August 21, 2008  •  nomad

Usage of ‘I have doubt that’

“Some people may have doubt that why invest in these sectors during the economy slump?” Is the above phrase grammatically correct? Is it grammatically correct to use ‘doubt that’ when the ‘doubt’ is a NOUN? For example: 1) VERB: I doubt that Fred has really lost 25 pounds ... 2) NOUN: Some people may have doubts that .....

August 15, 2008  •  josh

beginning a request with “may”

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

August 13, 2008  •  debra

Acronym-verb agreement

Does the acronym ITS (Information Technology Services) take a singular verb or plural i.e., ITS is thinking of redoing the website. ITS are thinking of redoing the website. Since the last word is plural, wouldn’t it make sense to make the verb plural, even though it doesn’t sound good?

August 12, 2008  •  parsifal

rogue apostrophe

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

August 10, 2008  •  nikkivinnriquemullencruz

What’s wrong with this?

Is the following phrase using correct grammar, why or why not? And how would you describe this phrase? It’s just weird to me: “Hey, you’re that goofy kid Sandra makes do crazy stuff!!” Basically Sandra makes this kid do goofy stuff and someone has spotted him, did they use correct grammar? It just sounds weird to me, especially the “make do” part. Whether this is grammatically correct, what are the grammatical rules that would apply to a phrase like this? Thanks so much!

August 9, 2008  •  javid

Excess vs. Excessive

When excess is used an as adjective, are these words the same. Is there a case for using one over another?

August 5, 2008  •  jentaylor

He be calling up all the time... and others

When I was in my linguistics class in college, my prof said using the verb be in this context was actually more grammatically correct than when we say “He calls me up all the time,” or “He’s always calling me,” etc. I can’t find my notes or any other info...can someone give an explanation? Thank you!

August 3, 2008  •  frans

Instruction for filling out an answer form

I am designing an answer form for multiple choice and true-false examinations. The form has also an instruction how to fill it out. I would like to know if the English is correct and if it is clear what I mean. The students have to fill in the box of their choice for every question, that is to “blacken” the box as they say. Here is the instruction as I formulated it: INSTRUCTION TO FILL OUT THE FORM 1. Use a blue or black ballpoint for filling out the requested information at the top of the form and for encoding your student number in the designated boxes. 2. Use a pencil (preferably HB) when giving the answers. Use an eraser for corrections. Do not use correction fluid or tape. 3. Answer every question by filling in the box of your choice (fill in one box only!). At first I wrote regarding point 2 “Use a pencil (preferably HB) for filling out the answers.”, but someone told me that “when giving the answers” would be better English. Further I would like to know what the correct place of “only” is. Should one write “fill in one box only!” of “fill in only one box”? I would appreciate your comments. Thanking you in advance.

July 5, 2008  •  karenmetrin

Numbered List of People

I need to list the people in a photo, below the photo. The picture will be framed, not in a magazine, etc. What is the proper punctuation? The way I originally typed the names follows but I am ready to finalize the layout and want to know the proper format. The way I have it now: 1. Catherine, March 11, 1874; 2. Alice Bell, July 8, 1875; 3. Birdie Alberdine, February 14, 1877; 4. Mary Adella, November 15, 1879… and so on for eight people. If I number each person, is additional punctuation required between the names as I have typed it or do the numbers stand alone? Should the individual names even be numbered? I am really not certain what the proper format is. I am on a deadline to complete this restored photo and layout for a client so a prompt reply would be greatly appreciated.

June 24, 2008  •  Dyske


One of our regular contributors, porsche, informed me that submitting a comment redirects you to Microsoft’s website. Sorry about that. I keep track of the IP addresses of Spammers, and I send all the spammers to Microsoft’s website. I recently moved the site to a different server, and the new server was returning the same IP address for everyone, and I ended up listing that IP address as a Spammer’s. And, so the site considered everyone who commented as a Spammer. That’s what happened. But that’s a long, boring, technical story, and what matters is that it’s working fine now. Thank you, porsche, for informing me of this problem. If anyone ever experience any problems like this on this site, please let me know.

June 22, 2008  •  julie

Pluralization of “Stachewicz”

So, for a last name like “Stachewicz”...would it be The Stachewiczs or the The Stachewiczes?

June 18, 2008  •  tom

“I haven’t known”

A friend and I were having a discussion. The question asked was: what is the meaning of “I haven’t known?” If it’s even correct to say such a thing, which I suspect it is. I have a vague notion in older English usage of “I have known various women” and the negative of that, etc. My friend was trying to ask me if it’s possible with that statement to indicate that something was not known at a point in the past, but is known in the present. The example: Person A: Did you hear that Henry’s car is broken? Person B: I haven’t known. Does such a thing make sense? Why or why not? Any help in the explanation of this would be appreciated.

May 29, 2008  •  ajay

Space After Period

How much space should be given after a period in Word documents and in PDF’s?

May 28, 2008  •  pirx

Resource (singular) used when referring to a person

I feel a bit offended when someone uses “resource” when referring to an individual. I find this use quite popular especially in the IT world. I know that American Heritage Dictionary defines, among others, a resource as: [...] 2. resources The total means available to a company for increasing production or profit, including plant, labor, and raw material; assets. 3. Such means considered individually. Is using “a resource” when referring to a person a bad style? Am I overreacting?

May 27, 2008  •  kaitlin

Questions in Bulleted Lists

Is it appropriate to use a bulleted list in a question? Example: Which type of flour would you use for the following items: - bread - cake - cookies Would you put a question mark at the end of each bullet? Would you only use a question mark at the end of the last bullet? Does the sentence need to be re-worded?

May 11, 2008  •  howardthornhill

“pi the type”

I have now found the phrase “pi the type” in two different books and have an idea of the meaning from the context. I would hope to learn more about the meaning and how it might have originated.

May 8, 2008  •  mareen

Possessive when abbreviated letter is plural

If our organization is called Help for Kids and we want to use the abbreviation HFK . . . is this correct usage in this sentence: HFK’ activities will start in the summer. With the K standing for Kids and Kids being plural, would this be correct use of the apostrophe at the end of HFK’?

April 28, 2008  •  perplexed

semi-colon and colon in one sentence

I have a sentence with which I am struggling because I am not sure if I can use both a colon and semi-colon in it. However, I want everything in one sentence and cannot figure out what other punctuation I should use. Here’s the sentence with names and details altered for anonymity. “I am indebted to my family, especially my cousins: Jane Smith, my first teacher, without whom I would not be where I am today; and John Smith, my second teacher, who taught me more than he could have possibly imagined.” The colon is setting up a list and the semi-colon is separating items in the list that contain commas. Thoughts? Thanks in advance.

April 27, 2008  •  joseph

“as long as” vs. “so long as”

Am I correct when I teach my students that “as long as” means you’re measuring time, and “so long as” means you’re using it as a conditional? Hence, “I was here as long as he was” (meaning we were there for the same length of time) and “I will love you so long as you don’t cheat on me” (used for cause and effect situations)

April 27, 2008  •  joseph

Reason Why

Isn’t it redundant to say That is the REASON WHY I am here. Isn’t the ‘reason’ the ‘why’ as well? But how come many people use it?

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