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

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4
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2answers
5k 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
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 ...
8
votes
2answers
310 views

Chainsaw-equipped or chainsaw equipped?

Is it chainsaw-equipped or chainsaw equipped? And with what kind of former words to use "-" properly?
6
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5answers
965 views

Is the question mark misused in affirmative sentences?

For example, I found the following sentence written by a native English speaker (UK) so I'm going to assume that he knows how to put it the right way, although I wouldn't use this form. I now have ...
4
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
793 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
5answers
714 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 ...
-1
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0answers
58 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 ...
56
votes
9answers
2k views

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

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), ...
17
votes
3answers
686 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 ...
22
votes
7answers
2k 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 ...
15
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
4k 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
2k 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?
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Origin of different past tenses for verbs with the same endings?

Why do we have a situation where the past of "to blow" is "blew", but of "to glow" is "glowed"? And don't say "flew" if you mean "it flowed". The poem Lovers, by Phoebe Cary has many examples of ...
7
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6answers
1k 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.
7
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2answers
2k 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"?
7
votes
2answers
28k 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..."
3
votes
3answers
534 views

“Me” versus “I”

He was almost as bad at English as me. He was almost as bad at English as I. The first one sounds better as-is, but not when you change the second one to He was almost as bad at English as I was. ...
6
votes
1answer
5k views

“They're not” vs. “they aren't”

How dissimilar are "they're not" and "they aren't"? Is it dependent on context or are these exactly the same? They are supposed to be going, but they are not. They are not going.
6
votes
6answers
2k views

“Bring” versus “take”

My mother used to correct me all the time when I was younger about "bringing" a toy to a friend's house versus "taking" it. Which is correct, and why?
5
votes
3answers
212 views

How can one determine if the opposite of an agent noun exists?

We know that the employer employs the employee and that the tutor tutors the tutee, but how do we know if the shooter shot the shootee? Is there a simple way to determine if an agent noun can be made ...
5
votes
4answers
7k views

“Nobody want to go there,” or “nobody wants to go there”?

In English, the number 0 is treated as plural. It is then: 0 seconds 1 second 1.2 seconds 2 seconds Shouldn't it be "nobody want to go there," instead of "nobody wants to go there"? I also ...
5
votes
3answers
929 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.
3
votes
1answer
22k 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
6k views

What do brackets in a quote mean? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the proper use of [square brackets] in quotes? What do brackets around a word or words in a quote mean? This may seem silly, but I've never figured this out. ...
1
vote
6answers
1k views

“Checked into the database” versus “checked in to the database” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When should “into” be used rather than “in to,” and vice versa? I was recently submitting ("checking in") some data to a database and composed an ...
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2answers
1k views

In Moderation, In Revision

1 The forum comments are under moderation. 2 The forum comments are in moderation. 3 The book is in revision. 4 The book is under revision. Could 1 & 2 be the same? Could 3 & 4 be the same ...
18
votes
8answers
15k 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 ...
18
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 ...
26
votes
4answers
12k 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

Infinitives with “ought not”

Most of the references I can find about the word “ought” indicate that even when negating it, you should use an infinitive: “You ought not to go there.” That sounds quite bad ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

Omitting “and” in a sentence

He called her, emailed her, texted her, tweeted her—all to no use. Strictly speaking, I would need to write texted her and tweeted her, but I'm omitting and to convey a rhythm and sense of ...
16
votes
6answers
54k views

Which is correct: “special thanks go to” or “special thanks goes to”?

what is grammatically correct: Special thanks go to Tom... Special thanks goes to Tom... IMHO I'd say thanks is one of those plural nouns which implies it requires go but I'm not sure. It's for ...
15
votes
6answers
886 views

What are the principles that make certain lists sound euphonious?

Has this ever happened to you: You write a question, include a list or two in the discussion, and then come back to edit that list because the order doesn't sound "right"? Off the top of my head, I ...
3
votes
2answers
5k views

Is the sentence “There is a large number of labourers who want to migrate to Japan for work.” correct? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: A number of questions “has been” or “have been” asked? There is a large number of labourers who want to migrate to Japan for work. I type ...
11
votes
4answers
624 views

“Employee” in the phrase “employee ID” is a determiner, not an adjective—right?

I am a software developer with a bit of a linguistic slant. We were recently given some training on how to name database fields and were told to avoid adjectives in names. Then we were given an ...
8
votes
5answers
672 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

“going to” vs “will”

I know several questions were asked about the difference between "going to" and "will". Based on several answers (see, for instance, here, here and here), I understood that "will" is more spontaneous ...
7
votes
4answers
3k views

Can you say “are not we all?” instead of “aren't we all?”

Because "aren't" translates to "are not" I pose the question, can you use both interchangeably (in the context of "aren't we all?")? "Are not" sounds very grammatically incorrect in this situation. ...
7
votes
6answers
1k 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?
4
votes
2answers
219 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
9k views

Where should the apostrophe go in “three days work”?

Which is correct? 1 Three day's work 2 Three days' work 3 Three days work I would probably guess (2) is right, since the work belongs to the three days ("three days of work"). But I'm ...
4
votes
5answers
14k views

Is it 'a usual' or 'an usual'? Why?

is it 'a usual' or 'an usual'? 'A usual' sounds more correct in my head ('Today was a usual day.') than 'an usual', but u is a vowel. Which one is correct and why?
4
votes
2answers
3k views

Definite article with plural nouns

Are there cases where the definite article is used with a plural noun, or is it a rule that the definite article is never used with the plural of a word?
3
votes
1answer
843 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
148 views

by 5.30 or until 5.30/ why future tense?

The shops are open only until 5.30. they will be closed by now. The shops are open only by 5.30. they will be closed by now. Greetings Would you kindly tell me the differences that are in the ...
13
votes
5answers
2k views

Please explain “I Am America (And So Can You!)”

As a non-native speaker, I found Stephen Colbert’s book title I Am America (And So Can You!) a little hard to dissect. Why so can you? Why isn’t it So Are You? What’s the full phrase that And So Can ...
10
votes
5answers
907 views

Why does “is” replace “has”?

I am continually surprised to hear people use has and is interchangeably. The erudite Peter Segal has been guilty of saying: This song is been written by XXX. YY is been a producer on the ...