Questions tagged [grammar]

This tag is for questions about morphology and syntax, the two elements of grammar. DO NOT USE THIS TAG IF YOUR QUESTION IS ABOUT WHETHER SOMETHING SPECIFIC IS GRAMMATICAL. For such cases use the 'grammaticality' tag. Also do not use this for punctuation or spelling (orthography); those are not about grammar, and they have their own tags.

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The traditional grammar term for 'nominals'

The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Page 329) has a section titled 'Nominals': Intermediate between the noun and the NP we recognise a category of nominals: [3] a. the old man b. that book ...
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Is the verb "to see" a metaphor?

For example, when one thinks an argument is invalid, one can say "I see this argument as invalid". Nevertheless, I always thought a metaphor requires, at minimum, requires two object/ideas; ...
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Opt into vs opt in to

On the site 'Writing Explained' it is recommended to use "in to" instead of "into" when "in" is part of a verb phrase. As such, I would conclude that the phrase "opt in to" would be preferred over "...
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Using ‘first’ pre-verbally: ‘When I first wake up, I...’, ‘When we first saw them, we...’

Sorry, I don't have a clear question so much as I'm just looking for info on this construction. I just realised how odd this construction is to think about, even though it feels perfectly idiomatic. ...
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3 votes
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Can "why" ever be used as a subordinating conjunction?

I posted an image of a list of subordinating conjunctions for my students today, and one of them asked about "why" on the list. I couldn't think of any example where "why" would be ...
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3 votes
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375 views

"With probability", "with a probability", "with the probability"?

As a mathematician, I often write and read about probabilities. In the literature, I've seen versions of all the sentences below. Which one is correct? This happens with probability (of) 30%. This ...
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1 answer
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Function of Else

In the sentence, "Do you study anything else besides English?", what is the function of else? Is it an adjective? An adverb? And if it is an adverb, what does it modify? Thank you!
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3 votes
1 answer
288 views

Words/phrases like "kindred spirit" that refer to both the speaker and the subject of the sentence

The google definition of kindred spirit is "a person whose interests or attitudes are similar to one's own." That means that if I were to say to someone "You are a kindred spirit", I am describing ...
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3 votes
1 answer
616 views

In which context should I use reduced relative clauses?

As I should write essays and other kinds of writings in an academic style, I was wondering whether reduced relative clauses are formal or I had better opt for a non-reduced relative clause so that I ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Are “Get” or “Grasp” stative or dynamic verbs?

In Merriam–Webster, the definition of understand is as follows: to get the meaning of something / to grasp the meaning of something. Now my questions are regarding a sentence like: I don’t ...
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3 votes
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491 views

When do present participles shift from being "gerunds" or "verbal nouns" to become non-finite clauses?

Note: This is not a question about what is the difference between a gerund, verb and participle, interesting as that polemic may be. It is about non-finite clauses, which does bear upon these ...
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3 votes
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153 views

Does “The father regretted to tell his children something embarrassing” make sense?

I came across this question in a test: The father regretted _____ his children how he regretted _____ hard when he was young. A. to tell; not to study B. telling; not studying C. to tell; not ...
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3 votes
1 answer
169 views

Grammatical form of "except in"

The sentence is this, "English is not spoken anywhere except in the highest echelons of local government." Does "except" function as the preposition and head of the prepositional phrase, with "in ...
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3 votes
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use of the conjunction "nor"

"She didn't get married nor had children". Is the use of "nor" correct? I know we can use "nor" without "neither" but I'm doubting in this case.
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3 votes
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208 views

Past Perfect Tense Used Instead of Past Simple in 'The Kite Runner'

I'm currently reading 'The Kite Runner' by Khaled Hosseini, and notice that in some place in the book, i can't really comprehend the use of past perfect tense instead of simple past tense. Consider ...
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3 votes
3 answers
428 views

Proper ellipsis [linguistic] for "Yes/No" questions/answers containing "do + like"

Is it grammatically correct to say/write the following Q: Do you like to eat ice cream/apples...? A: No, I don't like [to eat apples]./ Yes, I like [to eat apples]. Is it necessary to include the ...
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2 votes
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What is the difference between these constructions?

I just came across these four sentences on a worksheet my son is doing. We are in Japan - so this is from English class at his Japanese school. It’s surprising that he should be an actor. It’s ...
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2 votes
1 answer
119 views

What verbs can stand alone in "We _____ your time is valuable"?

While on hold today by phone, a recording regularly told me, "We appreciate your time is valuable". Is this correct English? I know that there are special verbs, like "know" or &...
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What is the term for repeating non-restrictive clauses?

I came across the following quote: Scientists would soon find themselves adrift in a bewildering realm of particles and antiparticles, where things pop in and out of existence in spans of time that ...
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Is the useage of "that" in this clause correct?

I miss the days that I was trouble-free. I know it would be correct if "that" is replaced by "when," but can "that" also be correct? Also, I have this faint feeling that ...
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Can I really follow the theoretical framework proposed in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language?

In the book 'the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (CGEL)', the authors propose the theoretical framework used to describe the English sentences as shown below: CGEL, page 26 To get the tree ...
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Is a report used to report, or does a report report? Active vs passive

PASSIVE VOICE - The Random Name Report (RANAR) is used to report the randomness and effectiveness of names. vs. ACTIVE VOICE - The Random Name Report (RANAR) reports the randomness and effectiveness ...
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To a less/lesser extent

The expression to a lesser extent meaning “less strongly or not so much” is commonly found with the comparative form of less. Curiously, Google Books shows that “to a less extent” was initially, ...
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if only usage: leave out the 'was'

When 'it' refers to a letter or a complex situation projected to be caused by a letter, is it okay to use 'if only' in the following way? Why or why not? "It'd all be appropriate if only written ...
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113 views

Structure and usage of the construction - BE of

I have seen various sentences like this: The availability of two reasonably complete mammalian genomes is of great help to gene finders. - The New York Times I do my utmost to dress the actors very ...
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Is the distinction between noun and adjective inapplicable to English?

The distinction between noun and adjective is inapplicable to English grammar, and should be replaced by a distinction between objective and attributive words. — Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911) How ...
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Why use "Team" while voting?

While I'm surfing the online forum and social media about Godzilla VS Kong movie, I found lots of people said Team Godzilla & Team Kong to mean Support Godzilla & Support Kong. I want to know ...
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What does "one more step from the future" mean?

I'm not sure it's a correct English sentence. Can it be interpreted as "bringing something back from the future and advancing the present"? Maybe it would be better to use "one more ...
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50 views

Town vs City, why they can be used interchangeably in novel?

I know that this is a simple question, but it does made me wonder. This is what I found after reading quite a lot of novels and often happened: Why does City of something was sometimes called town ...
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2 votes
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61 views

Prepositional verb and non-prepositional one of a same object

If a prepositional verb and a non-prepositional one have the same object, should I put first the non-prepositional one, or it's not necessary ? The sentence is "You should reflect on and examine ...
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2 votes
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35 views

"BE GOING TO" What verb tense is it? Why?

In wikipedia, it is stated that basic form of going-to construction is present tense, however it gives the impresssion to me like of a present continuous. Furthermore, whatever book I read it is ...
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2 votes
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Focus on + (verb+ing) or (to+verb)

Is this sentence grammatically correct? "In spite of the toughness, what I focus on is 'to carry' on and 'fight' until I win." Which one is correct : What I focus on is to carry on ... My ...
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Difference between "prior to" and "before"

I have read on the internet that prior to is a formal term for before and "prior to" is used when a past moment is relevant to the present one. However, I didn't understand the meaning of ...
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2 votes
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“Fools that they are”

I have a question about the interposition “fools that they are” in the following: “Fools that they are, they never knew thy guiltless pride, thy true spirit.” Using Google’s Ngram Viewer, I found ...
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35 views

Is this an Auxiliary verb or a Lexical one?

I am studying auxiliary verbs, and I saw that "to dare" is a modal auxiliary. However, this sentence is somehow confusing, "He does not dare to interrupt." My question is: Is "to dare" a modal ...
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when can i omit the subject in comparative sentences

I recently encountered two sentences - Cars made in Japan are better than those made in Korea. here, "those" cannot be omitted Prices of mangos in Thailand are much lower than (those) in England. ...
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Should direct speech be used in synopses?

When you're writing a synopsis for a book, a movie, or a show, is it acceptable to use direct speech? Does it look professional? Or is it better to use indirect speech when it can convey the meaning ...
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What is a good way to describe someone falling and feeling the strong wind pushing them down?

I screamed. My whole body was falling down in complete darkness. I could feel the strong wind pushing me down. I had my eyes opened for a while but closed them, feeling no use in having them opened ...
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2 answers
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Why is "strategies to cutting" correct in this sentence?

I'm reading 'When Breath Becomes Air' by the late Paul Kalanithi, and I came across the sentence: "I could see that there were two strategies to cutting the time short..." My question is why "to ...
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2 votes
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Why do I have to use "what" in this sentence? What role does "what" play here?

I know this sentence is correct: In the 1980's the rate of increase of the minority population of the United States was nearly twice what it was in the 1970's. So the part of the sentence I'm ...
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Why is this habitual sentence wrong?

Why is the following sentence wrong? Usually we grow vegetables in our garden but this year we don't? Since the simple present shows habitual behavior, can we show an exception to the habit also ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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Lists. To colon or not to colon?

As a Spanish translator, I struggle with MANY Spanish sentences that include a preposition followed by a list of numbered (e.g.) activities. The lists can be long or short. An example would be: The ...
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When is it not possible to reduce relative clauses to participle phrases?

While "The woman who lived next door was a doctor" can be reduced to "The woman living next door was a doctor", the sentence "The woman who called me was a doctor" cannot be reduced to "The ...
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2 votes
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"Named" as a past participle adjective or relative clause

'I passed the exam.' The exam = 'The passed exam.' 'I named the boy.' The boy = 'The named boy.' 'I called the girl.' The girl = 'The called girl.' What = 'The boy named John.'? What = 'The girl ...
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"add to" vs "add in" which one is correct?

I have a question about a preposition collocation. Between "Please add it to the cost" and "Please add it in the cost" which one is idiomatic?
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Why is this a complete sentence?

"Another organization, the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, offers writers from around the world a three-month residency in which to share not only stories and poems but also ...
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2 votes
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62 views

Clarification for the usage of 'should' in this sentence

The phrase comes from a song named Black Oak by Slaughter Beach Dog. "Magnetic letters neat, and now arranged in such a way that they should spell his lover's name." I'm curious about the usage of ...
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Rock and roll past

According to Wikipedia, Jerry Lee Lewis's successes continued throughout the decade and he embraced his rock and roll past with songs such as a cover of the Big Bopper's "Chantilly Lace" and Mack ...
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Hear it used this way? - Complement or Modifier

While writing the following sentence I was curious whether the sentence was correct. But after checking COCA, I came to now that similar expressions are in use. The sentence I wrote is: Have you ...
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2 votes
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The distinction between subject complements and sentence complements

So I've got this definition of complement from Wikipedia: In grammar, a complement is a word, phrase or clause that is necessary to complete the meaning of a given expression. and for subject ...
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