Questions tagged [structure]

Questions pertaining to the structure of phrases and sentences.

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87
votes
1answer
5k views

Is there a name for this type of sentence structure: “She looks as though she's been poured into her clothes, and forgot to say 'when'”?

Comedians seem to use phrases that employ this type of sentence structure - is there a name for it? Examples of Groucho Marx's one liners seem to fit this pattern — and if memory serves, Emo Philips. ...
19
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8answers
29k views

Grammar: “Just because A, doesn't mean B”

I hear this all the time, and often from writers, but it never sounds right. I found myself using it in something I was writing. For example: "Just because I stopped eating doesn't mean I'm full." ...
16
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5answers
37k views

Should I refer to “Section 2.3” or “Subsection 2.3”?

When writing a document that is divided into numbered sections and subsections, sometimes I would like to refer a certain subsection that has been numbered 2.3, for example. Here the 2 represents the ...
11
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6answers
61k views

What's wrong with “We hope you will find our Qualifications to be well-organized, concise, and most of all, to exceed your expectations.”

Why is the following sentence grammatically incorrect? We hope you will find our Qualifications to be well-organized, concise, and most of all, to exceed your expectations. I've asked three ...
10
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6answers
20k views

What is the structure in “as best you can”?

I instinctively translate it "as best as you can", however this makes no sense. What is the real structure behind this phrase? I'll include an Ngram to illustrate the historical presence of this ...
10
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6answers
12k views

How does the parenthetical “that is” function?

It's the last sentence of an article in The Economist. Some of the powerful elders might have faded from the scene. Mr Xi and Li Keqiang might then have a freer hand to promote their own people, ...
10
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2answers
387 views

What's the most pedantically correct way to reference sectioned and numbered rules aloud?

I am a roller derby announcer. An important part of my job is to explain the rules of roller derby to the fans. The rules of modern roller derby are promulgated by the Women's Flat Track Derby ...
9
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4answers
7k views

What phrase is “you betcha” a descendant of?

"You bet you"? That's the closest I could think of. Or is it "you bet yourself", with the "self" omitted so it's quicker to say? Or is it something else altogether?
8
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2answers
4k views

Is “want” a causative verb?

I've always held on to the definition that Causative Verbs express how the Noun before the Verb influences the execution of an action. Similarly, the Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written ...
8
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2answers
894 views

Why do people say “I have known someone to do” but not “I know someone to do”?

The structure I have known someone to do something is apparently considered grammatical and idiomatic. Examples from Google: I have known people to take shops, put in a few articles and, without ...
7
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4answers
782 views

Is “to” missing in the following phrase: “civil liberties be damned”?

I am currently reading a column by Thomas L. Friedman titled "We're always still Americans," published on December 11, 2014 in International New York Times. If there had been another 9/11 after ...
7
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4answers
580 views

What does an ellipsis followed by an exclamation mean?

I'm confused about how to use "...!" in writing. Currently, I'm writing a fiction story with a character who has been critically injured. I got this question while typing out this: "I won't die yet....
7
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1answer
3k views

“We must away ere break of day”: What is this grammar? Is it alive?

This phrase appears in a song Tolkien wrote, and what was the main theme of The Hobbit movie: Far over the Misty Mountains cold To dungeons deep and caverns old We must away ere break of day ...
7
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1answer
229 views

“are absolutely”

During a recent heated conversation I said "You are absolutely a pedantic snob." The person I was speaking with corrected me that it should be "You absolutely are" Lack of self-awareness aside and ...
6
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1answer
2k views

Zero conditional form

Chatting with a colleague we came a cross a dilemma (as we are not English native), which of the following sentences are wrong? Why? If I knew everything, I'd be a genius. If I know everything, I'd ...
6
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3answers
1k views

sylleptic parentheses

Here's a quote from Wikipedia: the triple point of Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water (VSMOW, 273.16 K and 0.01 °C) Now, "VSMOW" refers to "Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water", while "273.16 K and 0....
6
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1answer
2k views

Frequency of word use vs number of words

Let's consider a partition of the words in the english language according to respective use frequency. Looking at the frequency graph it should be easy to find classes of words with approximately the ...
6
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3answers
2k views

English generator algorithms

This may be an odd question for this site, but tonight I've been enjoying myself by creating a small script that produces (is supposed to produce) sample sentences that resemble English, while being ...
6
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2answers
2k views

English Syntax Rules Based on Word Choice

I was reading the Wikipedia article on Animacy and came across something I found to be very interesting: The higher animacy a referent has, the less preferable it is to use the preposition of for ...
5
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2answers
103 views

From Wells's “The Invisible Man”, what does this sentence mean?

'You said it was an empty sleeve?' he said. 'Certainly,' I said. At staring and saying nothing a barefaced man, unspectacled, starts scratch. Then very quietly he pulled his sleeve out of his pocket ...
5
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2answers
4k views

What is the structure of the sentence 'const to the rescue'?

The following is the context: Despite my fastidious coding habits, I have made a silly mistake and typed += when I meant to type +. As a result, when concatUnsafe is called, it will modify ...
5
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2answers
830 views

When talking about something, where do we place its name in the sentence?

In Computer Science papers (and I'm sure that in papers in many other fields, too), we often have to describe a new tool or method that has a name. Let's talk for instance about Eclipse, and its wide ...
4
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2answers
2k views

Can I put the job position in front of the name?

In military contexts you often see sentences like this one: "General Montgomery decided to..." I am now writing an evaluation about a sale my company had had, and I want to credit several people ...
4
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2answers
1k views

Classification - There is/are

What is the official 'name' for the 'there is' / 'there are' construction? Is it a verb phrase or a lexical verb? I'd say possibly a verb but it must be the most difficult term to Google.
4
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1answer
40k views

Yoda's sentence structure [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What term can be used to describe Yoda's speech? What is the structure of Yoda's sentences? Are they grammatically correct (US english)? "Size matters not, ... Look at ...
4
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2answers
16k views

Is this sentence correct grammatically?

I've been told by a person that the sentence below is incorrect grammatically and it does not make any sense. Specifically, that person told me that the part ''could do'' is wrong. ''Could do'', for ...
4
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2answers
1k views

What defines a correlative?

I have come across a number of expressions (both...and..., if...then...) which are named as "correlative" in different grammars (namely Quirk et al.). The question: What makes an expression a ...
4
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1answer
1k views

Building a phrase structure of “On the weekend …”

I'm reading Foundations of Statistical Natural Language Processing, and I'm doing one of the early exercises, trying to work out some of the language infliction about the word 'fun'. On the ...
3
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3answers
356 views

Should I reformat this sentence? [closed]

I kind of feel like the first comma in the sentence below should be a semi-colon. Does anything else in there read funny? As you’ll see in my enclosed resume, I have the educational background, ...
3
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4answers
426 views

It is an existential question

A question on another site asks, I have a laptop ... Now I am trying to install Windows 7 and it shows a message saying "Driver not found". Whereupon a commenter asks, What is the "it" that shows ...
3
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3answers
354 views

Validity in the brevity of this prose?

What I intended to write full out was: We have moved away from obsoleted technologies and technologies being deprecated. What I actually wrote feels slightly awkward but I justified leaving it ...
3
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5answers
6k views

Better way of saying “in order to demonstrate this”

What is a better way of saying "in order to demonstrate this, I will..."? I already use "to that effect" in the same paragraph. I'm looking for something as compact and concise as "to that effect" ...
3
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2answers
1k views

If there are two tenses in my sentence, should I repeat the subject?

Is it correct to say: I have done the washing up and am now watching TV. or I have done the washing up and I am watching TV now.
3
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1answer
1k views

What does “It is not everyone who has your passion for dead leaves ” mean?

I am currently reading Sense and Sensibility and came across the following passage. "It is not every one," said Elinor, "who has your passion for dead leaves. Since I’m not a native speaker , I ...
3
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2answers
14k views

When is a comma appropriate when using “that is”

Is there a better way of structuring the following? In the first instance, efficiency needs to be evaluated; the most efficient choice, that is, the choice that minimises unnecessary ...
3
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3answers
4k views

What does “this” refer to?

What does "this" refer to in the following quote from the Wikipedia article on Learning Curve? The learning curve can also represent at a glance the initial difficulty of learning something and, ...
3
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1answer
97 views

How do I continue a sentence that contains a quote mid-sentence

The following question is quite similar, but it's not a duplicate because my example sentence does not follow up with a conjuction. Which instance of the following sentence is right: We cannot ...
3
votes
2answers
543 views

Negating a clause

This is my first post, I really like this site! Basically I have problems to distinguish the negation of a verb that is applied to a clause, and a verb that is applied to a negation of a clause. The ...
3
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4answers
671 views

Wh- Question for “as young as five”

There is this statement: Children as young as five are able to take the test. What is the question the answer to which is "as young as five"? Is this structure correct? How young an age are ...
3
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0answers
32 views

Can we say “I am friends”? If not, why can we say “I’ve been friends with…”? [duplicate]

I’ve been friends with the Murkets for twenty years. This is a sentence from Longman Dictionary. How can we explain this? I thought when the pronoun was "I" we must say a friend not friends. I ...
3
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2answers
576 views

Perplexing mathmatical problem due to grammar [closed]

I recently read a post on Facebook regarding a mathmatical problem posed by a statement without commas. I was hoping that this site could provide a correct grammatical translation of the following ...
2
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5answers
3k views

Structuring sentences without using the word “but”

I seem to have a habit of using a lot of sentences that involve the word "but": "I haven't tried it yet, but I think it should work"; "I could easily resort to chicken, but I want to see how far I can ...
2
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1answer
2k views

What types of antonyms are there?

As we know, Schadenfreude is defined as "the feeling of joy derived from witnessing the misfortunes of others". This question defines the antonym of Schadenfreude as "the feeling of discomfort derived ...
2
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4answers
444 views

How should this sentence structure be interpreted?

I'm playing an online game in which I came across a message in the form of a sentence of which the structure is new to me. It read: You do not have a hatchet which you have the level to use. The ...
2
votes
2answers
150 views

On the structure of “search for weapons and bands of pro-Hussein fighters still holding out”

I came across the following expression: The primary task of many American troops in Baghdad has been to search for weapons and bands of pro-Hussein fighters still holding out. This is from a ...
2
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2answers
17k views

“I'm curious as to how to…” [closed]

Is that worded properly? I'm not sure if it's off. Thank you for any help you give.
2
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4answers
531 views

How to say a particular author is the only one you've read every book of?

Charles Dickens is an author. I have read every book he's written, and he's the only author who I can say this about. If I wanted to express this fact, in one single and elegant sentence, what would ...
2
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1answer
526 views

How to describe relations between objects unambiguously?

Following Martha's advise I am splitting up a question Compound sentences, the punctuation and mooore. Consider the following fragment: child nodes of a story representing its sub categories I ...
2
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1answer
1k views

“to + verb” at the beginning of each bullet point vs. single “to” + multiple verbs

With regard to bullet points stating objectives using verbs, is it better to repeat "to" at the beginning of each of them, or to introduce bare infinitives with a single shared "to"? In the Land of ...
2
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4answers
2k views

“Social media post” or “social-media post”? [duplicate]

Should "social media" be spelled with a hyphen in the phrase "social media post"? To me, the hyphen looks wrong, but I would like to be able to provide some grammatical rationale to explain why.