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36

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 ...


26

"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", ...


25

"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 ...


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 ...


18

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 ...


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

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

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.


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?


10

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 ...


10

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 ...


10

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 ...


9

"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 ...


9

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 ...


9

As noted in previous answer, “Both the...” is standard. However, in many cases of spoken (vs written) English, one finds “the both of them/you/us” being used where “both the” would be standard. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage has half a dozen paragraphs under both, sense 5, with examples including “the both of you” and “the both of them”. ...


8

It depends on what you mean to say. "Any English I have learned..." means that I have learned something and if any of what I've learned can be called English it came from movies and the internet. "All the English I have learned..." means that I have, in fact, learned some English and it came from movies and the internet.


8

As to which preposition you should use, there is no strict rule about that. However, in your example, I feel that using in the cities with of the villages creates a variation that is needless and slightly less eloquent. You are directly comparing two things (houses) in very similar situations (in cities v. villages). This kind of variation is possible, but ...


7

@Nohat and @gkrogers have already given excellent answers for correcting the grammar of the mentioned title. I'd like to suggest completely changing the title, though: The Making of the Criminal Child This has much more punch to it. Variations on plurality or definiteness would work fine. There's an even more minimalistic title available, too: Child ...


6

It is not exactly true that with the and withe are pronounced in the same way (compare /wɪð ði/ and /wɪð/). Also, withe is an English word that means "a tough flexible branch of an osier or other willow, used for tying, binding, or basketry." Both of these facts have probably contributed to preventing with the from being shortened into withe. If you are ...


6

I would take that to be a typo. The verb should agree with the noun: Is any particular image satisfying the requirements? Are any particular images satisfying the requirements? Any can be safely used in both cases. Have a look at these example sentences from Wiktionary: Choose any items you want. [items — plural] Any person may apply. ...


6

All three are acceptable and in use. The form that is selected might vary, depending on what X, Y, and Z are, how the sentence is punctuated, what verb is in the sentence, and what preposition is used (other prepositions could be used, besides for, such as to, by, or on). "In the case of fixed capital, 1973-78 growth rates are close to 1973-76 rates ...


6

English isn't a programming language. There's a certian level of ambiguity in just about any sentence or phrase. That means the listener has to be an active participant in the communications, by interpreting the meaning of what is being said. It is fairly clear from the full context that he was probably intending to refer to the infrastructure of the ...


5

Determiners form a closed class in English, so I wouldn't say that employee is a determiner. "the employee id" would be impossible if it were a determiner, too. On the other hand, I wouldn't call it an adjective either. My reasoning comes from examples: a pretty person is pretty, but employee identification isn't employee. No, employee is a noun, and, ...


5

There isn't a simple rule, as the definite and the indefinite article are used in different cases. Eat an apple before going to the cinema. The sentence is not referring to a particular apple; it can be a random one. Follow the President. The sentence is not referring to a random president. The difference is not between talking of something the ...



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