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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

5
votes
3answers
21k views

“Wasn't” vs “weren't” [duplicate]

Which one would be correct? I wish it weren't raining today. I wish it wasn't raining today. I wish it were raining today. I wish it was raining today.
4
votes
3answers
3k 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
9k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
776 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 ...
14
votes
6answers
2k views

What is the name for the grammatical device of putting “not” after a verb to negate it?

Here's a passage (more or less taken randomly) from the American Standard Version of the Bible from 1901: 1 Peter 3:14 (ASV) 14 But even if ye should suffer for righteousness' sake, blessed are ...
12
votes
6answers
5k 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
8k views

Is “It is you who are mistaken!” correct? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What rules make “Remember me, who am your friend” grammatical? This is a line spoken by the Emperor to Luke in Star Wars. I always wondered if this is grammatically ...
9
votes
1answer
683 views

When can a noun be used attributively?

Nouns can modify nouns: cat food, coffee cup, gold ring, laser surgery, flood insurance. It seems to me there are even cases where a noun sounds better than the corresponding adjective: sociology ...
8
votes
5answers
1k 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
391 views

Can I say “Coming!” for “I am coming!”, and why?

In some languages we can remove the subject (and sometimes a verb too) from a sentence. In Toy Story 3, the kid says "Coming!" instead of "I am coming!" to her mother. My questions are: 1.) Can I ...
7
votes
3answers
427 views

“Be like” usage

Of late, I have been noticing a lot of casual memes floating around, particularly on Facebook, that involve this phrase. Typical constructs could be like the following examples: B*&^%$# be ...
6
votes
2answers
319 views

Unorthodox article placement

In my English class yesterday we looked at the following example: Monica is such a beautiful woman. We learned that the above sentence could also be written as: Monica is so beautiful a ...
5
votes
2answers
25k views

Which one is correct? “has been taken already” or “has already been taken”

I'm creating a registration form. I want to display a message if a particular username already exists. So which sentence is correct? This username has already been taken by another user. Please ...
4
votes
4answers
651 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
2answers
2k views

Regionalism or just bad English?

I've encountered a particular type of writing occasionally and it being, derp, in writing, it's hard to tell whether there's an accent behind it. The English used seems to me to be simply incorrect, ...
4
votes
7answers
2k views

Confusing structures with modal verbs

I have skimmed through the part on modals of a classic grammar book (Murphy's "Grammar in Use") and picked up all the structures that look strange to me. Could you, please, explain how often they are ...
4
votes
5answers
8k 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
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
3answers
8k views

Difference between “did + verb” and just “verb+ed”

This is something I always get confuse with (native language German). As far as I know "did + verb" is something done and finished in the past. But isn't it the same with "verb + ed"?
3
votes
1answer
756 views

“Compound nouns list” or “compound noun list”?

I couldn't help but wonder every time I saw such a noun phrase. I've seen both forms used equally often, so I guess both of them can be used interchangeably. But do I guess right? Some examples: ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

Use of “respectively”

He has two sisters who live in southern and northern California, respectively. I saw this on IMDB and I was wondering if the respectively was grammatically correct. Since nothing is being listed ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

“One-Day Only Promotion” or “One-Day-Only Promotion”

A copywriter I'm working with wrote "One-Day Only Promotion" but my feeling is that "One-Day-Only Promotion" is correct. The first three words describe 'Promotion'. I know you don't hyphenate adverbs, ...
2
votes
3answers
575 views

to finish vs. to have finished

One of the rules of using the perfect infinitive says that it can refer to something that will be completed at a point in the future. We hope to have finished the building works by the end of March. ...
2
votes
2answers
991 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
855 views

Feel confused about to-infinitive in a sentence

In order to understand the English grammar, I have to read the Grammar Section in OALD. I don't understand the grammar constituents of to-infinitives in these sentences. How can I understand them? ...
2
votes
6answers
4k views

“Four plus two equals six” (or “is equal to six” or “is six”)

You write 4 + 2 = 6 and say "four plus two equals (or is equal to or is) six." In the question “Is equal to” or “equals”, I read the following comment: Equals is equal being a verb, in the ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Singular verb with plural numbers

In answer to the question, "Do we need any more chairs?" why does it sound correct to say, "No, three's enough." Why does "three are enough" sound wrong?
2
votes
1answer
1k views

“last year” vs. “the last / whole of the last year” vs. “whole the last year”

I would have question related to other question I asked today. I know that: last year refers to something that happens in the last year (which could be yesterday if today is 1.1.) the last year — ...
2
votes
1answer
5k views

What does “I was had” mean?

Maybe he would help me with Deborah's pablum, take turns pushing the wheelchair. It's good to have someone. That reminded me that I had someone -- or perhaps I was had. In any case, Rita would ...
2
votes
3answers
3k views

Which tense after 'would I… if… ?'

I am struggling on a sentence here. Let me show u what I come up with; Would I fail if I won't study? In this sentence I am trying to indicate a possibility but I am not sure if I use this part ...
2
votes
4answers
461 views

Aren't adverbs related to the closest word? What about other modifiers?

Aren't adverbs related to the closest word? Does nightly in nightly business report refer to business? Update: I am still confused. Is relation of non-adverb modifiers different from that of ...
1
vote
2answers
274 views

A case of optional “that”: “check the” vs. “check that the”

Consider the following use case: Please check the username and password are correct. Please check that the username and password are correct. In this case, I would say that that is required ...
1
vote
2answers
242 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.
1
vote
2answers
7k views

Which preposition: “Write on/at/to this address?”

My exam included this fill-in-the-blank question: Please write __ this address. (on/at/to) I filled the blank with on. Is that correct?
1
vote
3answers
107 views

Should I begin with uppercase when placing a sentence inside a apostrophes? [closed]

Here's an example: Warren said, 'could you help me remember some English basics?' vs. Warren said, 'Could you help me remember some English basics?'
1
vote
5answers
3k 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?)
0
votes
2answers
180k 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 ...
0
votes
4answers
9k views

I lived vs I used to live

I cannot see any difference between these two sentences. I assume both express the same but what is the difference? I thought that "used to" is used to describe an action that was happening in the ...
15
votes
9answers
18k 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.'
13
votes
4answers
38k views

“Criteria” versus “criterion”

I came across several forums and articles saying that criteria is plural and criterion is singular. Some gave me the impression that criterion is used to denote a set of rules. What is the correct ...
11
votes
3answers
6k views

Prepositions at the end of sentence and whom

I believe it's okay to end a sentence with a preposition. That seems to be the consensus here as well. Now I think that when who is the object of a preposition, it should technically be whom, e.g. ...
10
votes
2answers
4k 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?
9
votes
2answers
540 views

Stop if you feel faint or pain! [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Ellipsis that results in one word serving as both subject and object I am “adjective” and I am “present continuous” in one sentence I was using some exercise equipment ...
8
votes
4answers
5k views

Usage question: “I hadn't drank any coffee before I lived in Italy.”

Ok, so as an English teacher, I know that in the present and past perfect tenses, the auxiliary verb have is followed by the past participle form of the verb. Using most verbs, I find that this is ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

“The pair was …” or “the pair were …”

I've recently read a blurb from a local paper that included the following: The pair was drinking prior to the shooting. To me, this appears wrong and I would say that the proper way to make the ...
6
votes
3answers
5k views

“Object of” vs. “subject of” — which one is correct? Does it depend on context?

(Tried to search to see if this question had already been asked, but could not find it amongst the many questions concerning pronoun declension and objects and subjects as parts of speech.) What, ...
6
votes
1answer
254 views

What is the term for giving an action or phenomenon somebody's name, e.g. “Doing a Lord Lucan”?

A friend of mine is keen on taking the glory (or adverse publicity!) when something goes wrong on a job he's working on and he likes to give it his name, e.g., "this is turning into a right Simpson of ...
5
votes
4answers
430 views

Should I use “or” or “nor” in the following case?

I wasn't forcing myself to say anything, or/nor trying to be funny. "Or" sounds more grammatically correct to me. But "nor" has more Google results. So I'm confused.
5
votes
4answers
193 views

Can I separate events with period to form past perfect?

Can I say the following? The doorbell rang. He had finished his meal. I know I could join the sentences into one sentence to get the same meaning. I want to know if this would be correct if I ...
5
votes
4answers
15k views

Is “close proximity” a tautology?

I was rooting about in the OED and one definition is "The fact, condition, or position of being near or close by in space; nearness." Then in the citations for that definition they had: 1872 H. I. ...