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

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How to say “You have this much work to do because you decided to do that much” more elegantly?

I want to try word this a bit more elegantly, fancy, etc. Basically that is a reply to a co-worker who said to me in an email saying "Too much work to do!" and I want to reply to that in an ...
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13answers
6k 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 ...
7
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3answers
960 views

Can “a person” be used as plural? [duplicate]

Is it acceptable to write: A person can develop their talent. or a person can develop their uniqueness? In this case the person is used as a general term, not a specific person.
7
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3answers
659 views

Is this translation of a joke grammatically correct? [closed]

I'm trying to translate this Dutch comic to English. I want to say that the probability of rain turns out to be higher than predicted, but that this probability is not of such magnitude that it ...
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6answers
2k views

Use of “ever” in non-negated sentence

Is the sentence grammatically correct: I do recall ever seeing my mother in the light of day.
7
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3answers
817 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 ...
7
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3answers
6k 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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6answers
3k views

Why does English need an article before any noun?

In my native language, we can say: I have dog Because I don't want to say a dog (one dog, how many dogs) or the dog (that dog, the listener don't care which dog). p.s. after 3 years later, I ...
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6answers
5k views

Why is “listen” always followed by “to” in the command voice?

When I say, read it or drink it or take me, there is no to in-between. Why is it that when I use the verb listen, I have to say listen to me or listen to it?
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3answers
6k views

Is to + ing (to becoming) correct?

I have read in a newspaper, the writer is using 'to becoming'. eg: "We're on track to becoming developed nation." Is this sentence really correct?
7
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6answers
1k 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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7answers
2k views

Correct comma use with “but” and “that”

Compare these 3 sentences: Both are based on librsync, but above that they behave quite differently. Both are based on librsync, but above that, they behave quite differently. Both are ...
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6answers
4k views

Is it supposed to be a HTML or an HTML [duplicate]

Possible Duplicates: “A” vs. “An” in writing vs. pronunciation Do you use “a” or “an” before acronyms? I've often seen people calling a ...
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2answers
3k views

Is “Should be *ing” a valid English phrasing?

I'm Portuguese and my girlfriend German. Because she is a Germanic-language native-speaker, she is constantly correcting my English. Though, often it is annoying that she corrects me in grammar ...
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3answers
1k 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. ...
7
votes
1answer
530 views

Using verbs with multiple meanings

Is it grammatically incorrect to use a verb with multiple meanings so that the meanings are used at once? I'm thinking of a line from the classic Flanders Swann song Madeira M’Dear: … he hastened ...
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2answers
3k views

“You” or “your” when using two subjects with a possession?

I came across your and Mr X's publication or I came across you and Mr X's publication
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4answers
5k 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. ...
7
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2answers
3k views

Inversion in “only [adverb] have they”

I have seen this construction quite often: Online ads have been around since the dawn of the Web, but only in recent years have they become the rapturous life dream of Silicon Valley. What ...
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5answers
12k 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 ...
7
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1answer
141 views

What is the name of the type of sentence that's formatted like “performing an action”?

So I am sure the title of this question makes little sense, but I don't know how to ask it (feel free to edit it to make it more direct, but not so direct that it answers the question). There is a ...
7
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3answers
122k 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.
7
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2answers
1k 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 ...
7
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1answer
527 views

Is it right to use a verb in singular form for a noun in plural form as in “Your pigs is so much better than our pigs”?

I felt a bit puzzled to find the line “Your pigs is so much better than our pigs” in the following section of Jeffrey Archer’s novel Not a penny more, Not a penny less: Harvey could never resist ...
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2answers
1k views

Does this sentence seem weird?

A line from William Golding's The Lord of the Flies: All round him the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat. Is it just me or does the sentence seem grammatically off?
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4answers
2k views

Why use “his” in association with the word “mankind”?

I have a doubt. The economist Keynes in a book wrote: The power to become habituated to his surroundings is a marked characteristic of mankind. I would have used "its" instead but since English ...
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6answers
4k views

Is it correct to use 'Forgot password' or 'Forgotten password'

Many websites use the phrase 'Forgot password?' when prompting users to renew their login passwords. Is this correct usage or should it be 'Forgotten password?'.
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4answers
1k views

“going to” vs “will”

I know several questions were asked about the difference between "going to" and "will". Based on several answers (see, for instance, here, here and here), I understood that "will" is more spontaneous ...
7
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3answers
16k views

“It would be better if you drink/drank all the water”

Which one of the following is grammatically correct? It would be better if you drink all the water. It would be better if you drank all the water. The question is, obviously, about the use ...
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3answers
4k 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 ...
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3answers
4k 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?
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3answers
7k views

“Elaborate” as a transitive verb?

It is common to speak of "elaborating on (or upon) a topic." However, I have been told that this is appropriate only when some explanation has already been given; if no information is yet known, then ...
7
votes
1answer
4k views

“At home” or “home”

What is the rule of not using at before home? For example, When he called me I was (at) home. I am always (at) home on Sundays. He came to my place at 6pm and by that time I had already been (at) ...
7
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1answer
18k views

Starting a sentence with “rather”

I've sometimes heard people use rather for connecting two sentences where the second one sets counterexample to something negated in the first. This is not a meaningful sentence. Rather, it's an ...
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3answers
5k views

“I'm having” - an illness?

What is I'm having in grammar terms? Is it something near the present, the near future? As in I'm having a party tomorrow? Example (not about the near future), I'm having trouble coming up with a ...
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4answers
5k 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.
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4answers
621 views

Why “present simple” and not “simple present”?

When reading grammar, I find the names of the tenses kind of weird to me; Present simple and not simple present past simple and not simple past present continuous and not continuous present etc ...
7
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2answers
132 views

why is the first sentence wrong out of the two given below?

*Her company is outperforming those of her competitors. *Her company is outperforming the companies of her competitors. The question is from a Manhattan GMAT book. It says there is lack of number ...
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2answers
6k views

Where should adverbs be placed?

There are two sentences: I completely understand. I understand completely. Which one is correct and why? Another example: I slowly opened the door. I opened the door slowly.
7
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1answer
15k views

Why 'in itself', why not just 'itself'?

Life in itself is neither good nor evil. It is the place of good and evil, according to what you make it.
7
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1answer
4k views

Wasn't and weren't?

"I would if I wasn't American." "I would if I weren't American." Which one is correct?
7
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1answer
5k views

When to use “to” and when “for”?

Examples: It is important to me. It will be good for you. This sounds stupid to me. I'll make it comfortable for you. I'll make it available to you. Any rules here, dear native ...
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2answers
1k views

Why is “ouster” the act of ousting and not one who ousts?

The question should be clear enough from the title. Also: What are we supposed to call one who ousts? [If this warrants another question, I will edit this out and open another question.]
7
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1answer
170 views

Are “was/were able to” and “could” interchangeable?

In a grammar book, the claim was made that in the following sentences one cannot substitute "was/were able to" with "could." The fire spread through the building very quickly, but everyone was ...
7
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3answers
7k views

Grammar parsing for “if need be”

I have a following question. There is an idiom 'if need be'. The meaning is clear, but I can't comprehend it from a grammatical point of view. How should I parse it? 'if [smth] needs to be'? Why not ...
7
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2answers
303 views

The all-powerful “to have”

"To have" seems to fill a lot of different needs in the English language, apart from its literal meaning of possessing something. It's an integral part of perfect and perfect progressive verb tenses: ...
7
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5answers
875 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 ...
7
votes
8answers
449 views

Rewrite this grammatically troubling movie poster

On a Wiki-walk the other day, I stumbled across the movie poster for Devil. The tagline on the poster is: Five strangers trapped. One of them is not what they seem. The writer was obviously ...
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7answers
73k views

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

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