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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...

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...

"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...
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