27 votes

Is the use of "an" to mean "if" an invention of fantasy writers?

An with the meaning of “If” is rather like Schrödinger’s cat – it both exists and does not exist at the same time. OED Etymology: Variant of and conj.1 with loss of final d An apparently isolated ...
Greybeard's user avatar
  • 41.4k
21 votes

Is the use of "an" to mean "if" an invention of fantasy writers?

No, they didn't invent it; Shakespeare used it, which is undoubtedly where the fantasy writers got it: Nay, an you be so tardy, come no more in my sight. I had as lief be woo'd of a snail. — As You ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
20 votes

Can't make sense of a paragraph from Lovecraft

Yet makes an exception to the hopelessness: despite his grim fate, the narrator takes comfort in his lack of panic. For introduces an explanation of why this would be comforting. But contrasts what ...
Anton Sherwood's user avatar
19 votes

Can't make sense of a paragraph from Lovecraft

"my reason could no longer entertain the slightest unbelief" means "I could no longer doubt". He was convinced that he would never again see the light of day. He goes on to say that he was pleased ...
Greg Lee's user avatar
  • 17.3k
18 votes

"Whether or not" vs. "whether"

The New York Times' stylebook says or not is often redundant. It is ordinarily omitted when the clause functions as a noun, e.g. it is the object of a verb or preposition, or subject of the sentence. ...
WBT's user avatar
  • 3,544
14 votes

Has the conception of prepositions broadened?

This broadened conception of a preposition has a long history, but its recent popularity is thanks to its appearance in Huddleston & Pullum's The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (2002). ...
alphabet's user avatar
  • 17.5k
13 votes

'For' is a coordinating conjunction, but 'because' is a subordinating conjunction. Is that right? Can someone explain why?

It's not surprising you're confused. There really isn't much difference in meaning between for and because here, but there's a difference in grammar, which is why for is traditionally classified as a ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
13 votes

When do we need to use "to" here?

There are three to's in this sentence: They seemed to understand each other and to communicate without having to exchange more than a few monosyllables. And the question is about deleting the ...
John Lawler's user avatar
11 votes

The word ”time” as a conjunction

"Time" is used in the Norfolk dialect to mean "while" e.g. "I'll cook the breakfast, time you're milking the cows". This conjunction use does have an entry in the OED. The examples are mostly ...
WS2's user avatar
  • 64.7k
11 votes

Can we drop repetitive conjunctions, such as in "if X and if Y"?

In English - as is the case with other languages - there are often multiple ways of saying essentially the same thing. However, each phrasing tends to project its own nuance, or flavour, that might be ...
Lawrence's user avatar
  • 38.5k
9 votes

Can "then" be used as a coordinating conjunction?

One of the best tests of a coordinating conjunction is its non-reversible order. We frequently place subordinate clauses beginning with the subordinating conjunction before the main clause, such as: ...
S. Scalf's user avatar
8 votes

The word ”time” as a conjunction

It is listed in the online OED, only it’s on the same page as the noun definitions. Even without a subscription you can see the older version which isn’t very complete here. Here are the definitions ...
Laurel's user avatar
  • 66.1k
7 votes

Meaning of "Teaming"

When you see "teaming with", it is fairly often a misspelling of "teeming with", rather than a use of the verb "team (something) with (something)" that you mention in your question. The sentence you ...
herisson's user avatar
  • 81.6k
7 votes

How to analyze the trope "because NOUN" grammatically

By request, an elaboration of my comments above. Because has usually been treated as a subordinating conjunction. It can introduce tensed clauses of all kinds, indicating that they are involved in ...
John Lawler's user avatar
7 votes

Can all coordinating conjunctions be used to connect nouns, adjectives, etc. as well as clauses?

Why FANBOYS is nothing but a facile lie To the best of my knowledge, there are seven coordinating conjunctions.... I’m afraid that your question is based on a false premise. That’s because English ...
tchrist's user avatar
  • 134k
6 votes

When to use “that” and when to use “which”, especially in relative clauses

My answer comes so late that it is probably doomed to dwell at the bottom of the answer column, but the question remains a question about which I care, so my answer adds a point other answers have ...
thb's user avatar
  • 995
6 votes

Coordinating conjunctions in translation of Kafka

Conveniently, Patrick O'Neill, Transforming Kafka: Translation Effects (2014) presents versions of this famous opening sentence as handled by twelve English translators of "The Metamorphosis"...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 163k
6 votes

"The Christmas ____ which we ate Turkey" What's the missing word?

It's simpler if you use when: We eat goose every year at Christmas, except this year when we ate turkey. because that's the wh-word related to time.
Glorfindel's user avatar
  • 14.5k
6 votes

If X or [if] Y - Should I extend conditional after "or"?

The first statement you suggested is fine, but as you noted, it isn't the shortest nor smoothest sentence. Given that there are only two problems and only one suggested action, there is not a lot of ...
neptun's user avatar
  • 456
6 votes

Born - an adjective/verb/passive voice

I think it helps to look at the etymology of born. Old English boren, alternative past participle of beran (see bear (v.)). "In modern use the connexion with bear is no longer felt; the phrase ...
S Conroy's user avatar
  • 6,089
6 votes

Do you ever say "coffee with milk" or "coffee and milk"?

As you intimate latte is a specific type of coffee. The word is Italian which is why you frequently find it on the menu in an Italian coffee shop. Latte - from Wikipedia Caffe latte is a coffee ...
Gary's user avatar
  • 9,713
5 votes

Is it bad practice to say "a husband and his wife" because of redundancy?

Redundancy is not bad practice. The majority of everything we say or write is superfluous, redundant, or pointless. 90% of your question is pointless and redundant. 90% of this answer is. However, it ...
RegDwigнt's user avatar
  • 97.2k
5 votes

Does "not" cover the whole sentence?

Some sentences suffer from what is called syntactic ambiguity (see here). This means (roughly) that it is not clear which words go with which other words. The sentence "Johnny is not tall and fat" is ...
DyingIsFun's user avatar
  • 17.9k
5 votes

When I am using bullet points where do I put the "or"?

Rephrase the introduction to the list so you don't need a conjunction. The user can choose from one of the following options:
John Feltz's user avatar
  • 6,413
5 votes

When I am using bullet points where do I put the "or"?

If rephrasing gets awkward, you can bullet a complete sentence showing this item here with an ending semi-colon; this item, which ends in the same semi-colon followed by an "or"; or this item, which ...
jimm101's user avatar
  • 10.7k
5 votes

Is it “…to write to you and let…” or “…to write to you to let…”?

I think that you are trying avoid using the preposition to too many times. If this is the case then how about the following sentence: I am writing to let you know... This conveys the same ...
user242899's user avatar
5 votes

Two ands separated by one word — is a comma needed here?

The original sentence is somewhat of a garden path sentence because "designs", "results" and "reviews" are each both a verb and a plural noun. As a result, the reader might expect "results" to be a ...
Chemomechanics's user avatar
5 votes

Can there be an -ing word after "while"?

The sentence is not grammatical, because 'while' is a subordinating conjunction that requires a clause as its object. There are numerous alternatives: Change the parenthetical "venturing" to a ...
AmI's user avatar
  • 3,662
5 votes

How to use despite and inspite?

Both of those are fine. Despite functions as a preposition, and takes a Noun Phrase, very often a clause headed by a gerund (-ing form) The past form despite having fractured is more precise, but the ...
Colin Fine's user avatar
  • 77.1k

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