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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10
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6answers
4k 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
661 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
413 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

“the average person” vs “an average person”

There's a question in a forum I frequent, and I'm trying to decide whether "the average" or "an average" is appropriate in its title. Let's say the question is: "Why is the average Canadian ...
6
votes
4answers
283 views

Problem with backshift in reporting clauses

This is the subject that's been bugging me for quite some time now, even though I believe I've managed to grasp the entire reported speech pretty well. If I want to repeat to someone what I ...
6
votes
3answers
5k 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"?
6
votes
1answer
27k 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
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
2answers
342 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 ...
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
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
1k 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
722 views

Is this use of present participle grammatically correct?

We are a Zhongguancun-based English training school looking for native English speakers from the US and Canada. If you are interested in this position. Please send your CV and photo to [email ...
3
votes
5answers
539 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
544 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
239 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
4k views

May vs Might in Sentence [duplicate]

On an average Sunday, you might find yourself In the sentence above, the possibility of the person reading finding themselves doing what it says is pretty high. It's almost certain. Should I use ...
3
votes
4answers
207k views

If you are talking “on behalf of” you and someone else, what is the correct usage?

If you are talking on behalf of you and someone else what is the correct usage? On behalf of my wife and me On behalf of my wife and I On behalf of me and my wife On behalf of ...
2
votes
2answers
191 views

“of the” vs noun adjunct

Please note: This may be a complex question, references would be great, search engines do not help with "of the". Looks like we can remove the use of "of the" with a noun adjunct switching the order ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Should I use a hyphen after -ly when modifying a verb in the past participle verb?

Which of these are acceptable? Is one preferable over the other? "Chemically-deposited tourmaline is never periwinkle." "Chemically deposited tourmaline is never periwinkle." Also, is the title to ...
2
votes
3answers
8k views

The whys and the hows

Are apostrophes needed in this phrase? The whys and the hows I searched for duplicate questions, but the closest I found was in regard to words inside quotes.
2
votes
2answers
702 views

Tensed verb form or the plain form when used after “that” (in a mandative construction)

I know that each is a singular subject, but in certain cases it seems that is not the case. For example, in this sentence below, why would the correct verb be "keep" instead of "keeps?" The tour ...
2
votes
2answers
27k views

“I am done” or “I have finished” or “I am finished” or “I finish”

I was trying to say the following and got bewildered with the different choices. I have "To Kill a Mockingbird" on my list. I will write you about it when I am finished reading it. I have "To ...
2
votes
1answer
5k views

“I who has” vs “I who have.” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What rules make “Remember me, who am your friend” grammatical? Am aware it is correct to say "I have written..." and "I am a doctor who has writen..." I have, however, ...
2
votes
4answers
37k views

If conditional “didn't” vs “hadn't”

Grammar rules say that hadn't is used for unreal past conditions, but why can't we use simple past negation instead of past perfect? If I hadn't come to the meeting, it wouldn't have happened. ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

Usage of “just”, “only” and word-order [intended meaning]

I've got these sentences, which meanings are correct (my interpretations are in brackets): Use of only: (1) Only in 1996, Ford sold a rebadged Mazda 626 GV over here as its rebranded Japanese ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

“However, this book is anything but” meaning

What's the structure and meaning of this sentence in the following text: A friend lent this to me before I headed over to Italy and France this summer. I was a bit skeptical at first as he's ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Two adjectives for two nouns

I saw this on a billboard recently We have new and pre-owned cars and trucks Clearly the intention is to modify "cars and trucks" with the two adjectives "used and preowned" and although the ...
1
vote
2answers
323 views

Explanation of Grammatical structure is needed

The crowd saw him clap his hand to his mouth. This is a sentence from Harry Potter I. I don't understand how "clap" is used right after "saw". Shouldn't there be a "to" in between? i.e. ...
1
vote
1answer
484 views

A turned on or off car?

Will these expressions sound natural (to native English speakers)? Any better way to say: 1 - A turned on car 2 - A turned off car 3 - An idling car 4 - An idled car 5 - The car is turned off 6 ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

What is correct form of writing: “users names” or “user names”? [duplicate]

Let me ask you a question which I've derived from my programming practice: Let's assume, I have a number of users represented by their names: John, Pete, Stanislaw, Marc, ... What words should I use ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

“I know where you work at” vs. “I know where you work”

Which one is correct? I don't need to know where you work at. I don't need to know where you work. Could you also please tell me about this rule is called in grammar so I can learn more ...
0
votes
1answer
237 views

present continuous or be going to?

In his book, Grammar and Vocabulary for First Certificate, Luck Prodromou has ruled out the possibility of using 'be going to' to complete the following sentence : 'What .......... you .......... ...
0
votes
3answers
28k views

How to know when to use “someone” or “anyone”?

I am trying to write a grammar rule that will be able to identify when to use someone or anyone, and I got confused. I couldn't find any clear way to do this. For instance, "anyone can do it" is ...
0
votes
3answers
2k views

Which is more correct “fewer than hundred people” or “less than hundred people”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When is “less” appropriate vs. “fewer”? Which is more correct "fewer than hundred people" or "less than hundred people"? According to my grammar ...
-1
votes
1answer
3k views

Which is correct, I or me? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When do I use “I” instead of “me?” Which is correct? The photo shows my kids and me at the party. The photo shows my kids and I at the party Another one: ...
-1
votes
2answers
10k views

“Employee list” or “employees list” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: User’s Guide vs Users’ Guide should a list of tokens be called a “token list” or a “tokens list” I know we can use list of employees, but I'd ...
-1
votes
4answers
4k views

Usage of “What” + verb without auxiliary one

This is a subquestion to my "And lead raptivity captive" question. As I understood from a comment by RegDwight, it was incorrect to ask: What mean raptivity and phrase "And lead raptivity captive"? ...
137
votes
3answers
5k views

Where were “should”, “shall”, and “must” in the 18th Century?

According to the following Google Ngram, in the U.K. the modals should, shall, and must were virtually missing from English writing during the 18th Century (I've added will for a comparison modal ...
27
votes
14answers
7k views

Sentence in which “its” and “it's” can be interchanged without changing the meaning? [closed]

A friend posed the following word puzzle to me: Can you think of a sentence that keeps the same meaning whether you use "it's" or "its"? He asserted that this puzzle does in fact have a ...
20
votes
5answers
51k views

“Which one is you?” vs “Which one are you?”

Imagine I'm looking at a photo containing a number of people's faces and I can't tell which one belongs to a certain friend of mine. I could ask him one of two things: "Which one is you?" or ...
4
votes
1answer
50k views

'I was using', 'I have used', 'I have been using', 'I had used' - what is the difference amongst these?

First, is my question right? Does amongst fit here? Please differentiate the above phrases.
25
votes
7answers
6k views

Is it possible to start a grammatically-correct English sentence with the word “Than”?

Question: Is it possible to start a grammatically-correct English sentence with the word "Than"? If no, what other English words share this property? Background: Trevor claimed that it is ...
20
votes
6answers
16k views

“anymore” vs. “any more”

any more requests anymore requests Are these two the same? It seems that "any more requests" is grammatically correct while "anymore requests" is not. Am I right? Why are they different?
13
votes
5answers
163k views

“At/on (the) weekend(s)”

Which expression is better? Which is right? Why? A. Sorry to disturb you at weekend. B. Sorry to disturb you on weekend. C. Sorry to disturb you at weekends. D. Sorry to ...
11
votes
4answers
729 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
78k views

What is the difference between “have to”, “must”, and “should”? [duplicate]

Is there any difference between have to”, “must”, and “should”? If there is some difference between them, when do I have to use (nor not use) each of the constructions below? have to do something ...
21
votes
5answers
186k views

“It worths it”, “it worth it” or “it is worth it”?

Which one is correct and why? I think "worth it" is an adjective phrase. So what is "worth" then? Example: You should try spending money on her. It worths it. You should try spending money ...
19
votes
6answers
5k views

When can the -ing form of a verb be placed before a noun?

My native-speaker's grammatical intuition tells me that: There is a sleeping man under the tree. is fine but There is a fishing man by the river bank. is wrong. Why? I've thought about ...