Questions pertaining to the structure of phrases and sentences.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

83
votes
1answer
4k views

Is there a name for this type of sentence structure: “She looks as though she's been poured into her clothes, and forgot to say 'when'”?

Comedians seem to use phrases that employ this type of sentence structure - is there a name for it? Examples of Groucho Marx's one liners seem to fit this pattern — and if memory serves, Emo Philips. ...
12
votes
3answers
13k views

Should I refer to “Section 2.3” or “Subsection 2.3”?

When writing a document that is divided into numbered sections and subsections, sometimes I would like to refer a certain subsection that has been numbered 2.3, for example. Here the 2 represents the ...
11
votes
6answers
36k views

What's wrong with “We hope you will find our Qualifications to be well-organized, concise, and most of all, to exceed your expectations.”

Why is the following sentence grammatically incorrect? We hope you will find our Qualifications to be well-organized, concise, and most of all, to exceed your expectations. I've asked three ...
11
votes
2answers
341 views

What's the most pedantically correct way to reference sectioned and numbered rules aloud?

I am a roller derby announcer. An important part of my job is to explain the rules of roller derby to the fans. The rules of modern roller derby are promulgated by the Women's Flat Track Derby ...
10
votes
6answers
5k views

How does the parenthetical “that is” function?

It's the last sentence of an article in The Economist. Some of the powerful elders might have faded from the scene. Mr Xi and Li Keqiang might then have a freer hand to promote their own people, ...
10
votes
7answers
10k views

Grammar: “Just because A, doesn't mean B”

I hear this all the time, and often from writers, but it never sounds right. I found myself using it in something I was writing. For example: "Just because I stopped eating doesn't mean I'm full." ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Is “want” a causative verb?

I've always held on to the definition that Causative Verbs express how the Noun before the Verb influences the execution of an action. Similarly, the Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

What phrase is “you betcha” a descendant of?

"You bet you"? That's the closest I could think of. Or is it "you bet yourself", with the "self" omitted so it's quicker to say? Or is it something else altogether?
7
votes
4answers
721 views

Is “to” missing in the following phrase: “civil liberties be damned”?

I am currently reading a column by Thomas L. Friedman titled "We're always still Americans," published on December 11, 2014 in International New York Times. If there had been another 9/11 after ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Zero conditional form

Chatting with a colleague we came a cross a dilemma (as we are not English native), which of the following sentences are wrong? Why? If I knew everything, I'd be a genius. If I know everything, I'd ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

English generator algorithms

This may be an odd question for this site, but tonight I've been enjoying myself by creating a small script that produces (is supposed to produce) sample sentences that resemble English, while being ...
5
votes
3answers
710 views

sylleptic parentheses

Here's a quote from Wikipedia: the triple point of Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water (VSMOW, 273.16 K and 0.01 °C) Now, "VSMOW" refers to "Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water", while "273.16 K and ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

Frequency of word use vs number of words

Let's consider a partition of the words in the english language according to respective use frequency. Looking at the frequency graph it should be easy to find classes of words with approximately the ...
5
votes
1answer
4k views

What is a carpenter if he doesn't carpent?

Why does "carpenter" end in "er" if "carpent" isn't a word? Same with "butcher". (As in: "I butch for a living.")
5
votes
2answers
503 views

When talking about something, where do we place its name in the sentence?

In Computer Science papers (and I'm sure that in papers in many other fields, too), we often have to describe a new tool or method that has a name. Let's talk for instance about Eclipse, and its wide ...
4
votes
2answers
431 views

Can I put the job position in front of the name?

In military contexts you often see sentences like this one: "General Montgomery decided to..." I am now writing an evaluation about a sale my company had had, and I want to credit several people ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the structure of the sentence 'const to the rescue'?

The following is the context: Despite my fastidious coding habits, I have made a silly mistake and typed += when I meant to type +. As a result, when concatUnsafe is called, it will modify ...
4
votes
1answer
646 views

What does “It is not everyone who has your passion for dead leaves ” mean?

I am currently reading Sense and Sensibility and came across the following passage. "It is not every one," said Elinor, "who has your passion for dead leaves. Since I’m not a native speaker , ...
4
votes
2answers
600 views

What defines a correlative?

I have come across a number of expressions (both...and..., if...then...) which are named as "correlative" in different grammars (namely Quirk et al.). The question: What makes an expression a ...
4
votes
1answer
688 views

Building a phrase structure of “On the weekend …”

I'm reading Foundations of Statistical Natural Language Processing, and I'm doing one of the early exercises, trying to work out some of the language infliction about the word 'fun'. On the ...
4
votes
1answer
58 views

“We must away ere break of day”: What is this grammar? Is it alive?

This phrase appears in a song Tolkien wrote, and what was the main theme of The Hobbit movie: Far over the Misty Mountains cold To dungeons deep and caverns old We must away ere break of day ...
3
votes
6answers
9k views

What is the structure in “as best you can”?

I instinctively translate it "as best as you can", however this makes no sense. What is the real structure behind this phrase? I'll include an Ngram to illustrate the historical presence of this ...
3
votes
3answers
315 views

Should I reformat this sentence? [closed]

I kind of feel like the first comma in the sentence below should be a semi-colon. Does anything else in there read funny? As you’ll see in my enclosed resume, I have the educational background, ...
3
votes
4answers
324 views

It is an existential question

A question on another site asks, I have a laptop ... Now I am trying to install Windows 7 and it shows a message saying "Driver not found". Whereupon a commenter asks, What is the "it" that shows ...
3
votes
3answers
316 views

Validity in the brevity of this prose?

What I intended to write full out was: We have moved away from obsoleted technologies and technologies being deprecated. What I actually wrote feels slightly awkward but I justified leaving ...
3
votes
1answer
25k views

Yoda's sentence structure [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What term can be used to describe Yoda's speech? What is the structure of Yoda's sentences? Are they grammatically correct (US english)? "Size matters not, ... ...
3
votes
4answers
75 views

How to say a particular author is the only one you've read every book of?

Charles Dickens is an author. I have read every book he's written, and he's the only author who I can say this about. If I wanted to express this fact, in one single and elegant sentence, what would ...
3
votes
5answers
612 views

Better way of saying “in order to demonstrate this”

What is a better way of saying "in order to demonstrate this, I will..."? I already use "to that effect" in the same paragraph. I'm looking for something as compact and concise as "to that effect" ...
3
votes
2answers
91 views

If there are two tenses in my sentence, should I repeat the subject?

Is it correct to say: I have done the washing up and am now watching TV. or I have done the washing up and I am watching TV now.
3
votes
4answers
689 views

“Social media post” or “social-media post”? [duplicate]

Should "social media" be spelled with a hyphen in the phrase "social media post"? To me, the hyphen looks wrong, but I would like to be able to provide some grammatical rationale to explain why.
3
votes
3answers
2k views

What does “this” refer to?

What does "this" refer to in the following quote from the Wikipedia article on Learning Curve? The learning curve can also represent at a glance the initial difficulty of learning something and, ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

English Syntax Rules Based on Word Choice

I was reading the Wikipedia article on Animacy and came across something I found to be very interesting: The higher animacy a referent has, the less preferable it is to use the preposition of for ...
2
votes
5answers
2k views

Structuring sentences without using the word “but”

I seem to have a habit of using a lot of sentences that involve the word "but": "I haven't tried it yet, but I think it should work"; "I could easily resort to chicken, but I want to see how far I can ...
2
votes
4answers
423 views

How should this sentence structure be interpreted?

I'm playing an online game in which I came across a message in the form of a sentence of which the structure is new to me. It read: You do not have a hatchet which you have the level to use. ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

What types of antonyms are there?

As we know, Schadenfreude is defined as "the feeling of joy derived from witnessing the misfortunes of others". This question defines the antonym of Schadenfreude as "the feeling of discomfort derived ...
2
votes
2answers
5k views

What is the use/structure/meaning of 'had it not [something], …'?

I encountered a question in an exam and I am wondering about the exact answer and reasons behind it Question: Had it not rained, the farmers _________ all of their crops. A. Would lose B. Should ...
2
votes
2answers
125 views

On the structure of “search for weapons and bands of pro-Hussein fighters still holding out”

I came across the following expression: The primary task of many American troops in Baghdad has been to search for weapons and bands of pro-Hussein fighters still holding out. This is from a ...
2
votes
1answer
445 views

How to describe relations between objects unambiguously?

Following Martha's advise I am splitting up a question Compound sentences, the punctuation and mooore. Consider the following fragment: child nodes of a story representing its sub categories I ...
2
votes
3answers
360 views

Conflicting views or emotions in the passage

What does the following passage from this NY Times article mean? He [Theodore Roosevelt] transformed the 20th century; no, he overextended the 19th. He was a progressive trust buster; no, an ...
2
votes
2answers
338 views

Classification - There is/are

What is the official 'name' for the 'there is' / 'there are' construction? Is it a verb phrase or a lexical verb? I'd say possibly a verb but it must be the most difficult term to Google.
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Constructing compound sentences

Consider the following sentence: One of the items that needed a further development was a research on child nodes of a story representing its sub categories being updated the moment the list of ...
2
votes
4answers
413 views

Is this sentence structure backwards?

I edit reports at work and often feel that sentences end up structured backwards, for lack of a better term. For example, this sentence: We designed a water diversion that also acts as a fish ...
2
votes
2answers
98 views

Is “I'm confused how it works” grammatically correct?

Is "I'm confused how it works" grammatically correct? Or should it be something like "I'm confused about how it works?" I hear and see Americans say the first, but as a native Mandarin speaker it is ...
2
votes
1answer
50 views

Level of certainty in “intend” versus “hope”

I am trying to write an essay detailing my short and long term goals and I want to convey to the reader that these are goals that I fully intend on achieving. I was going to say "I intend, not hope" ...
2
votes
2answers
152 views

Inferred verb? Is it ok to drop the second appearance of the same verb in a sentence?

I work in a scientific field and when my reports are reviewed I commonly have them kicked back asking to add a second "were" before "compared" to this kind of sentence: The items were entered into ...
2
votes
3answers
327 views

“Former and Latter for upcoming list: ”following latter“ or ”latter following“, or just ”latter"? [closed]

According to this page, they use former and latter in the following way: “I enjoy read­ing Entrepreneur and Inc, but pre­fer the lat­ter over the former.” The issue I'm having is how to ...
2
votes
1answer
328 views

Parallel Structure: negative comparative

Consider the following sentence: Frank will not be honored for dedicating his time to orphans, as Fred will not be honored for devoting his life to the poor. A better way to phrase this might ...
2
votes
1answer
164 views

“Art was theatre was sport”

I seem to have come across this sentence structure before but I can't quite remember where. Which number would be the best follow up to the phrase "To the ancient Romans"? To the ancient Romans ...
2
votes
3answers
373 views

Correct use of IN compared to FOR when describing an action

I find it rather odd when someone writes that an item was used "in prediction" of 'X', however I don't know whether that is my own preference or it's actually incorrect. Personally, I think that ...
2
votes
2answers
840 views

Prepositions in a compound sentence

Following Martha's advise I am splitting up a question Compound sentences, the punctuation and mooore. Consider the following sentence: One of the items that needed a further development was a ...