Questions regarding the rules for the formation of sentences

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65
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3answers
19k views

Is “believe you me” proper English?

I understand the phrase "believe you me" to be an emphatic version of "believe me" but how did it come to be? Is it a poor translation into English?
44
votes
13answers
2k views

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 ...
27
votes
6answers
4k 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. ...
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 ...
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 ...
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?
17
votes
4answers
614 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 ...
15
votes
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 ...
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?
11
votes
4answers
628 views

How much not better than average is enough?

This is adapted from a silly conversation I had about a baseball player. It set me wondering how to describe this sort of wordplay linguistically. HIM: Do we leave Jay in center? HER: He's ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

How do noun clauses work when they seem to leave no independent clause?

Another thing that was raised in conversation with my ESL friend is noun clauses. I was aware of Adverbial and Adjectival Clauses and thought that the things he was demonstrating to me were in fact ...
9
votes
5answers
34k 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?
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 ...
8
votes
2answers
192 views

Is there an exception to the prohibition against ending a sentence with “ ’s ” at work here?

The ’s can be used as a contraction representing a weak, unstressed word that is not pronounced. It allegedly cannot occur in sentence final position. She is not ready, but he is. She’s not ...
7
votes
4answers
9k views

“The world forgetting, by the world forgot.”

This is from Alexander Pope's Eloisa to Abelard, also appeared in the movie Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind(2004). Could anyone parse this sentence for me? Where's the predicate? What does "the ...
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
3answers
14k views

“Denoted by” or just “denoted”?

In a mathematical context (explaining a formula just written) the following seems unobjectionable: "The set of unitary polynomials has been denoted by P". My question is whether it sounds right to ...
7
votes
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?
7
votes
3answers
348 views

Whoever had the lice, they're dead now

This sentence is from South Park. There was a lice problem in the school and the children demand that their teacher Mrs. Garrison tell them who exactly had the lice. She says that it's not important ...
7
votes
2answers
548 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
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
749 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
5k 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, ...
7
votes
2answers
6k views

Is there a comparative form of “well”?

Is there a word that means "more well", in the same way that "better" means "more good"? In common parlance most people just use "better" for this purpose, but this seems incorrect and is a nagging ...
6
votes
4answers
446 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
432 views

Have I got a little story for you

There is a song called "Alive", by Pearl Jam. The opening line is: Son, she said, have I got a little story for you Despite the subject-auxiliary inversion ("have I"), which would be expected in ...
6
votes
3answers
22k views

“Thank both of you”

Is there a trace first person pronoun before the utterance "thank you", making it shorthand for "I/we thank you"? A ramification of this question is an expression of gratitude I just heard that ...
6
votes
1answer
562 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
193 views
+100

What does a restrictive ‘as’ clause modify?

We discussed socialism as allowed by law. A learner on ELL asked whether it is “socialism or the discussion itself” which is allowed by law. I responded that the phrase could only be understood ...
5
votes
5answers
793 views

What is going on in this sentence?

I was helping my brother study for the SAT, and we came across this sentence: While it was different from all the other classes he had taken, Eric was unhappy with his psychology class. The ...
5
votes
2answers
648 views

“Can't it also be” or “Can't it be also” in a question?

They both have plenty examples available, but which one is preferable? "Can't it also be" — 1,310,000 Google results "Can't it be also" — 1,430,000 Google results
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Is “choose from one of four options” wrong?

I need backup in pressing my case that the phrase “choose from one of four options” is grammatically incorrect. Is there some resource that can prove my case, that the incorrect phrase should be ...
5
votes
3answers
433 views

Position of adverb “implicitly”

In the following sentence I'm not sure where to put implicitly: The language doesn't support Int and (implicitly) converts (implicitly) Int to Double (implicitly). First I put it at the end, ...
5
votes
5answers
445 views

“Love me tender”: adverb or adjective?

Is the last word in each of these phrases an adverb or an adjective? How can we know? love me tender treat me nice hold me tight
5
votes
3answers
985 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.
5
votes
2answers
667 views

Syntax for marking incorrect examples of language

I have noticed various marks in example sentences to denote incorrect examples of English: This is correct. *This incorrectly. The former is left alone; the latter has an asterisk marking ...
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 ...
5
votes
1answer
126 views

Name and rules of this construction: “A somber man privately, Johnson had an acid humor.”

I'm reading a book right now that in my opinion overuses a certain construct. It's used so much that it distracts from the content. Some examples: Eccentric and egotistical, Berkeley was not so ...
5
votes
1answer
133 views

When to put a verb ahead of its doer?

I have read this at the Science.com, and it's in the second line of the last paragraph. A bow and arrow or an atlatl allows users to attack prey—and enemies—from a safer distance than does an ...
5
votes
1answer
165 views

Poetic syntax with “as” and “so”

Does anyone know how to describe the type of poetic syntax of the line: "As the deer panteth for the water / So my soul longeth after thee" or something to that effect. I'm not sure if this ...
4
votes
5answers
891 views

“It would not do to confuse the nurses with the patients”

From http://www.debate.org/debates/School-uniforms-ought-to-be-worn-in-primary-and-secondary-schools./1/: For many of these, the reason for wearing a uniform is clear: so that they are easily ...
4
votes
6answers
5k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
705 views

Is it correct? I “am trying fixing this”?

Actually, I'd like to know if is correct to say: "I am trying fixing this", or should use the more obvious "I am trying to fix this"? If the first one is correct, is there a name for this kind of ...
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
3answers
362 views

You yourself - double pronoun

You have made it up yourself. This is obviously ok. But if the pronoun it should be repalced by a long noun-phrase: You have made up the illusory world in which you move yourself. It would ...
4
votes
1answer
226 views

Human Face Divine

I recently read that there is a grammatical construct known as a Miltonic Structure, after John Milton. It said that the structure consists of an adjective + noun + adjective, like "human face divine" ...
4
votes
5answers
1k views

“Wake up Joe” or “Wake Joe up”?

Are they synonymous, or not? Looking at wake up as a phrasal verb it seems that the more correct way is "I will wake up Joe" rather than "I will wake Joe up", but the second rolls better off my ...
4
votes
2answers
81 views

“Foos are menace” vs. “Foos are a menace”

One of my friends has this in one of his E-mail signatures: «"Kosher" Cellphones (cellphones with blocked SMS, video and Internet) are menace to the deaf. They must be outlawed!». Is this sentence ...
4
votes
4answers
209 views

Any error in the following statement?

Any error in the following statement? Scenario : Earlier, I have informed the other person that the event is not yet approved but later on I realized that I am wrong and I need to convey it. So I ...
4
votes
2answers
379 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 ...