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Questions tagged [syntax]

Questions regarding the rules for the formation of sentences

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Where is the subject in a sentence that starts with a prepositional phrase

Where is the subject in a sentence that starts with a prepositional phrase. For example the preposition phrase beginning with after below: After breakfast the boys wandered out to the garden. Is ...
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Stacking Labels characters Question? [on hold]

I need help to find information about how to use stack separators for words. I am GIS Specialist and I work with maps. I have some maps that I need to split the words to create stack two lines. Are ...
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Direct quotes (syntax)

“ ——— ” the White House said in a statement. “ ——— ” said the White House in a statement. The White house said in a statement “ ——— ” Are all these variations correct? If no, which one(s) is/are ...
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31 views

Prepositional verb structure - “[rely] [on John]” or “[rely on] [John]”

It is difficult to determine the correct consituent structure of prepositional verbs, such as rely on someone. Either on someone forms a constituent to the exclusion of rely, as in (1), or rely on ...
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does “You will burn eternities over” make sense?

As an ironic idiom from the idea of 'burning for all eternity' does the above phrase make sense? I know eternity should not be plural in the abstract notion, but does"burning eternities over" properly ...
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Combining demonstrative and possessive pronoun

I know of at least one language (German, although it’s considered old-fashioned nowadays) where it’s possible to combine demonstrative and possessive pronoun: Diese deine Worte sind wahr. ...
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are the verbs take and get synonymous? [closed]

English is a foreign language for me. I have searched in some dictionaries but i do not see that they are synonymous. But i remember once i had a conversation with an American, "ok, i'll take the bag ...
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41 views

“a food-hygienically acceptable substance”: Grammatical syntax?

In a document (written by a native Japanese speaker), I see the following phrase that sets off my acceptability and grammaticality alarms: a food-hygienically acceptable substance Google shows ...
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Is my syntax correct and is there a better version?

Here is the sentence: "Why is a conjugated system bigger, the smaller the atomic electron transitions?" I mean that when a conjugated system gets bigger, the atomic electron transitions get smaller, ...
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1answer
88 views

Changing the passive infinitive into the active voice

This problem has been bothering me for almost a week. I was hoping for that lightbulb moment but it's still dark in the attic, so here I am. In the English coursebook, MyGrammarLab Advanced C1/C2, ...
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1answer
44 views

is/are + past participle vs. have been + past particple

So I am really confused when to use past participle and have been + p.p For example In situations like the ones below Are these dishes washed? Have these dishes been washed? (Washed and ...
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Is this “as~as” comparison construction acceptable?

From my understanding, the main formula for an "as~as" comparison is: (subject + verb)(object) [as {adjective/adverb/noun} as] (complements: clause/noun phrase/adjective/adverb) For example: He is as ...
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3answers
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“should always have been done”/“should have made”/ should have been always done” [closed]

So I'm doing a coffeemaker advert in English and it is not my native language. I think you have to know the idea behind this sentence so you can help me to get this grammatically and ideally right. ...
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1answer
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Adjective order with dead & pregnant

I have just listened to a presentation to adjective order in my linguistics class, however, it failed to answer my question. Would an English speaker say "this is a dead pregnant cat" or "this is a ...
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When do you use “the” and when do you not use “the” in a sentence? [closed]

When do you use "the" and when do you not use "the" in a sentence? I intuitively know but don't know how to explain. I'm trying to explain this concept to an ESL student.
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Syntactic function of “available” in a specific case

In What is the largest size available?, what is the syntactic function of available? And do you know any structure similar to this one? Thank you, Teresa
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X-bar tree for a sentence

Those talents, as they make a part of his fortune, so do they likewise of that of the society to which he belongs. (Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations) The structure of the sentence above from Adam ...
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Can I use “proud” in this phrase: “Proud company for nonprofits”?

This phrase is a title. I am not sure in the use of "proud" before a noun even though I saw in the dictionary that this structure exists. What do you think? How do you understand the phrase? Thanks in ...
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Is there any difference between “you both will” and “you will both”? [duplicate]

For example, are both of the following sentences correct: If it is cold out, you both will need a coat. If it is cold out, you will both need a coat. And do they mean the same thing?
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Clarification about the phrase “within [x] years of the date…”

Does the phrase "within [x] years of the date..." mean before or after (or both?) the specified date? For example, in the phrase, "GRE scores taken within 5 years of the date application was received,"...
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1answer
45 views

What's the correct syntax to use for this adjective

So I have biscuits which are made from cow's milk and the milk used in it is unadulterated and pure. Which of these usages convey the above correctly? 1st: Biscuits made from pure cow's milk. ...
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1answer
48 views

WH-movement with complex sentences

I'm editing a biography in which the author, who isn't a native English speaker, stated the following: I started a business at the age of 21 and had no idea what were the most important skills I ...
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1answer
124 views

“Bent 90 degrees” or “at 90 degrees”?

The metal bar was straight. But I bent it to make a right (90 degrees) angle. Can I say it as below? The metal bar was bent 90 degrees. (90 degree / at 90 degree / to 90 degree) 90 degree / degrees ...
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Suffix corresponding to an idea described with two nouns

Please pardon my lack of understanding for major English Language concepts, I'll be using layman's terms. Now, I've encountered this issue in the past while writing. Consider this text: That was ...
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When did “our” stop being used as an adjective (as in “other our dominions”, “any our Subjects”)?

While reading a letter written by Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1588, I came across a certain construction that doesn't seem to be grammatical in English: RIGHT trustie, and righte welbelovid ...
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Difference between the two similar senses of about as a preposition

Oxford Living Dictionaries defines the preposition about in sense 2 and 3 that are quite similar; their similarity disabled me contradict between such senses. Sense 2. [British] Used to indicate ...
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“Sending off a balloon”: verb or noun?

Agnes suggested sending off a balloon with a message to Jenny. The phrase sending off puzzles me. I know it’s a verb phrase, but I don’t understand why it ends on -ing. Is it a noun or a verb? I've ...
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3answers
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Should I use a hyphen, an en dash, or an em dash to define or introduce a word? [closed]

I have looked up online and studied usages for the hyphen, en dash, and em dash. I still haven't found an answer if I can define words with a dash in English. The backstory on dashes defining ...
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What verbs in English never take nouns as complements, and is there a term for this?

I can think of only a few verbs like exist and belong that never take ordinary nouns as object complements. (see below) We never say things like, *She exists a doctor. Rather, we would say, She ...
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1answer
233 views

Are the following sentences grammatically correct?

I'm having some troubles with a more literary writing style, and I wanted to check if the following sentences are correct grammatically, and if not, what exactly is the problem and what alternatives ...
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1answer
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“all [object]'s [properties]” vs “[object]'s all [properties]”

Which form is correct and why? "all [object]'s [properties]" OR "[object]'s all [properties]" Here's an example: In order to use all the machine's available cores. In order to use the machine's all ...
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Two adverbs, and an indefinite article

I found two adverbs, between which indefinite article, in TVTRopes site: Upon reading it, the host concludes that it's actually a really old joke that everyone knows. Is it grammatical to ...
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2answers
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Is “The Dad is fishing” acceptable?

Is there something wrong with this sentence? The Dad is fishing. In my opinion. It sounds wrong using Dad as the subject. This is the context: A student was given the task to make a declarative ...
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1answer
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Correct or not: noun and adjective being predicative together

I'm thinking about such a sentence: He is a lawyer, arrogant and smart. or He is an idiot, arrogant and short-sighted. Please note that here I just want to list the noun and the ...
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1answer
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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"...
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Can the phrase “the likes of which” and “with which” be combined to prevent ending a sentence in a preposition?

Here is the example I was writing when I came across this problem. It is imperative that you cease this infernal flirtation, lest you unleash forces the likes of and with which the world has ...
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Usage and order of “galore”: an adjective, but looks like an adverb

It is common to put adverbs of manner after a direct object. But is it grammatically correct to put an adjective after noun? As in: Since then there have been reports, inquiries and guidance galore. ...
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Usage of the Word “Expression” With Reference to Any Series of Words

I need to know whether it is correct to call any series of words an “expression.” Examples: "The study of natural phenomena has continued for centuries, with significant discoveries being made in ...
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Usage of which in English

In Barron's ACT guide, I was stumped by the following: "Man alone was endowed by imagination, which was bound to complicate matters for him" was stated grammatically incorrect. Why would that be the ...
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3answers
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Using “as” instead of “that” (I don't know as this is valid)

When answering the ELL question “I can't say as ever I was lost” quoted Daniel Boone, I said that having as instead of that in the cited context was a "dialectal, folksy" usage. Then I came up with ...
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1answer
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Sentences that begin with “To think that;” are they impersonal?

Sentences such as To think that she did all that To think that Messi and Cristiano Rolando are both out of the World Cup To think that this could ever happen to me Are these impersonal ...
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“But anything to…”

I'm wondering about the grammaticality of a sentence like "That might have been a far-fetched argument. But anything to make my point." (I'm curious specifically about the sentence in bold.) Although ...
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1answer
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Deferring a noun belonging to a preposition until after a conjunction

Is it grammatically correct to defer the use of a noun (belonging to preposition) until after a conjunction? In order to scale to (deferred noun: multi-objective optimisation) and study multi-...
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1answer
187 views

in case + verb form [closed]

Thinking things through, here ... (a) Bring a pen, in case you need to take some notes (b) Bring a pen, in case you needed to take some notes (c) Bring a pen, in case you might need to ...
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2answers
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Transform a sentence

I'm not a native English speaker. For example, there is a sentence: "They made an example out of me". How can I say it the other way, like: "I was made an example out of"? Do these sentences ...
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On the syntax of “just” with a “that-clause.”

I'm trying to work things through, (a) It's just that they won (b) She thinks just that they won (???) (c) She just thinks that they won In (a), just can appear immediately before the "that-...
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Verb form after “when” referring to the future

You would have to be very upset with her not to answer the phone when she calls/called you. Is it "calls" or "called"? From what I gather, it can be either (or at least, I've seen both verb forms ...
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What's the syntax of “purport”?

I keep reading in some style/usage books that "purport" shouldn't be turned passive because the sense of the verb is "already passive." Thus, Three people were arrested Sunday at the Smithsonian ...
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How many “of” is allowed? How to reposition nouns correctly?

Facing this, I am not sure that I know the right answer. At the university, I was taught that only 2 prepositions "of" are allowed to be sounding natural. If it comes to translation from Russian into ...
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A companion to McCawley's The Syntactic Phenomena of English? [closed]

What would be a good syntax book to read as companion to James McCawley's The Syntactic Phenomena of English? As great as McCawley's book is, at times it makes for challenging reading, particularly ...