This tag is for questions about how grammar works, e.g. different grammatical usages, how they can be used, or what they mean. For questions that ask whether something is grammatical, please use the "grammaticality" tag instead.

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30
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2answers
186k 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"?
21
votes
3answers
5k 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?
23
votes
4answers
65k 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
3k 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?
8
votes
6answers
8k views

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

I've seen many people who say: This is a HTML page. Yet I've also seen many people who say: This is an HTML page. Are both usages equally correct? Or, which is the grammatically correct ...
4
votes
4answers
7k 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
797 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 ...
7
votes
7answers
7k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
60k 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
2answers
287 views

Classification - There is/are

What is the official 'name' for the 'there is' / 'there are' construction? Is it a verb phrase or a lexical verb? I'd say possibly a verb but it must be the most difficult term to Google.
23
votes
7answers
27k 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 ...
21
votes
5answers
5k 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 ...
20
votes
9answers
935 views

The hidden flaw in “singular they”—what to do about reflexive pronouns?

We have a highly regarded answer by nohat to a question about gender-neutral pronouns, in which he points to the "singular they" and its long history of use in English. (Note that he also advises ...
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 ...
12
votes
2answers
6k 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
2k 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
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.
6
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
68k views

What's the difference between “speak” and “talk”, grammatically speaking?

There are a number of questions e.g. What is the difference between “speaking” and “talking”? and “Speak to” vs. “Speak with” that deal with the slightly different connotations of the words "speak" ...
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 ...
5
votes
1answer
4k 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
5answers
1k 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
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 ...
2
votes
1answer
3k 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.
2
votes
3answers
126k 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 ...
41
votes
8answers
6k 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
3k views

Capitalization After Colon

Should the first word after a colon be capitalized? "For example: This." OR "For example: this."
6
votes
1answer
7k views

“I saw him crossing” vs. “I saw him cross”

I saw him crossing the road. I saw him cross the road. Which one is correct and why?
1
vote
2answers
14k 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 ...
19
votes
8answers
47k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
15k 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
721 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
4answers
4k views

Is this correct? “One of the things that makes him great is…” [duplicate]

One of the things that makes him great is he brings it every night. I'm pretty sure it should be that make him in the plural, because one of the things is referring to a lot of things and a lot ...
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
2answers
6k 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
1k 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?
25
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 ...
20
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
15
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
30k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
5k views

How to correctly use the present perfect tense

This link states that: When you use the present perfect tense you have to be talking about a period of time that you still consider to be going on. For example, if it’s still morning, you can say, ...
3
votes
2answers
14k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
14k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
443 views

Chainsaw-equipped or chainsaw equipped?

Is it chainsaw-equipped or chainsaw equipped? And with what kind of former words to use "-" properly?
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
2k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
23k views

Which one is correct: “wish I was here” or “wish I were here”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “If I was” or “If I were”. Which is more common, and which is correct? Which one is the correct form: "Wish I was here" or "wish I were here"? ...
2
votes
2answers
388 views

“Give him a box that everyone knows what it contains.”

"Give him a box that everyone knows what it contains." Is this correct English? It sounds wrong to me.