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70
votes
11answers
21k views

“Less” vs. “fewer”

I've just received a memo which says (effectively) As more people leave, there will be less people available. I want that word to be fewer. Are there guidelines for which word ought to be used ...
35
votes
4answers
190k views

Does “staff” take a plural verb?

Which one of these two statements is correct? Our staff do ... Our staff does ... And is staffs ever correct?
34
votes
10answers
10k views

Why is it usually “friend of his”, but no possessive apostrophe with “friend of Peter”?

As this NGram shows, we nearly always use the possessive form of personal pronouns for friend of mine/his/ours/etc. But when it comes to actual names, we prefer friend of Peter without the possessive ...
72
votes
8answers
90k views

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",...
39
votes
5answers
42k views

Correct position of “only”

Which is grammatically correct? I can only do so much in this time. or I can do only so much in this time.
56
votes
4answers
18k views

When should end punctuation go inside quotes?

I have been/am being taught that end punctuation should always go inside quotes. For example, you are supposed to write: Marvin thought it was "awful." The problem is I do not see how does this ...
31
votes
17answers
20k views

Framing a question whose answer is an ordinal number

I am the third daughter (or son) of my parents. OR I am the third child of my parents How should a question that is answered with the above sentences be framed?
14
votes
1answer
4k views

Agreement With Compound Subjects Joined by And

I was surfing the internet the other day when I found this phrase: Instead your precious time and attention is wasted. To my ears, it sounds wrong. But I'm not a native English speaker, so I consulted ...
12
votes
3answers
24k views

Singular or plural following a list

Can anyone tell me if I should use inspire or inspires in this phrase? An extraordinary leader whose vision, values, integrity and boundless curiosity inspires all who follow in his footsteps.
124
votes
8answers
251k views

Plurals of acronyms, letters, numbers — use an apostrophe or not?

When I was in high school back in the 1970s, I was taught that to make a plural of an acronym, a letter, or a number, one should add an apostrophe and "s". Like I would have written this sentence, "......
26
votes
3answers
3k views

Is it correct to hyphenate with compound premodifiers? If so, where is the hyphen placed?

For example, "file system" and "related". Is it "file system-related"? It will appear as if it is a compound of "file" and "system-related", won't it?
135
votes
42answers
14k views

What are your favorite English language tools? [closed]

To prevent myself from asking an obvious, silly question multiple times: What are the English language tools you found most useful? I found Corpus Concordance English extremely useful for looking up ...
24
votes
5answers
8k views

Are split infinitives grammatically incorrect, or are they valid constructs?

Mark's generosity in this crisis seems to more than make up for his earlier stinginess. Should those sentences always be avoided, or are there cases where they are valid?
14
votes
2answers
28k views

To hyphenate or not?

As a non-native speaker of English and an engineer by training, I always get confused about hyphenation and almost always end up referring to Google every time I need to make that decision. Does ...
55
votes
9answers
92k views

Order of “not” with infinitive

This is one thing that keeps bugging me, and maybe there's a direct answer. Grammatically, which one is more correct of these two? Does it make a difference? I tried not to do that. I tried ...
21
votes
2answers
5k views

“did shoot” vs “shot”

This morning I read this sentence (see story): On July 24th and again on July 29th, Egyptian police did shoot dead unarmed African migrants attempting to cross that border. Why "did shoot" ...
7
votes
2answers
17k views

Present perfect for past action with present effect

If I seem tired, can I say: "I haven't slept last night"? If not, why have I been told that we use present perfect for actions that have present effects?
91
votes
7answers
145k views

Which day does “next Tuesday” refer to?

At what point does next Tuesday mean the next Tuesday that will come to pass and no longer the Tuesday after the Tuesday that will come to pass? And, when does the meaning switch back?
25
votes
3answers
10k views

“User accounts” or “users account”

Is it correct to say user accounts or users account when referring to the accounts any user has on a site like this one? In general, in the case of a noun that is used as adjective for the noun that ...
29
votes
5answers
22k views

Is using the possessive 's correct in “the car's antenna”?

I know that to mark possession of an item you can use 's like in the following example: The user's password shall not be blank. However, is it correct to use the following: The car's antenna is ...
5
votes
7answers
7k views

“Taste” is to “flavor” as “touch” and “sight” are to what?

For the senses, we have: flavor for taste aroma/odor/scent for smell sound for hearing ____? for touch/feel ____? for sight/see So one tastes a flavor, smells an aroma, hears a sound, feels a(n) ...
28
votes
5answers
36k views

Using the definite article before a country/state name

The Punjab is a rich state. Is it correct to use the before Punjab?
30
votes
5answers
13k views

“None” as plural indefinite pronoun

In my grammar book (English Grammar, HarperCollins Publishers), I read that none is occasionally treated as plural, but it is usually regarded as singular. Can you give me an example of sentence where ...
15
votes
4answers
15k views

When is the present perfect tense used instead of the past tense?

When is the present perfect tense used instead of the past tense? I know that the present perfect tense is used when some adverbs (e.g., never, ever) are present in the sentence; the same is true ...
18
votes
14answers
9k views

The grammaticality of “that don't impress me much”

I'd like to know how the sentence "That don't impress me much" sounds to a native English speaker. The phrase is the title of a song by Shania Twain, and to my eyes it contains a clear error. It is ...
49
votes
8answers
7k views

What exactly is an “adverb”?

From comments to “Weekdays” used as an adverb", I learn that The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary says "open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.", shows the word weekdays is an adverb. It seems to me ...
20
votes
7answers
9k views

How does one know when to use a gerund or an infinitive?

As a native speaker of English, the gerund version of this sentence sounds better: infinitive: When used together in chains, extension methods are an unprecedented tool to produce extremely ...
22
votes
5answers
156k views

Does “notified by [date]” include the end date?

I have read the Rules of a competition. The text of the Rules include a sentence as follows: As per stated in the Rules the entrants will be notified by May 30th 2010. Does the sentence above mean ...
20
votes
7answers
153k views

When is it correct to use “yourself” and “myself” (versus “you” and “me”)?

I'm confused by why people use the following: It's up to yourself. Rather than: It's up to you. Another example of this would be: Please feel free to contact ourselves if you have any ...
8
votes
3answers
4k views

Are there any rules on the positioning adverbs should take in a sentence?

For example: Ever wish you could share information broadly Could it be rewritten to: Ever wish you could broadly share information Are there any rules for the position of the adverbs.
42
votes
4answers
51k views

Using “that” and “this” interchangeably

Learning and using English I'm always confused about what word to use for referring to things that have been described by me a few sentences earlier: "that" or "this". Confusion comes from the fact ...
54
votes
7answers
89k views

“between” vs. “among”

Today I was cut off in the middle of the following sentence: Between Cook, Strauss, and Pietersen— My friend said I was wrong. He said that for more than two entities, among/amongst are used, and ...
43
votes
5answers
216k views

Is “there're” (similar to “there's”) a correct contraction?

Q: "Do you have any juice?" A: "Yes, there's some in the fridge." Sounds perfectly fine to me, but: Q: "Do you have any towels?" A: "Yes, there's some in the closet." Does not. I asked for ...
52
votes
5answers
449k views

Difference between “I have got” and “I have gotten”

I see these two expressions are used almost identically in different contexts. Is there a difference between I have got and I have gotten?
62
votes
9answers
173k views

How do you handle “that that”? The double “that” problem

Have you ever had a case where you felt compelled to include strange things like a double that in a sentence? If so, then what did you do to resolve this? For me, I never knew whether it was ...
10
votes
4answers
98k views

Why is this sentence correct? “She suggested that he go to the cinema.”

Why is this sentence correct? She suggested that he go to the cinema. I would definitely use goes instead of go.
20
votes
3answers
42k views

“How do we call (something) in English?”

Is it really wrong to say "How do we call something in English?" instead of "What do we call something in English?"? The former's not unusual in Philippine English at all (probably it's because of the ...
85
votes
5answers
12k views

Why is it “geometric” but “theoretical”?

I just came across a course name: Geometric and Theoretical Optics. The mismatched endings bug me. Why do we have both -ical and -ic endings? Is there any difference in meaning between, say, ...
59
votes
3answers
99k views

What’s the rule for adding “-er” vs. “-or” when forming an agent noun from a verb?

What’s the rule to decide whether you add -er or whether you add -or when creating an agent noun from a verb? Sometimes it’s -er: read > reader hate > hater hit > hitter But other times it’s -...
81
votes
4answers
18k views

What's wrong with “I'll open you the door”?

When I call the buzzer outside my girlfriend's flat, she sometimes says *"I'll open you the door". I correct this to "I'll open the door for you". I've never heard a native speaker say it the first ...
36
votes
5answers
21k views

What is the difference between “lay” and “lie”?

How do I know when to use lay and when to use lie, and what are the different forms of each verb? I'm always getting them confused.
59
votes
7answers
29k views

When did it become correct to add an “s” to a singular possessive already ending in “‑s”?

According to my grammar book, but at variance to the answer to this question, the correct singular possessive if a word ends in ‑s is: James’s car The grammar book allows exceptions for historical ...
34
votes
7answers
49k views

Should we use plural or singular for a fraction of a mile?

I have seen people say both 0.25 mile and 0.25 miles. Should we use plural or singular for a fraction of a mile?
23
votes
5answers
9k views

When are “if” and “whether” equivalent?

Are if and whether equivalent in sentences like the ones below? How to determine if my saddle is too high? How to determine whether my saddle is too high? We should check if everything is ...
39
votes
8answers
6k views

Paucity of words for relationships

Please refer the following questions asked elsewhere on this site: Is there a word that means "the wife of one's brother"? What is the relationship name of my wife's brother to me? ...
31
votes
8answers
126k views

Which one is correct to say: “It's me” or “It's I”?

I was taught at school that the following expression is not grammatically correct: Who is there? It's me. The correct one is: Who is there? It's I. Can you let me know which one is accurate? ...
10
votes
2answers
8k views

“On their back” or “on their backs”?

After the therapy, eight children (43%) became able to crawl/move on their back. Or should I use "on their backs"? Singular because each child only has one back, or plural because we're dealing ...
10
votes
7answers
11k views

How are “needs to be washed,” “needs washing,” and the regional variant “needs washed” to be distinguished"?

I'm from Central Pennsylvania, and apparently, we have a strange language construct in this area. I was recently talking about how "my car needs washed" to a friend from NJ, and she told me that my ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

“…his parents' dream of *him* achieving a Cambridge degree.” What is the function of “him” here? [duplicate]

I have a problem analysing this sentence from the point of finite/nonfinite clauses, clause elements and their functions: He does not want to destroy his parents' dream of him achieving a Cambridge ...
142
votes
4answers
774k views

“More clear” vs “Clearer”: when to use “more” instead of “-er”?

Which one of these adjectives is correct? I can see that both of them are being used, I'm just not sure which one is grammatically correct. Are there any general rules to follow as to the use of one ...

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