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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15
votes
4answers
372 views

“Be” as an action rather than a state

I’ve heard, on rare occasion, a subtle differentiation between be as a state (to passively embody) and be as an action (to actively embody). The latter form often occurs in parallel with do to add ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

Commas around non-parenthetical name like “The famous playwright, William Shakespeare, was born…”?

I commonly see commas used like: "The famous playwright, William Shakespeare, was born in Stratford-upon-Avon." It bothers me, but I'm curious to hear explanations of why this is done, and if it can ...
10
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
4
votes
5answers
991 views

What is the “how” doing in one sense of the sentence “How would you like to die?”

The eighth episode of HBO's Game of Thrones series aired last night, and it was another fine one, full of wit and high drama. One particular scene in the episode, though, prompted an English language ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Can “I wonder” be put at the end of a sentence?

Usually sentences with "I wonder" are of the following form: I wonder why _______. But what about this? Why is it that _______ I wonder. It seems relatively unnatural. Why is that? Is it ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

Using multiple verbs with multiple nouns

In a sentence which uses multiple verbs and multiple nouns, is there a way to logically show which verb corresponds to which noun(s)? E.g.  1. I like to buy and eat fish and chips. (Both ...
2
votes
3answers
5k views

What's the difference between be verbs and auxiliary verbs?

I assume all be verbs are auxiliary verbs; is this correct?
24
votes
4answers
2k views

How do the rules of English inform understanding of one of our language's most disputed sentences?

Yes, historical context is important, but forget it for a moment. Taken at face value, what does the text mean? A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right ...
2
votes
1answer
749 views

“out loud”: is it hyphenated or not?

Does “out loud” require a hyphen? As in “think out loud.” What do you think? I think it does not. I noticed that it is commonly used without one. Even so, it bothers me.
1
vote
1answer
571 views

“To compensate” or “compensate for”?

As I'm no native speaker, I wonder about the usage for compensate. I'm writing a title of a paper. Is it: "Compensating for X Effects" or "Compensating X Effects" ? In this case I want to ...
10
votes
5answers
587 views

Are apostrophes actually needed?

I don't mean to make it grammatically correct I mean does English need them? I can't seem to find a use case other than it's "legacy" in English, but that is never a reason to keep something around. ...
3
votes
1answer
903 views

Is metathesis correct?

Pronouncing asterisk as asterix /æstərɪks/ is called metathesis. Some common examples of this phenomenon that I have heard are ask -> aks and introduce -> interduce /ɪntərˈdjuːs/. So this ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Is “Didn't used to have been” a valid structure?

Are the following sentences valid: It didn't used to happen. It didn't used to have been there. And if so, what tenses are they?
1
vote
2answers
358 views

Rules on encapsulating additional information: use commas(,… ,)or dashes (- … -)? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Parentheses vs. double commas vs. dashes to provide additional detail Here is the sentence where i struggled to find the grammatically correct form: Just curious – ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

Participle phrase — what can it modify?

Must a participial phrase always modify the subject of a sentence, or can it modify the object?
14
votes
1answer
10k views

What are the rules about using 'half of' with plural nouns?

Here are some sentences with 'half of' and plural nouns that I consider to be well-formed: Half of all films are a waste of celluloid. Half of users surveyed said they preferred the old product. ...
4
votes
2answers
37k views

What does “Per [person's name]” mean?

What does "Per John:" mean? From the context of the article I'm reading (article unlinked), it seems to mean "From John:" or "John (said):" What exactly does the word "per" mean when used as such?
3
votes
1answer
688 views

Quantity for abbreviations of plural terms

I have two questions which I think are so closely related that they should be grouped together. Quantity for an abbreviation that stands for a plural Context: The author is trying to explain what ...
2
votes
0answers
287 views

Is there a good book about interesting grammar in any language? [closed]

I love reading about interesting differences in grammar in different languages, e.g. Finnish cases. Is there a good book, site or something else that treats "interesting things in grammar" in any ...
1
vote
1answer
767 views

Grammaticality of Star Trek's slogan [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Are split infinitives grammatically incorrect, or are they valid constructs? Star Trek's slogan: To boldly go where no man has gone before. "To boldy go" sounds ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

If it is the “better” of two options (rather than “best”), is there still the “worst” of two options? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Use of the superlative when only two items are present When choosing between two items, I've always been told it's incorrect to say one is "the best". Rather, you ...
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 ...
6
votes
3answers
4k views

When is the use of “north” more appropriate than “northern” and vice versa?

North, South, East, West, can be used as adjectives, but so can Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western. What rules, if any, govern which is appropriate when?
2
votes
1answer
847 views

Can “so” (as a conjunction) be followed by a sentence the subject of which is omitted?

Recently I have come across this strange sentence: The paper was mainly about the everyday life of the ordinary people during the Japanese occupation so ...
3
votes
3answers
5k views

Why is “xxxx doth not a yyyy make” considered valid English?

Reading doth not a writer make. This sounds all wrong so why it is acceptable to use? The word order looks to be all out sequence (Object-Subject-Verb). It should be "reading does not make you a ...
1
vote
1answer
439 views

Should I use the singular or plural here?

The following two phrases MS Word marks as wrong, whereas I think they are correct; but I would like feedback to be sure. Microsoft and Cisco are both designing ... MS Word suggests changing ...
0
votes
1answer
121 views

“consumers may not trust producers for (??) enforcing the property”

Here's an example sentence: "consumers may not trust producers for enforcing the property" Should it really be "for" there on the middle? Or should it be some other word?
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Does the sentence of “Don’t you …”? have a connotation of accusation?

“Don't you want to know how Ginny got hold of that diary, Mr. Malfoy?” said Harry. Lucius Malfoy rounded on him. “How should I know how the stupid little girl got hold of it?” he said. ...
2
votes
1answer
7k views

Anyone: (“they” or “he/she”) why is it sometimes plural? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is it correct to use “their” instead of “his or her”? Plural versus singular: Anyone can learn to dance if they want to. Anyone can ...
8
votes
4answers
513 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
16k views

“Opportunity of purchasing” vs “Opportunity to purchase”

I am translating a phrase from Spanish and I would appreciate the input from a native English speaker: I translated a phrase as "to give the opportunity of purchasing", but I am in doubt whether it ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

Are em dashes acceptable in lists?

I often see lists written as follows (using em dashes to elaborate a list item): Item 1—explanation for item 1 Item 2—explanation for item 2 Is this generally correct, or are colons preferable?
3
votes
2answers
704 views

About the use of future tense

Which is better: "I am not having lunch tomorrow unless I am really hungry." "I am not having lunch tomorrow unless I will be really hungry." Something else
3
votes
4answers
10k views

Difference between “introduction to” and “introduction of”

What exactly is the difference between "introduction to" and "introduction of"? For example: should it be "Introduction to the problem" or "Introduction of the problem"?
2
votes
3answers
3k views

“make it to there”

Consider the following two phrases which are both about going to some place: If I can't make it there If I can't make it to there Isn't the second phrase grammatically correct, whereas the ...
3
votes
5answers
379 views

“The place where we promised to meet”

This is talking about a promise to meet at a certain place. However, is it grammatically correct? Is it badly phrased? It seems that it can be misinterpreted to mean that at a certain place a promise ...
1
vote
3answers
40k views

“I had finished the work on friday” / “I have finished the work”

Every morning, I have to speak in English. Suppose that today is Monday. Do these two sentences convey the same meaning? On Friday, I had finished the work. "Had" is used here because it is ...
7
votes
3answers
6k 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?
8
votes
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 ...
1
vote
0answers
386 views

Do you use “A” or “An” before an acronym that starts with L? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Do you use “a” or “an” before acronyms? We are making a banner for our LGBT running club. Is it An LGBT Running Club or A LGBT Running Club?
6
votes
3answers
396 views

Structure of “As I passed by there looked out from it the face I showed you this afternoon”

While reading Oscar Wilde's The Sphinx without a secret, I came across the following passage: 'One evening,' he said, 'I was walking down Bond Street about five o'clock. There was a terrific crush ...
2
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
5
votes
0answers
629 views

Omitting “that” when connecting clauses [duplicate]

Possible Duplicates: Use of “that” in a sentence How do you handle “that that”? The double “that” problem What exactly is the recommendation, when I'm ...
8
votes
1answer
269 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. ...
2
votes
1answer
607 views

Overusing “and” and how to fix it

Several months ago, I was writing a fan-fiction story set in the Sonic the Hedgehog universe and I ended up constructing this sentence: "...Sonic and his allies and Dr. Robotnik and his allies..." ...
0
votes
2answers
249 views

Another “ would” usage to maintain the same tense in the sentence

Touché on modify the joke to serve your best interest, although it'd probably lose its luster as you'd be disregarding traditionally Jewish stereotypes. Is this sentence grammatically correct? ...
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?
7
votes
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 ...
7
votes
6answers
6k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
4k views

How to correctly use the present perfect tense

This link states that: When you use the present perfect tense you have to be talking about a period of time that you still consider to be going on. For example, if it’s still morning, you can say, ...