural, and #3 is somewhat uncommon. Am I right? Then what about these? 4. I broke the vase by accident. 5. I accidently broke the vase. 6. I broke the vase accidently. I guess #5 is the most common and #6 is ok, but #4 is somewhat unnatural. Am I right? Thank you...Read More...
Sentences 1 and 2 are natural (except that in a first mention it's usually "I met AN old friend"), while Sentence 3 is not quite so natural (see below). Sentence 4 is correct if "broke the vase" is 'old" information. Sentence 5 is correct, if "broke the vase" is the "new" information. Sentence 6 is also correct, if "accidentally" is the "new," or more important, information. The choice has to do with the order of the "old" and the "new" information. "By accident" occurs after the verb phrase...Read More...

"Is welcome" or "is welcomed"

I have found many more instances of "is/are welcome" than "is/are welcomed" on BOE and google. Are they both correct? Are both the following sentences acceptable? What should I say is the difference? (1) Your help will be welcome. (2) Your help will be welcomed. Apple.Read More...
"To be welcome" is the main verb, or copula, BE plus the adjective "welcome." "To be welcomED" is the passive form of the verb "to welcome." The verb BE in this case is an auxiliary, and "welcomed" is the past participle of the verb "to welcome." "Welcome," being an adjective, can be intensified by the adverb "very": --Your help will be very welcome The passive "be welcomed" is intensified by the adverb "much": --Your help will be much welcomed Marilyn MartinRead More...

The position of "be there"

Hello, teachers! I think #1s are natural, aren't they? Please let me know if #2s are also correct. 1-1. How much work is there to do by next week? 1-2. How many people are there working in your office? 2-1. How much work to do by next week is there? 2-2. How many people working in your office are there? Thank you very much. Best Regards.Read More...
This question seems to be about the existential expression THERE + BE. If this is the intention of the sentences--to express existence--Sentences 1-1 and 2-1 are correct, as you say. In addition, Sentence 1-2 is also correct, since it is not ambiguous and its noun has a short complement, "to do by next week." Sentence 2-2, with the participial phrase "working in your office" right after the noun "people" is different. The construction "How many people working in your office..." could lead...Read More...

The Present Perfect Continuous or the Perfect Simple ?

Hello Experts, In the following which is correct, and why? 1) I didn't know that you could play the piano. Oh yes, I have had piano lessons for a year. 2) I didn't know that you could play the piano. Oh yes, I have been having piano lessons for a year. An explanation would be welcome. I think both are correct, but I was told only the second one was. In the 1st sentence we know for how long but not when, so why can't one use the simple perfect form ? ThanksRead More...
Both responses are correct, but they carry different implications. Response 1 does tell us when the one-year period was. With the present perfect simple, "have had", it treats the one-year period as ending close to the moment of speaking. If the one-year period had been earlier, the response would have been Oh yes, I HAD piano lessons for a year. (That was a couple of years ago, before I moved here.) With "I have had" there's no way of knowing whether the speaker is going to take more...Read More...

Why "nothing but" + "eat" and not "eats"?

Dear All, Please look at the following sentence : "He does nothing but eat." Q : Why is it "eat" and not "eats" ? I understand that the sentence could have been formed from 2 sentences - He does nothing. He does eat. = He does nothing but (does) eat. What about - He does nothing. He only eats. = He does nothing but (only) EATS. Thank you. RickyRead More...
This construction is common to several kinds of sentence involving the general verb "do." Compare: My new cell phone does everything but tell me what my girlfriend is thinking All my brother does is play video games from morning to night What I do in my job is work out compromises between the opposing parties There is one exception: If "do" in the main clause is in the progressive, the complement may be in the -ing form: He was doing nothing but wait/waiting on tables until he was offered a...Read More...

"The" or possessive adjective for part of the body?

Hello, teachers! Please judge which opinion is correct! - Uncle patted me on [the, my] shoulder. As to this sentence, some people say that the definite article is correct, some say that the possessive is correct, and some say that both are correct. Would you please tell me which opinion I should follow? If both are correct, which is preferred? Thank you very much. Enjoy the spring wildflowers Best Regards.Read More...
In English, it's more frequent to use possessives when talking about the parts of someone's body. We would say: "¢ The football player broke his arm while making the play. "¢ Put your ankle right here so we can take an x-ray. "¢ You're so beautiful! Your smile, your eyes, your teeth your hair – are in a class beyond compare! _______ However, in a slightly different grammatical construction, "the" is often used in prepositional phrases related to the object of a clause (or the subject of a...Read More...

The verb "pretend"

Hi, this is Apple, who still can't log in under my former username. Anyway, here is my question. Look at the following sentences. I know (2) is not correct while all the rest are good. I know that as-if clause can not follow "pretend". Is there a plausible explanation for this, or do we just have to learn it individually? (1) He pretends to be ill. (2) * He pretends as if he were ill. (3) He pretends that he is ill. (4) He looks to be ill. (5) He looks as if he were ill. Apple.Read More...
There are two good reasons for not using the combination "pretend as if"--one lexical and the other grammatical. These reasons, however, don't deter a fair number of native speakers from using it on occasion. 1) In purely lexical terms, "pretend" doesn't work with "as if" because it would be redundant. "Pretend," means "to give an appearance of (something that is not true), with the intention of deceiving."* Similarly, "[act/look/behave] as if" introduces an idea that is not seen at the...Read More...

"Do it," "do so," "do that"

(Note: M.T. is the former "Apple." Because of technical difficulties, she was not able to access the Newsgroup, and had to join up again with a different account.) ______ Is there a rule to decide which to use in the following sentence? A: I asked him to reserve a room in advance but he didn't do (it, so, that.)Read More...
In the sentence given, all three variations are possible (but see #6 below). DO SO, DO IT, and DO THAT can often be interchanged, but often they can't*. Here are some major differences: 1) DO SO is more formal than DO IT or DO THAT. 2) While DO IT and DO THAT refer to the same action that was stated before, DO SO can refer to the same general kind of action, as in --Martin is painting his house. I'm told he DOES IT/DOES SO every year (paints his house) --Martin is painting his house. I'm...Read More...

"Regret" and gerund or past gerund?

Some aged people tend to regret (having been lazy , being lazy) in their college days but it is all too late Are both of them correct? Any differences in meaning? How about the sentences below? I regret selling the farm. I regret having sold the farm. I have always regretted selling the farm. I have always regretted having sold the farm. thanks a lotRead More...
1) Some aged people tend to regret having been lazy in their college days. 2) Some aged people tend to regret being lazy in their college days. Both 1) and 2) are correct, and very close in meaning. 1) is very accurate in that it means at the time when the aged people regret their past – say, in March, 2004 – they are referring to actions that clearly happened at a past time, say in the 1950s. 2) is also clear because of the context – in their college days is obviously long ago, before the...Read More...

Definition for "on trial"

Dear experts, How would you define the meaning of ON TRIAL as used here: On trial we found that the machine would soar on the side of a hill having a slope of about 7 degrees. Thank you, YuriRead More...
"On trial" here most likely means "When we tried the machine." So another way to put the sentence would be: "When we tried the machine, we found that it would soar on the side of a hill having a slope of about 7 degrees." RachelRead More...
Last Reply By Rachel, Moderator · First Unread Post

"To have beaten" or "having beaten"?

Which of the two sentences is correct? 1. Peter is the only boxer to have beaten Mark this year. and 2. Peter is the only boxer having beaten Mark this year. My sense tells me that #2 is the correct one as, I think, it comes from: Peter is the only boxer who has beaten Mark this year. I'm not quite sure my analysis is correct. Maybe somebody can help me here.Read More...
Sentence 2 is in fact grammatically wrong. To express the perfect aspect, the perfect infinitive "to have (verb)-ed" would have to be used. Marilyn MartinRead More...

The modifier of 'first time'

Hello, teachers! Please check these sentences. * 1. This is my first time to fish on a boat. * 2. This is the first time for me to fish on a boat. 3. This is the first time that I have fished on a boat. I heard that 'first time' cannot be followed by an infinitive, and we have to use 'the first time', not 'my first time', so #1 & #2 are incorrect. Is it right? I have searched through Google and found over 100,000 entries with "the first time that I", but I found about 35,000 entries with...Read More...
1. This is MY first time FISHING on a boat. 2. This is THE first time for me to fish on a boat. 3. This is THE first time that I have fished on a boat. "My first time" + an infinitive is sometimes heard. However, you will see that on Google, many of the examples of "my first time to" are followed not by an infinitive, but by a place noun, such as "my first time to Tokyo," and "my first time to Washington, D.C." This use of "my first time to...." means "the first time that I went to." You...Read More...

'Keep -ing' vs. 'go -ing'

Hello, teachers! Are these all correct expressions? If so, would you please tell me the difference in meaning between 'keep -ing' and 'go -ing'? And tell me if # 1 & 2 mean intentional actions or not, please. 1. My boy keeps/goes coughing. 2. I keep/go coughing. 3. He kept/went talking. 4. I kept/went talking. Enjoy twinkling stars in the dark sky. Best Regards.Read More...
I know of no expression "go -ing" that means "to continue doing something." "To go -ing, " as you know, is used with the gerund form of verbs denoting activities such as go fishing, go hiking, and go shopping. There's an expression "to go ON -ing" that does mean "to continue doing something." I will assume that this is what you meant, and alter the examples to reflect this fact. Sentences 1 and 2 are both grammatically correct, but are more natural with "keep." Sentences 3 and 4 are OK with...Read More...

Participle use?

This question has been sent in by Apple: _______ Please take a look at this sentence I found in the newspaper. "The attack appeared aimed at weakening Hamas to prevent it from claiming victory." What is the function of "aimed"? Is it a participle as a complement? (I'm not sure if this term even exists) If I'm even close, can this "aimed" be replaced with "aiming" meaning the same? AppleRead More...
I have to correct an omission in my previous posting. Apple asks whether "aimed at" is a complement or something else. I failed to identify the grammatical role of "aimed at." It's the (reduced) complement of the main verb "appeared." With the full infinitive "to be" it would be an infinitive complement; with the infinitive ellipted, as in the sentence, it's still a complement. In the sentence as a whole it's the subject complement of "attack." Another point: try changing the tense of the...Read More...

The present participle which doesn't mean "on-going action"

Hello, teachers! I know 'Sentence 1' is incorrect, and it should be 1a. I think this is because 'belong' is a static verb, not an action verb. (x) 1. We live on Earth, belonging to the solar system. -> 1a. We live on Earth, which belongs to the solar system. However, sentences 2 is correct, I think. 2. We live on a planet [belonging, which belongs] to the solar system. And I think #3, 4 & 5 are incorrect, but #6 is correct. (x) 3. We have a lot of flowers [smelling] good in our...Read More...
This is a very complicated and challenging question! My answer, though still somewhat tentative, points to two features of the utterance as determining whether or not a stative verb may be used in the participial form to modify a noun: 1) the nature of the noun that is modified and 2) the nature of the complement of the participle. You are right that Sentences 1, 3, and 4 are not correct, and that Sentences 1a and 2 are indeed correct. (Sentences 5 and 6 are a special case, which we will...Read More...

"However" as a modifier?

Please consider the following sentence: Once the people are disillusioned by blatant mischief-making, it becomes increasingly difficult to dazzle them, however impressive the lies . 1. What is the element " however impressive the lies " called in grammatical term? 2. Does "however" in the sentence function as a conjunction? 3. Can the element in (1) be moved around in the sentence? I'm sorry that I may ask too many questions but this construction is interesting.Read More...
1. "However impressive the lies" is an adverbial phrase. 2. "However" is an adverb here, modifying the adjective "impressive." One meaning of "however" is: "To whatever degree or extent: "have begun, however reluctantly, to acknowledge the legitimacy of some of the concerns" * 3. In this particular sentence, it seems awkward to move the element to another place. There is another adverbial – an adverbial clause -- at the beginning of the sentence which seems to introduce the sentence...Read More...

Capitalization for departments

When reference is being made to departments in companies, is it more correct to capitalize the noun "department" and the specific area? For example, "Many changes have taken place in the Accounting Department. On the other hand, the Sales Department hasn´t been affected at all by the latest developments". Thank you. Gisele São Paulo, BrazilRead More...
According to The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage*, neither the word "department" nor its modirier (s) should not be capitalized: "Do not capitalize the names of academic or commercial departments: physics department; English department; customer service department." The same is true according to The Chicago Manual of Style**: "Full titles of institutions and companies and their departments and divisions are capitalized....otherwise, such generic terms as school, company, and press...Read More...

"Ones" or "the ones"?

This question has been sent in by Apple, who can not access the Newsgroup at the moment: _______ Take a look at the following sentences. (1) My brother wanted to be a teacher and I wanted be one too. (2) My brothers wanted to be teachers and we wanted to be ones too. Is (2) correct? If not, why not? The plural form "ones" always needs a determiner "the". Is this it? We just tell the students this rule?Read More...
The plural of the pronoun "one" – "ones" – does not always need a determiner, although it very frequently does occur with "the," as in: "¢ Bob likes those doughnuts, but the ones that I like have cinnamon sugar. "¢ The professor asked the students who were not taking the entrance exam to leave. He asked the ones who were taking the entrance exam to stay. "The ones" in the sentences above refer to specific plural count nouns. Here are some examples with "ones" without "the." These refer to...Read More...

"Was," "would have been," or "would be"?

Dear All, When I asked the following question, I received the answer in 3 different ways. Are they all correct and what is the difference ? Q: So, how old was she at the time ? A1. She was about 6. A2. She would have been about 6. A3. She would be about 6 Thank you. Regards, RickyRead More...
There's more. There's a thoughtful and detailed set of postings under the title "'Would be' or 'would have been'," initiated by Reginald, last dated January 13, 2004 and currently appearing on Page 8 of this Newsgroup. It includes a possible explanation for the use of "would have been," carefully explained by Marilyn Martin. RachelRead More...
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