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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

2
votes
2answers
486 views

Since when a double negative as an intensifier was considered as non-standard and why?

In present-day English, a double negative as an intensifier is regarded as non-standard. For example I don't think that "I can't get no satisfaction" is considered as standard English. https://www....
2
votes
2answers
213 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
730 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
29k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
3k views

How to write out dates correctly

I have a document dated 05/05/2012. What should I say? Based on the document from 05 May. Based on the document from 5th May. Based on the document from 05 of May.
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
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. "saw ...
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 ...
1
vote
4answers
483 views

Does the present perfect imply an action finished in the past? [duplicate]

reading passage: Ten Taiwanese film directors, producers and screenwriters have been invited to participate in a two-day workshop in Paris next week, to seek co-production opportunities with their ...
1
vote
1answer
622 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
860 views

Should a photograph label read “you and I” or “you and me”? [duplicate]

I had a debate with my friend about this topic because he had a photo captioned: Seth and I playing lion king and I said it should be Seth and me playing lion king Which is correct?
0
votes
1answer
242 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
29k 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 ...
-1
votes
2answers
11k 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 like ...
-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"? ...
144
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 solution....
20
votes
5answers
55k 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 ...
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?
17
votes
7answers
4k views

An appropriate question tag for “He's too weak to walk.”

A couple of days ago, I sat for an English exam. There was a question there that asked for the appropriate question tag for the sentence "He's too weak to walk." I answered "isn't he?" but my teacher ...
13
votes
5answers
175k 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 ...
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 ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

May, might confusion [duplicate]

When should I use each of the following: This may help. This might help. I always get confused about the use of may and might.
7
votes
3answers
2k views

What's this? What is it? but not What's it? - Why?

Can anyone give a cogent, simply described explanation of why the verb BE in: What is it? ... doesn't seem to be able to be contracted with the subject: What's it? * Compare the sentences ...
39
votes
7answers
12k views

Why use “of” in the phrase “delivered of a baby”?

With all the "Royal baby" craze comes something that really confuses me. All the news media used pretty much the same sentence to make the announcement: The Duchess of Cambridge has been ...
25
votes
7answers
3k views

Can a person happen? Is “Zodanga happened” correct?

I was watching movie John Carter where there was some dialogue like this: — What happened here? — Zodanga happened. Here Zodanga was a bad guy in the movie. I don't understand how a guy ...
13
votes
6answers
9k 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 verb ...
11
votes
3answers
52k views

Difference between “are you done” and “have you done.”

I was just wondering, how can we differentiate "are you done?" and "have you done?", and what is the appropriate way to use each?
7
votes
3answers
1k views

I haven't seen her “for”/“in” two days

What's the difference between using either for or in in the following examples? Bill hasn't taken a vacation for/in two years. Jack hasn't been to school for/in four days. I hadn't seen ...
7
votes
2answers
28k views

Do you need the “why” in “That's the reason why”? [duplicate]

I often hear people say things like “That's the reason why I....” As far as I know, “That's the reason I...” would still be grammatically correct, but I can't find anything stating one way or the ...
6
votes
5answers
3k views

Why is “herself” required in this particular sentence?

Why is a reflexive pronoun, i.e. herself, grammatically required in the following sentence? I gave Susie a picture of herself. Compare with: I gave Susie a picture of her. This ...
4
votes
1answer
18k 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
4k views

“I don't think you X” versus “I think you don't X”

Consider the following two sentences: I don't think you love your father. I think you don't love your father. Is the second sentence correct? I was taught it is wrong.
15
votes
6answers
3k views

Do serious grammarians endorse the “Can I”/“May I” distinction?

Just now, I wanted to ask a question that was something like, "Can I get a thorough list of all the parts of speech that a sentence can be broken down into?" But then a nagging voice appeared in my ...
14
votes
10answers
3k views

What do you call something that is not first in a sequence?

Is there a word to describe something that is not the first element in a sequence, but can be in any other position? A synonym of "not first", in fact. This element is __ in this sequence.
12
votes
13answers
18k views

Plural of “advice”

The dictionary says that advice can only be used in the singular. But in a specific part of computer science (aspect-oriented programming) this word is used to reference some object that implements ...
11
votes
5answers
822 views

Is this contraction of 'there is' acceptable to native speakers of English?

In the Slate article, The Curse of “You May Also Like”, the following sentence has a contraction of there is that doesn't sit well with my ear for American or British English. I wonder whether any of ...
9
votes
3answers
10k views

needn't = don't need to?

Are these two sentences equivalent? You needn't pay at once. You don't need to pay at once. If yes, which one would you recommend? Is it an US/GB thing?
7
votes
3answers
10k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
653 views

What evidence is there that 'to' belongs to any particular part of speech?

Reopen note: There is a quite finite and modest amount of evidence in the literature about this issue, which members can record here as they see fit. Less than there is for example about what a noun ...
4
votes
5answers
17k 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 you."...
16
votes
5answers
3k views

Is there a name for how the Irish use so, so?

There is an Irish English structural usage of the word so, that is I think unique to Ireland. Are we going to the cinema, so? Where is the dog, so? The word so is unneeded and seems to mean '...
11
votes
4answers
13k 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 correct....
10
votes
3answers
344k views

When to use “lives” as a plural of life?

I am confused when talking about a general idea using "our life" when sometimes I feel like using "our lives". Please tell me the correct answer with appropriate explanation.
9
votes
1answer
979 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

What part of speech is “worth”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the lexical class of the word 'worth' when used in a sentence like “Is this apple worth $3?” In a sentence like the following: The knight’s ...
8
votes
9answers
2k views

is there a replacement word for “previous of previous”?

I want to describe a situation that happened two levels earlier. I use the bash shell to navigate through directories. Say I started at the directory /home, and then I moved to the directory /home/...
7
votes
3answers
46k views

“Is there” versus “Are there”

Are there any questions I should be asking? Is there any articles available on the subject? My instinct is that in the two questions above, it should be 'are' as the subjects of the sentences (...
6
votes
3answers
302 views

Why is there a comma in “Man discusses his, wife's experience”

Why is there a comma after "his" in the headline? Does this mean his AND his wife's experience? Is it correct english, or slang? "Man discusses his, wife's experience being injured during the Boston ...