32 votes
Accepted

Is "one needs only" or "one need only" correct?

The most common use of need is as a regular catenative verb, taking a to-infinitive as its complement. In that use, it inflects normally (need/needs/needing/needed), can follow an auxiliary verb, and ...
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  • 14k
17 votes
Accepted

Is it wrong to use "Did you ever" in a sentence?

The ever in questions such as Have you ever flown a kite? can be understood as in your life to this present moment. The present perfect (have/has + past participle) is used because in your life is ...
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  • 31.2k
16 votes

"Wrote it I did" Is this grammatical?

Both are examples of hyperbaton. You can read more about it here, hyperbaton. In their current form, both sentences are ungrammatical. Correct them for tense as follows. Write it I have. should be ...
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15 votes

What is the history of "may" being used to mean "must"?

The OED dates this sense of the word back to 1715: Where a Statute directs the doing of a Thing for the sake of Justice or the publick Good, the Word may is the same as the Word shall; thus 23 H.6. ...
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  • 56.3k
11 votes
Accepted

Can the continuous form be combined with the passive voice?

The first site is wrong: He has been being treated for imbecility for almost twenty years and has not yet recovered his wits. In 2007 he had been being treated for imbecility for ten years and had ...
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9 votes

Can a person say "And I you"?

A says to B "I love you" B says to A "And I you" Perfectly acceptable. Where is the verb in the latter sentence ? It's in the former sentence and understood to be also in the latter, the ...
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9 votes

What is the question tag for: "They got the answers, ____?

Answering from Ireland. I would say "They got the answers yesterday, didn't they?", 'did' referring to 'got', meaning 'they did get'.
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  • 201
7 votes

Is it wrong to use "Did you ever" in a sentence?

Your German friend is wrong. Did you (ever) mail that letter? This question, without 'ever', is a simple enquiry about a specific letter, in the past. Using 'ever' here suggests that the ...
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  • 17.5k
6 votes

"We are finished" vs. "We have finished"

Saying I/we are finished implies that the person in question is in a state of being finished with some task. It is referring to the person and not specifically the task. I/we have finished refers to ...
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6 votes

Can a person say "And I you"?

It is perfectly acceptable. As to "So why did he not reply 'So do I buddy'?", this would be saying "I like me, too". Which may be true in any case, but doesn't express reciprocity. In other words, ...
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6 votes

Difference between "should", "would" and "ought to"

The only one that fits grammatically is should. Another idiomatic possibility is to insert no word at all - It is essential that the documents be destroyed immediately. Ought to be, would and had ...
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  • 63.4k
5 votes

Does using "did" to form the past tense make a difference?

There are three common usages for the auxiliary verb do: Emphatic do - strongly stressed, often contradicting something in context Q: Why didn't you tell her? A: I did tell her. Active do - pro-verb ...
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  • 99.6k
5 votes
Accepted

Do I need to repeat the 'have' before the second verb?

I think it's a close call. If you leave it out, there can be no ambiguity because 'drawn' is the past participle and therefore can only belong with the previous 'have'. On the other hand the gap is ...
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5 votes

What is (do) for here?

Only often triggers "inversion", where the subject and verb switch places. A simpler example of that might be: Only later are we told why. (meaning "We aren't told why until later&...
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  • 14k
5 votes
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Not your run of the ‘will’ question tag

A tag after a declarative is checking whether the sentence is true, and that's why you see the same auxiliary used in the sentence. We stress auxiliaries or move them to the front of the sentence when ...
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4 votes

"I had my house [be] burned down"

As an auxiliary verb, have has two distinct meanings (well, more—but two that are relevant here): With a passive participle, it means: to see to it that something is done (“They had him shot for ...
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4 votes
Accepted

Are modal verbs and auxiliary verbs actually verbs?

To determine whether auxiliaries are verbs, we should examine two kinds of properties.  One kind of important property relates to word forms, and the other kind of property relates to word use.&...
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4 votes
Accepted

"Start to Inf." vs. "start V-ing"

Since the start or stop of an action, like working, is part of the action itself, both are possible, although the 'to' construction is somewhat, as a little Google Search shows, more common in the UK.
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4 votes

"Wrote it I did" Is this grammatical?

Technically they are incorrect and should have been: Written it I have. = I have written it. Write it I did. = I did write it. = I wrote it. It is the same reason we would say "Done it I have&...
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  • 2,091
4 votes
Accepted

"Wrote it I did" Is this grammatical?

Are the following two examples grammatical? Write it I have. Wrote it I did. Consider as possible contexts: They said that I have to write it, and write it I have. -- (for #1) They said that I ...
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  • 6,086
4 votes
Accepted

Is there a more precise phrase for "can and should?"

In moral philosophy there is the concept "ought implies can" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ought_implies_can). In other words, you have no moral obligation to do something which you are not capable ...
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4 votes

"Yes, I will be"

Hmmf, well the question used to ask if someone could prove if this phrase was grammatical but this response inspired a edit removing that request for a proof. So what follows now seems a bit silly. I ...
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4 votes
Accepted

Why do we need different auxiliary verbs ("is", "are", "am") for different pronouns?

No why, no purpose; just history First off, you’re mistaken to tie these verb-forms to pronouns rather than to what we call “grammatical persons”. Pronouns are but an ancillary matter that make it ...
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  • 127k
4 votes

“What I saw was…” vs “What I saw were…”

When you start with "What", you're referring to an incident or object that you've seen. So it seems more appropriate to use the pair what ... was like you were answering a question What was it that ...
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  • 779
4 votes
Accepted

What Does He Do

The first and second uses of the verb do are different. The first do ("what does") is an auxiliary verb, which doesn't have meaning on its own, except to properly phrase a question. The auxiliary do ...
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  • 7,227
4 votes
Accepted

What topicalizing role does "do" play in "Only now do we have what we need to move forward"?

In the sentence Only now do we have what we need to move forward the word do clearly has some emphasizing meaning. Let's clear the mud off the sidewalk first. The final clause is irrelevant, so an ...
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  • 99.6k
4 votes
Accepted

Will vs Would? Can both of them be used for future

Both your sentences are grammatically correct and both have a future meaning: we understand that she hasn't done anything yet and that she is unlikely to do anything in the future. Your other sentence,...
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  • 12k
3 votes

about 'couldn't'

In English, we prefer to negate the verb think rather than to use a negative in the content clause which represents the actual thought involved. This is also true with verbs like want and believe. So ...
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3 votes
Accepted

Can I use "will" as non-auxiliary verb?

Will has two distinct meanings as a transitive (non-modal, non-auxiliary) verb. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists one, but not the other. I found the other in the British version of Cambridge ...
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  • 56
3 votes

Does using "did" to form the past tense make a difference?

It is perfectly grammatical indeed, but this way of sentence construction is used to emphasize that you really performed the action you are talking about. Thus I did work (and I did get results) ...
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