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40

Both are fine. However, the first response is the most common way to answer. Very empathetic people might say my mum. Turn the sentence around; would you say "I'd apologize to your mum if I were you" or "I'd apologize to my mum if I were you"? Probably the former. If I were you, I'd... is a common way to give someone advice; it is not meant to be ...


38

Well, if you insist on the rule being simple, here you are: a = some, any the = this, that Two simple examples. Note that you just wrote "...if a person knows which item you are talking about...". You didn't write "...if the person knows...". And that's correct, because you are not pointing to this or that person, you are talking about any person in ...


33

"Which" is more formal when asking a question that requires a choice between a number of items. You can use "What" if you want, though. Generally speaking, you can replace the usage of "which" with "what" and be OK grammatically. It doesn't always work the other way around, however. There needs to be a context of choice. For example: Which/What flavor ...


32

"I have a few friends" is just the same as saying "I have some friends". "I have few friends", however, implies that you have only a few friends (as opposed to many). In some contexts (not always!), it can also imply that you don't feel very well about it, that you wish you had more friends. Also, note that there is a very common expression "quite a few", ...


26

You offended your mom. So if I were you, I would apologize to your mom when she gets home. But: You offended my mom. So if I were you, I would apologize to my mom when she gets home.


23

In formal usage, it should definitely be is: Neither of these options is available. This is the traditional rule (iirc, Fowler’s discusses this at length). However, in colloquial usage, either option is fine, and are seems to now be somewhat more common, at least on teh internets. A commenter here nicely describes the sort of thought process which ...


22

Provided that we accept the archaic is become as grammatical use of the present perfect—which I would not use for something so prosaic as a paper for a criminal justice course—there are still two problems with the proposed title: (1) present perfect is not right in this context for a paper title and (2) the subject noun phrase is not properly determined. I ...


19

I thought I'd add something to what has already been said in @PLL's answer. Merriam Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, which I like for its descriptive style and useful examples, has this to say about neither: The reason it is sometimes plural is easy to see when you think about it. Neither serves as the negative counterpart of either, which is ...


18

It's not ungrammatical. I would say though that "give me some drink" sounds either the request of a man in dire thirst, or who has a plan to be very drunk in short order, (or as an old-fashioned or regional usage) while "give me a drink" a less coloured request for a single beverage. We do generally refer to individual beverages as drinks as a countable ...


18

Over the years I've converted to the belief that what is important in language and grammar is that the communication is not unintentionally ambiguous, not that it satisfies any formal criterion. Whether you say your mum or my mum, no one is going to be confused by what you mean. So use whichever feels right to you. Compare to A: I just spent $5 on the ...


17

That is so wrong it makes my eyeballs bleed. Let's consider some syntactic tests, shall we? Adjectives can be compared with -er and -est (or more and most): A bigger house The biggest house ! More the house ! Most the house Adjectives can be placed in a predicate: The house is big. ! House is the. Adjectives can be coordinated with and: ...


15

Questions of attribute which and what: We usually use which when we are asking about a fixed or limited number of things or people, and what when we are not. Often, however, we can use either which or what with little difference in meaning. Compare: What towns do we go through on the way? The speaker doesn't know the area. Which towns do we go ...


15

If you can count it and it doesn't designate a category, use many. If you cannot count it or it designates a category, use much. I have many friends. I have much to offer. There are many ways to get it wrong. It doesn't make much sense.


15

Mostest is not an accepted word, though it is in some dictionaries listed as slang. Most is already in superlative form, so adding -est is redundant and ungrammatical. It was popularized, however, in the saying (intentionally ungrammatical, to convey a sense of crude common sense): "getting thar fustest with the mostest". However, unless you want to ...


14

The difference is that drinks are things people consume in discrete units, unlike "food", "ice", and "sauce". You wouldn't say "can I have some ice cube". Look at "sauce". This is both a countable noun and a mass noun in English. You can have two sauces but also some sauce. But if you wanted a sauce (a specific unit of sauce) or several sauces, you wouldn't ...


13

It's a noun modifier. See the Wikipedia article on grammatical modifiers for details. Whoever wrote the example saying that "employee" is an adjective in the noun phrase "employee ID" has been confused into thinking that any word that modifies a noun is an adjective. It's not a determiner, though, either.


13

You could go with any of the following: All 3 of my pens are green, All (of) my 3 pens are green, My 3 pens are all green, The word triple as an adjective means that the three are parts of one greater object, as seen in the phrase, a triple murder. Here, there is one case made up of three parts. It can also be used as a verb to mean 'multiply by ...


13

Yes, more than one determiner can precede a noun, but they do so in a particular order. All, both and half come before articles, so your example would have to read I saw two cats this morning. Both the cats were very young (but in this case the can be omitted).


13

Fear not. It was good enough for John Fletcher: Give me some drink, this fire's a plaguy fretter Walter Scott: ‘You shall have it’, answered . . . Waverley . . . giving him some drink from his flask. and Charles Dickens: The subject of their speculations had done due honour to the house by calling for some drink. The Corpus of ...


12

few = not very many, with a focus on the fact that this number is (remarkably) small. "a few" = not very many, but at least more than one. Your examples (1) and (2) are talking about the same number of friends, but (1) focuses on the fact that this is a small number and carries a negative connotation, like you don't have as many as one should/could have. ...


12

At that point I'd probably pick out one of the list for special attention using "not only ... but": There are several recommendations I have to further improve the sites, not only to improve their profit, but to decrease their cost and improve their usability. I'd cut that down further, though: I have several recommendations to improve the sites — ...


12

For a Linguistics class, start by reading Fillmore's Deixis Lectures. Demonstratives like this and that are deictic, contrasting distal that with proximal this. And they're not nearly as complex as they used to be in English, as this problem demonstrates. Since "distal" and "proximal" are formed from the Latin words meaning far and near, I'd say you and ...


12

Formal correctness is the wrong test in this case. The problem is that the referent is ambiguous -- are we speaking from within the conditional, or from outside it? "My mum" is interpreted differently in the two cases, since the meaning of "my" changes. "Your mum" is clear no matter which case one chooses. Whether I am you or not, your mum remains your ...


11

To me these two statements have different meanings. What are the alternatives to this project? This means "What other projects could we do instead?" What are the alternatives for this project? This means "In the context of this project, what choices do we have about how to solve it?


11

"Which is Jay" and "Who is Jay" mean completely different things. [Of the people over there], which [one] is Jay? vs. Who is [this] Jay [you speak of]?


11

You can use the "half of" with plural nouns most effectively when you add the definite article: Half of the users were women. Half of the men were Canadian. The reason for this is because you need to specify the group you are talking about. The definite article serves to limit the scope of the plural noun. It may require further limiting ("Half of ...


11

The string an other is vanishingly rare in English. In contrast another is positively pervasive. I think it would be fair to say that the second has eclipsed the first to the point of making the first unacceptable, even though it is a grammatical string. Both an and another are members of the category of determiners, while other, on the other hand, is an ...


11

It has to do with the order of the adjectives. For example, consider this sentence: Happy nine men walk into a bar. Both nine and happy are adjectives, but we are really intending nine to describe the happy men, not happy describing the nine men. I don't know if there's a specific term for this, but certain adjectives, like numbers, get special ...


10

Purdue's Online Writing Lab has a good, thorough explanation: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/540/01/


10

"This" and "that", much like their counterparts in most other European languages, indicate relative proximity. "This" refers to a thing that is literally or figuratively "here", as in "within reach" of the person. "That" refers to a thing that is literally or figuratively further away, but "within view". "At this time" is thus normally used when referring to ...



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