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Use "they" when you don't know the gender.

1 If I don't know the gender, I should use "they", not "that person or this person" in the present. Ex: a I should say "If you meet someone today, they'd better be a doctor." not "If you meet someone today, that person / this person had better be a doctor.". b I should say "I'm looking for someone reasonable from the FBI to mediate my situation, and I'd be very grateful if I could find them (not that person / this person)." c I should say "When you pray for someone—how does your prayer...Read More...

It Is/Was The Hardest Thing I Have..

Hi there, Should I use is or was with present perfect tense "I have ever done" in the following context? Here's the context: A year ago, I climbed to the top of a hill after trying for three hours. Oh my God, that is/was the hardest thing I have ever done.Read More...
I agree with Hussein. An exception can be made if you have just finished climbing the hill, in which case it is possible to say That was the hardest thing I have ever done. But it is never wrong to use "is" in that sentence. DocVRead More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

figure out how to complain

a. He has yet to come across a book he can't figure out how to complain about. b. He has yet to come across a problem he can't find someone to solve. c. He has never met a man he didn't know how to find fault with. d. He has never met someone he couldn't find a way to deal with. Are the above sentences grammatical? I know one can end sentences with prepositions. That is not a problem for me. Many thanks.Read More...
Hi, Azz, What an interesting batch of sentences. They are all certifiably bad, but none of them is certifiably ungrammatical. In the linguistic literature, they would receive question marks, not ungrammaticality asterisks. Each of your sentences contains a syntactic island violation. In (a) and (c), you are trying to relativize an element contained in embedded questions; in (b) and (d), you are trying to relativize an element that itself comes from a relative clause. Relative clauses and...Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

fundamentally wrong and primarily wrong

Hi! I came across this IELTS grammar exercise (on this website: https://www.examenglish.com/IELTS/ielts_grammar_test2.htm ): The conclusions of the climate deniers _______ wrong. a) up to a point b) fundamentally c) primarily According to the website, the correct answer is "b) fundamentally". I don't understand why answer "c) primarily" is incorrect. I researched "primarily wrong" in Google's search box and several hits came up with this combination. I know that this is not a guarantee that...Read More...
You're right. I forgot to include the word "are". Oops! Glad you caught that! Thanks for you quick response and clear explanation!Read More...
Last Reply By shantower · First Unread Post

Too or so

I'm........... hungry. When will dinner be ready? 1- such a lot 2- too 3- so 4- enough I think, the answer must be 2 or 3. I have no idea which one is better. Please, let me know what you think. If possible, let me know why you chose your answer. Thanks a lot.Read More...
In keeping with the same line of thought I followed here , I'd use (3) so , Yama. I'd reserve too for a context in which some negative consequence is implied, for example: - I'm too hungry to wait two hours for dinner. I'll have a sandwich.Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Enough, so, too or such

The exam was.............. difficult for me. 1- enough 2- so 3- too 4- such Help me answer this question. Thanks in advance.Read More...
Hi, Yama, I suspect your book, or your teacher, expects you to use "too." However, "so" would also be possible. "too" is more negative, the result being that the speaker did not pass the exam. "so" would be a colloquial way of saying "very" or "rather."Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

the free verse that is really verse...

1) Yvor Winters , the poet/critic said "the free verse that is really verse, the best that is, of W.C. Williams , H. D. , Marianne Moore , Wallace Stevens , and Ezra Pound is the antithesis of free" Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_verse#cite_ref-autogenerated1937_8-1 The Wikipedia article cites as the source of the quoted passage this book: Primitivism and Decadence: A Study of American Experimental Poetry Arrow Editions, New York, 1937 I think '1' is unambiguously saying that the...Read More...
Hi, Navi, I think there is a couple of commas missing in (1), one to close the two appositions "the poet/critic" and "the best, that is, of ... and Ezra Pound," and another to precede the reformulatory "that is." 1') Yvor Winters , the poet/critic , said "the free verse that is really verse, the best , that is, of W.C. Williams , H. D. , Marianne Moore , Wallace Stevens , and Ezra Pound , is the antithesis of free." I find "that is for instance" redundant in (2). At least, I'd separate them,...Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Movies or THE movies?

Hi, She enjoys going to the movies / movies . In my mind, same meaning. Anyone care to chime in? Thanks.Read More...
Hi, Perriced, The expression with the verb "go" is "go to the movies " (meaning: go to the movie threater). "movies" with the zero article will be fine with other verbs, like: - She enjoys watching movies .Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Such or such a

It was ............. delicious cake that we ate it all. 1- so 2- such 3- such a 4- enough It's either 2 or 3. I don't know if " cake " is countable or uncountable in this sentence. I think, it's uncountable. Let me know what you think. Thanks in advance.Read More...
Hi, Yama, "cake" is usually countable, and this sentence is no exception. The correct choice is (3): - It was such a delicious cake that we ate it all. We can also say: - The cake was so delicious that we ate it all. "cake" will be uncountable when used alone or with a partitive like "some" or "a piece of."Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

Find

Hello, Freelance workers find doing their accounts ( difficult - is difficult - are difficult - being difficult - a difficulty ) for them to do on their own. Thanks in advance.Read More...
Menem, Please remember that one of the few absolute rules we have on this forum is that, when quoting from a published source, you must cite the source. This includes paraphrases. And, if the source material is available online, you are to provide a link. DocVRead More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

used to

Hi. I knew that we don't use "used to" to say how many times an action happened as in " I used to go to France three times last year." *My question: Is this sentence Ok ~ "I used to go on holiday once a year." ? Or should we apply the previous rule? * This is from "Practical English Usage" ~Read More...
Ayman, Mr Swan (author of Practical English Usage ) does say that "used to" cannot be used to speak of how many times an action happened, but he doesn't say that it cannot be used to address how frequently it happened. There is nothing wrong with this sentence: I used to go on holiday once a year. For more information, please see this thread: Used to & Would DocVRead More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

(on/in) an island

Hi I know that we use the preposition "ON" with the word "ISLAND" , but I remember once reading a rule that states : 1. Use "on" with "island" if the island is small or not inhabited. 2. Use "in" with "island" if the island is big and inhabited by many people. I am wondering if that rule or information is correct! Thanks in advanceRead More...
Vera, welcome to the grammar exchange. I agree that The Durrells on Corfu sounds better. However, both are correct. The Durrells lived on the island of Corfu, which is in the regional unit of Corfu. Similarly, one can be said to live on Hawaii, meaning the island, or in Hawaii, meaning the state within the United States of which that island is a part. DocVRead More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

Referring about organic cookies/conventional cookies

"Researchers at the University of Michigan found that people believed that Oreo cookies that were labeled organic contained fewer calories than conventional Oreos, even though they had been shown the packaging listing the full nutritional and calorie content of both types of cookie and the calories were the same. The participants also thought that it was appropriate to eat organic Oreos more often than regular Oreos, and that it was more permissible for someone who was trying to lose weight...Read More...
Barry, No, "organic cookies" and "conventional cookies" do not mean literally "organic Oreos" and "conventional Oreos". Dr Herz begins by talking about a study that examined participants' perceptions of organic Oreos, specifically, as opposed to conventional Oreos. About halfway through the passage, she appears to extrapolate, applying the perceptions of the participants to organic and conventional cookies in general, not just Oreos. To say that "organic cookies" means literally "organic...Read More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

Habitual actions

Hussein Hassan
Hello, our teachers, How can I explain the difference between using "will" & "simple present" to talk about habitual actions and behaviour? In other words, what's the difference between (a) & (b)? a) He usually goes to work by bicycle. b) He'll usually go to work by bicycle. Thanks in advance.Read More...
I fully agree, David. You are definitely right that "often" sounds much better to express a persistent present habit.Read More...
Last Reply By Gustavo, Contributor · First Unread Post

for nothing

1) She won't do it for anything. 2) She will do it for nothing. Which can mean: a) There's nothing that can make her do it and can which mean: b) She'll do it for free and can which mean: c) She'll do it, but for no particular reason or for any gain I doubt that '1' could be used for 'b'. But can't it be used for 'c'? Consider: A) She won't do it for anything (in particular). It'll just be an irrational impulsive act. But she'll do it. And can't '2' have all three meanings? Consider: B)...Read More...
Navi, (1) means (a). (2) means (b), and (b) sounds better. (c) is a strange thing to say. This sounds better: c': She'll do it, but not for any particular reason. Regarding (A): How is the speaker able to predict another person's future impulsive act? If the act is to be impulsive, the person herself doesn't yet know that she'll be doing it. Is the speaker clairvoyant? These two sentences mean the same thing: B: She'll stop for nothing. B': She won't stop for anything. But these two do not:...Read More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

Both either neither every

Would you rather have fish or meat? I like ................ but I usually have chicken. 1- both 2- neither 3- either 4- every Thanks.Read More...
Yama, "Either" tends to convey the sense of "one or the other". Here, the person answering is saying that he likes the two choices presented, not just one. Alternatively, he could have answered: 3': I'll eat either, but I'd rather have chicken. Here, "either" works because he is going to eat only one or the other of the two choices, not both. DocVRead More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

Crazy difference.

Hi , I was curious for the grammar of a sentence. Would it be "Anyone who plays Sion or Zoe deserve waterboarded" or "Anyone who plays Sion or Zoe deserve deserve waterboarding". Thanks!Read More...
Thanks a lot, Doc! I was talking to a friend who was telling me that "waterboarded" was in the past tense whereas "deserve" was 'doing something in the future". Didn't make much sense to me so I figured I'd make an account here and ask . Oof, yeah I don't know how that second "deserve" got in there! I did tell him afterward "deserves to be" in that sentence, but for the sake of accuracy I used how I originally said it. Yeah, Sion and, Zoe are characters from a video game that aren't fun to...Read More...
Last Reply By ayeiohpsy · First Unread Post

"A" vs "The"

Hi there, What is the difference between A and The in the following sentences? No other animal is as tall as a/the giraffe. A/The Inland Taipan's venom is the most venomous one in the world. My grammar book says when we want to talk about a race or a whole class we use the. But still I am unable to decide a or the which one I should use. Can any please explain the meaning of each of the sentences using a and the. And which one do you think is more appropriate?Read More...
David, [Our] juice is the juiciest juice there is. I'm actually surprised that I haven't seen this used as an advertising slogan. For what it's worth, a Boeing 747 is 185 feet long with a cabin width of 20 feet. The biggest blue whale whose size was verified was only 98 feet long. I couldn't find any statistics about the width. DocVRead More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

Each or both

Oh, no! I've got blisters on ........... of my feet now. I should never have worn these shoes. 1- all 2- two 3- each 4- both I think the last choice is correct. Let me know if I'm right. If possible, let me know why " each " isn't suitable. Thanks.Read More...
Yama, I agree that (4) is the best choice. (3) isn't incorrect, but it doesn't sound as natural as (4). DocVRead More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

I like to know vs. I'd like to know

1) I like to know if the rumor is true or not. 2) I'd like to know if the rumor is true or not. I know the (2) sounds better. Is the sentence (1) wrong in terms of grammar?Read More...
Y2K, (2) is perfectly fine. It refers to one specific rumor. (1) expresses a generality. In a contextual vacuum, it requires the indefinite article: 1a: I like to know if a rumor is true or not. or better still: 1b: I like to know whether a rumor is true or not. Given proper context, though, it is possible to say (1) as it is: 1c: I'm aware that some managers in the past have asked for employees' resignations based on hearsay. I personally require more proof in such circumstances. I like to...Read More...
Last Reply By Doc V · First Unread Post

one of whose pages

a. There isn't a book here of which I can't recite at least two pages by heart. b. There isn't a book here at least two of whose pages I can't recite by heart. c. There isn't a book here whose pages I can't recite at least two of by heart. Which of the above sentences are grammatically correct? They are a bit cumbersome, but are they grammatically acceptable? Many thanks.Read More...
Hello, Azz and Gustavo, These are interesting specimens. I share Gustavo's judgement that (a) the best sentence of the three, and I too find (b) and (c) to be worse and much worse, respectively, though I can't say that I find either of them ungrammatical. The stranding of "of" works much better, I think, if "which" or "that" is used: d1. There isn't a book here which I can't recite at least two pages of by heart. d2. There isn't a book here that I can't recite at least two pages of by heart.Read More...
Last Reply By David, Moderator · First Unread Post

Either or each

Help me with this sentence. We looked at two hotels on the internet and ................. of them would be great for a holiday. 1- every 2- either 3- all 4- each I think (b) is the suitable choice. But, I'm not sure. I also cant tell why (d) isn't suitable. Thanks in advance.Read More...
Thanks for your help.Read More...
Last Reply By Yama · First Unread Post
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