June 15, 2007  •  mandi


A coworker and I are arguing over the word “correspondence”. I say it’s already plural, therefore an “s” at the end is unnecessary and incorrect. She says that because she was working on multiple letters, it is “correspondences”. Who’s right?

June 5, 2007  •  joann

What should “I do”?

I’m getting married and my fiancee (with a Harvard PhD) says that our vows should end as “until death us do part.” My priest (with a PhD equivalent who studied in Rome under the Pope) says that the traditional language is “until death do us part.” I’m just a Texas Aggie who thinks that perhaps we should use “for as long as we both shall live.” But just for grins, which of the “until death . . .” phrases is correct? Or are both correct?

June 4, 2007  •  jaclyn

Me Versus I

I have a picture posted on a website and I was wondering if my caption underneath it is grammatically correct. I wrote “Greg and me” and he feels it should be “Greg and I.” Who is right?

May 22, 2007  •  gin

Following are / Followings are

The following are default extensions. The followings are default extensions. Which one of the above is correct?

April 30, 2007  •  pinenut

How should I...? vs. How would I...?

The modal verbs, should and would, are different in meaning in that the former expresses the obligation or necessity on the part of the subject while the latter the intention or prediction in the future. There are a couple of examples I cite below and which I found by googling. “As a Southerner, how would I be received?” In this sentence, ‘would’ can clearly be seen to be used to express the prediction in the future. “How would I go about helping my brother get some help with his drug abuse and violent behavior?” In this sentence, ‘would’ seems to mean the necessity, so ‘should’ is more appropriate in this case. What do you think?

March 7, 2007  •  gusinmexico

The dog wets vs. The door opens.

Well, a fellow ESL teacher who is taking a degree in English told me she had to explain why it is correct to say, “The door opens.” and why it is incorrect to say, “The dog wets.” My first reaction was thinking that someone or something actuates on the door to open it. Therefore, our saying of, “the door opens” merely refers to the fact that it was opened by a third party. Thus, the sentence may have a passive structure. However, when I try to rephrase, “the dog wets” I find myself lacking an object, therefore I would need to use “get + wet” to validate the passive, but I must not add words to the sentence. I’d rather change the verb. But, alas, the purpose of the exercise is to elaborate on an argument that can satisfactorily state why the sentence is wrong. I told my fellow teacher to consider the fact that “wet” would require an object for the sentence to make sense. Any input, opinion, or observations are appreciated.

February 1, 2007  •  jme

Double-Negative Prefix

Why is it that double-negatives are looked negatively upon, yet we commonly use a double-negative prefix? I’m reffering to my gripe with the word “undisclosed.” Understandabley if, let’s say, documents, were “disclosed” we are using a negative prefix of “dis” on “closed”, here meaning not “open” to the public. So by “disclosing” the documents, we have in essence opened them. So, when we have not opened them, should they not remain “closed” instead of becoming “undisclosed?”

December 18, 2006  •  gwillimlaw

Exact same

Is “She was wearing the exact same outfit” grammatical? And if so, what part of speech is “exact”? People use that phrase all the time, and seem to think it’s correct, so from a descriptive viewpoint it is correct. “Same” is clearly an adjective, and “exact” modifies “same”, so you would expect it to be an adverb. So what’s the problem? Well, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition) doesn’t list “exact” as an adverb. It can only be an adjective (or a verb, with a different meaning). The adverb form is “exactly”. So if you take Webster as an authority, you should say “She was wearing exactly the same outfit” instead. What’s the verdict? Do you think the first version of the sentence is grammatical or not?

November 17, 2006  •  ryan

Only then can we know

Why is it, when using the construction ‘only then’, do we reverse the verb order that follows? i.e. We must acquire funding. Only then can we achieve our goals. A friend suggested it was for emphasis, but I thought I’d put it to the masses, too. I had a student put this question to me and could not come up with a grammatical reason. Is it just ‘English is that way’? Does anyone know of any other situations where this occurs without a question? Is there a name for this?

September 13, 2006  •  Dyske

Feeling concern

Several people I know felt that this use of “concern” was correct: “She felt concern, but not enough to sacrifice...” I felt that it should be “concerned”. Two of them are professional writers, so I can’t argue much, but if “concern” is also correct, what is its function? Noun or adjective? If it’s a noun, shouldn’t it be “a concern”? If it’s an adjective, shouldn’t it be “concerned”? In dictionaries, “concern” is either a noun or a verb, not an adjective. Oddly enough, the same people felt that “She felt scare” was clearly wrong. If “scare” is wrong and “scared” is correct, then shouldn’t the same hold true for “concern” and “concerned”? On the web, I do see many people using “feel concern” although it is slightly less common than “feel concerned”.

August 30, 2006  •  gabe

Lexical Hermaphrodites

In linguistics, is there a term that refers to words (like “format”) that can function as either verb or noun?

July 31, 2006  •  lonfriday

I met him drunk

In the sentence, “I met him drunk,” couldn’t the adjective apply to either party, the “he” or the “I”?

July 19, 2006  •  marsha

Writing out percentages correctly

I work in the legal field and it is necessary to write out percentages. I need help. Is this the correct way? For 4.975% - would it be written “Four and Nine Hundred Seventy-Five Thousands percent”.

July 4, 2006  •  chacha

Doing the dishes...

Nouns describing activities don’t normally take an article in English e.g. I go running, I play cards, I hate tennis, etc. Why then do many domestic activities take the definite article? e.g. I do the dishes, I do the hoovering, I hate doing the housework, etc. Can somebody explain to me the rules that govern this type of construction? Are there any other examples of this kind of usage outside of the domestic sphere?

June 22, 2006  •  flapjack

Adverb or adjective? Or something else?

This question came up a couple days ago at work, and spurred a lively, if puzzled, debate: In the following sentence, what is the function of the word “black”? The barista served the coffee black. “Black” doesn’t seem to be adjectival, modifying “coffee”, because of the position: there’s a semantic difference between “served the coffee black” and “served the black coffee.” But it hardly seems adverbial, describing the manner in which the serving was done. The same question applies to “painting the wall blue” and other similar constructions. It seems to me that the adjectives here act like a kind of double accusative, but I thought double accusatives were typically used with verbs like “make.” So I really don’t know what kind of construction it is; I just know that I use it a lot.

June 21, 2006  •  bismarck

All negations don’t sound right to me.

I’m accustomed to hearing people make grammatical mistakes, but occassionally I’ll start hearing new and painful trends that are so pervasive that I wonder if someone changed the rules while I was asleep. Case in point: how to negate constructions containing the words “all” or “some”. A few months ago, I was looking at some magazines at the grocery store and saw an ad asserting that “all insurance policies are not the same”. I’ve been hearing that kind of construction from high school kids for some time, but always attributed it to poor language skills. A few minutes later, I went to use the store’s bathroom and saw the following sign on the door: “All unpaid merchandise not allowed in restrooms”. Now those of you who grew up in the America that I grew up in know that prior to the George H.W. Bush administration, such locutions would have read “Not all insurance policies are the same” and “No unpaid merchandise allowed in restrooms”. What has happened here? I now hear this “all...not” construction constantly and I’m not sure what to make of it. When I hear a teacher lament, “All of my 8th-graders didn’t finish their chapter test on time.”, what does she mean to communicate by that? Does she mean to say that NOT ONE of them finished (supported by literal deconstruction)...or that some did and some didn’t (supported by a higher likelihood of being the case)?

June 15, 2006  •  isabella

“This is she” vs. “This is her”

A common example is the phrase “This is she.” used to answer a telephone. ‘She’ is the nominative form of the word, so it cannot be used to describe somebody who is the object of a sentence (in this example, ‘this’ would be the subject). The correct way to phrase the example would be “This is her.”, though most people prefer the familiar businesslike shorthand “Speaking.” See suite101.com. From another site, this was the response: “This is she” is grammatically correct. The verb “to be” acts as a linking verb, equating subject and object. So this is she and she is this; “she” and “this” are one and the same, interchangeable, and to be truly interchangeable they must both play the same grammatical role—that of the subject. See press.uchicago.edu I am quite confused! I believe “This is her” is correct because it is understood that “speaking” is simply omitted; thus, we know the speaker is implying “This is her speaking” when she answers “This is her.” After all, we ask to speak to her. When she answers that she’s the one who had answered the call, she’s (obviously) speaking at the time. Therefore, it is her speaking. What is your opinion on the matter?

May 9, 2006  •  brad

There is more than one user

OK, this may seem basic, but I’m writing a manual and I need to know “there is more than one user” or “there are more than one user”, and does that change if the sentence is preceded with the word ‘if’. As in: “If there is more than one user, you may wish to have them log in with a separate session.”

April 23, 2006  •  kurt

Preposition Rule

I must inquire as to the dreaded “preposition rule.” I hear that it does not exist. I hear the story of Winston Churchill disproving the rule. I do not know what to think! Give me your intellectual input, por favor. Do we or do we not end sentences with prepositions?!

April 6, 2006  •  jon

“while” adverb or conjunction?

This question has caused a lot of argument on another message board. In the sentence below, is “while” an adverb? I’d like to see what the people here think. “Begin grooming your kitten while it is still young.” Incidentally, I vote that it’s a conjunction.

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