373 posts tagged with grammar.
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I tried to look this up myself, but I couldn't find the answer, so...

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 - 15 answers

What's going on with the comma placement ,here?

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 - 13 answers

Wondering what is going on in sentences like this, because grammar.

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?
posted by wdenton on Aug 28, 2013 - 16 answers

Grammar question du jour

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 - 29 answers

Vegan. Why is it a hard 'gee' when vegetarian is a soft 'gee'?

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 - 3 answers

French Relative Prounouns

I have used every google resource available and I still cannot understand French relative pronouns. [more inside]
posted by sawyerrrr on Aug 10, 2013 - 7 answers

Parlez-vous francais? No. Not for 13 years.

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 - 12 answers

Possibly the Most Boring AskMeta Ever

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 - 29 answers

Can someone clarify whether or not this is correct grammar?

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 - 23 answers

Is this originally a French proverb? And is my grammar correct?

"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 lust." 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 - 9 answers

hyphens vs. en dashes

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 - 17 answers

Have I been acting rude for most of my life?

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 - 50 answers

Apostrophe Usage, Part 748...

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 - 9 answers

Is my writing style overly complicated?

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 - 48 answers

How is it I just learned about conjunctive adverbs

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 - 7 answers

The best book on college grammar?

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 - 3 answers

When did become OK to drop the comma after a state?

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 - 30 answers

Comma Chameleon: Help with comma usage needed!

How do I correctly use commas in this sentence? [more inside]
posted by MegoSteve on Apr 24, 2013 - 12 answers

Verbal Tryptics?

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 - 3 answers

Grammar Filter: [He is a "black" man] or [He is a black man]

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 - 54 answers

To blank and to blank, or to blank and blank?

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 - 12 answers

How do you abbreviate the word 'because' when typing or text messaging?

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 - 41 answers

Tips for learning advanced vocabulary and grammar in a foreign language?

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 - 15 answers

"It work." or "It works". Which is correct?

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 - 17 answers

Herpes: A Grammatical Question.

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 - 20 answers

Inaugural vs First Annual?

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 - 58 answers

Help me, and my team, strengthen our non-fiction writing skills

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 - 4 answers

Resources to improve spelling and grammar?

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 - 14 answers

Grammar nerd question

Which is correct? a) "Led Zeppelin is a band" b) "Led Zeppelin are a band" [more inside]
posted by deathpanels on Jan 9, 2013 - 30 answers

"Isthmus" or "isthmus"?

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.)
posted by flibbertigibbet on Dec 5, 2012 - 8 answers

Grammatical gender consistency across languages

Are grammatical genders, as a rule, consistent across the Indo-European languages which use them? [more inside]
posted by obloquy on Dec 4, 2012 - 30 answers

Overuse of the word "that" in casual conversation

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 - 17 answers

"In hospital" and "In a hospital"

What is the name of the technical difference between "In *a* hospital" and "In hospital"? [more inside]
posted by 517 on Nov 5, 2012 - 15 answers

It's certainly not "myself"

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 - 30 answers

Confused by the singular "they"...

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 - 25 answers

Dear Ms. Wilson and Messrs. Smith, Willians, Jones, and Davis,

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 - 22 answers

"Why am I supposed to divide here?"

I need books that are good at explaining how to explain things to children. [more inside]
posted by kingfishers catch fire on Aug 14, 2012 - 5 answers

Declension mode

How can I brush up my language skills, given I seem to have a difficulty with rote learning? [more inside]
posted by mippy on Aug 3, 2012 - 21 answers

What tense does usage of 'Don't' normally infer?

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".
posted by Faintdreams on Jul 24, 2012 - 20 answers

Is there a linguistic term for this?

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?
posted by CitrusFreak12 on Jul 18, 2012 - 12 answers

頭が真っ白!

Bilinguals and polyglots of AskMefi please hope me. I understand a lot of words and grammar in Japanese but don't seem able to use them. How do you make the leap from "knowing" a word or grammar pattern to actually being able to use it in conversation? [more inside]
posted by ultrabuff on Jul 5, 2012 - 13 answers

How do you transcribe stuttering dialogue?

Poor understanding of grammar might cost me my job. Can anyone help an audio-typist fight back? [more inside]
posted by anonymous on Jun 28, 2012 - 29 answers

Prefixes in a series--help!

Grammar question: How to treat hyphenated prefixes when used in a series. [more inside]
posted by Cash4Lead on Jun 27, 2012 - 4 answers

Apostrophe Help

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?"
posted by rebent on Jun 7, 2012 - 11 answers

Best French grammar app or book?

I'm relearning French and I would like a really good workbook/program that focuses on grammar. I have vocabulary and pronounciation fine (Mindsnacks & Anki, Pimsleur and Michael Thomas) and I'm practicing reading and writing with several texts and Lang8.com. I keep tripping up on half-remembered grammatical rules, and I really want something I can work through at my own pace. I would much prefer an app with built-in drills, but I'll buy a workbook/textbook as well. I want something like Chapter 7: Passive verbs, Chapter 8: Interrogatives with an explanation of the rules, examples and then drills. Not a complete French course, but just grammar.
posted by viggorlijah on Jun 1, 2012 - 12 answers

can the second noun ever be the subject?

[Language Processiong / Grammar Question] With a pattern of noun infinitive adjective noun verb infinitive, can the second noun ever be the subject of the verb? Bonus question (below the fold): In the second case does the adverb of the verb always determine the sentiment of the second noun? [more inside]
posted by Nanukthedog on May 20, 2012 - 6 answers

Grammar correction in older fiction?

Correcting the grammar of other people. How long has this been a part of popular culture? [more inside]
posted by teraspawn on May 17, 2012 - 19 answers

Sources explaining why you shouldn't put a comma after the year when a date is used as an adjective?

Sources explaining why you shouldn't put a comma after the year when a date is used as an adjective? [more inside]
posted by flod logic on May 16, 2012 - 18 answers

It's my problem, not there's...

How do I proofread my own work more thoroughly? [more inside]
posted by pantarei70 on Apr 23, 2012 - 29 answers

Miss Hanigan would be so disappointed

Grammar filter: "This earns you money." Is this correct? [more inside]
posted by stubby phillips on Apr 6, 2012 - 16 answers

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