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.
Search Pain in the English
A) Must we have fish for dinner again?
B) Shall we have to have fish for dinner again?
C) Will we have to have fish for dinner again?
D) Do we have to have fish for dinner again?
Accepting that (D) is by far the commonest utterance and would express annoyance or lament. roughly the same as “I wish we weren’t having fish again”, my concern is with the other options, particularly (B) which looks “grammatical” but just sounds odd to me. (A) is less common today but seems to go back a long way whereas “have to” is relatively modern, so which sound “normal” to you?
“She said she...” or “She said that she...”
All my life I have received great feedback about my grammar, but these past few years I find myself over thinking it—all the time. It actually causes me to create mistakes where there previously weren’t any. Bizarre?
One such thing that I have thought too much about is the necessity of “that” in phrases like the above. When would you say it’s necessary? Always? Never? Sometimes? Explain! Thanks!
Are adverbs something to be avoided like the plague or an inevitable mutation of the English language that we just have to deal with? I’ve heard it said that they’re the mark of a writer who lacks the vocabulary to use powerful words (for example, “He walked slowly” does not carry the weight of “He plodded” or “He trudged”) and the skill to vary their sentence structure. I’ve seen them used in published in professional work, from George R. R. Martin to J.K. Rowling, so it’s not something authors shy away from and, for the most part, the public accepts it without question.
What would be the preferred form of each of these:-
a) “in hopes of” or “in the hope of”
b) “a change in plans” or “a change of plan”
c) “apprise” or “inform”
d) “envision” or “envisage”
I favour the second of each of the above, but no doubt there will be different opinions.
“What can I do besides complaining” sounds wrong to me but I can’t say why ... I think it should be complain.
“What can I do besides complain?”
“What can I do but complain?”
However, “Besides complaining, what can I do?” sounds ok.
Any thoughts? Or am I completely off base here?
If a semicolon is used to contrast two sentences, we can omit repetitive words by using a comma, as in:
“To err is human; to forgive, divine”
“The cat was orange; the dog, brown.”
However, if no semicolon is used, can we still do the same? For example:
“You’re our son, Heracles, and we, your family.”