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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3answers
3k views

Present perfect continuous for finished actions

Since present perfect continuous is used to talk about an activity that has finished, but whose results are visible now, can I use it for an action like these two ones; 'I have been living in Los ...
20
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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 ...
8
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3answers
4k views

What is a gerund? A noun or a verb? 'His smoking upset me’

I've been studying the Huddleston and Pullum book for four months now. So far only one thing confuses me: the identity of gerund. Is it a noun or a verb? His constant smoking upset me. smoking ...
12
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6answers
12k 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 ...
11
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2answers
3k views

Capitalization After Colon

Should the first word after a colon be capitalized? "For example: This." OR "For example: this."
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2answers
9k 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?
17
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9answers
67k views

At Night or In the Night?

Why do we refer to morning, afternoon and evening as 'in the morning', 'in the afternoon', 'in the evening' but not 'in the night' instead we say 'at night.'
11
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4answers
1k 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 ...
10
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5answers
76k 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" ...
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3answers
6k 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?
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5answers
3k 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 ...
11
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3answers
9k views

When to use 'an' and when to use 'a' with words begining with 'h'?

Some h-words need 'an' for the indefinite article (I will be there in an hour). Other h-words need 'a' for the indefinite article (It is a history of sadness). Is there a general rule?
11
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2answers
6k 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"?
11
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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
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2answers
4k views

Can you use “same” without “the”?

I've been racking my brain trying to think of a grammatically correct sentence that uses same without the earlier in the same (see!) phrase. It is the same It is the very same I have 10 ...
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5answers
4k views

Parts of speech and functions: “Bob made a book collector happy the other day”

Having been bamboozled by various questions and answers on this site, I'd like to know what are the parts of speech (POS) and grammatical functions of the words and phrases in the following sentence: ...
8
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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?
8
votes
1answer
14k 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.
7
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4answers
397 views

Omission of 'for' with various quantified time intervals: influence of verb

I came across these two examples, given to illustrate 'a case' where the inclusion of the preposition for is considered optional in the paper "Acquisition of Preposition Deletion by Non-native ...
7
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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.
5
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3answers
10k views

Analogy: “as if” vs. “as though”

This is something that confuses me from time to time. When making an analogy in literature, is it better to use the phrase "as if" or "as though", or is it completely a style thing? E.g. She ...
3
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4answers
236 views

“Paul would later transfer to McKinley High and join Kevin and Winnie.”

I read the following: After graduating from Junior High, Kevin and Winnie both go to McKinley High and Paul attends a prep school. Paul would later transfer to McKinley High and join Kevin and ...
7
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2answers
2k views

Does this sentence seem weird?

A line from William Golding's The Lord of the Flies: All round him the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat. Is it just me or does the sentence seem grammatically off?
6
votes
5answers
66k views

Correct use of will & would?

What would be the correct use of will & would in these sentences? 1) What will happen if I say to my boss that I will not come tomorrow? 2) What will happen if I would say to my boss that I will ...
5
votes
3answers
378 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 ...
4
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3answers
2k views

Does the English language have an official Academy? [duplicate]

For some languages, there are academies that decide topics such as grammar and spelling of things, for example, for the Spanish language, there are 22 academies in 22 different countries, all making ...
4
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2answers
1k views

Ending a sentence with “because [noun].”

I've noticed an interesting usage where "because [noun]." is used at the end of a sentence to mean "because [...everything that word implies. Nothing more needs to be said]". It often has a wry or ...
4
votes
1answer
224 views

Use of subjunctive form

I know that when you introduce a statement with 'if,' you are speaking in the subjunctive and therefore use 'were' instead of 'was' (e.g., "If I were to do this thing, something else would happen."). ...
3
votes
3answers
320 views

“become a President” or “become President”

If he had not been a film star, he would not have become President. In my opinion, "a President" is correct. Examples: "My dream is to be a teacher" "My dream is to be a President" Which ...
3
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2answers
5k views

Not only X but also Y are (is?)

At first glance, sentence 1 below seems more correct because there are two subjects. However, something seems more natural about sentence 2. Maybe there is something abbreviated, elliptical, or ...
2
votes
3answers
8k views

Using “and” twice in a list

About using and, I've learned it is usually used in lists, between the last two items. For example: I like movies, traveling and going out with friends. Please tell me if the use of and ...
2
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
1
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3answers
35k 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. Bad ...
0
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2answers
368 views

Is it grammatically correct to combine 2 phrases into 1 sentence? [closed]

Is this sentence acceptable or correct "You're welcome, have a nice day ahead." ?
0
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0answers
39 views

In the tense of present perfect, Are 'recent past' and 'hot news' the same? [duplicate]

In the tense of present perfect, I learned that "I have finished the work" means 'recent past' and "The man has died"means'hot news' Are 'recent past' and 'hot news' the same in meaning?
39
votes
6answers
112k views

“Replace with” versus “replace by”

I often see "replace with" and "replace by" used interchangeably, but this doesn't sound right to me: I replaced that component by this one. I would use "with" in such a sentence. "By" only ...
54
votes
14answers
27k views

One of us is wrong, aren't we?

I have just learned from what I consider a reliable source, that the following sentence is correct: One of us is wrong, aren't we? I would never in my life have written this, but I am assured ...
26
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5answers
164k views

“Fill out a form” or “fill in a form”

Does one fill out a form or does one fill in a form? I've gotten different answers from the people I've asked. Google search results: fill in a form — 14,200,000 fill out a form — 7,000,...
11
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1answer
29k views

“Logged-in”, “log-ined”, “login-ed”, “logined”, “log-in-ed”, “logged in”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “log in to” or “log into” or “login to” This following question, where and how to append "-ed", is not addressed in thу "possible ...
26
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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 ...
25
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6answers
136k 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
826 views

Is “now” a “preposition”?

My question starts from this question which asks about difference between currently and right now, which is not that complicated. However, in the middle of exchanging comments, I found a few points ...
6
votes
2answers
62k views

Was vs had been

I guess this question has been asked before, but please take a look the following sentence and tell me if there is a difference between them. When the transaction had been completed, A was still a ...
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 ...
11
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5answers
92k views

When to use “me” or “myself”?

Which one is correct: Someone like me... or Someone like myself... Is "like myself" ever correct?
9
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1answer
8k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
334k views

When do we use “had had” and “have had”? [duplicate]

I have seen several sentences in English where some writers have written had twice in a row. I am a bit confused about when the grammar calls for using had had. For example: I had had my car ...
16
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3answers
24k views

Grammar parsing for “if need be”

I have the following question. There is an idiom 'if need be'. The meaning is clear, but I can't comprehend it from a grammatical point of view. How should I parse it? 'if [smth] needs to be'? Why not ...
14
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2answers
701 views

Is there a name for the abbreviated syntax used in signs?

For instance, a train sign might say South bound trains this platform rather than Use this platform to take a Southbound train. There is an interesting lack of articles and sometimes verbs, is there ...
14
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4answers
21k views

Which is correct: “home in” or “hone in”?

I've heard people say "Home in on something", but I've also heard others say "Hone in on something". Which is the correct expression, and what is the etymology of these?