This tag is not for questions on whether something is grammatical. It's for questions about how the grammar actually works: different grammatical usages, how they can be used, or what they mean.

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19
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8answers
22k views

Is there any difference between Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous?

I have studied "present perfect" and "present perfect continuous" for a week. I know forms, verb and helping verb I should use when I write them. For me, they have nearly same definition because I ...
19
votes
3answers
4k 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?
18
votes
7answers
17k 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
4k views

Is “man” the opposite of “woman”?

I heard someone today say that lad is the opposite of lass. And we picked up a debate on whether woman is actually the opposite of man, which led me to question whether nouns can have opposites at ...
2
votes
5answers
935 views

“What's” in indirect questions

Lets consider the following: The book doesn't explain, "What's the wisdom behind education?" Changing this to an indirect question becomes the following: The book doesn't explain what the ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

What kind of construct is 'would that that were all'?

There is a place in Bram Stoker’s Dracula where I can’t quite parse the grammar: 8 May. — I began to fear as I wrote in this book that I was getting too diffuse. But now I am glad that I went ...
10
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
86k views

My family *is* or My family *are*? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Are collective nouns always plural, or are certain ones singular? Which is correct: The rest of the staff is or are? The rest of my family is or are? I've done a bit ...
24
votes
2answers
148k views

Is there an apostrophe in a master's degree?

The question asks it all really. When referring to a master's degree, do you use an apostrophe or not? That is, is it "a master's" or "a masters"?
17
votes
8answers
35k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
11k views

Should I use the singular or plural verb in mathematical formulae (“Two and two make/makes four”)?

I remember somebody correcting me once when I said, "Two and two makes four", since the conjunction and would imply the use of a plural verb. They would prefer I said: Two and two make four. ...
7
votes
1answer
650 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Non-finite clause complementation of complex transitive verbs

This question has been bothering me for a while. It came up when I was reading Chapter 16 of "A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language." How to explain the grammatical structure of the ...
7
votes
6answers
3k views

Use of “ever” in non-negated sentence

Is the sentence grammatically correct: I do recall ever seeing my mother in the light of day.
5
votes
2answers
4k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
44k views

Which is correct: “he don't” or “he doesn't”? [closed]

Which one is correct in a sentence? He don't He doesn't I guess "he doesn't" should be correct because he is third person singular but I've seen some people using do with he. Which one ...
5
votes
2answers
5k views

“is” vs “are” when followed by a number

I read the following sentence on YouTube and initially thought it was grammatically incorrect: Here are 10 minutes of the movie Black Hawk Down! I thought "are" should have been "is" but then I ...
3
votes
4answers
613 views

Usage of reflexive pronouns

I have read answers to questions like When is it correct to use "yourself" and "myself" (versus "you" and "me")? but I couldn't find a general rule for using ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Singular or plural verb after “what”

Which sentence is more grammatically correct? He is being tried on what look like trumped-up charges. He is being tried on what looks like trumped-up charges.
37
votes
8answers
5k views

Why is there no plural indefinite article?

The takes either a singular or a plural subject. A/an only takes the singular. When we pluralize a noun preceded by an indefinite article, we simply drop the article (sometimes replacing it with ...
24
votes
4answers
2k views

How do the rules of English inform understanding of one of our language's most disputed sentences?

Yes, historical context is important, but forget it for a moment. Taken at face value, what does the text mean? A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right ...
19
votes
2answers
1k views

Plurality of numbers between -1 and 1

If I recall correctly, the Académie française states that, for French, quantities comprised within [-1,1] are singular, and anything else is plural. This means, for instance, that we should say (in ...
18
votes
5answers
4k views

Why do we use the object instead of the subject pronoun in constructions like “stupid me”?

I'm trying to find out how come we say lucky me and stupid us rather than lucky I and stupid we. My understanding is that this is not a recent invention, but a relic from the distant past where it was ...
23
votes
7answers
3k views

When did “while” and “whilst” become interchangeable?

I think most folk happily use either "while" or "whilst". I've a vague recollection that at one time "while" indicated the passing of time and "whilst" was essentially the same as "whereas" or ...
4
votes
2answers
10k views

Should I say 'What I wanted to say is' or 'What I wanted to say was'?

Following Martha's advice I am splitting up a question Compound sentences, the punctuation and mooore. Let's put what I said / wrote something in the past. And now I want to elaborate some key points ...
9
votes
5answers
1k views

'How to' vs 'How do I'

This question is inspired by comments on a question on stackoverflow. The original poster wrote: How to correct this error? And comments say that it's an incorrect question. Better is How ...
8
votes
2answers
404 views

Chainsaw-equipped or chainsaw equipped?

Is it chainsaw-equipped or chainsaw equipped? And with what kind of former words to use "-" properly?
5
votes
1answer
2k views

A good and exhaustive book for English grammar [closed]

Before marking this post duplicate or voting to get it closed (the reason for which I simply don't get just because it is a grammar forum after all! If I am seeking recommendation for a book that ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Why do not we ask negative questions without a contraction on the not after the verb?

I have found multiple questions touching on this but not a single one that has a comprehensive answer. The information is all there but in little bits. "Do you not" vs. "Don't ...
4
votes
1answer
3k views

Meaning of “x is 35 times less than y" [closed]

I’m not sure of whether this is grammatically correct, although I've encountered the same expression many times before. Most Google searches show it produces 35 times less carbon than the report ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Use of “do” in affirmative statements [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When do you use “Did + 1st form” instead of “2nd form” When is do used in affirmative sentences? For example: I do think that this is going to be... Is it only ...
1
vote
3answers
445 views

Which is right: “In one of the computers” or “On one of the computers”?

Do you say IN one of the computers or ON one of the computers? Which is right?
-1
votes
0answers
59 views

Asking question about position of a person in a list [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How should I phrase a question that must be answered with an ordinal number (e.g., the third prime)? How to ask a question to get a cardinal number answer In my ...
59
votes
9answers
3k views

Is it ever worth the time and effort to correct someone else's grating grammatical mistakes? [closed]

Whenever I hear statements like "It was a great deal for he and I" and "Call Karen and I in the morning," I die a little. Such solecisms, as Twain said in another context (Cooper's prose style), ...
25
votes
4answers
7k views

Plural of an initialism that ends with the letter S [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the correct way to pluralize an acronym? I was answering something on Super User and wrote OSes as part of my normal flow without really thinking about it. On a ...
27
votes
4answers
21k views

How does the phrase “used to” work, grammatically?

It is common to hear people say "used to" to indicate that they did something in the past but no longer do; for example, "I used to play basketball." How would "used to," used in that context, fit ...
18
votes
3answers
1k views

You don't want to answer this word-placement question, now do you?

Prompted by this question I got to thinking about the placement of the word now. If it's placed before the comma, it refers to an immediate condition: You don't want to answer this word-placement ...
7
votes
1answer
6k views

When to use “to” and when “for”?

Examples: It is important to me. It will be good for you. This sounds stupid to me. I'll make it comfortable for you. I'll make it available to you. Any rules here, dear native ...
11
votes
6answers
8k views

Is “Don't you know? ” the same as “Do not you know?”?

Well, we know don't is the same as do not, right? Therefore, can I say "Do not you know?", instead of "Don't you know?"? Well, I know that chances are I can't do that, but technically that should be ...
6
votes
3answers
4k views

When is the use of “north” more appropriate than “northern” and vice versa?

North, South, East, West, can be used as adjectives, but so can Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western. What rules, if any, govern which is appropriate when?
0
votes
1answer
11k views

Difference between verb+preposition and phrasal verbs

I am reading a book on grammar. Now I can't understand the difference between the verb+preposition and phrasal verbs. For example He never thinks about(or of) other people. and put on your ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

How should lists of questions be punctuated?

If one wishes to pose a series of questions in the form of a list, how would one go about punctuating that list? For example: I write to a colleague asking for an update on a project he is working ...
10
votes
2answers
5k views

What is the origin of the phrase “you've got another thing/think coming”?

What is the origin of the phrase "you've got another thing coming"? And — perhaps more importantly — is it more correct than the alternative "you've got another think coming"?
9
votes
2answers
54k views

“Most of which” or “most of whom”?

I am very uncertain about when to use "most of whom," "most of who," or "most of which." Please give concrete examples instead of only rules like, "this is the subject, so you should..."
8
votes
5answers
2k views

“I didn't realize it was him.”

Overheard on an elevator today, I didn't realize it was him. Corrected by the know-it-all, He. "I didn't realize it was he." The know-it-all then went on a rant about how everybody is a ...
8
votes
6answers
2k views

Superlative + noun + “possible”: why does the adjective come after the noun?

Does someone happen to have an explanation or theory for why in phrases like "the best method possible" the word 'possible' comes after the noun?
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Could you help me to do a syntax analysis of this sentence?

The more I use Froyo the more new stuff I discover. Does it mean: I more use Froyo, I discover more new stuff.
4
votes
5answers
10k views

When is “to” a preposition and when the infinitive marker?

I want to see you. I look forward to seeing you. How can one say "to" in the first sentence is an infinitive marker and in the second sentence a preposition when we are given just the ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Why is the comma inside quotation marks when people are quoted? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When should end punctuation go inside quotes? From a AMS blog post: Some organizations have temporarily suspended their polling, and with the news media tabbing ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

position of “only”

Which sentence is correct? (A) Mosquito larvae can only be seen through a microscope. (B) Mosquito larvae can be only seen through a microscope. (C) Mosquito larvae can be seen only through ...