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This is a forum to discuss the gray areas of the English language for which you would not find answers easily in dictionaries or other reference books. You can browse through the latest questions and comments below. If you have a question of your own, please submit it here.

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How do pronouns function with a collective noun? Today I was in my College Prep class and we read a sentence that used the pronoun “they” after the word class. The sentence was “The teacher, who was angry, told the class to do whatever they wanted to.”

Would ‘it’ be a better pronoun than that and if not, why?

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1. which one is correct? “i am glad to be of some help or i am glad to be of any help?”

2. what`s different between them?

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Ok I am always coming up against the following with non-native speakers: disinterest vs uninterested dissatisfied vs unsatisfied disorganised vs unorganised

Any simple rule of thumb or guideline?

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“In this letter, we describe a practical method for sense tagging of Korean unit words in nominal compounds.”

In the above sentence, I’m curious if “sense tagging of” requires an article, as in “the sense tagging of”. Because of the “of” after “tagging” my instincts say yes, an article is necessary. But am I just adding unnecessary clutter into the sentence?

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Why do Americans not use a preposition when talking about days of the week? “We’ll meet Monday” has an “on” “before” “after” or “during” missing. You can’t meet Monday unless it is a person or a thing; as it is a unit of time there should be a preposition; One doesn’t “meet 4 o’clock” but one may “meet at 4 o’clock” and so you do “not meet Monday” but “on Monday”.

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“Some people may have doubt that why invest in these sectors during the economy slump?”

Is the above phrase grammatically correct?

Is it grammatically correct to use ‘doubt that’ when the ‘doubt’ is a NOUN?

For example: 1) VERB: I doubt that Fred has really lost 25 pounds ... 2) NOUN: Some people may have doubts that .....

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“May you please send me the...” Is this correct? It doesn’t sound right. I believe this person is using the same logic as asking permission to do something. Wouldn’t ” Will you please send me the...” or “Would you please...” be correct?

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Does the acronym ITS (Information Technology Services) take a singular verb or plural i.e.,

ITS is thinking of redoing the website.

ITS are thinking of redoing the website.

Since the last word is plural, wouldn’t it make sense to make the verb plural, even though it doesn’t sound good?

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Would you write ‘four day’s journey’ or ‘four days journey’?

I am having a tussle with a sub. I know it’s ‘Long Day’s Journey into Night’ but surely the journey doesn’t belong to the four days, so it should be ‘four days journey’ - and presumably ‘a four-day journey’ would be even better?

What do you think?

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Is the following phrase using correct grammar, why or why not? And how would you describe this phrase? It’s just weird to me:

“Hey, you’re that goofy kid Sandra makes do crazy stuff!!”

Basically Sandra makes this kid do goofy stuff and someone has spotted him, did they use correct grammar?

It just sounds weird to me, especially the “make do” part. Whether this is grammatically correct, what are the grammatical rules that would apply to a phrase like this? Thanks so much!

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Latest Comments

I mean it depends on how you are using say if your saying can i go get some more food you are asking am i able to go get some more food. So i think can i is proper but my teacher corrects me every time

Fora vs Forums

@Lenur Poetry and lyrics sometimes use a less usual word order to suit their purpose; nothing wrong in that, as long as it is readily understandable. In fact "I can see how tiny are we" is a word order which is often, albeit mistakenly, used by some non-native speakers of English.

Social vs Societal

I hope you're still not running a proofreading service, as just glancing at this post I've spotted two errors. That doesn't fill me with confidence! You've missed a question mark at the end of one sentence, and the word 'separate' has an 'a' in the middle, not an 'e'.

Fora vs Forums

  • Lenur
  • March 28, 2017, 3:23am

Hi everyone!
Again, I need your help
I know that correct construction of the sentence:
"I can see how tiny we are"
But is it possible to say?

"i can see how tiny are we"
Like a statement....
Because in my situation it's better for singing, riming and flow in the song. Or it just sounds stupid?

The fact of the matter is is that

  • Thad B
  • March 27, 2017, 11:28pm

This is similar to the "that that" problem, which I have myself found utilizing. Perhaps, if not in such a rush with emails, I would find the time to reconstruct my sentence to avoid "that that", though I don't find it difficult to understand when I read it myself. Perhaps others do.

English, at least American English, is an evolving language. I am abhorred by radio, television and my own just-adult children who have seemed to have forgotten what an adverb is. The sentence "He ran really quick" irks me constantly but seems to be common usage these days. While I dislike the new usage, I am also not an advocate of using Old English, ergo - I am accepting of the evolving language.

Salutations in letters

  • Thad B
  • March 27, 2017, 10:06pm

I use "Hello Jim"
and sign,

"Regards,
John"

I work for a high tech American firm in New York.

Someone else’s

The grammar patterns of Courts Martial, Judge Advocates General, etc. would seem to agree. In example, those who pass flatulence would be "gas passers" or passers of gas, just as passers by, which is short for an entire phrase "passers by the side of [implied or mentioned object]" is different. However, "someone else" appears to hearken back to a more Germanic form of grammar, rather than the French Norman with its Latin influence. If this is the origin of the phrase, then using the entire phrase as a single noun or idea would be appropriate. In this case, where both words originate from the Germanic, it would be "someone else's". The Germans frequently abbreviate such phrases where they become excessively long, but in their original were written as one word using their cursive. In school I studied French, Classical Latin, and German enough to become aware that our aggregatenous language has so many exceptions because of those origins. (I have dabbled with Gaelic which is as far as I can tell the source of split infinitives.)

Someone else’s

The easiest way to avoid the use of "someone else's" (which is grammatically incorrect), is to put the NOUN, with which you are linking the possessive, FIRST in the sentence.
For example: "It was someone else's fault." (incorrect)
"It was the fault of someone else." (correct)
This works every time when you write, but for conversational speech, "someone else's" is the common usage. However, if you are quoting what was spoken by someone else, then you would want to quote it exactly.

@Lisa: biennial