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To greet or to call

Hi teachers, In our customs and traditions, children should greet elderly people they (children) know by calling them (elderly people) uncle or auntie. For example, when we run into Uncle Lee in the street, we will greet him by saying "Uncle Lee .....". Sometimes when the children don't do so, their parents will usually remind them to do so. So in the place where I live, I often hear people ask their children to greet someone else by saying "call uncle". In this situation, is it correct to...Read More...
"Call uncle" would be OK if the child is, say, across the street or some distance from the older person. If the child doesn't go up to the older person but just greets him from a distance, then "call uncle" is OK. But if the child is supposed to go up to the older person to greet him, then "call uncle" is not right. It should be "greet uncle."Read More...

about food

Can I say, (a) The food were / was sold at a reasonable price. (b) They sold many types of food at the stall. (c) There was / were many kinds of food on the table.Read More...
FOOD here is uncountable, so it takes a singular verb. But KINDS OF FOOD or TYPES OF FOOD is plural, so it takes a plural verb. (a) The food were was sold at a reasonable price. (b) They sold many types of food at the stall. OK (c) There was were many kinds of food on the table.Read More...

I must go home soon. I must come home soon.

I'd appreciate it if someone would answer my questions. Thanks in advance. A: I must go home soon. B: I must come home soon. Can we use "get" instead of "go" in A? Can we use "return" instead of "go" in A? Can we use "be" instead of "go" in A? Can we use "get" instead of "come" in B? Can we use "return" instead of "come" in B? Can we use "be" instead of "come" in B?Read More...
Thank you very much, Okassan.Read More...

definitely

Hello! When we use 'definitely', which position would be better? 'I definitely don't like those people' or 'Definitely I don't like those people'? Thank you!Read More...
In this case, 'definitely' is like 'really.' If the word appears at the beginning of the sentence, or at the end, it modifies the entire sentence. If it appears before 'don't,' it modifies the verb 'don't really.' Okaasan is right that 'definitely' could appear at the beginning or in the middle. I think I would be more likely to say, 'I definitely don't like...,' thus emphasizing my negative feeling.Read More...

one of, if not

He is one of, if not, the best guys I've ever met. Is the second comma mandatory, optional, or must it be removed?Read More...
It needs to be enclosed with commas, as it functions as a parenthetical, but before talking about the way this sentence should be punctuated, we need to correct it! Generally speaking, the use of "one of, if not" is a problematic thing in English. It is not easy to decide whether we should use "guy" or "guys" in your sentence because we have: He is one of [...] the best guy s AND If not the best guyRead More...

subjunctive in that-clause

Greetings, Wise Ones! I have a query about some sentences: 1. I received the command that I was to kill the Balrog when I saw it. 2. He was ordered that he was to destroy the ring when he reached Mt. Doom. I have no problem with the verb was here. But some acquaintance insists that the verb should be the subjunctive be . He quotes Quirk et al. and Fuller, whose books are not familiar to me. I find in The Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English (page 667) that "some communication verbs...Read More...
I've been looking into the mandative subjunctive and came upon this, which has a sentence with a structure similar to yours. Maybe this will help. It's from Ask a Linguist: Mandative Subjunctive in English .Read More...

kind

Which is correct? Some people don't care about what kind of job they are doing; their just do their very best in their jobs. Some people don't care about what kinds of job they are doing; their just do their very best in their jobs. Some people don't care about what kinds of jobs they are doing; their just do their very best in their jobs.Read More...
This is the only sentence that appears right to me. 'What kind of' + a singular noun is the usual way to express this idea. This structure is almost an idiom. It means 'how well one performs.' It refers to the quality of the job. Even though the subject is plural, the idea of kind of, type of, the quality of is singular. With 'some people,' 'kind of job' probably refers to each of the people having one kind of job. I say 'probably,' because even if Jack, say, were moonlighting and had two...Read More...

coming for a visit/to visit

Hi! My uncles and aunts from Australia are coming to visit . Just two short questions about the sentence above. 1 Which sounds better? uncles and aunts OR aunts and uncles ? 2 Can we say coming to visit or should it be coming for a visit ? Thank you for your time and sorry for the trouble. GilbertRead More...
Some phrases that express opposites or different characteristics do have a set order, as we have noted. Here's another one: 'up and down.' We say, 'She runs up and down the stairs fifty times a day,' or 'The drill goes up and down, up and down, all day and all night.' So, if we hear 'down and up' it is jarring. The instructor of my exercise class says 'down and up, down and up,' referring to bending exercises or leg-moving exercises. He is not a native English speaker; in fact, his English...Read More...

mat

Can I say, Peter put a mat on the table and some food on it. P/s: Do we use "mat" or cloth table to cover the table before putting the food on it?Read More...
Here are pictures of a place mat and a tablecloth. Click on the attachment.Read More...

superlative adverb when comparing 2 things

Are these sentences correct: 1-I have lived in London and I have lived in Paris but I have lived in Paris the longer. 2-I know John and you know him as well, but of the two of us I know him the better. 3-Which of these films do you like the better? 4-Which of these films do you like the more?Read More...
I agree with Okaasan. I don't think you can use 'the' with comparative adverbs. Maybe you are thinking of comparative adjectives, Navi. We might say: He is the better football player (of the two men). He is a better football player (than the other(s)).Read More...

to act like nothing is/were right

A: Perry doesn't like his new job. B: He acts like nothing ___ right for him. a. is b. were Are they both corret? Thanks!Read More...
I see that Okaasan has answered to a similar question of yours, Jey. I think both are possible and OK, but, as Okaasan said, "is" seems better here.Read More...

sentence structure

Can I say, (a) Success is in /on the hand of those who said, "I can do it! ". (b) Success is in /on the hand who said, "I can do it! ". (c) Success is in /on the hand of those who said, "I Can Do It! ".Read More...
(a) Success is in the hand of those who said, "I can do it!" You don't need the period at the end. The sentence ends with the exclamation mark in the quotation. Sentence (b) is not right. There are words missing. And sentence (c) is not punctuated correctly. There is no need to capitalize every word in the quotation.Read More...

if I wanted

A: You should run for class president. B: Even if I _______ , I would never be elected. a. wanted b. wanted to Are they both correct? Thanks!Read More...
"Wanted to" sounds more natural to me. I'm not sure that "wanted" alone is wrong.Read More...

fly kites

Can I say, (a) The boys likes to fly kites / likes flying kites. (b) The boys likes to play kites / play with kites.Read More...
You've got a subject-verb disagreement here, Bear_Bear. The boy like s OR The boy s like. (a) The boys like to fly kites. OK (a) The boys like flying kites. OK (b) The boys like to play with kites. We usually use FLY with kites. However, I've seen in Asian countries that they have competitions where they glue broken glass onto the kite strings and try to cut each other's kite strings. In that case, I think the verb PLAY (WITH) could be used (perhaps other verbs, too). We don't have that...Read More...

with books

Can I say, There is a library with books.Read More...
So what Mehrdad is saying is that your sentence is grammatical (There is an X with Y), it doesn't really make sense to say There is a library with books because the books pretty much define a library. Sentences like these would make more sense because not all libraries have these: There is a library with manuscripts. There is a library with videos and DVDs. There is a library with the president's papers.Read More...

comma

Next weekend we're going on an architectural tour of the New York theaters, where the first Broadway musicals were staged. Is the sentence above correct? If it is not, could you tell me why? Although Rachel teached me about that the other day, the sentence makes me confused.Read More...
The sentence with and without the comma means slightly different things. Sometimes a sentence clearly must be one way or the other. When I first looked at this sentence, I thought that it could go either way. Now I think otherwise. But let me explain the comma first. When you DON'T have a comma with a relative clause, the clause is "defining" or "restricting" (it restricts the meaning). The clause tells us which person or thing, or something else that identifies it from others. When you DO...Read More...

to act as if nothing is/were right

A: Perry doesn't like his new job. B: He acts as if nothing ___ right for him. a. is b. were Are they both corret? Thanks!Read More...
I don't think the subjunctive were fits here. He acts as if nothing is right sounds like a statement of reality, not something imaginary. His behavior shows that he is unhappy about his work. But in another example, the subjunctive would be correct. A. Terry is really a stuck-up person. B. I agree. He acts as if he were king. We know that Terry is not king, so this is a statement that goes against reality.Read More...

enjopyed the cake

Can I say, (a) We enjoyed the cake. (b) We enjoyed eating the cakes.Read More...
Yes, these are both correct. In (a) you are probably talking about one cake (though you could be using "cake" in a non-count meaning -- cake in general). In (b) you had more than one cake. Both enjoy the cake and enjoy eating the cake are OK.Read More...

hear

1. I heard of the directors trying to promote that new eco-friendly effort. 2. I heard the directors are trying to promote that new eco-friendly effort Do those two sentences have the same meaning? Thanks a lot!Read More...
Yes, Jey, the sentences do convey the same meaning. In the first sentence, though, while 'heard of' is not incorrect, we would probably use 'about': I heard about the directors trying to promote that new eco-friendly effort.Read More...

nation Israel

The Star of David is an emblem of Judaism and ___________ . a. nation Israel b. of nation Israel c. the nation of Israel d. of the nation of Israel Are they all correct? Thanks!Read More...
Hello, Jey: The best completion is D: the nation of Israel. We do say, with words like country, nation, state, city etc., 'the xxx of (proper name)'. This is sometimes called the 'appositive oblique.' So, while we could just say, 'Israel,' we can also say the nation of Israel. Thus, we say: Paris/ the City of Paris; New York/ the City of New York; California/ the state of California; China/ the nation of China; Saudi Arabia/ the nation of/ the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia . Wikipedia and other...Read More...

freak out

hi !! when we use the verb 'freak out', can we say we freak out with something, or only over something? Thank you!Read More...
Hi, Hannah! We 'freak out over something,' just as you said.Read More...

practises the piano

Can I say, (a) He practises piano every day. (b) He practises with the piano. (c) He practises play / playing the piano.Read More...
Hello, Vincent: You can say: He practises the piano every day. He practises the piano. He practises playing the piano.Read More...

Participle or gerund?

Unemployed people in the Gulf of Mexico are being offered jobs cleaning up the beaches. Should I parse "cleaning" as a participle modifying "jobs" or as a gerund serving as the object of a deleted preposition such as "in"? Thank you very much.Read More...
Thank you, Rachel, for the examples of "Job" + verb + "ing" and also the relevant link.Read More...

ages

cocoricot
Dear teachers, "His research found that children ages 6 to 18 contribute 12 percent of all household labor." Please tell me if "ages" a noun and what the role it is. Thanks.Read More...
Hi Coco, Yes, I would categorize 'ages' as a noun: "His research found that children (who are the) ages 6 to 18 contribute 12 percent of all household labor."Read More...
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