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]
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.
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]
What is the name and/or origin of the meme where intensifers/adverbs are placed before nouns? [more inside]
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]
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.
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]
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]
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!"
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 have used every google resource available and I still cannot understand French relative pronouns. [more inside]
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?
"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"?
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?
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]
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]
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.
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?
How do I correctly use commas in this sentence? [more inside]
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?
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]
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]
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.
What are your tips and techniques for learning advanced vocabulary and grammar in a foreign language? [more inside]
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?
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]
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]
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]
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).
Which is correct? a) "Led Zeppelin is a band" b) "Led Zeppelin are a band" [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]
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]
What is the name of the technical difference between "In *a* hospital" and "In hospital"? [more inside]
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]
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]
I need to address a formal letter to five recipients of different rank and gender at once. How? [more inside]
I need books that are good at explaining how to explain things to children. [more inside]
How can I brush up my language skills, given I seem to have a difficulty with rote learning? [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?
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]