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I recently went to the US and one day I was talking with one of my colleagues about sports and I asked "Is today any match of World Series?" which was definitely incorrect judging by her reaction (which was, "Are you asking 'Are there any matches today?'") but fairly common in India where I hail from. My question is, we use "Today is my birthday", and "Today is the match between abc and xyz". Are all of these incorrect? Should it be "It is my birthday today"?

And speaking of birthdays, I was recently watching a movie, and one line was "Is it your birthday?". That did not go down with me because I think it should have been "Is it your birthday today?" I am not really sure what is the difference between these two.

Can anyone help with this?

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"Is today any match of World Series?" is patently incorrect, and not fairly common in India. –  Kris Nov 28 '12 at 14:57
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closed as general reference by Cameron, tchrist, coleopterist, Kris, FumbleFingers Nov 28 '12 at 18:52

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

3 Answers

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In the United States, today has two uses:

Today may be a noun, signifying this date, or the occasion celebrated on this date.

  • Today is Wednesday.
  • Today is my birthday.

Today may also be an adverb, signifying when the action of the utterance takes place.

  • I'm at work today.
  • We're celebrating my birthday today, even though it's not until Friday, because Jane's in town.
  • no game today i haz a sad

Sometimes the adverbial use is syntactically “translated” into a nominal use, to achieve a particular stress or rhetorical effect:

  • Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic. (They have their picnic today)
  • Today is the first day of the rest of your life. (Your life starts over today)
  • Today's the Super Bowl! (The Super Bowl is played today)
  • I have tickets for today's game. (I have tickets for the game to be played today)

Using the noun as subject of a question normally means you are asking whether you have correctly identified the date:

  • Is today Helen's birthday? (note: Yes, you can ask Is it Helen's birthday?, it being understood that it refers to today.)
  • Is today the day we go to the ballgame?

In asking whether a specific event is to take place on the current day, you normally use the adverb:

  • Is there a game today?
  • Are we going to Chicago today?

The World Series offers a distinct problem. You can ask Is today the Super Bowl?, because that's a single game; but the World Series is several games, and they can't all be played today. So normally you would ask

  • Is there a [Series] game today? (note: game, not match. We're picky about this. And you don't need to specify Series game to baseball fans, because they know that at that time of year that's the only MLB game there could be, and they don't care about the other sports.)

However, you could ask about specific games of the Series:

  • I've lost track. Is today Game 4 or Game 5?
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Thanks for your Match/Game advice, I never really noticed it throughout post season :) –  Dude Nov 28 '12 at 17:19
    
@MichealCorleone Yah, only sportswriters desperate for an Elegant Variation are allowed to refer to a baseball game as a match. –  StoneyB Nov 28 '12 at 17:30
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I partially agree with EdwinAshworth.

We routinely say " is today". So the normal phrasing would be, "The game between A and B is today" or "My birthday is today".

It can be said the other way around, especially as an exclamation. "Today is my birthday." "Today is the big game!"

But putting "today" first is generally only used when you want to emphasize that it is today, as opposed to some other day. The "normal" word order is to say " is ". In English, changing word order is often used for empahsis. In this case, it emphasizes the day. So if a person says something like "Today is the big game!" he probably means that he is excited because the day has finally arrived after a long wait.

Note all of this applies to dates other than today. "My birthday is next Friday." "Next Friday is my birthday!" etc.

The same applies if you turn it into a question. The normal phrasing would be, "Is the game today?" But if you want to emphasize the date, you could ask, "Is today the game?"

But when we are asking about a category of event rather than a specific event, we add the word "there" to a question. That is, we might ask, "Is the game between A and B today?" But we DON'T ask, "Is any game today?" but instead "Is there any game today?" Not "Are company holidays in November?" but "Are there company holidays in November?" (Perhaps someone else can give a good reason for this. I don't know why: we just do it.)

RE "Is it your birthday?" The day is implied. If no date has previously been mentioned, the hearer would normally assume you mean "today". If you were just talking about some other date, they would assume you meant that date. Like, Al: "I won't be here on Thursday." Bob: "Is it your birthday?" Al would assume that Bob meant "Is your birthday on Thursday?", i.e. is that the reason why you will not be here.

Yogi Berra, a famous baseball manager, was once asked, "What time is it?" and he replied, "Do you mean right now?"

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many thanks Jay for your detailed answer!! –  Dude Nov 28 '12 at 17:17
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We use today in various ways, and those ways are not entirely consistent with what one might expect.

Today is my birthday.

My birthday is today.

The cup final is today. but:

*/?Today is the cup final.

Yet we do say

Today is Christmas

rather than

*Christmas is today. (except where context would allow this)

It is arguable how today is being used in the first three idiomatic (ie in common use) sentences above - one could argue as noun in the first sentence (cf This day is my birthday) and adjectival or particle (hardly adverbial) in the second (cf Christmas is here).

The third sentence is probably best regarded as a (commonly-used) elision, from say

The cup final is taking place today.

Is it your birthday? is certainly almost always short for Is it your birthday today? and is quite acceptable if the ellipted today is easily deduced.

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But people DO say, "Today is the cup final", especially as an exclamation. Similarly, both "Today is my birthday" and "My birthday is today". I think any event works either way. It is true that it is more common to say, "The big game is today" then the reverse. –  Jay Nov 28 '12 at 16:10
    
Many Thanks Edwin!! –  Dude Nov 28 '12 at 17:19
    
@Jay: There are only 8 relevant Google hits for "today is the boat race" (though, I admit, only just over 100 for "the boat race is today"). Certainly with "yesterday was the boat race" I feel that the 'nouniness' of yesterday makes the sentence sound weird. –  Edwin Ashworth Nov 28 '12 at 18:00
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