20ish years ago there was a one-page essay in the (maybe? Last page?) New Yorker that featured many uses of words that had no such root or form. I can't think of any specific words in the essay, but even what the words or practice are called and a list would be nice. Things like "rambunction" for rambunctious, or "consternating" for consternation. Is this mere coinage, or is there a wider practice at work? [more inside]
OK, I can't believe I'm wasting a question on this, but can you help me with this subject verb agreement question? [more inside]
In Ben Yagoda's The Sound On the Page, p.62, the following is written: "A nonstandard gerund at the end of sentences is an Elmore Leonard trademark. ('Today he watched from the wicker chair, the green shirt on the stick figure walking toward the road in the rain, still in the yard when Terry called to him.') So, what is he referring to as a "nonstandard gerund"? I don't see anything working gerundively.
It's not important at all, but it bothers me! Yes, I know something's wrong with me. But which is correct? And why? [more inside]
Clearly Weird Al's "Word Crimes" is the ne plus ultra of songs about proper word usage. But that can't be the only one! Can you suggest other songs about grammar, syntax, etc? (Note: Ironic by Alanis Morrisette does not fit the bill, as it is neither an accurate definition of ironic nor a good song.)
So, I was designing rules with some EFL students in class the other day about how to differentiate between countable and uncountable nouns. We agreed that things which are too small to reasonably count are uncountable based on sand and the idea that liquids are uncountable (under the assumption that an individual 'piece' of a liquid would be a molecule and as such very, very small). Then one of the students broke the rule by asking why individual circuits are countable even though they are extremely small. So, is there an explanation for this? Does my rule just suck? [more inside]
My junior college (community college) composition students think I'm nuts because I claim it is not wrong to start a sentence with because. a) Who's right and b) What's the origination of the confusion? [more inside]
I am looking for three things here: 1) Some kind of drill, preferably in game format but anything good will do 2) tools to run my writing through to catch my errors and 3) generic reference materials. Online resources are strongly preferred, in part because I get sick when I handle books and papers too much. [more inside]
That is the truth of the matter. Is the above a complete sentence?
The contraction for "would have" is "would've". And yet, if I am writing that "If I have a doctor's appointment at 3pm, I would have to leave at 2pm to be there on time", I don't think I would write "would've to leave at 2pm". That doesn't feel right, but I don't know why. MeFi grammarians?
I'm teaching high school-level English next year for students who need a high level of academic support and I want the class to be both highly engaging and content-rich. If you were a kid who LOATHED writing for school, struggled with boring English classes, or can remember what elements you truly enjoyed in your high school English class, what advice would you pass my way? [more inside]
The fate of the world depends on finding an answer to this question: Which is more grammatically correct -- I'll meet you at IHOP or I'll meet you at the IHOP? If grammar has no opinion, what is the most common formulation? [more inside]
Tryin' to track down a portfolio of English reading/writing laminated bifold four page workbooks. [more inside]
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?
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.
What is the name and/or origin of the meme where intensifers/adverbs are placed before nouns? [more inside]
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?
Lately I've been seeing something crop up a fair bit in casual writing where an entire explanatory clause is humorously collapsed to "because X." You've seen it: "And then I ate four of the muffins, because chocolate." Or writer Tabatha Southey tweeting about newborn Prince George: Okay, now I am happy the baby is here and I want to put its tiny baby foot in my mouth, because baby. What's happening, grammatically? How might a linguist describe it?
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]
I couldn't answer this when my Polish friend asked me why the letter changed sound, does anyone else know?
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]
Guys, I've got some questions about commas. Apparently everything I thought I knew is wrong? Help. [more inside]
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?
How would you use hyphens and en dashes in the following phrase: "one to three year jail sentence"? [more inside]
Is it rude to refer to someone in the third person (he/she) while they are present? [more inside]
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?
How do I correctly use commas in this sentence? [more inside]
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]
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.
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]
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 isthmus." or "The canal crossed the Isthmus."? (My CMS subscription has lapsed and I can't afford a re-up, alas.)
Are grammatical genders, as a rule, consistent across the Indo-European languages which use them? [more inside]
Please help settle a grammar disagreement. My Boyf and I are having a grammar disagreement and I was hoping that the wonderful Askme members could help settle it. If someone states "We don't do X" which of the following would you assume was correct? A: That the reference to 'X' applies to the past, present and the future. B: That the reference to 'X' applies to the past and present. C: That the reference to 'X' applies to the past only. Context is the sentence "We don't go on on Holiday".
Is there a term for, or linguistic function fulfilled by, the phrases "no yeah" and/or "yeah no" when used for the purpose of agreeing?
Grammar question: How to treat hyphenated prefixes when used in a series. [more inside]
Apostrophe help: System's' Anlaysis. Wiki does not have one, and neither does this page. Talk page says it should, but it shouldn't. Brethower (big name in the field) doesn't use one. I'm writing a resume for employers who maybe-do, maybe-don't have familiarity with the field. Should I say "System's Analysis," "Systems' Analysis," or "Systems Analysis?"
How do I proofread my own work more thoroughly? [more inside]
Grammar: Is it better to say that a committee "will be implementing a new policy" or "will implement a new policy"? I favour the latter because it seems more succinct; however, all my colleagues use the former convention. What am I missing? Does their way make more sense, grammatically or stylistically? Or is this just a collective habit that they've all adopted and I should avoid picking it up? [more inside]
Text? Or, texted? [more inside]
How much help is too much help when it comes to a friend's application to an accountancy training programme? [more inside]
Somewhat silly usage question: If I'm someone's research assistant, how can I succinctly describe their relationship to me? [more inside]
Can you help me explain how and when to use articles (a/an/the) to a non-native English speaker? [more inside]
Grammar question about gerund use in a sentence. Should be an easy one. [more inside]
How would one address atrocious grammar errors, poor sentence construction and spelling mistakes in the monthly email updates from administrators of your child's school? [more inside]
Poking the grammatical hornets' nest. As seen on CNN.com as a headline: "1 in 10 kids isn't (something not relevant)." I think it's ungrammatical, my co-workers think it's correct. [more inside]
"To be" or not "to be"? That is the question! [more inside]
What are the rules, or guidelines around the use of the (tm), (r) and (c) signs? They seem to be ubiquitous in corporate English, but as far as I can tell they're both unnecessary and ugly. Is putting a (tm) on a trademark something that's considered a required prerequisite to protecting it?
Looking for a good book on English grammar. [more inside]
In need of help with grammar, again. [more inside]
Grammarfilter: In the Pittsburghese construct needs + past participle (e.g., the car needs washed), what is the name of the "to be" that is dropped? [more inside]
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