This tag is not for questions on whether something is grammatical. It's for questions about how the grammar actually works: different grammatical usages, how they can be used, or what they mean.

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Should I use the singular or plural verb in mathematical formulae (“Two and two make/makes four”)?

I remember somebody correcting me once when I said, "Two and two makes four", since the conjunction and would imply the use of a plural verb. They would prefer I said: Two and two make four. ...
9
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4answers
7k views

Emend and Amend- What's the difference? They both have the same definition

What's the difference between the words emend and amend? They both have the same definition.
9
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5answers
5k views

Is “curious if” improper to use compared to alternatives such as “curious as to” or “curious whether”?

Consider the following line, which I've heard this particular construction frequently: "I’m curious if other people feel like I do." The construct specifically is that of using "I'm curious if" ...
9
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1answer
574 views

What is this ‘-ing’ structure?

Consider the following sentence: The Bactrian camel is well adapted to the extreme climate of its native Mongolia, having thick fur and underwool that keep it warm in winter and also insulate ...
9
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1answer
200 views

When can I use “Only do …” vs. when must I use “Only …” without the “do”?

I'm writing a scientific paper and my supervisor (who is non-native speaker, whereas I am a native speaker) asked me to change this construct: Only do males have a y chromosome. to Only ...
9
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1answer
775 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
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1answer
115 views

Why can't you place pronouns after a phrasal verb?

Many phrasal verbs such as look up or knock out typically allow the object to be placed between the verb and proposition or to be placed afterward. For example, You can look my brother up on ...
9
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2answers
389 views

sewer or sewers

I was playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES when I stopped to ponder; when in a place full of sewage, am I in the sewer or am I in the sewers? Mayhaps both? Also on further use of the root ...
9
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5answers
309 views

How to categorize this phrase. Relative clause, Interrogative clause, Adverbial clause?

What is "Where to go" in the sentence "Where to go is the question." Is it a adverbial phrase or a relative clause? And what is "Why go" in the sentence "Why go when you can stay?" - is it a clause?
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3answers
6k views

Is it really wrong to say “I'm hearing”?

Many grammar books claim that ‘see’, ‘hear’, ‘taste’, ‘smell’, ‘feel’ are verbs that aren’t used in continuous forms, and yet, we do hear and see it quite often used by native speakers. For instance, ...
9
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3answers
611 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
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7answers
106k views

“I'm well” vs. “I'm good” vs. “I'm doing well”, etc

The greeting How are you? is asking How are you doing in general? — How are you? I'm well. [Misunderstood the question.] because well as an adjective which means: in good health ...
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3answers
6k views

If the English language is always evolving, why do we need to learn and follow grammatical rules?

Since language evolves over time — the best example I can think of is slang where it mostly doesn't follow grammar rules — why is there a need to preserve grammar or stress that proper ...
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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 ...
8
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7answers
128k views

Which is correct: “drive safe” or “drive safely”?

Which one is correct? Similarly, is "do good" correct?
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6answers
9k views

Russian speakers and “I feel myself to be …”

I was told that it is a typical mistake for Russian speakers to say I feel myself badly instead of I feel ill. I wonder to what extent such constructs sound wrong to native speakers? I feel ...
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11answers
872 views

One’s love confession vs. One’s confession of love

The following is an extract taken from an Italian student's piece of English homework before I corrected it. Also Mr Amos’s girlfriend, Sabina, arrives to the restaurant, and she assisted to ...
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5answers
2k views

“I didn't realize it was him.”

Overheard on an elevator today, I didn't realize it was him. Corrected by the know-it-all, He. "I didn't realize it was he." The know-it-all then went on a rant about how everybody is a ...
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6answers
2k views

What is the grammatical function of 'brand' in the phrase 'brand new'

A previous question on the forum asks what the meaning of 'brand' is in the phrase 'brand new' and the overall view seems to be that it means fire. Ie fresh from the fire. But what is its ...
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2answers
2k 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 ...
8
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4answers
679 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 ...
8
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3answers
977 views

Why some questions are written in this funny way?

There, I did it myself. Instead of asking "Why are some questions written in this funny way?", I produced what strikes me as bad English ever so often: Questions that are formed by starting out with ...
8
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2answers
411 views

Chainsaw-equipped or chainsaw equipped?

Is it chainsaw-equipped or chainsaw equipped? And with what kind of former words to use "-" properly?
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3answers
9k views

Each apple and each orange [has/have]?

For a phrase such as the following: each apple and each orange Is it correct to use "has" or "have" when describing properties of both apples and oranges?
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5answers
986 views

What does it mean: “… was three days dying”?

Not being a native English speaker, I still like to read in English from time to time. In my current book was written that someone "... was three days dying." Does this mean that the person died three ...
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4answers
8k views

Does “whereabouts” function as a singular or plural noun?

His whereabouts is unknown vs His whereabouts are unknown Which is correct, or is this simply a matter of preference?
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2answers
5k views

Plural of “abacus”

A colleague and I were having a discussion as to the proper plural form of abacus. I believe the plural would be abacuses and he feels that the proper form would be abaci. I believe that abacuses is ...
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2answers
1k views

Do you use he/she or it to refer to ghost?

If I have a sentence: There are many stories which have been told about a ghost that haunted this castle. Strangely, ... (the ghost) has never appeared in front of my face for 10 years. I ...
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4answers
758 views

In “Lucifer Rising” - grammatical explanation for use of -ing form instead of “Rises”?

How does that work grammatically? I guess it's primarily used for titles (movies, songs etc.) but why?
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6answers
28k views

Is “worser” correct grammatically?

Is worser correct grammatically? I know it seems incorrect, but I stumbled upon the word when reading Hamlet: Oh, throw away the worser part of it, And live the purer with the other half. ...
8
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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 ...
8
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4answers
541 views

Is this quote grammatically correct?

Beauty and sadness always go together. Nature thought beauty too rich to go forth upon the earth without a meet alloy. (George MacDonald) The last part of the quote doesn't seem to make ...
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4answers
3k views

“Mom and Dad” vs “Dad and Mom”

I'm curious if the order implies anything here. I'm pretty sure "Mom and Dad" is standard in English. The issue was hard for me to google, so I'm asking it here: Is using "Dad" before "Mom" ...
8
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1answer
273 views

Is this usage of 'curiously' correct?

I recently used a sentence similar to the following: Curiously, do you prefer black? Some people found it grammatically incorrect. That was a surprise, for I thought it was perfectly okay. ...
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3answers
2k views

When to use nah or right in a sentence

When I was chatting with my friend, as a part of our conversation I used a phrase. "You have laptop nah." He replied, first try to change your English, it sounds ridiculous, using words nah, right. ...
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3answers
7k views

Can you say “are not we all?” instead of “aren't we all?”

Because "aren't" translates to "are not" I pose the question, can you use both interchangeably (in the context of "aren't we all?")? "Are not" sounds very grammatically incorrect in this situation. ...
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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?
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2answers
2k views

Dare + have done

Here is an example from an old book. I know it’s old but it can’t be simply discarded, I hope. "I never dare have spoken — never dare have told you that my love for you was killing me" So, I ...
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3answers
510 views

What difference does using 'had' make to those two verb tenses, and if so, what is it?

What is the difference between if I had studied and if I studied? Can you provide an example of when one usage would be more appropriate than the other?
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3answers
488 views

When should I use “to do” and “to doing”

folks Here are two sentences that I find difficult to understand the grammar during my reading. Last year, two of her ministers suggested that convicted tycoons be pardoned if they could contribute ...
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5answers
10k views

Use of “-wise” in phrases or words

What is -wise in phrases or words that end with it? How do we use it correctly? Floor is obscenely expensive computational-wise. I found a similar thread here but I don't understand much.
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5answers
18k views

When to use words quite, rather, pretty, fairly etc

Is there any logic to this or just decision? I would use the following combinations: quite amazing rather large pretty good I would not use the following combinations: pretty amazing quite large ...
8
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3answers
561 views

Would I say “I can sometimes…” or “I sometimes can…”

I'm just curious. I like to think that I am decent with grammar, but this has me puzzled. Which is the correct way to arrange my sentence? "I can sometimes..." or "I sometimes can..." Thank you
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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 ...
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2answers
9k views

Past tense of 'to output': output or outputted?

According to Wikipedia, the past tense (and past participle) of the verb to output is either output or outputted. Are these two forms entirely interchangeable? Or do they have certain nuance in ...
8
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5answers
74k views

“Centered on” or “centered around”

I have often heard presenters talking about something centered around another thing, but it seems a bit illogical and hence improper to talk like this. Am I right about this?
8
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1answer
590 views

What does “I have no shame when it comes to ignorance” mean? [closed]

Does it mean one chooses to be ignorant regardless of shame, or submit to shame while admitting ignorance? Interviewer: Tell me about your first felony arrest? Candidate: I have no shame when it ...
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3answers
1k 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 ...
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2answers
451 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 ...
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1answer
41k views

Correspond to vs. Correspond with

Is there any significant difference between Correspond to and Correspond with? I only mean in the sense of "matching", here, rather than "communication". I've looked at a few sources, but I can't ...