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26

OP is right to suspect active/passive has a bearing on preferred usage. From Google Books... 1: Active voice favours with... The company replaced workers by machines - 3 results The company replaced workers with machines - 405 results 2: Passive voice favours by... Workers were replaced by machines - 280 results Workers were replaced ...


20

Of is the correct preposition to use in your second example: The body consists of cells. In is the correct preposition to use in your first example: Meditation consists in attentive watchfulness. Consist of means to be composed or made up of, while consist in means: To have the thing mentioned as the only or most important part. Tolerance ...


11

To get all linguisticsy about it, we can talk about the generalization of how verbs work. In traditional grammar, we talk about verbs having subjects and objects and whether they are transitive or intransitive. If we generalize this, we can talk about verbs being a kind of function that takes arguments, where subjects and objects are examples of kinds of ...


10

Is nothing singular or plural? All by itself, nothing is clearer than the fact that nothing is singular. However, the original question did not use nothing “all by itself”, and that is where things get sticky. The question asks which of these two versions should be used: Nothing but birds and a few insects was to be seen. Nothing but birds ...


9

Comma sense—a fun-damental guide to punctuation suggest to use the comma to set off introductory elements, which are reported to be: an adverb: First, I need to call my girlfriend. a prepositional phrase: After dinner, let's go to see a movie. an appositive: A stumbling giggler, Lumpy was hardly prepared for the relay baton suddenly being thrust upon him. ...


8

'On asserting ...' here requires a main clause which does not describe a consequence or restatement, but merely an event happening (almost) simultaneously. AHDEL sense 3 for on: b. Used to indicate the particular occasion or circumstance: On entering the room, she saw him. By introduces a consequence, and in an explanation, an apposition. Here, by ...


8

A prepositional phrase is a grammatical structure consisting of a preposition followed by a noun phrase. An adverbial complement is a grammatical function. Adverbial complements may be realized through prepositional phrases or other adverbials. Consider: I put the book down. I put the book on the table. I put the book down on the table. There are verbs ...


8

In general prepositional phrases at the beginning of sentences are common and grammatically correct. On the other hand, Bobby likes swimming. After soccer, we go out for dinner. By noon, all the shifts should be finished. Of the two of us, who is going to help mama? As for you sentence, of not knowing is the continuation of a previous sentence with ...


7

If we take your specimen text, The thing I'm most afraid of is me. Of not knowing what I'm going to do. Of not knowing what I'm doing right now it is apparent that it is semantically one sentence that has been turned into one sentence plus two sentence fragments for rhetorical effect. (The main verb that makes gives meaning to the two sentence ...


7

The question you ask, “Can the antecedent ever be used in a prepositional phrase?” is of course, certainly it can. Proof: After the meteorite fell on Jack, he was never again the same. Jack likes running with Jill. She is a good person. Jack likes running with Jill. He is a good person. As you see, I have constructed three such examples. ...


7

Larry Trask’s advice in cases like this is to see what happens if you remove from the sentence the words marked off by the comma. If you are left with a meaningful sentence, then the comma is appropriate. If no meaningful sentence remains, you don’t need the comma.


7

“Very out of the way” It is a bit tough to find cases of very modifying individual prepositions, but it is easy to find cases of very modifying entire prepositional phrases as a unit, just as it does other adjectives and adverbs. I think it’s very out of character for him. Things can be very out of place. Or very out of date. And very out of the way. They ...


6

Prepositions are often interchangeable in English, even when they seem to mean exactly the opposite thing in their literal sense. It is possible, for example, to say You'll find a Chevron station down the road about five miles. or You'll find a Chevron station up the road about five miles. or even You'll find a Chevron station along the road ...


6

Your first two examples are a special use of of that's not readily explained by reference to its other uses. In each of them, the of is optional ("more of a sanity check" = "more a sanity check"; "more of a hack" = "more a hack"), and serves to introduce a singular countable predicate noun that's modified by more. The same happens with much ("it's not much ...


6

There is no problem with this phrase - it is idiomatic English. With is part of the compound adjective over with. To be over with means to be finished. As far as I know, it's only ever used with the verb be. It's fine as it is. You could say "Can we get this finished?".


6

I don't like prepositions either. Or pronouns -- especially not mixed up with auxiliary verbs. As @Edwin points out, a fronted on phrase implies a temporal frame for description of events. On/Upon asserting that the red pill would reveal how deep the rabbit hole was, Morpheus was arrested, cautioned, and bound over to the authorities. (Upon makes the ...


6

tl;dr: Certain kinds of words and phrases can in English function equally well as nouns as they can adverbs. Whether you prefer to call them nouns acting like adverbs or adverbs acting like nouns is a matter of religion only, since they are still doing the same job no matter what you call them. The job they are doing is a deictic one, described at the ...


5

The phrase of none effect is an archaic version of: of no effect Nowadays we see an alternation between the so-called determiner no and the pronoun none, such that when there is a following noun we use no, and when there isn't a following noun we use none. In response to Can I have one of your apples, therefore, we might observe either of the ...


5

Fixed in revision n says that the change occurred in that revision. That bug was fixed in revision 23. Fixed at revision n doesn't say when it was fixed, just that we know that revision n contains the fix. It could have been fixed earlier. Some people would use the two interchangeably.


5

Like a lot of, something like 90% of functions not so much as a preposition as it does a premodifier. And premodifiers work like adjectives. They do not change the head noun, which remains the grammatical subject and still must be agree with the verb in number. People are coming. Trouble is avoided. A lot of people are coming. A lot of trouble is ...


5

'The novel, which was about whaling . . .'


5

I think from the beginning puts a little more emphasis and focus on the significance of the beginning. If you were talking about a business, perhaps "he" was there in the planning process and integral to starting the business. Since the beginning places more emphasis on the intervening time period. Again, if a business, perhaps "he" is the most loyal ...


5

She is tall for her age This means that she is noticeably taller than the average height of girls her age.


4

I believe that these are abbreviated phrases, e.g. in brief is short for something like in brief terms. So brief is an adjective, but the word it modifies has been elided.


4

The rule about ending sentences with prepositions is a bit of a dinosaur. It, along with the rule about not splitting infinitives, is an artifact left over from Latin, where such constructions are impossible. Quite often, the reworking you have to do in order to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition makes the sentence even more unreadable. Example: "X ...


4

The estimated results from Google Books are remarkably similar... up the aisle to the altar - about 11,200 results down the aisle to the altar - about 11,800 results ...but I think there's evidence of a slight US/UK split here. Americans invariably use toward where Brits use towards, so I think these results for AmE usage are significant... up ...


4

You have asked an excellent question relevant to both the Language and Usage parts of ELU. From a language point of view, this construct is called (as you note) the adjunct noun, which labels a noun that acts as a noun modifier. From a usage point of view, you ask what rules govern its employment. This is mostly a matter of style, which is to say that ...


4

First, forget the supposed rule that pronouns refer to the most recent noun mentioned. It's not really how they work. As a reader, you should try to figure out the antecedent by looking at what would make the most sense. As a writer, you should only worry if there is a possibility of confusion, which there isn't in this case. If there is a possibility of ...



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