Comments for Pain in the English Forum for the gray areas of the English language Wed, 5 Aug 2015 07:27:29 +0000 hourly 1 Comment on Obj of Prep + Gerund by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Wed, 5 Aug 2015 00:29:03 +0000 1) if one googles "stand him crying", the phrase "I can't stand him crying" comes up as not unusual, even in print, although it does not seem to come up on Ngram; whereas "stand his crying does".

2) To my ear, using possessives with gerunds now sounds somewhat stilted or forced (indeed I now tell my students not to bother)

Would appreciate any empirical data to see whether the possessive+gerund is now out-dated.

Comment on Possessive with acromyms ending in S by Hairy Scot Hairy Scot Thu, 30 Jul 2015 23:54:54 +0000 Just for the record:-

Acronym: An abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word (e.g. ASCII, NASA, LASER RADAR).

Initialism: An abbreviation consisting of initial letters pronounced separately (e.g. BBC, CIA, IBM).

Comment on Is “leverage” a verb? by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Tue, 28 Jul 2015 09:56:12 +0000 @DaveBoltman - "verbing weirds language":

so, off the top of my head, here are some examples of weirding:

to park a car
to book a room
to leg it
to rain, snow etc
to light a fire
to plough / plow a field
to be floored by a question
to be hedged in / 'Don't fence me in'
to log an entry
to date something (or somebody - different meanings)
to bar somebody from something
to post / mail a letter
to water the plants
to auction a painting
to table a motion
to chair a meeting
to referree a game
to ship the goods
to house a museum

As far as I can see (with a little checking at Online Etymology Dictionary), in all these cases the noun came first. And what about phrasal and prepositional verbs:

to eye up the girls
to leaf through a book
to elbow someone aside
to ring something up

And then there's your "sums up". "To sum" appears to be a 13th century example of verbing, with the noun just beating the verb into the language. And in your meaning, seems to come from the Latin noun summa.

Stephen Pinker reckons that one fifth of English verbs come from nouns, and says that "in fact, easy conversion of nouns to verbs has been part of English grammar for centuries; it is one of the processes that make English English" (The Language Instict - from

And if making nouns from verbs is OK (call, shout, paint), why should making verbs from nouns be so dreadful ? And what about all those verb / noun pairs which can cause stressing problems for foreign learners:

import, export, discount, permit, insult, protest, rebel, project, compound, conduct

No doubt in most cases the verb came first, but in some it seems to have been a pretty close run thing. The word stress itself, incidentally, seems to have appeared in each class about the same time, c.1300.

There's much about corporate speak I don't like, but usually when it's meaningless (going forward) , euphemistic (downsizing) , and especially when it's incomprehensible to those not in the know, and for which perfectlt good alternatives already exist (low hanging fruit, bring your A game, keep me in the loop). I notice that none of those involve verbing, which is usually only a problem when the word is new to us. Some people (me included) still have a problem with incentivise, and perhaps prioritise, while not batting an eyelid at nationalise or harmonise. What a difference a hundred years or so makes.

Comment on Possessive with acromyms ending in S by Donovan Donovan Tue, 28 Jul 2015 08:19:29 +0000 @jnn41wms, the press releases from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services usually add 's to their acronym's possessive form. However, in some other cases, I've seen how they simply add the apostrophe. The text below was extracted from their press release published on 07/27/2015, Clarifying Questions and Answers Related to the July 6, 2015 CMS/AMA Joint Announcement and Guidance Regarding ICD-10 Flexibilities:

"No. As stated in the CMS’ Guidance, for 12 months after ICD-10 implementation, Medicare
review contractors will not deny physician or other practitioner claims billed under the Part B
physician fee schedule through either automated medical review..."

Comment on Is “leverage” a verb? by DaveBoltman DaveBoltman Tue, 28 Jul 2015 03:30:58 +0000 This quote from Kelvin sums up perfectly what the "corporate speak" advocates are doing: "Verbing weirds language". To which Hobbes replied "Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding". (ref

Comment on How important is it to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in writing these days? by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Thu, 23 Jul 2015 20:54:04 +0000 Most international students need written English for business or academic purposes; what is acceptable means what is acceptable in those contexts. This means what is in the writing guides at uni, or roughly what one can find in a quality newspaper or magazine, or relative style guide.

What has happened since I went to school is that punctuation is now often more minimalist, so the original question is a good one. The only realy answer is to punctuate wherever needed for clarity.

There is a similar issue with "But" at the beginning of a sentence: common enough in newspaper articles; but unwise in an English exam, as this is traditionally a no-no.

Comment on How important is it to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in writing these days? by JenniferL JenniferL Thu, 23 Jul 2015 00:45:39 +0000 You will see Americans abuse the language in MANY ways, but should you teach students that this is okay? Of course not.

When two complete sentences are joined into one, it should be done with a semicolon (rarely) or a comma and coordinating conjunction. An exception can be made when both of the sentences are very short and the meaning is clear.

Comment on “I’ve lived many years in Kentucky.” by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Tue, 21 Jul 2015 11:54:03 +0000 @jayles - I agree with point no 2 when it comes to two indepent clauses, but strangely neither of your sources seem to specifically mention dependent clauses. However I think the principle outlined above is fairly well standard. It's taught in British English course books, for instance when talking about conditionals, and on American university websites. This is pretty typical, from Towson University:

"Comma use with adverbial clauses depends upon placement of the adverbial clause. If the adverbial clause introduces the sentence, place a comma between it and the main clause. If the adverbial clause follows the main clause in a sentence, do not place a comma between the two."

And this from DailyWritingTips:

"The simple rule is this: If a subordinate clause precedes the main clause, separate the two with a comma:

Unless you have a lot of money, steer clear of Rodeo Drive.

If the subordinate clause follows the main clause, no comma is usually needed:

Steer clear of Rodeo Drive unless you have a lot of money."

But no doubt there are always exceptions. This rule, I think, makes good sense. This is because it largely follows speech patterns, as can be demonstrated by reading the examples above out loud. Incidentally, in both the examples with 'because' at Bristol, the main clause comes first, so I wouldn't have been tempted to use a comma in any case. But if the because clause had come first I would have used a comma, which reflects the pause we'd probably make in speaking. To reverse the clauses in the Bristol examples:

"Because the floodwaters were rising quickly, we all had to move to higher ground."

"Because she had already eaten a hearty lunch, she really didn't feel hungry."

As for the Oxford (or serial, or Harvard) comma, that probably depends on your educational tradition. I was taught not to use it (except where there is ambiguity), as I think were most Brits, but many American style guides advocate its use. It is, of course, the house style of the O.U.P. But just as I ignore them on the use of z in randomise/randomize, I pretty well ignore them on this one too.

Comment on “I’ve lived many years in Kentucky.” by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Mon, 20 Jul 2015 16:55:38 +0000 @WW Thanks for your research.

Whilst commas are generally used to show how the sentence is to be read, there are some disparate views on the detail:

1) British vs American usage - see:

2) "But with the current fashion of minimal punctuation, [commas] are now often omitted" - ibid

3) The use of the "Oxford comma".

Sometimes the "rules" seem too dogmatic or restricted in scope:
"It is not usually necessary or indeed correct to use a comma with the conjunction 'because'."

Perhaps one's ideas about what is right or wrong just depend on which university and whatever rules they apply.

Comment on “I’ve lived many years in Kentucky.” by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Mon, 20 Jul 2015 10:24:10 +0000 @jayles - I don't think even an inveterate pedant would have any grounds for insisting on commas in the second one. As far as I know, the accepted (and traditional) rule is that when the subordinate clause comes first, we use a comma - "If I have time, I will give you a call", but when the main clause comes first, we don't use a comma, or to put it another way, we don't use a comma when the main clause comes first.

Your second one I'm not so sure about. If admittedly had come at the beginning of the sentence, yes convention would suggest a comma. But used as in your example, commas seem rather to be optional. In the first twenty entries of "was admittedly" at Google Books, only two use commas, and the picture's much the same if you restrict the search to the 19th century, which are mainly from official or legal reports, but also include comma-less versions in literary magazines, etc. So you can find both in legal reports:

"nothing turned upon the notice, and it was, admittedly, binding upon both the landlord end the tenant." 1826

"That case is deserving of some notice, for the contract there was admittedly binding between the parties" 1847

and comma-less versions in more literary magazines:

"First, as to the sanity of her mind, or rather as to the extent of that one delusion, for she was admittedly sound upon all other subjects." The Annual Register, 1839

It's not that old a word, apparently first appearing in 1780 (it's not in Johnson).

Comment on “my” vs. “mine” in multiple owner possessive by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Mon, 20 Jul 2015 09:40:06 +0000 @HS - and there lies part of the problem: it's ambiguous independent of whether we use 'my' or 'mine'. (I see that in my first comment I had assumed they were talking of one child,but on second glance I might well think two were being referred to.

What's more it seems to me unnatural for reasons I mentioned earlier. The person had already taken the child/children to school, so presumably knew their name(s) - so why not just use their names instead of this somewhat awkward construction?

Incidentally I can't agree with Ashley:) - as far as I know, we virtually never use possessive pronouns before the person or thing has been mentioned (except perhaps in book titles). "Greg's child and mine" might just work, if there two children, or more, but "Mine and Greg's child"? I think not.

This is largely because it's mixing two different grammatical forms. The original sentence was "My/mine and Gregg's child", but Ashley:) has broken this down to "The child is Greg's", which is grammatically completely different.

"My" is a possessive determiner (or possessive adjective, if you prefer), whereas "mine" is a possessive pronoun. When we use a possessive noun before another noun it also acts as a determiner - "Sandra's new car" = "Her new car", not "hers new car" (which is ungrammatical). And when we use it after the verb "be", as in "This car is Sandra's", it is a possessive pronoun. And I'm afraid that Ashley:) is confusing these two forms.

So we can say "David and Sandra's new car" or at a pinch "David's and her new car", but certainly not "David's and and hers new car", or "Hers and David's new car" - they are simply ungrammatical. And I can't see how "Mine and Greg's child" is any different

Sure enough if you sustitute me for Greg in "The child is Greg's", you get "mine",but if you do the same with the original "Greg's child", you get "my child". So by Ashley:) 's own substitution rule it should be "my", And preferably "Greg's and my child". Which I would take to mean "our child", but ambuguity still remains.

Comment on Unusual use of “infringed”? by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Sat, 18 Jul 2015 23:23:34 +0000 One usually infringes a right or upon a freedom, as in "the right to bare arms shall not be infringed". What seems to have happened here is a back formation from the phrase "parking infringement". The interesting thing here is that the first time "cars" are infringed, and the second "parkers". The only alternative I can come up with which fits both is "ticketed".

Creative English?

Comment on “my” vs. “mine” in multiple owner possessive by Hairy Scot Hairy Scot Sat, 18 Jul 2015 19:19:58 +0000 Does the sentence refer to one child or two children?

Comment on “my” vs. “mine” in multiple owner possessive by Ashes Ashes Fri, 17 Jul 2015 22:25:57 +0000 No matter how I look at it, 'Mine and Greg's' seems to be correct. Whenever I have a problem like this, I always break down the sentence into parts.

First, you have the object, which is the 'child.' And then you have the two possessors, 'Greg,' and the pronoun for 'yourself.' Depending on which person you're writing in, the difficulty of this operation varies. First person is awful with compound possessives!

Take the sentence and break it down to just the object in relation to each separate possessor.

"The child is Greg's."

And, since it's first person, and the child belongs to 'you'--

"The child is mine."

Therefore: “I so appreciate you taking mine and Gregg’s child to school today.”

I dub thee correct.

Take it with a grain of salt; my ultra-super-cool qualifications lie within the many treacherous and unedited territories of Fanfiction; I wouldn't be surprised if I was looking at this completely backwards!

Also, when in doubt, try saying the sentence out loud. 'My and Greg's child' vs 'Mine and Greg's child'--which one sounds better? You know which one I'd go with. Just sayin'.

Comment on Unusual use of “infringed”? by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Fri, 17 Jul 2015 11:31:03 +0000 Judging by the results of googling "will be infringed with" it's not so much unusual as probably unique, apparently being limited to this one health centre, which accounts for half the entries on the first page (of four) . PITE is there too, of course, but all the rest are all to do with copyright, freedom etc.

Perhaps they meant to say "issued". But to mistake the same mistake on five different pages? Perhaps it was deliberate.

Comment on “I’ve lived many years in Kentucky.” by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Wed, 15 Jul 2015 13:41:18 +0000 @WW utterly agree with you re passive. One would hope the examiners do too.

IELTS marking scheme does mention "good control over punctuation". What exactly they mean by this - especially comma usage - is not specified, but I presume pretty old-school.

I guess an "inveterate pedant"might insist on commas in the following:

"He was admittedly very young."

"I will give you a call if I have time."

Comment on “I’ve lived many years in Kentucky.” by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Wed, 15 Jul 2015 09:47:22 +0000 I know many Americans were raised on Strunk , but the book is is almost unknown in the UK. What's more his chapter on the passive is so awful I wouldn't be likely to pay any attention to anything he said anyway - he gives four examples of "weak" passive sentences, only one of which is in the passive. And to prove how much better the active is he compares these two sentences:

"My first visit to Boston will always be remembered by me."
"I will always remember my first trip to Boston."

Only thing is that not even the keenest fan of the passive would ever utter a ssentence like that. We rarely use pronouns as agents, and especially not "me". It's strange how passive-bashers always like to use these "by" comparisons, even though 80% of passives don't have an agent.

I do see what you mean, though, about the flexibility of "however". Sometimes it is better after the subject or the verb. However, that's not always the case. And the use of commas here is surely universal, whether or not the examiner has ever heard of Strunk, just as with any other conjunctive adverb.

Comment on “It is what it is” by Hairy Scot Hairy Scot Tue, 14 Jul 2015 22:24:29 +0000 "It is what it is" surely ranks alongside "do the math" as one of the most nonsensical phrases ever coined.

Comment on “It is what it is” by SomedeafguywhospeaksEnglishverywell SomedeafguywhospeaksEnglishverywell Tue, 14 Jul 2015 20:33:17 +0000 "It is what it is" is the verbal/written equivalent of a non-committal shrug of the shoulders; a way of saying nothing is going to change the situation. Depending on the context of the conversation and the parties involved it can be a statement of sympathetic resignation towards or about someone experiencing something that is totally beyond their control or it can be a euphemistic manner of saying "tough shit it's going to happen no matter what you say or think." In so far as language goes it virtually leaves the communicative-recipient with nearly complete responsibility to apply/supply an interpretation to its contextual use. I, for one, thoroughly dislike its use and would just as soon never encounter it again.

It was used in a text message to me in response to a situation to my response to a situation someone I care about was getting herself into, as she was kind of annoyed with my protective attitude, the bottom line being, as I understood it was that she is going to do what she is going to do no matter how concerned I am for her safety. My text response was to counter her cliche-excuse with a truism, as seen below:

She: "it is what it is"
Me: "It's hard to not be one's self"

Comment on “I’ve lived many years in Kentucky.” by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Tue, 14 Jul 2015 18:08:27 +0000 @WW Thanks - I found this topic difficult to google. It does seem that we can sometimes drop "for" with time-duration expressions where the meaning is clear from the word-order.

Re "however": this no longer appears in the latest Strunk and Cowan online. Indeed it includes:
"However, the distinction is often fine and sometimes invisible."

For IELTS purposes, instead of "however", I usually tell my students to think about using "although" or "whereas" , and joining up with the foregoing sentence. (The marking criteria include: "uses a variety of complex structures".)

To me, there are two special things about "however" vis-a-vis other adverbs such as "admittedly" or "nevertheless":
1) "however" tends to mark the foregoing word as the item of contrast.
2) "however" is more readily mobile in terms of position.
a) However, he was very young.
b) He was, however, very young.
c) He, however, was very young.
d) He was very young, however.

I teach people to use commas here off because the examiner may have been raised on Strunk, and I sometimes question the use of "however" at the beginning of a paragraph, as it so often betokens lack of topic cohesion withing each paragraph.

Comment on “I’ve lived many years in Kentucky.” by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Tue, 14 Jul 2015 09:13:04 +0000 Part 2 - More grist

1) "He searched five years for his estranged daughter."

As well as the adverbial cropping up in an unexpected place, there's the added problem that 'searched' and its dependent preposition 'for' have got separated. I'd never say it myself, but there are a few examples of this type do exist at Goggle Books, although in infintissimal numbers (from Ngram "searched * years").

"In a foretaste of what was to come, the symphony board searched two years for a new music director to succeed Alessandro" - Texas Monthly 1987

2) "He sought five years his estranged daughter."

Absolutely no way! This sounds like Google Translate - you seek somebody or something. All the examples of "sought * years" I've found at Ngram turn out to be red herrings, such as - "which he sought five years ago"

3) "I was two years buiding a trimaran."

Wouldn't say it myself, but ...

"Solomon was seven years building the Temple" from perhaps 1814, and reproduced several times in the nineteenth century. This is the only example I can find at Ngram of "was * years building". There were no results at Ngram for "studying, making, doing", or example.

4) "Seven years I studied Latin."

No problem in the right context - "Seven years I studied Latin, and what good did it ever do me!" This is classic fronting for special effect.

5) "I was two hours waiting for the ambulance"

At first sight, it doesn't seem too bad to me, in informal conversation. It hasn't separated "waiting" and "for", and the shift from normal word order seems to stress the two hours (but see below). However*, in the whole web "I was two hours waiting" gets precisely 4 hits, and one of them is this post. Of the others, one is Russian, one Portuguese, and this one from New Zealand - "Yesterday I was two hours waiting for my appointment with a specialist." (and he turns out to be originally from South America). And in case you think I'm being too restrictive, here are a few others: "one hour" - 1 hit, "an hour" - 3 hits, "three hours" - 0 hits, "four hours" - 0 hits. So probably best avoided.

*Michael Gove, British minister of justice, has written to his department suggesting that they don't use "however" at the beginning of a sentence. I was taught the same at school, but have no idea why. As far as I remember nobody mentioned doing this with other conjunctive adverbs, such as "nevertheless, consequently, accordingly, moreover" etc. What's so special about "however" I wonder.

One alternative in (1) and (5) might be to use a bit of fronting:

"Five years he searched for his estranged daughter, but to no avail."
"Two hours I was waiting for the ambulance, and nobody even bothered to call me to say it was on its way!"

Comment on “I’ve lived many years in Kentucky.” by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Tue, 14 Jul 2015 07:53:58 +0000 Part 1 - For the original question: it seems neither particularly American, nor particularly new:

"and he lived many years there, after my return to England."
The Valetudinarians Bath Guide, London 1780

The next two aren't exactly the same pattern, but do omit 'for':

"Hildanus relates the case of a girl who lived many years without food or drink"
Encyclopædia Metropolitana, London 1845

"Olympidorus the platonist, assures us that he knew a person who lived many years, and in his own life neither fed nor slept, but stood only in the sun to refresh himself."
The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, London 1841

Comment on “I’ve lived many years in Kentucky.” by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Mon, 13 Jul 2015 18:37:18 +0000 More grist:
1) "He searched five years for his estranged daughter."
2) "He sought five years his estranged daughter."
3) "I was two years buiding a trimaran."
4) "Seven years I studied Latin."
5) "i was two hours waiting for the ambulance"

Comment on “I’ve lived many years in Kentucky.” by Hairy Scot Hairy Scot Mon, 13 Jul 2015 18:02:47 +0000 Despite being an inveterate pedant I have no issues with that format.

Comment on “hand” by Hairy Scot Hairy Scot Wed, 8 Jul 2015 06:13:25 +0000 Perhaps the passenger was a refugee from George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Fire and Ice"?


Comment on On Tomorrow by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Tue, 7 Jul 2015 11:05:09 +0000 @Ash78 - As a matter of interest, "where do you stay?" (for "where do live?") is very common in Scotland.

Comment on On Tomorrow by Ash_78 Ash_78 Mon, 6 Jul 2015 14:19:10 +0000 I've lived in Alabama for 20 years and only started noticing it in the past few months from a coworker in Texas. I may have tuned it out before, but I swear I just started hearing it for the first time time my life. 100% of the handful of users who have used it have been African-American, for whatever it's worth. I don't consider this to be any kind of racially-charged Ebonics issues (like "axe" vs "ask"), just a cultural nuance. It's akin to "where do you stay?" for "where do you live?" I have never heard a white person use that expression, but I fully accept it as an alternative and have even used back at people as an alternative term. Language is a rich and living thing, and unless there is a flagrant grammatical issue, I usually adapt more than I try to correct.

Comment on “hand” by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Fri, 3 Jul 2015 09:53:59 +0000 Third time lucky: this time I couldn't agree with John Thiesmayer more. What's more the link is nothing to do with the question, and looks like spam, pure and simple. In any case I don't think I'd want any of this lot writing an essay for me if their own blurb is anything to go by. Here is a sample:

"A lot of alumni mix graduate essay writing services with high school tasks, still the difference between them is extremely significant, as in colleges UK essay writing service appears for a complete scientific work, that cannot simply repeat information, but also make certain verdict. This kind of task supposes giving out plenty of time. People that mistakenly reckon that the high-class way to do away with the assignment – means downloading it from the web, will be upset concerning the fact that today’s professors widely explore the advantages of modern world, and accordingly are able to detect assignments uploaded from the web considering certain software."

Certainly worth a visit just for the laugh. On the other hand, I cannot recommend too highly my latest ...

Comment on “hand” by John Thiesmeyer John Thiesmeyer Thu, 2 Jul 2015 17:18:18 +0000 I can't imagine why johnrodrigez72 is recommending a plagiarism factory to anyone! Plagiarism, including essays written by someone that another receives credit for, is dishonest and likely to fail in whatever its ambition is.

Comment on How important is it to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in writing these days? by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Thu, 2 Jul 2015 16:26:55 +0000 The important thing to grasp is that punctuation converts to form part of an audio file in your head: listen to the voice in your head as you read this. So the question becomes:
how does one pronounce a comma?
Usually as a small pause with a rising or wavy intonation.

Most text layout affects how the text sounds in your head: consider
poetry and
the effect
of an end-of-line
on intonation
and rhythm.

It is worth noting that graphics such as bar graphs, and pie charts do not produce an audio file in your head; but columns of figures on a spreadsheet or accounting report are usually "read" as audio input.

Comment on Could I use both a colon and semicolon in a sentence? by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Thu, 2 Jul 2015 16:00:26 +0000 My understanding is that in the Middle Ages, European people generally read everything aloud; punctuation was introduced to help them do that and we have kept it because we read "aloud" in our head. Not every language is like this - Thai leaves no spaces between the words; older Arabic has no punctuation.

When writing in modern English, the whole layout, including whitespace between words, whitespace between paragraphs, whitespace indentations, and also punctuation in general - this all is used to help the reader. Recent research has shown that a European reader focuses on just a few letters at a time - something like the last letter of the previous word and then the next eight or so letters - apparently this is all the retina can take in at one time. The eye then jumps to the next group of letters. It is this scanning process that limits reading speed, not the conversion from letter symbols to meaning.

Conventionally, a colon marks a longish pause with a flat, wavy, or slightly rising intonation; but definitely without the falling intonation associated with the end of a sentence. If that is how you would say it, then a colon may be the right way to go - there is no particular rule as to how often.

For example: "Roses are red: violets are bluish, and come in three colors: dark blue, violet and indigo."
Note that here we have used a colon in two different situations: between two independent clauses; and to introduce a list.

Comment on Is “leverage” a verb? by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Thu, 2 Jul 2015 15:32:22 +0000 "-age" is a "suffix typically forming mass or abstract nouns from various parts of speech, occurring originally in loanwords from French (voyage; courage) and productive in English with the meanings “aggregate” (coinage; peerage; trackage), “process” (coverage; breakage), “the outcome of” as either “the fact of” or “the physical effect or remains of” (seepage; wreckage; spoilage), “place of living or business” (parsonage; brokerage), “social standing or relationship” (bondage; marriage; patronage), and “quantity, measure, or charge” (footage; shortage; tonnage; towage). "

Thus words like leverage using the suffix "-age" are prima facie expected to be nouns, and one would normally use the root as the verb as in "to broker", "to break". That said, "leverage" seems to have developed as special meaning of its own, distinct from "lever", so it becomes meaningful to use "leverage" as a verb.

In some ways this is similar to "influence" which one would expect to be a noun like other words ending in "-ence" or "-ance"; however we did not bring in the root verb "influe" into English so we use "influence" as a verb too.

Comment on Is “leverage” a verb? by BevRowe BevRowe Thu, 2 Jul 2015 09:26:31 +0000 Forget elegance - and I have no actual example to quote - but I can imagine 'information' being used as a verb: supplying with information may not be the same as informing. So I would understand someone who asked 'Has that satellite been informationed yet'.
I suspect there are better counterexamples than this but cannot immediately think of one.

Comment on “hand” by johnrodrigez72 johnrodrigez72 Thu, 2 Jul 2015 08:55:39 +0000 Hello!
I believe it has nothing to do with "The hand of God". It is definetely some kind of slang. You can see such things in different coutries. For example, in my country we call people different names and it has nothing to do with Bible.
By the way, if You need some professional-written assignment, check this site

Comment on Opposition to “pretty” by BevRowe BevRowe Thu, 2 Jul 2015 08:32:31 +0000 The Google ngram for "pretty good" is worth looking at. It seems to be on the increase curtrently

Comment on How important is it to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in writing these days? by BevRowe BevRowe Thu, 2 Jul 2015 08:23:01 +0000 Obviously beginners need guidance but it would be sad if punctuation was taught as a series of unbreakable rules. It is so much a question of taste and function.

Comment on Could I use both a colon and semicolon in a sentence? by BevRowe BevRowe Thu, 2 Jul 2015 08:17:22 +0000 The only rule I would instinctively follow is that one should not have two colons in the same sentence. Is that generally felt to be the case?

Comment on Let’s you and me/I by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Thu, 2 Jul 2015 06:28:19 +0000 Interesting question. Garner has a good explanation of why "me" is the grammatically correct version, but then goes on to show that several good writers have chosen the "I" variant, and he appears to regard this simply as 'an oddity', common in modern speech and writing, something he says Fowler would have called a 'sturdy indefensible'. Fowler seems to have used this term for things that were theoretically incorrect, but so common in normal use as to be, at best idiomatic, at worst, not worth bothering about.

Comment on Let’s you and me/I by BevCharlesRowe BevCharlesRowe Thu, 2 Jul 2015 05:37:01 +0000 It's a bit late to join this thread but I've only just seen it.
There is clearly an ambiguity in the rules . Grammar is partly about the gut reaction of native speakers and the T S Eliot quote has never struck me a wrong.
The trouble partly arises from the fact that writing is not a very exact representation of speech. Let's refer to the I or me element as M. So if we say "Let's-you-and- M go to town" with the hyphenated words all bunched together, they act like a single phrase and I would suggest that M should be me. But if we say something like "Let's, you and M, ..." the "you and M" is more like an independent phrase (in apposition as someone above pointed out), standing outside the syntax of the "Let's" phrase. Here I seems perfectly all right and may even be correct. And by the time the you-and M is separated from the Let's by as much as it is in the Eliot, the fact that you and I are the performers of the verb (go), even if not the grammatical subjects, influences one's choice.

Comment on Resume, resumé, or résumé? by Anon4498 Anon4498 Tue, 30 Jun 2015 11:11:41 +0000 If you search online for résumé envelopes you will see that manufacturers of these products accent both e's in their products. From the discussion in this thread, you can see that there are mixed thoughts on how to accent e's in résumé; however, it is doubtful that any of the three spellings will be the reason you do not get an interview. At the end of the day though, I prefer to accent both e's to demonstrate my proficiency with Word and I think others should as well if they are listing MS Word as a skill set on their résumé.

Comment on “nervous to perform” or “nervous of performing”? by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Tue, 30 Jun 2015 10:21:01 +0000 Both "nervous of" and "nervous about" are common in British English, and both are given at Oxford Dictionaries Online:

"he’s nervous of speaking in public"

"The days are gone when I am going to get nervous about games or worry about whether or not I play well"

This is from a grammar forum:

"Both prepositions are correct. A dictionary search suggests that "nervous about" is more common in the U.S. and that "nervous of" is more common in the U.K., although the two expressions show up in citations on Google from both major linguistic communities."

At the British National Corpus, they're fairly evenly distributed, 113 hits for "about" and 78 for "of". At COCA (the Corpus of Contemporary American English) , on the other hand, "of" gets only six, compared with over a thousand for "about". (from a brief discussion at Stack Exchange - see below)

To me there is a slight difference, in that I think I'd use "nervous of" about things in general, and "nervous about" for more specific events: "He's nervous of flying at the best of times, but he's particularly nervous about tomorrow's flight". But the Oxford examples don't really seem to make this distinction.

@John Thiesmeyer - I'm not quite sure whether you're saying "nervous of" can never be used in "good English", but if that's what you mean, I disagree:

"The prodigal son was evidently nervous of visiting the parental abode"
Charles Dickens - Dombey and Son (narrative not dialogue)

"He did the round of the house every night, for he was nervous of fire. It is the only thing that I have ever known him nervous of." Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - The Valley of Fear

Comment on Opposition to “pretty” by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Mon, 29 Jun 2015 10:45:14 +0000 I accept that in certain academic work you might want something more specific, but for most of us, informal speech is what we use English for, the vast majority of the time. And that goes for my students as well, although of course we point out the differences between formal and informal buse.

But need it really be limited to informal conversation (or to fiction)? Some of the greatest 18th and 19th century writers of non-fiction would apparently disagree:

"I may mention that carnivorous animals, even from the tropics, breed in this country pretty freely under confinement," Charles Darwin - The Origin of Species

"His third tier, if not his second, will probably appear a sufficiently secure foundation for finer work; for if the earth yield at all, it will probably yield pretty equally under the great mass of masonry now knit together over it." John Ruskine - The Stones of Venice

"We may observe, that it is universally allowed by philosophers, and is besides pretty obvious of itself, that nothing is ever really present with the mind but its perceptions or impressions and ideas, and that external objects become known to us only by those perceptions they occasion."
David Hume - A Treatise of Human Nature

"The ice was melted for three or four rods from the shore, and there was a smooth and warm sheet of water, with a muddy bottom, such as the ducks love, within, and he thought it likely that some would be along pretty soon." Henry Thoreau - Walden

"Goethe's Tasso is very likely to be a pretty fair historical portrait, and that is true tragedy."
Ralph Waldo Emerson - Essays

I can't think of any word that would be more appropriate in these extracts, where something a bit less than 'very' seems to have been called for. Modifiers don't always have to be exact.

Comment on Over-the-counter by joe 67 joe 67 Fri, 26 Jun 2015 14:35:37 +0000 Over the counter has traditionally been referred to as products that are kept behind the counter for various reasons' such as frequency of theft, age related reasons (minors) or because it is felt that counseling is appropriate. For many years products such as prophylactics were sold over the counter to discourage minors and adults from stealing. Many non-prescription cough syrups were sold over the counter to discourage them from being bought and abused by minors. Cigarettes have traditionally been over-the-counter items even though they don't require a prescription.

Comment on “In the long term” by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Thu, 25 Jun 2015 09:24:04 +0000 It shouldn't really sound odd, as "in the long term" appears to be more common than "over the long term", both in the US and Britain, but especially in Britain. At Ngram (published books)- "in the long term" figures twice as strongly as "over the long term" (although the difference for American books is markedly smaller). The difference is even greater at Google Books: "in the long term" - 15,000, "over the long term" - 6,000. On general search, ther incidence is about the same.

NY Times "in" - 29,400; "over" - 24,000
Washington Post "in" - 22,700; "over" - 13,700
Times (London) "in" - 22,700; "over" - 770
The Economist "in" - 41,000; "over" - 21,000

There is the proviso noted above, that with the "in" version, it sometimes acts as an adjective, but the majority of cases seem to be the stand -alone expression. (None of the ten most common followers at Ngram are adjectives).

In Britain, at least, I would suggest that the "in" version is more idiomatic than the "over" version.

Comment on What is the word for intentionally incorrect spelling? by Literate Girl Literate Girl Wed, 24 Jun 2015 18:15:20 +0000 I know this was posted a while back, but for others who are looking for the answer it's 'Satire misspelling'.

Comment on “Rack” or “Wrack”? by John Thiesmeyer John Thiesmeyer Tue, 23 Jun 2015 20:45:37 +0000 It may be that people spell it both ways, but that doesn't change the fact that "wrack" is a mistake for the original "rack," i.e. "torture." Racking your brain doesn't mean messing it up or wrecking it.

Comment on First Generation vs. Second Generation by rkish rkish Tue, 23 Jun 2015 19:36:52 +0000 I consider myself 2nd generation but it is amusing (and irksome) when I'm corrected all the time by others who have several generations rooted here. I suspect it is partly a sociological phenomenon, especially when asked of Asians-Americans. Asians-Americans are still considered the most "foreign" of any of the ethnicities in the United States, unfortunately, so we are still "new" to the melting pot in many people's eyes. I get asked this on a frequent basis, perhaps it would be less so on the West Coast.

My parents were Chinese immigrants, naturalized citizens of the US now, and have been US citizens longer than they were citizens of their own country. I consider my parents 1st generation, and myself as 2nd generation.

Comment on “nervous to perform” or “nervous of performing”? by John Thiesmeyer John Thiesmeyer Tue, 23 Jun 2015 18:54:27 +0000 I don't think "nervous of" can ever substitute for "nervous about" in good English. "She was the most nervous of the three performers" is OK.

Comment on Opposition to “pretty” by John Thiesmeyer John Thiesmeyer Tue, 23 Jun 2015 18:49:42 +0000 The only problem with "pretty" in this usage is that it is vague, like "kind of" or "sort of" (kinda, sorta). It's an empty intensifier, and appropriate only in informal speech. "Pretty much" isn't any better. "Somewhat" and "fairly" fall into this category, as well/

Comment on “In the long term” by John Thiesmeyer John Thiesmeyer Tue, 23 Jun 2015 18:43:09 +0000 The idiomatic phrases are "in the long run" and "over the long term." "In the long term" isn't wrong, it just sounds odd to the experienced reader. If you care, go with the standard idiom.