Questions regarding the rules for the formation of sentences

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27
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6answers
5k views

Is there some rule against ending a sentence with the contraction “it's”?

I heard this lyric in a song the other day and it just sounded so wrong that I assumed it must be incorrect grammar, but I can't find any specific prohibition that applies. That's what it's. ...
8
votes
7answers
2k views

Using -ed vs. -ing in the “needs washed” construction

I'm from Central Pennsylvania, and apparently, we have a strange language construct in this area. I was recently talking about how "my car needs washed" to a friend from NJ, and she told me that my ...
44
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13answers
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Central Pennsylvanian English speakers: what are the limitations on the “needs washed” construction?

In the Central Pennsylvania dialect of English (and possibly elsewhere), the following construction is possible: This car needs washed. (=needs to be washed) The room needs cleaned. (=needs ...
21
votes
3answers
3k views

Why do newspaper headlines use strange syntax rules?

Newspaper/news article headlines usually have different syntax rules, for example No copula. North Korea trip 'successful' Past events written in present. Qantas cancels flight out of frozen ...
15
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4answers
2k views

English questions and negation with *do* in syntax

A former lecturer of mine once explained why, from a syntactic point of view, the English rule that negation and questions are formed with the auxiliary do follows from other syntactic facts about ...
9
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5answers
36k views

Should an adverb go before or after a verb?

For example: The word rarely turns up outside of those contexts. The word turns up rarely outside of those contexts. Which one is correct and why?
17
votes
10answers
2k views

What rules make “Remember me, who am your friend” grammatical?

An acquaintance recalled this specific example from an English textbook, but it is jarring to my native ear. Is this an example of prescriptive grammarians gone wild?
2
votes
2answers
548 views

Reason for Subject-Verb Inversion: Only in cases where A is B, shall the Company do X [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Sentences using: [something] + have + they subject-auxiliary inversions not associated with questions In the following, why does subject-verb inversion occur? Is it ...
23
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 ...
3
votes
2answers
890 views

Use of “do” in affirmative statements [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When do you use “Did + 1st form” instead of “2nd form” When is do used in affirmative sentences? For example: I do think that this is going to be... Is it only ...
11
votes
2answers
4k views

Is “Me neither” incorrect?

I've heard that "me neither" is incorrect. Instead one should say "neither do I." People definitely say "me neither" conversationally, but is it technically incorrect?
5
votes
3answers
994 views

Could you help me to do a syntax analysis of this sentence?

The more I use Froyo the more new stuff I discover. Does it mean: I more use Froyo, I discover more new stuff.
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?
5
votes
1answer
4k views

Symbol, punctuation, or abbreviation that indicates a “paraphrase”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the proper use of [square brackets] in quotes? This question is born of practical necessity - one that I encountered while quoting a reference in "another" Stack ...
7
votes
3answers
5k views

Is it incorrect to say, 'Give me it'?

Is it incorrect to say, 'Give me it' ? I am told that it is and one should always say, 'Give it me'?
7
votes
5answers
2k views

Using the word 'Only'

I am confused about using the word only. I often hear it being used in many contexts that sound wrong to me - but I'm not sure if it's me or them. Let me give some examples: A: Where were you ...
7
votes
2answers
763 views

Is Wayne's World's (NOT) a modern invention?

Older users of this site may recall the 'Bill & Ted' 'Wayne's World' series of movies of the early 1990s. They were mindless but fairly amusing and their eponymous characters spoke in a unique ...
6
votes
4answers
447 views

There is no headache strong enough, that a good coffee won't relieve

I heard this phrase today and I'm pretty sure that there is something wrong with it. I do not know if it is the grammar or the syntax or the meaning of the words. Can you please tell me what the ...
4
votes
2answers
384 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
412 views

Analysing clause elements and their function

I have a problem analysing this sentence from the point of finite/nonfinite clauses, clause elements and their functions: He does not want to destroy his parents' dream of him achieving a ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Proper usage/origin of the generic phrase “[action phrase] does not a [noun] make” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why is “xxxx doth not a yyyy make” considered valid English? I occasionally come across a sentence formulated in a manner similar to the following: ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

Usage of “upon”

Is "Let us have the ushers wait upon us" proper syntax?
1
vote
1answer
102 views

Necessary and unnecessary articles for proper nouns

In AmE (and probably other dialects as well) there are certain place names and other proper nouns that either have a compulsory definite article or a compulsory lack of one attached to them. For ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Not so much as [something] as [something else]

Consider the sentence: "She sees him not so much as her uncle as her friend." Is this sentence correct? I feel something is missing, or perhaps I am disturbed by the extra 'as'. Compare with: ...
1
vote
1answer
874 views
7
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2answers
551 views

Longer than a word — smaller than a sentence

What would you call a linguistic construct that is just big enough to convey a meaning within a context, longer than a word but not having the length and proper form of a complete sentence? Like, for ...
7
votes
2answers
6k views

Why is “zero” plural? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Correct plural form of a zero quantified noun I could have: Zero books One book Two books Why is zero in plural form? Edit Per Merriam-Webster: Plural (adj): of, ...
6
votes
1answer
568 views

Word order for “What is… that … called?”

I am having difficulty with finding the natural word order in the following passive construction: What are people called who do a lot of unnecessary work? What are called people who do a lot ...
17
votes
4answers
615 views

Should Kyle be corrected, and if he doesn't, why?

In a recent blog entry, Jeff Atwood quotes his sysadmin Kyle: "Should the developers have access to the production environment, and if they do, to what extent?" My understanding is that this ...
3
votes
2answers
481 views

“It is having time to think that makes me depressed” — grammatical function of “that”?

It is having time to think that makes me depressed. In this sentence, what is the grammatical function of the word that?
2
votes
5answers
747 views

How do I say 'people insist on' in the passive voice?

If I have 'read guides where people insist that...' then how do I use that in the passive voice? 'In guides I have read, it is insisted that...'? 'In guides I have read, it is insisted upon that..'? ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

using “the”+adj without a noun

Is the following sentence good/legal/understood English? Meditation melts the coarse and solidifies the subtle. If it isn't, how can this be otherwise expressed, in a neat and concise way?
4
votes
2answers
4k views

Is there a term for using a word twice in a row, but in a grammatically-appropriate way?

For example: "I could tell he had had a great time at the circus." If you're not repeating the word for emphasis, is there a term for the sequential usage, other than "coincidence"?
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Order of preposition in US and UK English

In Britain we'd say He had a black hat on. Speakers of American English are more likely to say* He had on a black hat. The latter just seems wrong to me. Is my intuition correct or are ...
3
votes
2answers
331 views

“He thought that that might be awkward.”

"He thought that that might be awkward." I know this sentence is a bit awkward, but is it grammatically incorrect?
2
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1answer
2k views

Is it bad to start a sentence with “as”?

My boss doesn't like it when I start sentences with "as", and I'm not sure if it's actually a problem. A case where I would start with "as" would be: As your new account manager, it is my ...
2
votes
1answer
808 views

Non verbal predicates in English

Is a non-verbal predicate a synonymous term for "nominal predicate"? And moreover, do non-verbal predicates only appear with linking verbs or can also appear in other types of constructions? I ...
2
votes
3answers
291 views

should one invert syntax for the verb “do” in a comparison?

Which sounds better: When Canadians do initiate conversations, they tend to be more reserved than Americans do. When Canadians do initiate conversations, they tend to be more reserved than do ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Adverb position in perfect tenses [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Are there any rules on the positioning adverbs should take in a sentence? My question concerns the adverb position in perfect tenses. For example look at these ...
2
votes
2answers
410 views

Dangling Participial Phrase [closed]

Here’s the original: The veterinarian was caught off guard when, regaining consciousness, we were again attacked by the cat. My rewrite of this sentence is either: The veterinarian was ...
1
vote
1answer
64 views

Trying to figure out proper form of “that” in sentence

I currently have the sentence "Seahorses are the only fish that practice steadfast monogamy." to tree diagram for class, and cannot freakin' figure out what the word "that" would be used as in this ...
1
vote
1answer
54 views

Changing case within quoted text

I'm familiar with the convention that square brackets may be used within quoted text to indicate word[s] that aren't actually present [in that exact form] in the original. It's often necessary where ...
1
vote
2answers
202 views

Can a dependent clause undergo inversion in English?

The grammars I've seen state that dependent clauses never undergo inversion. This agrees with sentences like Tell me where he is. But how sentences like Tell me, where is he? should be ...
1
vote
2answers
410 views

Isn’t the expression, "I'm not inclined to be a supporter of Newt Gingrich's having served under him for four years” confusing?

I found the following line in today’s (December 4) Time magazine article titled, Coburn Speaks Up: “On "Fox News Sunday," Sooner State Sen. tells Chris Wallace he would have trouble supporting ...
0
votes
1answer
131 views

Ellipsis in noun phrases with possessive case [closed]

Can you omit the second occurrence of the word "poems" in a sentence like the following? I like Lord Byron's poems, and also enjoy a number of Percy Shelley's [poems].
0
votes
4answers
90 views

“something inescapably points if …” or “if something inescapably points to …”?

At the same time, they are reluctant to accept the conclusions toward which such proof inescapably points if they do not "sense" the uniformity themselves. The position of the word if in this ...
0
votes
2answers
2k views

I was confused about “to be + past participle"

Why does the following sentence use "to be reinforced" rather than "was reinforced" The fact that organisms evidently inherit the capacity to be reinforced by certain kinds of event does not ...