Questions tagged [descriptive-grammar]

Descriptive grammar is a set of rules about language based on how it is actually used. In descriptive grammar there is no right or wrong language. It can be contrasted with prescriptive grammar, which is a set of rules based on how people, mostly writers of style books and grammar text books, think language should be used. See https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/descriptive-grammar .

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21
votes
5answers
11k views

“I am finished my sandwich” sounds correct but “I am started my sandwich” does not?

Grammatically these 2 sentences seem to have the same structure I - pronoun am - verb finished/started - verb my - pronoun(dictionary.com -> possessive, used as an "attributive adjective") ...
21
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5answers
10k views

Is “I’ve boughten many vinyls” correct in its use of “boughten”?

Per Merriam-Webster (https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/is-boughten-a-word) boughten is an adjective. According to my non-native-English-speaking friend the sentence "I've boughten many ...
13
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11answers
3k views

I am trying to remember a word/phrase that is often used to describe backwards and heavy handed laws

I am having the darndest time trying to remember this word/phrase. I have seen it used many times over the years to describe laws, rules, and policies that are usually very heavy handed and backwards ...
13
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1answer
2k views

He discovered that his father had a special box in the basement

He discovered that his father had a special box in the basement I was told that I should not use "that" in the above sentence although it is grammatically correct to use it. Why I shouldn't use "that"...
10
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6answers
13k views

Conflicting Advice: “Not Only,” “But Also” Constructions — Comma, No Comma, Parallel Structure?

I've searched for the answer on this site and other websites, and found conflicting advice and sample sentences that look wrong to me. I'm posting this question hoping for clarification. My ...
9
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6answers
2k views

Word to describe an absorbing activity which causes one to fail to notice the passage of large amounts of time

The phrase, "Time flies when you're having fun," is often used when one has become absorbed in an activity and lost track of time. I'm looking for a word to describe something that has a tendency to ...
9
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3answers
42k views

“Here is my two cents” vs “Here are my two cents”?

Which of the following two phrases is correct, in the context of giving an opinion on a subject? Here is my two cents on subject X Here are my two cents on subject X Most of what I found online was ...
6
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4answers
5k views

How should I use 'right' and 'left' when describing a person?

Is there a standard convention for using right and left when describing a person? Should it always be from the perspective of the person being described? For example, when describing a flat object: ...
6
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2answers
2k views

Changing usage of past-perfect constructions in American and British usage

I notice a great many American speakers using the construction had loved as a preterite, that is, a simple past tense. I also hear the simple past tense used in instances in which I was taught to use ...
6
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1answer
1k views

Adjective for someone unable to cope with the past

I'm looking for a word that could describe a character's personality in the sense that he is someone who (re)lives the past too much and is uncapable of overcoming it and moving on with his life. Any ...
5
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4answers
456 views

What stylistic or grammatical reasons prevent users and grammarians from reaching a consensus in the debate over the comma splice?

This is not a duplicate of earlier questions asking whether or why the comma splice is an error, because I am asking about the debate itself: unlike many another grammar rule that is widely accepted ...
5
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3answers
10k views

“if you have any questions, please call myself” and other bizarre new reflexive pronoun usages

This is not a question about when to use reflexive pronouns. I am perfectly clear on that, and I understand that there are questions on the site already about when and when not to use them. This is ...
5
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2answers
5k views

Is it correct to say that an organization was “formed …” instead of “founded in May 1999”? If so when?

Often we say that an organization was founded a particular year. For example: The supermarket where I work was founded in May 1999. But I've sometimes seen "founded" in the sentence above being ...
5
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1answer
238 views

How are computers affecting spelling and usage? [closed]

Has spell check changed usage? I type the word "theatre" often; even here while I am typing it is underlined in red, yet Americans who direct, produce, or act in theatre prefer the older spelling. ...
4
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3answers
583 views

Is the speech after the quotative “like” always non-literal?

I like to use "like" as a quotative for non-literal speech (and non-literal speech in general), speech that no one has said but might have said if given the opportunity. This is a useful expressive ...
4
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3answers
256 views

Is there a word or phrase in linguistics describes the patterns of English in common use?

The crux of my question is how do we get from descriptive linguistic grammars for English to the often confusing contradictory and tedious grammar rules taught to native speakers and esl students? ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the opposite of “acquired taste”?

I've been breaking my head trying to find an opposite term for the phrase/expression "acquired taste". I vaguely know that "acquired taste" refers to something (a taste) that you start liking after ...
4
votes
5answers
2k views

“Are YOU coming to get me” / “Are you coming to GET me” Is there any grammatical or semantic difference?

Is there any grammatical or semantic difference between the phrases: "Are you coming to get me?"—used to imply the question of whether that particular person is coming to get whoever. And this ...
4
votes
4answers
679 views

what does a native speaker say when he wanted to leave his work? [closed]

If someone, who is a medical doctor says that he's leaving his current company, I mean the hospital that he works for, is that something that a native speaker would say? I'm leaving my hospital? What ...
4
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3answers
646 views

On the phrase “You wouldn't think it to [look at him]”

There is an oft-used phrase structure that appears odd to me, but I can't tell if it qualifies as a set phrase, idiom, a mere grammatical fluke, or an archaic grammatical structure. The superstar ...
4
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1answer
313 views

Is there any dialect of English that uses “positive ever” to mean “once”?

One of the most interesting things for me is to learn that some construction that seems completely ungrammatical to me is completely okay for speakers of some other dialect of English. For example, ...
4
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5answers
623 views

What word would you use to describe this workflow?

I have a friend with an interesting workflow, and I wonder if there's any good English words that kind of describes it. Basically if he makes a video-game he first quickly makes the game playable and ...
4
votes
3answers
540 views

ESL text: “I notice similarities between myself and . . . ”: Acceptable use of reflexive pronoun?

In an ESL class, a student asked a difficult question about the use of “myself” in the following sentence: I notice similarities between myself and other people more than differences. (Speak Out,...
3
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2answers
486 views

Is it best to use height or length associated to width for describing a 2D object?

When it comes to 3D I see object dimensions described with attributes: - width - height - length When it comes to 2D I'm a bit confused, sometimes I see width,height sometimes width,length For ...
3
votes
1answer
94 views

Are people now “watching a lot of phone”?

It used to be said of some people that they "watched a lot of television". In those days there was nothing else to watch, in that kind of way. But how do I describe what is being done today ? Are ...
3
votes
1answer
41 views

Is there a term for using “or” to introduce something like an appositive?

Recently someone was trying to explain to me that "or" can have a non-disjunctive function, and this came to mind as a possible example but I can't figure out the terminology to describe it. I know ...
3
votes
1answer
473 views

What is the function of “right” in this sentence?

In the phrase "[action] right from the comfort of your own home", what is the function of the word 'right'? It sounds normal and cromulent to my native American English speaker ear, but I'm having a ...
3
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2answers
312 views

“Whenever I discuss X, people don't know what I'm talking about” — why the progressive tense?

Consider the two sentences: Whenever I discuss X, people don't know what I'm talking about. Whenever I discuss X, people don't know what I talk about. I think the first one should be ...
3
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5answers
830 views

Is there a word that describes the need to form one's own opinion of someone new, rather than blindly accepting the opinion of a third party?

I had a hard time trying to word this and I hope I didn't over-think it and make a total mess of it. I just can't think of a word even close and its driving me crazy. lol I'm interested to hear all ...
3
votes
1answer
28 views

Conjunctions, coordinators

I really know that for the levels of studying English language, we had always said that "for" is a coordinator. However, I would like to know what for serves in this sentence For God so loved the ...
3
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2answers
94 views

Is “The cat paws in the water to get the fish” a grammatically correct sentence? [closed]

Is this sentence, "The cat paws in the water to get the fish" grammatically correct?
2
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2answers
46 views

Since 'few' is used for countable nouns and 'less' is for uncountable nouns

Since 'few' is used for countable things and 'Less' is for uncountable things then why do we say; I have less than 2 days/months/years. ? Yes, time is an uncountable concept but we sure can count ...
2
votes
2answers
513 views

Why do we say “eat healthy” instead of “eat healthily”? [duplicate]

Why do we say "eat healthy" instead of "eat healthily", even though the latter is the only "correct" one, according to the comments in "eat healthy" or "eat healthily" What ...
2
votes
5answers
535 views

during, while or whilst (the) rain?

Does the last part of the following sentence sound natural for native speakers? "Alicia was standing under the tree during rain". Some users ...
2
votes
2answers
25k views

What is the difference in using“ I want you to know…” versus “I wanted you to know…”?

Can anyone help me with this please? "I want you to know" versus "I wanted you to know." Are they both grammatically correct and pretty much one and the same? I understand the difference of tense ...
2
votes
2answers
3k views

Proper usage of “does” in “Where does it come from?”

When inquiring after the immediate origin of a thing (i.e., where I purchased this gallon of milk), my wife will frequently say, "Where does it come from?". This always sounds odd to me—I'd say "Where ...
2
votes
1answer
227 views

What was the usage of EModE’s four-form system for answering yes–no questions?

It is well-known that Early Modern English, if not earlier forms of English too, had a four-form system for answering yes–no questions. ‘Yea’ and ‘nay’ answered questions phrased positively (analogous ...
2
votes
1answer
430 views

Metaphors that appeal to more than one of the senses (hearing, seeing, smell, etc.) at a given time?

I'm curious about the origin of using descriptors of one sense (e.g. sight) in order to describe a different sense (e.g. touch). (Please note that humans have more than five senses, as this may affect ...
2
votes
1answer
426 views

Linguistic term for repeating a subject as in “We sat there, we two.” [duplicate]

From The Cat in the Hat, I sat there with Sally. We sat there, we two. And I said, "How I wish we had something to do!" How do modern linguists, eg CGEL authors or readers, characterize how We ...
2
votes
3answers
525 views

How do you describe someone who is in a middle scale often? [closed]

How do you describe someone who is always in the middle? For example, One person is always angry and another really calm and this person is both at times. Or they are shy and outgoing. Like science ...
2
votes
2answers
345 views

An expression about gerunds [duplicate]

Can we say: His mother forbade his going out at midnight. In some countries, women's wearing tiny skirts is totally forbidden! But I don't mind (my) smoking here. here can we add "my"? Somebody ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the grammar in “I was like”?

In the sentence "I was like whatever", what is actually going on under the hood? "I" is presumably a pronoun, but what about the "was", the "like" and the "whatever"? Is the "was" on its own a verb? ...
2
votes
1answer
39k views

“I am having…”

People say "I'm having a baby." "I'm having a good time," or "I'm having friends over for dinner." but normally don't say "I'm having a car," "I'm having a cold." or "I'm having a solution." The ...
2
votes
2answers
253 views

-gate, and gamergate

I have always understood the phrase ____-gate to refer to a controversy or conflict. For example, deflate-gate was the hubbub around whether the Patriots intentionally deflated balls during the AFC ...
2
votes
1answer
53 views

Is the verb “went” necessary? [closed]

I wrote the following sentence at Wikipedia concerning Bob Wian who later founded the Big Boy restaurant chain: His father's furniture business bankrupt, Wian washed dishes in the school cafeteria ...
2
votes
1answer
444 views

How to properly use are and is [duplicate]

I am doing a project on wasting food and was wondering which phrase would be grammatically correct. "40% of most household bins are food" or "40% of most household bins is food", thanks :)
2
votes
3answers
144 views

Dropping of “was” from “A couple of ministers had to resign too, among them [was] Interior Minister Fouchet.”

A couple of ministers had to resign too, among them Interior Minister Fouchet. I don't know what type of rule is used to delete needed "was" in this sentence. My opinion is that "was" should be ...
2
votes
1answer
146 views

Can you end a multi-sentence quotation with a comma?

This is correct: "Rats," he said. But this looks wrong to me: "I left the oven on. Rats," he said. I can't find any rules about whether you can end a quotation with a comma when there are periods ...
2
votes
4answers
3k views

Shifting tenses in a short story [duplicate]

I am writing a short story using past tense, but I am a little bit confused when it comes to writing this part: She had never seen a man as athletic as him before. She knew Japanese men (were / ...
2
votes
0answers
2k views

Difference between “after” and “since”

I have a question related to the usage of "Since" and "after". Actually I found these three sentences on news articles. And I have seen a large number results both in "news" and "Ngrams". Are all ...