Questions tagged [syntactic-analysis]

Parsing or syntactic analysis is the process of analysing a string of symbols, conforming to the rules of a formal grammar.

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Is "women men girls love meet die" a valid sentence?

Is "women men girls love meet die" a valid sentence? If so, what does it mean? The sentence shows up in academic papers about the "Sausage Machine" for natural language processing. ...
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105 votes
12 answers
13k views

Why does "I was happy to do my homework" work, but "I was tired to do my homework" doesn't?

I'm teaching ESL, and I came across a question from one of my students that I don't know how to answer. Using the form "{subject} {verb} {adjective} {infinitive phrase}" we've been going over ...
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95 votes
3 answers
78k views

Is "believe you me" proper English?

I understand the phrase "believe you me" to be an emphatic version of "believe me" but how did it come to be? Is it a poor translation into English?
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91 votes
1 answer
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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. ...
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80 votes
3 answers
45k views

Donald Trump's run-on sentences

In every Trump speech, almost every sentence is a run-on sentence. Here is a quote from one of his speeches last year Look, having nuclear—my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, ...
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79 votes
8 answers
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Is there a reason the British omit the article when they "go to hospital"?

Why do British speakers omit the article in constructions like "go to hospital" or "go on holiday"? Pretty much all American speakers would rephrase those as "go to the hospital" and "go on a holiday",...
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79 votes
6 answers
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Why is "zero" followed by a plural noun?

I could have: Two books One book Zero books Why is zero followed by a plural form? I don't expect English to always make sense, but everything has a reason, even if the reason is stupid. The ...
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72 votes
6 answers
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"It really doesn't matter" v "It doesn't really matter"

I can't distinguish the difference in meaning between these two sentences. It really doesn't matter. It doesn't really matter. It seems that there is a nuanced difference, but I cannot see what ...
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67 votes
19 answers
8k views

Central Pennsylvanian English speakers: what are the limitations on the "needs washed" construction?

In the Central Pennsylvania dialect of English (and possibly elsewhere), the following construction is possible: This car needs washed. (=needs to be washed) The room needs cleaned. (=needs to ...
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52 votes
10 answers
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Grammatically correct sentence where "you're" and "your" can be interchanged? [closed]

Most grammar checkers are capable of detecting the the misuse of "your" and "you're"; providing the necessary correction. I'm curious though, is there any sentence that can be constructed where ...
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52 votes
7 answers
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Mimsy were the Borogoves - why is "mimsy" an adjective?

I'm reading Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking-Glass" and I've found a famous poem Jabberwocky: Twas bryllyg, and the slythy toves Did gyre and gymble in the wabe: All mimsy were the ...
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52 votes
6 answers
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Is there some rule against ending a sentence with the contraction "it's"?

I heard this lyric in a song the other day and it just sounded so wrong that I assumed it must be incorrect grammar, but I can't find any specific prohibition that applies. That's what it's. That ...
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38 votes
3 answers
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"Denoted by" or just "denoted"?

In a mathematical context (explaining a formula just written) the following seems unobjectionable: "The set of unitary polynomials has been denoted by P". My question is whether it sounds right to ...
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38 votes
2 answers
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Is this sentence from Orwell's Animal Farm grammatically sound?

Should been really have been included in the following passage from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, or was this somehow an erroneous insertion of a spurious word? Illustration from p. 17 of the 1990 ...
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36 votes
2 answers
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"Their hunt the roast vegetable sauce": can you parse this?

An old A 2002 magazine sports the ad pictured below, juxtaposing Their hunt the roast vegetable sauce. with "Our roast vegetable sauce." There's something funny going on in the syntax of ...
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34 votes
4 answers
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Why do newspaper headlines use strange syntax rules?

Newspaper/news article headlines usually have different syntax rules, for example No copula. North Korea trip 'successful' Past events written in present. Qantas cancels flight out of frozen Heathrow ...
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33 votes
4 answers
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How does the phrase "used to" work, grammatically?

It is common to hear people say "used to" to indicate that they did something in the past but no longer do; for example, "I used to play basketball." How would "used to," used in that context, fit ...
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30 votes
6 answers
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Does "I am eating vegan cheese in my underpants" really imply that the vegan cheese is inside my underpants?

I am having a debate with someone about possible interpretations of a sentence and we have come to a stalemate. The sentence is as follows: "I'm at home eating vegan cheese in my underpants and ...
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30 votes
6 answers
21k views

Are these garden path sentences grammatically correct?

Background A garden path sentence is one that is exceptionally hard for the reader to parse. English is especially prone to this because it is an analytical language and so many words can be many ...
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29 votes
5 answers
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"Simply Not" vs. "Not Simply"

One simply does not walk into Mordor. One does not simply walk into Mordor. Intuitively I feel the first statement more strongly suggests walking into Mordor is impossible whereas the second just ...
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29 votes
4 answers
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What is the origin and extent of the Indian English usage of "only" to emphasize something?

I live in southern India, and for a long time I've been curious about this phenomenon that I've observed. Indian English uses the word "only" in a special way. It's used to emphasize things. Sort ...
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27 votes
6 answers
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How can I prove a word is a noun?

When I read a sentence, I can identify nouns. But now I need to give proof that they are indeed nouns, and that is where it goes wrong. I can think of one or two things sometimes (like combining it ...
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26 votes
4 answers
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How do the rules of English inform understanding of one of our language's most disputed sentences?

Yes, historical context is important, but forget it for a moment. Taken at face value, what does the text mean? A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right ...
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26 votes
5 answers
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Should an adverb go before or after a verb?

For example: The word rarely turns up outside of those contexts. The word turns up rarely outside of those contexts. Which one is correct and why?
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24 votes
7 answers
43k 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.&...
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23 votes
6 answers
17k views

"Don't let's fight"

I was watching a movie the other day and one character said to another, "Don't let's fight" instead of "Let's not fight." Is this proper usage, and if so, what is the grammatical rule that applies ...
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23 votes
2 answers
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What does Théoden’s quote “Oft evil will shall evil mar” in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings mean?

‘Yes, there can be no doubt,“ said Aragorn. ‘At last we know the link between Isengard and Mordor, and how it worked. Much is explained.’      ‘Strange powers have our enemies, and strange weaknesses!’...
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22 votes
9 answers
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Exact meaning of the Gandalf quote, "He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom."?

What is the exact meaning of following quote (it belongs to Gandalf the Grey): He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom. I have a problem especially with ...
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21 votes
5 answers
13k 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 ...
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  • 345
21 votes
3 answers
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Grammar parsing for "if need be"

I have the following question. There is an idiom 'if need be'. The meaning is clear, but I can't comprehend it from a grammatical point of view. How should I parse it? 'if [smth] needs to be'? Why not ...
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20 votes
2 answers
56k views

Meaning and usage of "be of"

I see such sentences all the time and I'd like to learn more about their grammatical structure (e.g. how they are described in grammatical terms), their meaning and how to use them in different ...
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  • 2,545
20 votes
5 answers
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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 ...
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19 votes
1 answer
8k views

What does "hold my sake" mean?

What does "hold my sake" mean? I see it sometimes in internet memes but I don't know what it means.
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19 votes
1 answer
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He died [as?] a broken man

He died a broken man. One of my students came across this sentence in an article, and a quick search for "he died a * man" yields a plethora of similar ones. I'm fairly certain this ...
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19 votes
9 answers
77k views

Difference between "without" and "with no"

What is the difference between the usage of without and with no? For example, without sound and with no sound.
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18 votes
14 answers
27k views

Is “Am I needing to. . . ?” grammatical?

In the course of answering this question (which is now deleted and may be viewed only by 10K+ community members), we have evoked some dispute over whether the phrase Am I needing to read this book?...
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18 votes
4 answers
8k views

Why is "dark" an adverb in "dark blue"?

The sky is dark blue. Source: BBC English Catherine: The sky is dark blue. The sky is dark blue. Finn: So, is blue an adjective or adverb? Catherine: It’s an adjective. Blue is describing the noun ...
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18 votes
4 answers
4k views

English questions and negation with *do* in syntax

A former lecturer of mine once explained why, from a syntactic point of view, the English rule that negation and questions are formed with the auxiliary do follows from other syntactic facts about ...
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18 votes
4 answers
797 views

Should Kyle be corrected, and if he doesn't, why?

In a recent blog entry, Jeff Atwood quotes his sysadmin Kyle: "Should the developers have access to the production environment, and if they do, to what extent?" My understanding is that this ...
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17 votes
4 answers
2k views

The use of "trespasses"

According to a dictionary search for "trespasses": v. Enter the owner's land or property without permission n. A voluntary wrongful act against the person or property of another, esp. unlawful entry ...
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17 votes
4 answers
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'The X-ing of Y' vs just 'X-ing Y' : why are both 'the' and 'of' necessary together?

Take the example of There is very little that a conforming POSIX.1 application can do by catching, ignoring or masking SIGSYS (From the SIGSYS article) This can be rewritten as There is very ...
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17 votes
4 answers
2k views

How to decide on the type of ellipsis

I'm having some hard time deciding on the types of a few ellipses I've got to analyze. Let's consider an example such as this one: Then Rosemary came out and said that Daddy was going to jail, and ...
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  • 301
16 votes
5 answers
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What is the appropriate phrase to say if two people are on the same track?

I am sharing my understanding regarding a particular matter with a colleague just to make sure that both of we have same understanding. This is just to avoid any conflict or confusion among us. ...
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  • 261
16 votes
4 answers
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When to use this construction: so Adjective a Noun

In "The Quiet American" by Graham Greene, Mr Fowler says: I watched her closely while she asked how I was and touched my splinted leg and gave me her shoulder to lean on, as though one could lean ...
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  • 417
16 votes
4 answers
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Grammatical role of “the hell”?

I’m wondering exactly which grammatical role the word hell takes on in expressions such as Get the hell out of here the hell in this case seems to modify the phrasal verb to get out (get out of ...
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16 votes
1 answer
24k views

Is "Me neither" incorrect?

I've heard that "me neither" is incorrect. Instead one should say "neither do I." People definitely say "me neither" conversationally, but is it technically incorrect?
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15 votes
3 answers
7k views

What part of speech is ‘mountains’ in the sentence “I like climbing mountains”?

I'm trying to understand the grammar of this sentence: I like climbing mountains. Here's what I've got so far: "I" is the subject "like" is the verb I believe "climbing" is a participle Maybe "...
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15 votes
3 answers
4k views

How should I parse the sentence "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo."

Why is the following statement valid, and how can I break it down so that it is easier to understand? Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
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15 votes
12 answers
8k views

How many parts of speech can a word be at the same time?

ᴛʟᴅʀ: Is it ever possible for a sentence to have a word in it that is simultaneously more than one single part of speech in that sentence under the same parse and meaning? (For example, a few possible ...
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15 votes
3 answers
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Where is the subject in "as was traditional for unmarried women"?

My senior English teacher was a tad bit confused where the subject for was is in this sentence: As was traditional for unmarried women, Jane lived at home her entire life.
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