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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14
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4answers
19k 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?
12
votes
6answers
7k views

Why do we put the verb to be at the end of these questions? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Changing subject and verb positions in statements and questions Look at the following questions - can anyone give a simple grammatical explanation as to why we put the ...
12
votes
7answers
21k views

Which is correct: “If it were I” or “If it were me”?

I'm fairly sure it's the former, but it sounds even more stilted than the usual cases in which "I" is less common, but more correct.
7
votes
3answers
9k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
4k views

Difference between 'part' and 'a part'?

This question may seem to be very simple, but something I get confused whenever I want to speak. I read a book entitled "re-start your English", and saw a sentence. This is a leg. It is part of ...
5
votes
4answers
21k views

“my friend” vs “a friend of mine”

I always found it weird to hear people say things like "My friend asked me to come" (with no prior mention of said friend), as opposed to "A friend of mine asked me to come". To me it seems as though ...
3
votes
5answers
14k views

Adjective + to infinitive vs. gerund

I recall being taught that normally after adjectives we use the "to infinitive": It's easy to say. It's hard to do. But how do the following examples fall into this rule? "It was great talking to ...
3
votes
1answer
16k views

“Might have” vs “could have”

What is the difference between might have and could have? He might have come. He might have studied. He could have come. He could have studied. How would you describe a possibility? For ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

would have and would in non conditional statements

Can we use both would have and would in non conditional past statements? For example: Last year during the summer, I would go home on weekends. past habitual Last year during the summer, I ...
12
votes
1answer
92k views

“Would you mind to do something?”

Is it correct to say "Would you mind to do something?". I've seen this usage in a few places, but it doesn't sound right to me. I would guess that it's proper to use "Would you mind doing something?" ...
12
votes
3answers
24k views

What is the correct spelling of “dependent”? Which preposition should follow it?

Dependant or dependent really confuses me when to use, especially with the combination of, on, from or to. Mike was dependant to/from/on his mother. The states are dependent to/from/on the federal ...
7
votes
3answers
43k views

“Types of” followed by singular or plural? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Types of things vs. types of thing When using the phrase "types of" or "kinds of," it often seems appropriate to follow with a singular noun (e.g., types of rock), but ...
7
votes
6answers
32k views

Is it 'a usual' or 'an usual'? Why? [duplicate]

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?
5
votes
3answers
29k views

When to use “Well” or “Good” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why do so many people get this wrong? “How are you? / I'm well.” How would you answer the question "How are you?" I'm well. or I'm good. I ...
3
votes
4answers
939 views

The difference between “We’ll ever be back to normal,” and “We’ll never be back to normal.”

Time magazine (Aug.2) reported that Toledo Mayor instructed city residents not to drink tap water polluted with toxin caused by algae bloom under the headline: Toledo, Ohio without drinking water for ...
15
votes
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 ...
13
votes
6answers
7k views

“Bob and us” or “Bob and we” or “Bob and ourselves”?

In the singular, it is quite clear that one uses "I" when referring to a third party and oneself, as in: Bob and I are going to build an aircraft. However, in the plural, it is a lot less clear. ...
9
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
9
votes
5answers
3k 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
votes
2answers
2k views

Use of “never” in questions

I was taught that ever should be used in questions (Have you ever...?) and never should be used in negations (I have never...). But reading "A wizard of Earthsea" by Ursula K. Le Guin I spotted such a ...
6
votes
6answers
5k views

Is this grammatically correct? “Thinking of you and I”

http://vaadin.com/ makes a tool for User Interfaces (UI). Their tag line is “Thinking of U and I.” A play on words, I suppose, for UI, and “you and I.” It bothers me, though, because I think both ...
6
votes
1answer
482 views

Is “not eating or drinking” equal to “not eating or not drinking”?

Is "not eating or drinking" equal to "not eating or not drinking"?
6
votes
3answers
4k views

Why haven't we used “it” instead of “he or she”?

There is a related discussion on this forum. My questions is different. I'm all for gender awareness, but why hasn't a properly defined pronoun "it" been used instead of "he/she" or "he or she", etc. ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

What are the uses of ellipses in essays? [closed]

I’m wondering about how ellipses are used in essays. Are there any examples that I could see?
4
votes
2answers
8k views

A study of awake and awaken

It has been drawn to my attention that I may not be using the verb 'awake'correctly in the active and passive. Please could someone confirm that I have now got this right. In their simple present ...
4
votes
2answers
645 views

Tense agreement in conditional statements: “I could do whatever I want” vs. “I could do whatever I wanted”

Consider the following sentences: If I had my own place, I could do whatever I want. If I had my own place, I could do whatever I wanted. She said I could do whatever I want. She ...
4
votes
3answers
5k views

How is 'get' being used in these sentences?

What grammar structure is this? Bob got/had me drunk. She's got me spending. Get moving! Get going! That music gets/has me dancing! He had/got me stumped. She had/got me stoned. Is it possible to ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

Should I use “will” or “would” here?

I doubt they will exchange the 20 inch monitor. OR I doubt they would exchange the 20 inch monitor. Which is correct, and why?
3
votes
4answers
6k views

Confusion in using “due to”

I usually meet "due to" usage in a document or conversation, but in different ways. I did some research and found out that "due to" is adjectival. Thus, the correct sentence should be: The ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Can “if”, “while”, “whenever”, “when” recurse deeply? How deeply? [closed]

I would like a generative BNF-style complete description for English grammar. Some of the more subtle stuff leads to awkward questions of grammaticality (a complete answer to this question, and all ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

“Any” or “some” in various questions?

I'm wondering why I always hear "some" in questions, although according to English grammar there should always be "any". At least the one I'm looking at uses "some". For example: Why are some ...
2
votes
6answers
4k views

Similar words that change from “-ter” to “tre”

I just found out that luster in British English was actually lustre. This was something that I did not know before. Are there any other words that behave like this? Why? (According to what?)
-2
votes
2answers
591 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
3answers
39k views

How do you make the possessive form with “He and I”-style subjects? [duplicate]

Despite being a native speaker of American English, I cannot find a construction that sounds natural when trying to form a possessive from coordinated subjects including a first person pronoun, like ...
10
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
642 views

*all of us's friend

There's this funny gap I tried to write a paper once upon a time when I studied linguistics, and I'd like to know if anyone has insight into it. The construction in question is the possessive ...
8
votes
0answers
412 views

Infinitive without “to”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the correct way to use infinitive after the verb “help”: with or without “to”? Today I found this headline on bbc.co.uk How one ...
6
votes
1answer
24k views

“Over vs Above” and “Under vs below”

Is is possible to say that "Above" means "over" and "Under" means"below", but not the opposite? According to my grammar: Over - In a higher position (close or touching) Above - In a higher position ...
5
votes
3answers
4k views

why is it always “on foot” not “on feet”?

While we normally use both our feet to walk, why is it grammatically acceptable to say "on foot" not "on feet"?
5
votes
0answers
4k views

How many tenses are there in English and what are they? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How many tenses are there in English? The number of grammatical tenses in English makes it confusing as to what they are exactly and what types of tenses there are. ...
4
votes
10answers
1k views

Why is it ‘A God,’ not ‘God' in Mark Sanford’s “I want to acknowledge a God not just of second chances, but third, fourth, eighth chances”?

There was a quote of ex-South Carolina governor Mark Sanford in his victory speech in the House vacant seat election in the New York Times article (May 13) written by Gail Collins under the title ...
4
votes
2answers
25k views

“Hope you won't” vs “Hope you don't”

What is the difference between "Hope you don't mind" and "Hope you won't mind"? What could be a contextual difference between the two? In a situation like the following, which one seems more ...
4
votes
2answers
4k views

“To enable him to escape” vs. “to enable him escape”

I have been coming across this kind of sentence more and more: She gave him a key to enable him to escape capture. She gave him a key to enable him escape capture. Which sentence is correct? ...
4
votes
5answers
4k views

Exclamation marks in the middle of a sentence

Would this usage of exclamation mark be correct? I want to — honest! — give you a slap! Yes, I know, it's a quite bad example, but I wonder if this usage of an exclamation inside a sentence is ...
4
votes
3answers
952 views

“Exchange emails with whomever you want to put me in contact [with]”

I realize the "never end a sentence with a preposition" rule is controversial these days, but let's assume for the sake of argument that it should be followed. What is the proper construction of a ...
3
votes
4answers
304 views

Is 'had have + past participle' a correct grammatical form?

It has been suggested in some quarters that had have, followed by a past participle, is a regionalism that has no place in standard English grammar. If I had have known you were coming, I would have ...
3
votes
4answers
484 views

Polite or unrectified placement of the word please

I would please prefer to take both parts of the test on Monday. Is the placement of the word please in this sentence grammatically correct?
3
votes
2answers
261 views

How to write correctly chains of nouns with plurals like “Messages List” and “Apple Count” for IT

Especially in IT it is often neccessary to write chains of nouns like "Messages List" because one cannot use "The list of messages" for variable name in a programming language. I can't understand how ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Does the English language have an official Academy?

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
227 views

Antecedent Precedence?

Background: I was working on a project and was having a colleague of mine proof-read a piece of documentation. He said that one sentence was ambiguous because he couldn't determine what the antecedent ...