This is a forum to discuss the gray areas of the English language for which you would not find answers easily in dictionaries or other reference books. You can browse through the latest questions and comments below. If you have a question of your own, please submit it here.
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“What can I do besides complaining” sounds wrong to me but I can’t say why ... I think it should be complain.
“What can I do besides complain?”
“What can I do but complain?”
However, “Besides complaining, what can I do?” sounds ok.
Any thoughts? Or am I completely off base here?
I have an ear for when people use bad grammar, especially the use of prepositions at the end of a clause. I was recently watching a show, however, and a character said “Toys are meant to be played with.” What is the correct wording of this phrase? It is killing me.
“Under urgency”? I recently came across this phrase for the first time in my life. The context was:- “Parliament passed the Copyright Amendment Act into law under urgency last night” Can’t really put my finger on why, and I can’t at the moment come up with an alternative, but it just doesn’t sound right. Anyone have any thoughts on this?
Are “whensoever” and “whenever” really the same?
In some of the dictionaries I checked, “whensoever” is defined “whenever”; but I disagree.
For instance, I think “The students may leave whenever they so choose” can be written “[...] whensoever they choose” because “so” is already part of “whensoever”.
If a semicolon is used to contrast two sentences, we can omit repetitive words by using a comma, as in:
“To err is human; to forgive, divine”
“The cat was orange; the dog, brown.”
However, if no semicolon is used, can we still do the same? For example:
“You’re our son, Heracles, and we, your family.”
“If I was the Prime Minister. ...” said Ed Miliband, British Labour party leader, today, Sunday 24th September 2011. Is this not how to phrase it if it remains a possibility that he was once Prime Minister, or if he is not sure if he was, or is reluctant to admit it?
“If I were the Prime Minister, ...”, using the subjunctive mood of the verb, would suggest that he is not Prime minister but is about to tell us what he would do if he were the PM. If the subjunctive is now defunct in UK Labour politics, as I suspect, how did he continue to tell us what he would have done, if he were the PM, without using the subjunctive? “if I was the PM, I ~~~~~ ???” It cannot be done.
I never know whether to use “it” in the following sentence: “Just because ___, (it) doesn’t mean ____.” In other words, would you say,
“Just because I was mean to you, it doesn’t mean you should be mean to me.” OR
“Just because I was mean to you, doesn’t mean you should be mean to me.” OR
“Just because I was mean to you, that doesn’t mean you should be mean to me.”
I hear people using the second variation all the time, but it seems that the third is preferable. Thoughts?