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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When including a complete sentence in parentheses, what are the rules? For example, someone just sent me this in an email:
“I always change some of the readings from semester to semester (for example, I am trying out the book on migration for the first time this semester and am not sure if I will keep it in the Fall).”
But I could just as easily see it written this way:
“I always change some of the readings from semester to semester. (For example, I am trying out the book on migration for the first time this semester and am not sure if I will keep it in the Fall.)”
Are both acceptable? Is one preferred?
I would like to know if it is correct to use the adjective “key” predicatively. I was taught that this word is like the adjective “main,” which can only be used in the attributive position. I’ve seen sentences like “This is key to the success of the plan,” but I remember typing something similar and the word processor marked it immediately as wrong. I think both “key” and “main” are special, (irregular, if you want) adjectives (in fact, they have no comparative forms) and feel they should be treated accordingly. I’ve never seen something like “This book is main in our course.” We will normally say “This is the main book in our course.” Thank you for your help!
Could somebody please explain the problem with “as such”? I understand the frustration with its incorrect usage as a synonym for “therefore” or “thus”, but the response thereagainst wants to banish its usage entirely. I am confident that I am using it correctly, but I am constantly being directed to remove it from my papers nevertheless. Could you explain its proper usage?
“We have to go to the store yet.”
I would just remove the “yet” all together; however, I keep hearing someone use the word yet in this fashion and I am wondering if they are grammatically correct.
I want to play a Star Wars video review as listening practice for an EFL student. However, it contains a strange construction that I can’t figure out how to explain: “Now, the question most likely on your mind, be you Jedi or be you Sith, is...”
I know that it would be easy enough to say, “It means ‘whether you are Jedi or Sith,’” but I wonder if there’s a better explanation.
Just how screwed has our language become?
Why do we hear phrases like:
“If he gets in contact with you”
when there are simpler and more meaningful phrases like:
“If he gets in touch with you”
“If he contacts you”.
Why do people have this predilection with “get” or “got”?
Which ending punctuation sequence is correct for a question dialogue sentence containing a quotation within it?
a. ”Does the menu say, ‘no substitutions?’” asked Jo.
b. ”Does the menu say, ‘no substitutions’?” asked Jo.
Am I alone in despairing when I hear phrases like:
- “We played brilliant.”
- “He did it wrong.” (or more commonly “He done it wrong.”)
- “He behaved stupid.”