I’ve noticed that I’m increasingly reading “I’ve not” in place of “I haven’t” and “I’ll not” in place of “I won’t.” When I was growing up (the 70s), these expressions were exceedingly rare. I knew they existed, of course, but to me they seemed redolent of century-old books: “I’ll not brook such behavior in my classroom, Tom Sawyer!” “Fezziwig! I’ve not heard his voice since my youth.” But in the last 15 years or so, I've been seeing these phrasings more and more often in colloquial writing — other blogs, Amazon reviews, internet discussions, MeFi etc. I don’t seem to hear these forms spoken, which adds to their air of formality. [more inside]
posted by ROTFL
on Mar 8, 2014 -
I am seeing comma splices used with increasing frequency, both in writing I edit at work and on various websites. They seem particularly common when the second phrase begins with the word "however." I know that some words and constructions become correct by usage over time. Are comma splices becoming acceptable? Editors, do you remove them when you find them, or let them stand? [more inside]
posted by southern_sky
on Feb 1, 2014 -
Sometimes, some documents I read are so convoluted that I don't understand what they are telling me. I've found this to be true in for legal documents including terms of agreements and constitutions among others. Is there any kind of program that looks at the syntax of sections of text and converts them into block diagrams showing the relationships between subjects and objects with the verb, adverbs, adjectives, etc. showing how they are connected? For instance, if it was highlighting the sentence, "See Spot run", there would be two boxes, one labeled Spot and one labeled You with an arrow connecting the latter to the former. I'm thinking of something similar to sentence diagramming but graphically represented and not nearly as complicated. It seems to me that if something could lay out all of the relationships within a document, that would make it much easier for someone to understand what it means. Or is that magical thinking on my part?
posted by CollectiveMind
on Jan 26, 2014 -
Is English changing to use simpler past versions of verbs now? Recently I've been seeing a lot of sneaked, dived etc., when back at school I had to learn that irregular verbs have past forms like snuck and dove. (Disclaimer: I'm not a native speaker of English.) [more inside]
posted by LoonyLovegood
on Jan 20, 2014 -
I've recently noticed an irritating trend in English-language writing: sections that really should be written in the past perfect tense are instead in the simple past tense. I've seen this more in American English than in British English, but that might just be confirmation bias. Is there a reason for this, for example a new style of teaching in schools or universities? And is it really new, or am I just looking for things to get annoyed about? [more inside]
posted by daisyk
on Dec 14, 2013 -
I just had someone tell me that it is correct to close a letter with “Signed, [Mr. Letter Writer].” It’s the use of the word “Signed” that I find strange and just wrong. I have never in my life seen this and am having a hard time believing it is acceptable. Can anyone enlighten me?
posted by Dolley
on Dec 13, 2013 -
I am required to bring a "word of the day" to my Toastmasters club's next meeting. This word should be an interesting and useful word that will expand everyone's command of the English language and ideally would be fun to use. Twist:
I want it to be Thanksgiving or holiday season related if possible. My google-fu is failing me because I keep getting results meant for children's crossword puzzles ("pilgrim", "turkey", etc.). I'm looking for something more along the lines of "puritanical" or something like that. Can be historical, related to feelings or gratitude or even satirical of the holiday.
posted by halseyaa
on Nov 25, 2013 -
If I want to say "From experience" in Latin, what's the best way to say it? Right now I'm thinking "Ab expertus." [more inside]
posted by heliostatic
on Nov 19, 2013 -
I am looking for recommendations on two books. I'm looking for a book that will teach me how to write essays and how to essentially write like a college student. I am also looking for a grammar book that will teach me VERY basic and simple grammar rules. For example, the difference between i.e. and e.g., when to use a comma, et cetera. Help is very much appreciated! [more inside]
posted by NowYouKnow
on Nov 7, 2013 -
1)I should be going. 2) I shoud get going. 3)I should go. Please tell me the difference of the nuance between the three. Thank you.
posted by mizukko
on Oct 23, 2013 -
What is best accepted usage for the use of apostrophe in descriptive titles such as for choirs made up only of children or adults. What is better Child Choir or Children's Choir? [more inside]
posted by foleypt
on Oct 20, 2013 -
I am learning French and am struggling with how to relate French grammar to its English equivalent. The problem: I have no general understanding of grammar. Six months ago I didn't even know what an adverb was! [more inside]
posted by contentedweb
on Sep 29, 2013 -
What is the origin of ending a sentence with a trailing "so..." ? Who is on record first using it? How did it spread?
I am talking about the annoying unfinished sentence word: "We would have gone cycling, but I couldn't find my bike, so..."
I am not talking about the legitimate adverb: "I love biking so!"
posted by michaelh
on Aug 29, 2013 -
I'm on a dating site and I've noticed that in the profiles and messages of some non-native English speakers there's a pattern of irregular spacing around commas. I don't believe that it is a random typographical error, as I have seen it repeatedly by different writers.
Here's an example: "I like to go to the party ,park,movies ,I like to go hike ,swimming ,travel "
The above example is from a native Arabic speaker. Is this related to the grammatical construction of a particular language, differences in keyboards, or something else?
posted by aspen1984
on Aug 29, 2013 -
You know how semicolons are used to separate items in a series if the items themselves have commas? What if only one in the series uses commas? Such as: I'd like a jug of whiskey; sacks of flour, coffee, and bananas; and a glass or water. [more inside]
posted by angrycat
on Aug 22, 2013 -
I couldn't answer this when my Polish friend asked me why the letter changed sound, does anyone else know?
posted by dash_slot-
on Aug 12, 2013 -
I have used every google resource available and I still cannot understand French relative pronouns. [more inside]
posted by sawyerrrr
on Aug 10, 2013 -
I graduated high school having been in french immersion and when I graduated I did the testing and I was offically bilingual. Hurray! However, that was over 10 years ago and I have hardly spoken it since I graduated. Now, suddenly, my job wants me to get my french proficiency tested to see if I can satisfy the required language requirements for my branch. (We need to have X# of people able to speak French because a percent of our clients speak french as their first language, and right now we're down a person apparently). Au secours! [more inside]
posted by PuppetMcSockerson
on Jul 30, 2013 -
Guys, I've got some questions about commas. Apparently everything I thought I knew is wrong? Help. [more inside]
posted by BlahLaLa
on Jul 23, 2013 -
It drives me insane when someone says "request for," e.g. "I requested for a seat change." Isn't it just "I requested a seat change"? This is different from when someone says "I made a request for a seat change." That doesn't bother me. Googling doesn't help me with the answer for this. Am I wrong for this to feel like nails on a blackboard?
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper
on Jul 18, 2013 -
"Beauty is the sister of vanity and the mother of lust". My translation in to French: "La beauté est la soeur de la vanité et la mère de la luxure."
I originally saw this phrase in French as "La beauté est la sœur de vanité, et la mére et la luxure". So that would roughly translate as "Beauty is the sister of vanity and the mother of lust". I have also seen it expressed in English as "Beauty's sister is vanity, and its daughter
My translation would be: "La beauté est la sœur de vanité, et la fille de la luxure." I asked on Yahoo Answers if my grammar was correct, but one of the responses said it should be "la mère" and not "la fille".
Hence, my question. Is it originally French in origin? And if so, is it mother of lust or daughter of lust? Either way my translation would be:
"La beauté est la soeur de la vanité et la mère de la luxure." Or La beauté est la soeur de la vanité et la fille de la luxure.
Are these two translations grammatically correct?
Also, is La necessary before "beauté"?
posted by mrducts
on Jun 30, 2013 -
How would you use hyphens and en dashes in the following phrase: "one to three year jail sentence"? [more inside]
posted by Ollie
on Jun 20, 2013 -
Is it rude to refer to someone in the third person (he/she) while they are present? [more inside]
posted by Shouraku
on Jun 19, 2013 -
In athletics, do events named "boys 100m" or "girls javelin" have an apostrophe? That is, should they rightly be "boys' 100m" and "girls' javelin"? It seems that the standard usage for grownup events is "men's" and "women's", but I'm unsure. Opinions?
posted by Jehan
on Jun 11, 2013 -
I learned English as a second language (native is Finnish). The emphasis in school was on vocabulary and very basic grammar; we did not to my recollection deal with stuff like passive voice etc. So in terms of writing in English, much of my "voice" has developed simply from what sounds right inside my head. However, I've been told that the way I write is overly complicated. Is this so? [more inside]
posted by Unhyper
on May 22, 2013 -
Looking to confirm that the following and variations are grammatically correct and the grammatical reasoning why: He put the spoon on the mat, then put the fork to the side. [more inside]
posted by angrycat
on May 17, 2013 -
I have just finished a college course in business English. I did well, but I want to be able to look at parts of speech in a sentence and understand enough to know for sure why I am using who or whom or when to choose subjective or objective pronouns. (Example: Do you think it was THEY who left the door unlocked overnight?) My textbook spent more time telling you to substitute he or him for who or whom, but I wanted to be able to understand what part of speech was responsible for the choice. What is the best college level or above textbook to teach me this? Thank you in advance.
posted by Leah
on May 7, 2013 -
In the past week or so I have seen numerous constructions like this
headline and lead sentence ("Erik Loomis argues that the reason we don’t see more tragedies like West, Texas is because the US has outsourced industries to places like Bangladesh..."). Should there not be a comma after "Texas" in that headline and sentence? I have even had writers tell me that editors (on internet sites) have actively removed the second comma in a mid-sentence "Cityname, State, ... " construction. Is it not still "West, Texas, ..."?
Punctuation police—can we get a ruling? Are standards shifting, or is this just a case of bad editing?
posted by stargell
on Apr 25, 2013 -
There is a name for a type of grammatical phrasing in which something is described at the end of a sentence of paragraph by distinct but different examples. For instance, "The dish was delightful to look, smelled wonderfully and was absolutely delicious." This phrasing is most often in threes. What is it called?
posted by CollectiveMind
on Apr 6, 2013 -
Hello, I'm having some difficulty getting a conclusive answer to the question of which is more "proper" grammatically and in academia. When referring to "blacks" and "whites" in society, I used to write them without quotes until a professor corrected me. However, when I use quotes now, some people disagree. Could you all help me find the correct usage? Professors explanation inside... [more inside]
posted by Knigel
on Mar 10, 2013 -
Is it more appropriate grammatically to say "I will commit myself to posting with all my heart and to answering questions very well" or "I will commit myself to posting with all my heart and answering questions very well," with the difference being the "to" before the gerund. I am writing something important and want to make sure everything is absolutely correct. [more inside]
posted by tweedle
on Mar 3, 2013 -
Whenever it comes up while I'm texting I come to an impasse. I know that I don't want to type the whole word because I have a dumbphone and I want to minimize thumb-wear. If I were writing a novel I would write it as 'cause
, but I'm not so it's still too long. The phonetic cuz
is clear and concise but somehow doesn't fit my personality or the tone of most of my communications. I started using cos
but for some reason I associate that with UK English and I'm from the states and it doesn't quite feel right. What do you use and why, if there is a why.
posted by TheRedArmy
on Feb 27, 2013 -
What are your tips and techniques for learning advanced vocabulary and grammar in a foreign language? [more inside]
posted by kristi
on Feb 26, 2013 -
Alright all your grammar masters. My wife is foreign and she announced "It work." when I rubbed her shoulder and fixed her pain. I corrected her by saying "It works." to teach her well. She then proceeded to explain to me the English of "plural" with adding an "s" to the verb. Is this correct?
posted by usermac
on Feb 25, 2013 -
When talking to a coworker I offered the phrase, "hey kid, go ask your Mom what herpes are.". My coworker responded with "herpes is.". We then started a discussion of the proper use of is/are and could not come to a conclusion. Any insight? [more inside]
posted by JakeEXTREME
on Feb 15, 2013 -
My wife has organized a 5k as a fundraiser for her school. The event website lists it as the "First Annual"
race. She got a nitpicky email chastising her her about it, complaining that it should be the "Inaugural"
race. What do you think, and how should she respond? [more inside]
posted by RevRob330
on Feb 15, 2013 -
I lead a team of podcasters. They're all great people--intelligent, articulate, and very good speakers. We now wish to translate our spoken success to the page, and our early attempts have shown that despite the successes we have as speakers we're finding our writing skill (specifically in regards to concise, clear, engaging, and personable communication through the written word) is in need of honing. I need suggestions how to do that. [more inside]
posted by arniec
on Feb 4, 2013 -
What resources would you recommend for an adult who is a native English speaker who nonetheless struggles with grammar and spelling? I'm asking on the behalf of my boyfriend, who dropped out of middle school, and is also dyslexic. He asked if I had a book or website to recommend, but most of what I could find is geared towards kids or people learning English as a second language. He already feels insecure about all this, so recommending an ESL book seems really patronizing. He even acts sheepish asking me about grammar or how to spell something, so something he can pursue on his own would be ideal (even though I'm happy to help and don't judge him whatsoever).
posted by anonymous
on Jan 31, 2013 -
In Chicago style, or barring that, in Generally Accepted Historical Practice, how should one capitalize the following sentence, which discusses the "Isthmus of Panama" (which is undoubtedly capitalized when it appears in full): "The canal crossed the i
sthmus." or "The canal crossed the I
sthmus."? (My CMS subscription has lapsed and I can't afford a re-up, alas.)
posted by flibbertigibbet
on Dec 5, 2012 -
Are grammatical genders, as a rule, consistent across the Indo-European languages which use them? [more inside]
posted by obloquy
on Dec 4, 2012 -
Linguists, is there a name for this annoying trend, and can we point to where/when it originated: Overusing the word "that" without first defining what you are talking about? [more inside]
posted by jbickers
on Nov 26, 2012 -
What is the name of the technical difference between "In *a* hospital" and "In hospital"? [more inside]
posted by 517
on Nov 5, 2012 -
Which version of this sentence is grammatically correct and why?
A: "Try not to be as bad as J. and I in the Masters semis last year."
B: "Try not to be as bad as J. and me in the Masters semis last year."
Make up you mind now. Arguments for each inside. [more inside]
posted by Cogito
on Oct 24, 2012 -
GrammarFilter: "Would [my friend] rather have their significant other think they find them ugly, or think they find them stupid?" Is this ambiguously worded? Help me settle a dispute. [more inside]
posted by Yma
on Oct 18, 2012 -
I need to address a formal letter to five recipients of different rank and gender at once. How? [more inside]
posted by Nameless
on Sep 14, 2012 -