This tag is about how the grammar works: different grammatical usages, how they can be used, or what they mean.

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31
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5answers
9k views

Are there any simple rules for choosing the definite vs. indefinite (vs. none) article?

I can’t for the life of me figure out where to use a and where to use the — and where there is no article at all. Is there a simple rule of thumb to memorize? The standard rule you always hear: ...
35
votes
6answers
43k views

When do I use “I” instead of “me?”

From some comments in the answers for common English usage mistakes, there's confusion around the usage of I vs. me: While the sentence, "the other attendees are myself and Steve," is agreed to be ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

How does one know when to use a gerund or an infinitive?

As a native speaker of English, the gerund version of this sentence sounds better: infinitive: When used together in chains, extension methods are an unprecedented tool to produce extremely ...
15
votes
1answer
6k views

When should a verb be followed by a gerund instead of an infinitive?

Some verbs are followed by ing, e.g. I enjoy swimming. We can't say I enjoy to swim. Likewise, some verbs are followed by to, e.g. I decided to make a plan. Which particular verbs are followed by ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Inversion in “only [adverb] have they”

I have seen this construction quite often: Online ads have been around since the dawn of the Web, but only in recent years have they become the rapturous life dream of Silicon Valley. What ...
39
votes
7answers
2k views

What exactly is an “adverb”?

From comments to “Weekdays” used as an adverb", I learn that The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary says "open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.", shows the word weekdays is an adverb. It seems to me ...
6
votes
4answers
5k views

When should I use the subjunctive mood?

In which cases should I use the subjunctive mood? I suggest that every applicant fill out the form carefully. If she were rich, she would live on Long Island.
7
votes
3answers
4k views

If the English language is always evolving, why do we need to learn and follow grammatical rules?

Since language evolves over time — the best example I can think of is slang where it mostly doesn't follow grammar rules — why is there a need to preserve grammar or stress that proper ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

“How do we call (something) in English?”

Is it really wrong to say "How do we call something in English?" instead of "What do we call something in English?"? The former's not unusual in Philippine English at all (probably it's because of the ...
2
votes
2answers
3k views

Question about interrogations in past tense

In regard to this answer, my question is similar but that answer is not clear. I want to know why we use base form of verb, e.g. 'go' to form the past tense instead of past form such as 'went'? ...
45
votes
8answers
15k views

Is there a reason the British omit the article when they “go to hospital”?

Why do British speakers omit the article in constructions like "go to hospital" or "go on holiday"? Pretty much all American speakers would rephrase those as "go to the hospital" and "go on a ...
20
votes
5answers
44k views

Is “there're” (similar to “there's”) a correct contraction?

Q: "Do you have any juice?" A: "Yes, there's some in the fridge." Sounds perfectly fine to me, but: Q: "Do you have any towels?" A: "Yes, there's some in the closet." Does not. I asked ...
30
votes
10answers
8k views

What does “it” refer to in “it's raining”?

I wanted to leave the question title as is so as not to take away from my amusement :). Anyway, It's raining. What is raining? Is it the sky? The clouds? The weather? The rain? What is "it"? ...
19
votes
5answers
1k views

What is the best way to explain how to choose between “its” and “it's”?

Probably one of the most frequent grammar mistakes in the English language is: The dog sat on it's mat. Since spelling checkers don't catch it, and it is even logical, since you would correctly ...
11
votes
4answers
21k views

“I like to do (be) something” vs “I like doing (being) something”

This is what I read in an answer to a previous question: Verbs Followed by Either Gerund or Infinitive Sometimes the meaning changes according to the verb used. <…> (dis)like ...
12
votes
4answers
10k views

Should I use “ related” or “-related”

What is the correct use of the term "related?" For example, should I use it like computer related, or is it more proper to use computer-related (where the word "computer" is just part of my ...
12
votes
2answers
8k views

Can “due to” and “because of ” be used interchangeably?

Is it fine to use due to in place of because of ? How about the other way around? Are any of these sentences ungrammatical? He was lost because of the storm. He was lost due to the storm. He lost ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

I think him to be about 50 or I think he is about 50?

I have two options. Which one is correct? a) I think him to be about 50. b) I think he is about 50 If both are correct, should I avoid one or the other?
4
votes
7answers
47k views

“I'm well” vs. “I'm good” vs. “I'm doing well”, etc

The greeting How are you? is asking How are you doing in general? — How are you? I'm well. [Misunderstood the question.] because well as an adjective which means: in good health ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Changing subject and verb positions in statements and questions

We always change subject and verb positions in whenever we want to ask a question such as "What is your name?". But when it comes to statements like the following, which form is correct? I ...
17
votes
4answers
58k views

Difference between “I have got” and “I have gotten”

I see these two expressions are used almost identically in different contexts. Is there a difference between I have got and I have gotten?
17
votes
7answers
14k views

Where should the comma be placed in the salutation of a letter?

Sometimes I see a comma after the proper name: Hello Mr. Black, In order to give you.... But my native language is not English and I think that the comma in this phrase should be placed ...
30
votes
5answers
14k views

What's the negation of “I used to be”? Surely not “I didn't used to be”?

What is the negative form of "I used to be"? I often hear "I didn't used to be" but that sounds awfully wrong in my ears.
15
votes
9answers
2k views

How can I reliably and accurately identify the passive voice in writing or speech?

How can I reliably and accurately identify the passive voice in writing or speech? I'm not interested in advice about whether or not to use it yet... I just want to know for sure what it is, so that I ...
16
votes
5answers
25k views

Is “either” only used with two options?

Does “either . . . or” apply to only two options? For example, can I say, “It can provide either 100, 150, or 400 amps of power”? Or should it just be “It can provide 100, 150, or 400 amps of ...
23
votes
10answers
9k views

“May” & “Might”: What's the right context?

I may not be coming in tomorrow... I might not be coming in tomorrow... When could I use "may" & "might"?
4
votes
3answers
830 views

Are there any rules on the positioning adverbs should take in a sentence?

For example: Ever wish you could share information broadly Could it be rewritten to: Ever wish you could broadly share information Are there any rules for the position of the adverbs.
20
votes
4answers
36k views

Is there a more common phrase that means “preponed”?

I was aware of this and this stackexchange post discuss the same. There is no prepone in English. Ok, then how do I say Our meeting is preponed in correct way? What is the correct word/phrase for ...
3
votes
3answers
4k views

Why is “xxxx doth not a yyyy make” considered valid English?

Reading doth not a writer make. This sounds all wrong so why it is acceptable to use? The word order looks to be all out sequence (Object-Subject-Verb). It should be "reading does not make you a ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Is it: My apples and orange are/is wrong?

Simple question: My apples and orange are wrong or My apples and orange is wrong I am not a native English speaker, and I am having some trouble choosing between plural are or singular is ...
18
votes
1answer
32k views

Why use “need not” instead of “do not need to”?

The header of psyco.sourceforge.net states: High-level languages need not be slower than low-level ones. Why use need not instead of do not need? What does it mean? Also, why no to before be? ...
16
votes
7answers
165k views

“I use to”, or “I used to”

Which is the correct way of saying the following sentence (if there is a correct version)? "I use to be a hitman" "I used to be a hitman" I've read the 2nd recently in a book, but was sure it ...
5
votes
2answers
4k views

Why do some adjectives follow the nouns they modify?

Right now I can only think of one instance in which this regularly occurs. The adjective proper is sometimes placed after the noun it modifies, e.g: Reptilia: A class of cold-blooded oviparous or ...
7
votes
6answers
4k views

Is it supposed to be a HTML or an HTML [duplicate]

Possible Duplicates: “A” vs. “An” in writing vs. pronunciation Do you use “a” or “an” before acronyms? I've often seen people calling a ...
6
votes
7answers
66k views

Which is correct: “drive safe” or “drive safely”?

Which one is correct? Similarly, is "do good" correct?
2
votes
2answers
2k views

“I have to” vs. “I must”

When would you use the following? I have to go the market. I must go to the market. I need to go to the market. If I replace 'have' with 'had' would you have any other way to say it? E.g. I had to ...
15
votes
7answers
6k views

Is using passive voice “bad form”?

Whenever I create a document in Microsoft Word, it complains about a lot of my sentences being in passive voice. But, when I read that sentence aloud, it sounds fine to me. I am not sure if it is just ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

Correct usage of ‘on’, ‘at’ and ‘in’ from a foreigner’s point of view

As a foreign English speaker who never really studied too much English grammar other than the basics at high school, I am often struggling to use the correct form in certain phrases. At being ...
9
votes
2answers
749 views

Are there specific rules to build expressions with or without articles?

In English, there are lots of expressions built using articles like: at the station to the cinema play the piano have breakfast (no article) take a bath take a shower Are there specific rules or ...
2
votes
2answers
31k views

Is “group” singular or plural? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is a company always plural, or are small companies singular? When I'm referring to a group of multiple things, should it be considered singular or plural for the ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

How are embedded quotations used?

How would embedded quotations be used when quoting from passages/sources within an essay? What would be the difference between normal quotations and embedded quotations?
11
votes
2answers
48k views

How to use “to + V-ing”?

I saw some scenarios that used the structure "to + V-ing", such as the following: Looking forward to hearing. Disposed to using few words. I would like to apply what I learned in school to helping ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

Is there an EBNF that covers all of English

This almost feels like a SO question. Is there an EBNF that covers all of English, and if so, what is it?
39
votes
4answers
99k views

What is the difference between “till” and “until”?

What is the difference between till and until? When to use till or until? Please explain with examples.
6
votes
7answers
4k views

Use of the superlative when only two items are present

When speaking with my mother a couple of days ago, I read to her a message I was sending to my cousin on her behalf ending with: "... the birthday of your youngest." [implying her child] She ...
7
votes
1answer
526 views

Using verbs with multiple meanings

Is it grammatically incorrect to use a verb with multiple meanings so that the meanings are used at once? I'm thinking of a line from the classic Flanders Swann song Madeira M’Dear: … he hastened ...
16
votes
8answers
21k views

Why do you say “friend of mine” instead of “friend of me”?

I think friend of mine can be translated to my friend. In that case, doesn't friend of me make more sense? If we translate friend of mine to one of my friends then I guess friend of mine makes sense ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

Rule for adding “and” or hyphens between numbers that are spelled out fully in text

For example, take the number 342. It could be written out a number of different ways when spelled out fully. Three hundred forty two Three hundred and forty two Three hundred and forty-two What is ...
4
votes
2answers
488 views

Past tense or present tense to describe something that happened in the past but is still true?

For example: "Last week, I found out that NASA stands for 'National Aeronautics and Space Administration.'" or "Last week, I found out that NASA stood for 'National Aeronautics and Space ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

How do I determine subject and subject complement in “A side-effect is the spread of commercialese to other domains.”?

Consider this example: Commercialese is an instrument of art, designed to enrich and invigorate our language—surely you will all agree with this—, and we should encourage newcomers to learn ...