Comments for Pain in the English http://painintheenglish.com Forum for the gray areas of the English language Wed, 4 Mar 2015 08:29:39 +0000 hourly 1 Comment on issue as problem by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/5355/#comment-26315 jayles the unwoven Wed, 4 Mar 2015 01:06:23 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5355/#comment-26315 My understanding is that the widespread use of "issue" to supplant "problem" stems from a desire to be more positive, particularly when broaching a topic with your boss. "Issue" has become just another management speak weasel word.

One should move on to the next level, becoming a TOP person (totally-oriented-positive) leapfrogging hurdles and challenges in one smooth single bound....

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Comment on issue as problem by providencejim http://painintheenglish.com/case/5355/#comment-26314 providencejim Tue, 3 Mar 2015 17:23:45 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5355/#comment-26314 I am afraid that in the States "issue" has indeed almost fully replaced "problem," at least in informal English.

I mean, when you take your car to your local service station for an oil change and the manager asks, "Any issues we should look at?", you know some kind of watershed moment has arrived. (Yes, this happened to me recently.)

This issue (I use the term appropriately here, I think) surfaced a good seven years ago online, at http://languageandgrammar.com/2008/01/14/youve-got-problems-not-issues/

Have to say I am in agreement with the original poster and the commenters there, and I'm relieved to see posters here expressing some concern about conflating the two terms.

Now Warsaw Will, I definitely have a problem with that last example from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary: my goodness, surely the advice to "call this number" would pertain to a problem, not an issue, don't you think? (Unless the number is for, say, an agency that collects topics for group discussion or something. But absent a context I expect such advice is much more likely to involve something like a plumbing emergency.)

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Comment on “If I was” vs. “If I were” by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/4662/#comment-26313 jayles the unwoven Tue, 3 Mar 2015 14:05:58 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/4662/#comment-26313 Actually the subjunctive is around quite a bit even though it is unmarked. Modal verbs have a 'real' past tense in reported speech:
"She said she would do it"
Modal verbs also use the past subjunctive with present meaning for politeness:
"Could I come in?"
They also use past subjunctive to indicate unreal/hypothetical ideas:
"I would be surprised if ...."
In a main clause only, to distinguish an unreal past idea from real, we usually add a perfect infinitive to the past subjuctive of the modal:
"I would have been surprised if ..."
The point here is that when the use of past subjunctive for politeness developed in the early Middle Ages, we lost the ability to clearly use it to refer to the past. The usage of "had" in the main clause of a past conditional sentence is a throwback (which BTW mirrors modern German):
"Haette ich das gewusst, haette ich es Ihnen erzaehlt"
"Had I known, had I told you"

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Comment on ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26312 jayles the unwoven Tue, 3 Mar 2015 13:46:03 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26312 @WW but why not "a ten-days' tour", "a four-hours' trip" ?
Anything beyond "because that's not what people say" ?

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Comment on Why do sports teams take a definite article? by dwishiren http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26311 dwishiren Tue, 3 Mar 2015 09:50:26 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26311 Thanks, Will. I've checked them out at Wikipedia. But I've a bit of problem about "the Etihad Stadium" (Manchester City). That uses "the" as "Etihad" is its sponsor. However, I saw the BBC, this stadium doesn't use "the".

CSKA Moscow's late equaliseragainst Roma in Russia earlier in the evening ensured even a defeat by Bayern at Etihad Stadium would not end City's hopes of reaching the last 16.

It should be "at the Etihad Stadium", right? Then, why does the writer not use "the" there? Any reason?

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Comment on “If I was” vs. “If I were” by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/4662/#comment-26310 Warsaw Will Tue, 3 Mar 2015 06:58:48 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/4662/#comment-26310 @ElleEnglish re: "If I was the Prime Minister, I would have changed the law."

"I would have changed the law" is still hypothetical, but with past reference, so you need "had" in the "if" clause - "If I had been prime minister, I would have changed the law"

The only way I can think of when "If I was"can be used with past reference is using 'real past ', for example when it refers to a repeated event in the past - "If I was in London, I always stayed at the Ritz." Or, in an example similar to the 'cad' one above - "If I was rude (earlier on), I apologise" (as opposed to "If I were rude, I would apologise")

" If the subjunctive disappeared altogether, it would make for extremely confusing communication at times." - So why aren't we confused with every other verb and four persons of 'be'?

I'm not 'uneducated', in fact I know quite a lot about grammar. But I also know I have a choice.

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Comment on “If I was” vs. “If I were” by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/4662/#comment-26309 Warsaw Will Tue, 3 Mar 2015 06:23:23 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/4662/#comment-26309 uninverted, narrowness

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Comment on “If I was” vs. “If I were” by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/4662/#comment-26308 Warsaw Will Tue, 3 Mar 2015 06:21:52 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/4662/#comment-26308 Yes, jayles, you're right, there are a couple of times when we don't have that freedom, and one of them is when we use inversion in conditionals. But in the univerted version of the expression you used 'was' would be OK, at least according to Oxford Dictionaries Online:

" if it wasn’t/weren’t for…
used to say that somebody/something stopped somebody/something from happening If it weren't for you, I wouldn't be alive today."
http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/be_1

Inversion seems to lock you into the subjunctive. For example, we can't abbreviate 'not' here either - an asterisk means it's ungrammatical, i.e. not acceptable to the majority of speakers:

If he were/was arriving later, I could go and fetch him.
Were he coming later, I could go and fetch him.
*Was he coming later, I could go and fetch him.

If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed it.
Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed it.
*Hadn't I seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed it.

Interestingly, some writers also used to replace the 'would have' part with 'had'. When this happened together with inversion, Priestley called it the double conjunctive (his word for subjunctive) and thought it had 'a peculiar elegance':

'He had (= would have) formed one of the shining characters of his age, had not the extreme narowness of his genius, in everything but war, diminished the lustre of his merits.' David Hume, History

The other exception would be the fixed phrase 'If I were you'. This would sound very odd with 'was'.

For more on inversion in conditionals, see: http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2013/01/inversion-in-conditionals.html

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Comment on ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26307 Warsaw Will Tue, 3 Mar 2015 05:52:20 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26307 The last one is easy enough - in 'It's a four-hour walk' the time expression is adjectival, whereas in 'It's four hours' walk' were saying it's a walk of four hours, hence the apostrophe. But many people are dropping the apostrophe in plural quantities, which is understandable.

As for the rest, I don't think you can draw up hard and fast rules. Custom has led to some being used more one way, others another. It's a bit like compound nouns: together, hyphend or separate? There is no rule, that I know of.

http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2014/01/a-ten-minute-walk-ten-minutes-walk.html

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Comment on Why do sports teams take a definite article? by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26306 Warsaw Will Tue, 3 Mar 2015 05:44:24 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26306 OK. First, there is no 100% rule when it comes to the use or not of 'the' in place names; there are always exceptions. So I was careful to use the word 'usually'. And I should say that all the stadiums I mentioned are in Britain. It may be different in other English-speaking countries.

1. The Brittania Stadium - No, Brittania is not a part of England, but the old Latin name for the island of Britain. But in this case, the stadium owes its name to its sponsor, the Britannia Co-operative Bank.

2. The Hawthorns, the Valley: these both take their names from natural features. Apparently the site of the present West Brom ground used to be covered in hawthorn bushes, hence the name.

3. Old Trafford is an area of Manchester, Anfield is an area of Liverpool. Villa Park seems to have been called after the team that play there; 'park' is sometimes used to mean football pitch, especially, I think in Scotland. Also, parks themselves tend to have names without 'the': Central Park in NYC, in London: Hyde Park, Green Park, Richmond Park, Kensington Gardens. Regent's Park is usually referred to without 'the', but its official title is The Regent's Park, being called after Prinnie, the Prince Regent, later George IV.

You really need to check these out on an individual basis (like I did, at Wikipedia). But I think what I said before stands as a general principle.

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Comment on Why do sports teams take a definite article? by dwishiren http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26305 dwishiren Tue, 3 Mar 2015 01:46:47 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26305 1. How about "the Britannia Stadium"? "Britannia" is an area in England, right? Why have to use "the"? I think this is just like Wembley Stadium.

2. The Hawthorns (West Brom), the Valley. These uses "the". Are they both part of a sponsor or the name of a person?

3.Old Trafford (Machester), Anfield (Liverpool), Villa Park,, etc. Are all of these stadiums of the names of the town or a place? They don't take "the".

Oh yes, I want you to add this use of "the" or not use in your blog.

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Comment on Why do sports teams take a definite article? by dwishiren http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26304 dwishiren Tue, 3 Mar 2015 01:04:05 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26304 Thanks alot, Will. What a great explanation. Well, let me try to sum up your explanation so that this can be the rules of the use of "the" for stadiums. First, if it is related to the name of the town or place, geografical areas, then "the" is not used. Second, when a descriptive word of the name of a person comes first, then "the" is used. Third, if it is part of sponsors, then "the" is used. Well, are my summaries right, Teacher Will? I'm afraid to be wrong. But If I'm, please give me the clear rule.

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Comment on Why do sports teams take a definite article? by dwishiren http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26303 dwishiren Tue, 3 Mar 2015 01:03:27 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26303 Thanks alot, Will. What a great explanation. Well, let me try to sum up your explanation so that this can be the rules of the use of "the" for stadiums. First, if it is related to the name of the town or place, geografical areas, then "the" is not used. Second, when a descriptive word of the name of a person comes first, then "the" is used. Third, if it is part of sponsors, then "the" is used. Well, are my summaries right, Teacher Will? I'm afraid to be wrong. But If I'm, please give me the clear rule.

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Comment on ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26302 jayles the unwoven Mon, 2 Mar 2015 21:21:14 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26302 One would need to distinguish between "non-semantic" vs "idioms & collocations" vs "meaningful but seldom used" ; thus:
"a glass of wine" is partitive; "a wine's glass" hard to construe;
"the car's door" might be okay, esp in "the car's passenger door jammed"
"at the door of death" - unusual but grammatically okay
"cow milk" is not wrong but usually "cows' milk" cf "goats' milk"
and so forth.

Another issue:
"ten days' travel", "four hours' walk" but "a ten-day tour", "a four-hour trip"

LLAP

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Comment on Why do sports teams take a definite article? by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26301 Warsaw Will Mon, 2 Mar 2015 09:49:23 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26301 Well, you've caught me out there. I teach foreigners English and write a blog on aspects of English, and one of my posts was about the use (or not) of 'the' in place names (a bit of a problem for learners). But after a quick check, I notice that although I have entries for "theatre, hall, bar, station" etc, "stadium" is noticeable by its absence.

But I'll go for the same rule as with theatres, airports, bridges etc. If it has name of the town or place where it is situated, then 'the' is unusual - Wembley Stadium, Twickenham Stadium (rugby union) - both Wembley and Twickenham are geographical areas of London, Murrayfield Stadium (centre of Scottish rugby; it's in an area of Edinburgh called Murrayfield).

However when a descriptive word or the name of a person comes first, 'the' is more likely. If I can take a theatre analogy, in Cambridge there's a theatre called "Cambridge Arts Theatre", while in London there's "The Cambridge Theatre", presumably called after a long-dead Duke of Cambridge.

Back to stadiums - in the UK we have "The Millenium Stadium, The Emirates Stadium, The Stadium of Light (Sunderland AFC), The Macron Stadium, The Madejski Stadium". Note that two, of these, Emirates and Macron, are called after their sponsors, and one of them, Madejski, after a hotel which is part of the stadium.

One stadium seems to neatly sum up this rule. Headingley stadium, named after the area of Leeds it is situated in, has long been famous in the world of rugby. Now it is "The Headingley Carnegie Stadium" due to their sponsorship by the Carnegie School of Sport Exercise and Physical Education, at Leeds Metropolitan University. No doubt as more and more stadiums start bearing the names of their sponsors, the defiite article will appear correspondingly more often.

Cricket, incidentally, has "The Oval" - after its shape, but "Lords", not called after some aristocrat, when you might expect "the", but after a certain Thomas Lord, so it sort of makes sense.

Once again, as with football, much if this comes from Wikipedia.

http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2013/08/zero-article-or-with-place-names-basics.html

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Comment on Why do sports teams take a definite article? by dwishiren http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26300 dwishiren Mon, 2 Mar 2015 09:14:53 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26300 Thank you. Hi Will, do the names of stadiums of a team also take "the"? My book says if there are the words "stadium" and "ground", then take "the": the Olympic Stadium, the Victoria Ground". But I have also seen even though there is the word "stadium" in front, the names don't use "the". I have no idea why. Could you explain?

At Busch Stadium.
At Wembley Stadium.
At Shah Alam Stadium, etc.

With "the"
The Academy Stadium.
The Britania Stadium.
The Etihad Stadium
The Nou Camp, etc.

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Comment on ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26299 Warsaw Will Mon, 2 Mar 2015 09:14:36 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26299 You're quite right, of course, I'm quite good at reacting, but not so good at initiating. For that we need you and H.S., both of you sending me off to pastures new. To be honest I had only the vaguest idea of what fossilised expressions were.

Googling 'genitive s or of construction' brings up a couple of academic papers, and a discussion at Stack Exchange, where's a useful summary from Burchfield's entry in the third edition of Fowler's. One of the papers also suggests that 's use is increasing with inanimate objects.

In another academic paper (which I can't find now) there was a comment that the 'of' construction was almost endless in its possibilities.

Just looking back at the earlier discussion, I notice that much of it was about "a policeman's car" or "the car of a policeman", neither of which I can imagine myself saying. As you pointed out in your first comment, there is often a third alternative (and before anyone complains,
yes, you can have more than two alternatives): the compound noun, and unless talking about a particular policeman, as has already been pointed out, most of us would say, "a police car".

Which leads us into the territory of "a wine glass" vs "a glass of wine", and the less obvious "the car door" but the "car's engine / the engine of the car", etc.

I was thinking about personnel, for example when when talking about the directors of a particulat company, for example when they announce a decision:

"The company's directors / The directors of the company" - (but probably not "the company directors)" - the complete group

"A company director / A director of the company", (but not "a company's director") - 1 individual

I think the same would go for "employee(s) / the company""member(s) / the team / board" etc.

Scope for endless research here.

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Comment on ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26298 jayles the unwoven Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:15:51 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26298 @WW I would lump your examples Groups...Descriptions together as partitive/compositional.

As you may have guessed by now, this all arises when some non-native speaker innocently asks the question: so when can the genitive be used when it's not a person?

As you rightly point up, it is quite quirky:
A) "The British occupation of India"
B) "England's long occupation of India"
C) "The long English occupation of India" - almost sounds as if "long" modifies "English"

D) "The windscreen's wiper" - does the windscreen only have one wiper?
E) "A windscreen's wiper is made up of six components"

F) "The bar chart's most striking feature is ...."
G) "The most striking feature of the bar chart is...."

My comment on (F) would be if one persistently used genitives like this (instead of "of" ), the text as a whole could become too convoluted or dense; academic and professional English writing fairly seldom contains genitives not referring to people or proper names:
"the patient's blood pressure" - ok ;
"the blood pressure's sudden spike" -> the sudden spike in blood pressure.

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Comment on ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26297 Warsaw Will Sat, 28 Feb 2015 07:54:56 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26297 Damn, I was sure I had removed that 's'.

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Comment on ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26296 Warsaw Will Sat, 28 Feb 2015 07:54:16 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26296 Thanks you, jayles. I think we can just say 'of' describes a relationship between two nouns. As well as partitives and the others you've mentioned, most of the following, I think, only or mainly take the 'of' construction:

Groups - a pack of hounds, a gang of thieves, a crowd of tourists
Origin - Robin of Loxley, the men of Harlech
Measures - a pint of beer, a kilo of potatoes (maybe these are included in partitives)
Time expressions - the time of the incident, the day of her wedding, the age of reason
Nouns describing others - that idiot of a boy, a genius of a man
Position - the top of the page, the back of the bus, the end of the book (but the book's ending is OK)
Descriptions - a film of rare charm, an idea of sheer brilliance

And no doubt lots of others. With a bit of help from Oxford Dictionaries Online and Swan's Practical English Usage.

And then there are some oddities, some work best one way, some another:

'He's a ship's captain', but 'He's but a plane's captain' ???
'Start the car's engine' , but 'Shut the car's door ' ???

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Comment on “If I was” vs. “If I were” by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/4662/#comment-26295 jayles the unwoven Fri, 27 Feb 2015 12:25:58 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/4662/#comment-26295 She would have died there and then, were it not for the sudden arrival of the medics

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Comment on “If I was” vs. “If I were” by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/4662/#comment-26294 Warsaw Will Fri, 27 Feb 2015 05:18:21 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/4662/#comment-26294 As you correctly say, there is no 'was' in subjunctive past.

The real question though, is whether it is necessary to use a separate subjunctive form after 'if' for unreal conditionals for what amounts to two persons of one verb, when for all other persons of 'be' and for every other verb, no such separate form exists, and we use what the same form as the simple past.

And most modern (i.e. non-prescriptive) grammars would say no - it's a matter of style. You are quite entitled to think 'were' sounds more elegant, and perhaps more appropriate in more formal language, but that doesn't mean 'was' is incorrect.

In teaching English as a foreign language we refer to this use of past simple in present time hypothetical conditionals as the 'unreal past' rather than subjunctive, and see 'were' as an optional exception, but warn students that it is needed in more formal language. But most of the time we use informal language, and 'was' is just fine.

This is from the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, where they call Unreal past Irrealis:

'This use of were is highly exceptional: there is no other verb in the language where the modal remoteness meaning is expressed by a different inflectional form from the past meaning. The irrealis mood form is unique to be, and limited to the 1st and 3rd person singular. It is an untidy relic of an earlier system, and some speakers usually, if not always, use preterite was instead.'

Another example is the expression 'if it wasn't /weren't for', where the use of 'was' is probably even more common, and after 'I wish I was/were' (same 'rule'). At Ngram they're running neck-and-neck.

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=I+wish+I+was%2CI+wish+I+were&year_start=1800&year_end=2008&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2CI%20wish%20I%20was%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CI%20wish%20I%20were%3B%2Cc0

The subjunctive has slowly been disappearing from English over the centuries, and present subjunctive, for example, is hardly used nowadays in British English. Yet in the eighteenth century it was still deemed incorrect not to use subjunctive in present time real conditionals, something nobody would do today:

'If music be the food of love' - Shakespeare
'we found therein several massy pieces of yellow metal, which, if they be real gold, must be of immense value.' - Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift
'If there be in this work, as some have been pleased to say, a stronger picture of ...', Tom Jones, Henry Fielding

By the nineteenth century it had more or less died out, but we can still find it occasionally in Jane Austen - 'and if her home be uncomfortable, or her fortune small'. Nowadays we'd think of that as rather archaic. Language changes. Use of subjunctive 'were' might show you're 'educated', but that's about all.

But perhaps the real answer to "there is no possibility of using 'was' in the past tense with an 'if' statement" is that of course there is, simply because there are enough competent speakers who do exactly tha to make it standard. But then that's a descriptivist talking.

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Comment on “If I was” vs. “If I were” by ElleEnglish http://painintheenglish.com/case/4662/#comment-26293 ElleEnglish Fri, 27 Feb 2015 03:28:21 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/4662/#comment-26293 I've just double checked verbix and (of course) there is no 'was' version of the subjunctive, but I'm starting to suspect that even in the indicative, there is no possibility of using 'was' in the past tense with an 'if' statement. Perhaps a language expert can confirm?

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Comment on “If I was” vs. “If I were” by ElleEnglish http://painintheenglish.com/case/4662/#comment-26292 ElleEnglish Fri, 27 Feb 2015 03:21:22 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/4662/#comment-26292 [quote="goofy"]My idiolect doesn't make any difference in meaning between

If I was the Prime Minister, I would change the law.
If I were the Prime Minister, I would change the law.[/quote]

But wouldn't the first one require the second clause to also be in the past tense i.e. "If I was the Prime Minister, I would have changed the law."

Whilst language does indeed change over time, and I'm a firm believer in descriptivism (for native speakers), I don't agree that (all) grammatical concepts should be eliminated just because of a few uneducated people because without these concepts, we will end up speaking pigeon English; unable to communicate a wide enough range of ideas. The only reason people confuse 'was' and 'were' in that construction is because of a lack of education and understanding of what the purpose of the subjunctive mood actually is. If the subjunctive disappeared altogether, it would make for extremely confusing communication at times.

I would also like to point out to the people screaming for a 'no rules' and 'anything goes' version of English: I could understand wanting 'was' to be equally acceptable [i]if the subjunctive were actually no longer being used[/i] but that isn't the case. Just because you don't realise you are using the subjunctive, doesn't mean that it isn't used. We use it just as often as other languages do but as we recycle words (a lot), it isn't always obvious. Until the subjunctive actually stops being used, using 'was' instead of 'were' remains an uneducated mistake as opposed to a sign of language progressing(/devolving).

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Comment on ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26291 jayles the unwoven Thu, 26 Feb 2015 19:21:39 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26291 @HS You see, I keep my posts undetailed and uninteresting, just so that WW may shine

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Comment on What is the word for intentionally incorrect spelling? by Hairy Scot http://painintheenglish.com/case/644/#comment-26290 Hairy Scot Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:11:33 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/644/#comment-26290 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cacography

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Comment on ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF by Hairy Scot http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26289 Hairy Scot Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:09:38 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26289 @WW

Once again I must compliment you on a detailed and interesting post.


:-))

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Comment on ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26288 jayles the unwoven Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:06:38 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26288 @WW agreed, "fossilized" was the wrong word.
You're absolutely spot on in saying that "when we took 'de' from French, we took on a lot more than possession and partitives", and this is the root of the question: which usages are not mirrored by the English inflected genitive.
So the short list of exceptions would now be: partitives, nouns of thinking or feeling, and the CaGEL fossils.

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Comment on What is the word for intentionally incorrect spelling? by MarkAFBond http://painintheenglish.com/case/644/#comment-26287 MarkAFBond Thu, 26 Feb 2015 09:47:46 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/644/#comment-26287 metaplasmus

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Comment on ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26286 Warsaw Will Thu, 26 Feb 2015 09:28:03 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26286 @jayles - I don't really know why you consider "a sense of pride" and "a feeling of despair" hard to explain or fossilised expressions - to me 'of' is absolutely natural here, and I can't see any other way we might have said them . Apart from the genitive aspect, 'of ' is amost a dependent preposition for both nouns. At Netspeak, 44.8% of instances of 'sense' are followed by 'of', with 17.8 % for 'feeling', (this includes non-noun use). And it's the same story at Just The Word (from The British National Corpus).

Other European languages seem to deal with them in a similar way (or use a genitive inflection). French of course using 'de', where we got the 'of' construction from in the first place:

a sense of pride :
un sentiment de fierté - of
un sentido de orgullo- of
ein Gefühl von Stolz - of
poczucie dumy (Polish) - dumy is the genitive of duma
sensus superbiae (Latin) - genitive of superbia


a feeling of despair:
un sentiment de désespoir - of
un sentimiento de desesperación - of
ein Gefühl der Verzweiflung - genitive of die
uczucie rozpaczy (Polish) - genitive of rozpacz

We have lots of expressions like this with verbs of feeling and thinking: 'sense of' reminds me, of course, of sense nouns - 'a taste of', 'the smell of', 'the very sight of', etc

But then there are things like:

' an intimation of danger'
' the awareness of his presence'
' their perception of themselves'
' the consciousness of self and related issues'
' the sheer pleasure of learning'

and in books etc:

'The Joy of Sex'
'Fear of Flying'
'The Call of the Wild'

None of these would work with genitive 's' or a possessive pronoun, but work perfectly with 'of'. It looks as though, when we took 'de' from French, we took on a lot more than possession and partitives. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this genitive idea of using gentive for feelings and verbs of consciousness went back to the beginnings of language.

I'm (now, after a bit of googling) aware that the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language lists some expressions with 'of' as being fossilised or idiomatic - 'by dint of', 'in view of', 'in spite of', 'by way of' etc, but these seem to me to be one offs, whereas the rule for verbs of feeling and thinking is so general that I wouldn't consider them in the same vein.

Also, as I understand it, fossilised expressions are relatively fixed. But we can change these quite a lot:

a feeling of despair, hope, despondency etc (the following noun can be varied quite considerably)
feelings of ... (we can have a change in number)
a feeling of outright desparation (we can modify the noun with an adjective)
a feeling of despondency, not to mention of despair (coordination of nouns is possible)
this feeling of dispair (a change of determiner is possible)
I have a nasty feeling (the preposition can be ommited)

You can't do this with the expressions they list as fossilised at CaGEL (p616 - it's easy enough to find on the web). :)

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Comment on Why do sports teams take a definite article? by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26285 Warsaw Will Thu, 26 Feb 2015 07:45:11 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26285 It simply comes from the colour strips or kits (AmE - uniforms) they wear. Here in Poland the national team is known as the Biało-Czerwoni (the White-Reds), the colours of the national flag and of their strips.

It seems that British football team nicknames do sometimes take 'the'. Fulham are blessed with the name 'the cottagers', for example. Several teams, for example Newcastle United, are called the Magpies, from their black and white strips, others are called the Robins, from their red strips, and a couple are known as the Tigers, from their striped kits.

Norwich City, on the other hand, seems to have changed the colour of their strip, from blue and white to yellow, to match their nickname 'The Canaries'.

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Comment on ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26284 jayles the unwoven Wed, 25 Feb 2015 21:07:05 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26284 "a body of evidence",, "a can of beer", "a mass of documents" = partitives; hence we cannot use a genitive (not "a document's mass).

This leaves us with expressions like "a man of culture and sensitivity", "a part of speech", "the axis of rotation" ,, where we are faced with a faintly dated use of "of" to denote a quality or characteristic in a phrase which in modern English might equally be expressed either adjectivally or as a compound noun: "a cultured and sensitive man"; "a word class"; "the rotational axis", (but seldom, "the rotation's axis")

"a sense of pride", "a feeling of despair" seem hard to explain as other than fossilized expressions

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Comment on ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26283 jayles the unwoven Wed, 25 Feb 2015 20:34:34 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26283 errata: "the lions' slaughter" -> not clear whether the lions died or they killed a lot of anmals

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Comment on On Tomorrow by Dallasite Transfer http://painintheenglish.com/case/3919/#comment-26282 Dallasite Transfer Wed, 25 Feb 2015 16:00:16 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/3919/#comment-26282 I completely agree with Confused in Dallas! It has always been an African American who has used it in my presence. This happens a lot at my place of employment and the persons that are saying these phrases sound quite uneducated. Unfortunately, these are the leaders in charge of our children's education.

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Comment on ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26281 jayles the unwoven Tue, 24 Feb 2015 22:14:05 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26281 A few more idiomatic items:
"the sweet smell of success" vs "success's sweet smell"
"the stench of failure" vs "failure's stench" (but: "failure's foul stench")
"the state of the nation" vs "the nation's state"
"a sense of pride", "a feeling of despair" .....

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Comment on ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26280 jayles the unwoven Tue, 24 Feb 2015 21:42:13 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26280 Re 4) objective/subjective genitives: this really only comes into play if the verb-from-the-noun is possibly transitive; thus:
"Tom's death" -> die is intransitive therefore Tom is the do-er and he is dead.
"his sister's murder" -> did she die or was she murdered? Should be clear from the context, unless of course she killed someone and was then herself killed.
"the lions' slaughter" -> not clear whether the lions died or someone slaughtered them.
"the slaughter of the lions" -> prima facie suggests it is the lions who died
"the shaft's rotation" -> no distinction with ergative verbs
Thus as the genitive simply denotes some relationship, we have to pick up the meaning from the context.

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Comment on Why do sports teams take a definite article? by dwishiren http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26279 dwishiren Tue, 24 Feb 2015 08:42:40 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26279 Thanks, Will. Now I get it. I've another question about British team nicknames using an adjective. For example: the Blues (Chelsea), the Reds (Liverpool). I'm little confused because the adjectives are used with a plural form. But if there is a noun in front of the adjectives, I understand as it is just like the explanation above. An example of team nicknames using "adjective + noun": the Black Cats, the Red Devils, etc.

My question: are "the Blues" and "the Reds" an abbreviation of "the Blue/Red Lads"?

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Comment on Why do sports teams take a definite article? by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26278 Warsaw Will Tue, 24 Feb 2015 06:30:13 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26278 As I ended up by saying, I think it's probably more about culture and tradition than linguistics, and you'd probably need to go back to the early history of American football, basketball and baseball to find the answer. It might just have been one college team that started the trend.

There seem to have been quite a lot of teams with plural nouns used with 'the' in the early days of American football. In Wikipedia there is a reference to the Virginia Cavaliers from 1887, the Georgia Bulldogs 1892, the Oklahoma Sooners 1895. And perhaps the habit simply spread to teams in general. Personally, I'd to look to history for your answer rather than to grammar.

Incidentally, sox singular? - They were originally the Boston Red Stockings. :)

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Comment on ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF by jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26277 jayles the unwoven Tue, 24 Feb 2015 05:32:08 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/555/#comment-26277 No hard and fast rule here, but as general guidelines I would suggest:
1) be wary of genitives to indicate composition, : "a book of leather" not "leather's book";

2) attributes seem to be more idiomatic: "a man of honour" not "honour's man", but "a woman's scent", "at death's door"; but again "he was awarded the title of President" not "the President's title"

3) use the adjective or compound noun where appropriate eg the presidential title, engine oil

4) be wary of objective genititves: "the love of music" not "music's love"; generally 'a woman's love" refers to a woman doing the loving, whereas 'the love of a woman' is more ambiguous.

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Comment on Why do sports teams take a definite article? by dwishiren http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26276 dwishiren Mon, 23 Feb 2015 23:16:28 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26276 What a great explanation! Thank you, Will. However, I've also seen American teams not using the plural such as: The Bolton Red Sox, The Miami Heat, the Orland Magic, etc. They still use a definite article. Could you please explain why? Is it because the head nouns are uncountable nouns? So, those teams use a singular form.

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Comment on Why do sports teams take a definite article? by dwishiren http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26275 dwishiren Mon, 23 Feb 2015 23:16:01 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26275 What a great explanation! Thank you, Will. However, I've also seen American teams not using the plural such as: The Bolton Red Sox, The Miami Heat, the Orland Magic, etc. They still use a definite article. Could you please explain why? Is it because the head nouns are uncountable nouns? So, those teams use a singular form.

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Comment on Why do sports teams take a definite article? by Hairy Scot http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26274 Hairy Scot Mon, 23 Feb 2015 20:26:32 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26274 Nice response Will.


:)

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Comment on Why so many different spellings for some Arabic terms? by Amir72c http://painintheenglish.com/case/5324/#comment-26273 Amir72c Mon, 23 Feb 2015 15:36:02 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5324/#comment-26273 Although Arabic is written without vowels but it has a unique pronunciation. The key point is that Persian language has very simple pronunciation and Arabic has very complex pronunciation hence none of them could be converted to English and people try to emulate the sound made by original language and since English has many variants of pronunciations and written types such as optimization and optimisation, many types of translation is emerged. English is similar to Arabic in complexity of pronunciation but Persian language is very simple so when converted to English, strange pronunciations are added to it like Shal (شال) that is very simple pronounced, converted to Shawl a more complex and English compatible form. Certainly Arabic pronunciation is different to English pronunciation so simply they can not be converted.

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Comment on Why do sports teams take a definite article? by Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26272 Warsaw Will Mon, 23 Feb 2015 09:48:26 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comment-26272 American team names often include plural nouns, which would seem to lend themselves to the use of the definite article - The Yankees, for example. Animal names seem to be particularly common, and no doubt fans leave out the city name and simply refer to - The Bears, The Lions, The Colts, The Panthers, etc.

When British football teams have a second name, they are often things like City, United, which don't seem to take 'the' so naturally, and even when there is a plural descriptive noun, we don't tend to use 'the' - Bolton Wanderers, Glasgow Rangers, Doncaster Rovers.

There are a a couple of 'the's in rugby, though - The British Lions, the All Blacks (NZ). But these tend not to include a place name. I thought of the Harlequins (London), but on their website they refere to a match - Harlequins vs Exeter Chiefs, both lacking 'the'. On an animal note, the Leicester rugby union team refer to themselves as 'Leicester Tigers', and don't appear to use 'the', even when the city name is dropped. This is from the local newspaper - "Yet Tigers continue to get the job done, albeit in a scrappy way of late."

So it looks as though it's probably more down to culture and tradition than any linguistic reason.

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Comment on Past tense of “text” by Grammarian http://painintheenglish.com/case/474/#comment-26271 Grammarian Sun, 22 Feb 2015 20:18:26 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/474/#comment-26271 @chris beaver
Oops. I just saw that you reviewed the grammatical rules and did a little error analysis. You can keep your day job.

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Comment on Past tense of “text” by Grammarian http://painintheenglish.com/case/474/#comment-26270 Grammarian Sun, 22 Feb 2015 20:16:04 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/474/#comment-26270 @chris beaver
"As an English teacher" you should quit your day job. You really don't get it.

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Comment on Past tense of “text” by Grammarian http://painintheenglish.com/case/474/#comment-26269 Grammarian Sun, 22 Feb 2015 20:07:27 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/474/#comment-26269 There is absolutely nothing wrong with "texted". It's just a matter of people who don't understand grammatical rules hyper-correcting yet again. Btw, I'm a grammar nazi.

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Comment on “Thank you for reverting to us” by CalabashBda http://painintheenglish.com/case/5370/#comment-26268 CalabashBda Fri, 20 Feb 2015 13:10:13 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5370/#comment-26268 I see it a lot here in the civil service in Bermuda - I think it started with ex-Regiment officers who ended up in the civil service and it spread and infected the the entire senior level of the service.

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Comment on “Rack” or “Wrack”? by Chas Clifton http://painintheenglish.com/case/5371/#comment-26267 Chas Clifton Tue, 17 Feb 2015 18:14:16 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5371/#comment-26267 If you are racking your brains, then "rack" is best, as it refers to the instrument of torture.

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Comment on and so... by Danita http://painintheenglish.com/case/4559/#comment-26266 Danita Thu, 12 Feb 2015 16:21:44 +0000 http://painintheenglish.com/case/4559/#comment-26266 What about when 'and so' starts the sentence!!!!! As in:

"And so, we went to the store."

!!!!!

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