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.
Search Pain in the English
In my opinion, the greatest pain in the English language is the so-called Tenses.
Generation after generation, grammarians and linguists have been trying to use the term for describing how English Verb System works writing more and more wise books on the subject, without any visible results.
Millions of ESL/EFL learners find Tenses to be hopelessly tangled, confusing and totally incomprehensible. So do a great number of ESL/EFL teachers.
And it is no wonder, because describing English grammar as having only past and present is like trying to describe a car as having three wheels.
I think that English can do perfectly well without “Tenses” because it is a meaningless and therefore useless term.
From my local medical centre’s web page:-
“The carpark at xxxxxx Health & Wellness Centre is now limited to 180 minutes. Cars parked longer than this and not displaying an exemption permit will be infringed with a $65 parking fine. This is intended to keep the carpark free for patients and customers of the building only. Unauthorised parkers leaving their vehicles in our carpark all day will be infringed.”
A change that has happened in my lifetime is the use of ‘1800s’, ‘1900s’ and so on. When I was young they referred to the first decade of the century. They would be followed by the ‘1910s’, ‘1920s’ et al. Now they’re used to mean the whole century. I’m not whinging - just noting the changes that happen with the years.
Could I use both a colon and semicolon in a sentence?
A college will provide help for students who are struggling in homework; the resources are: study skills that help students to be on top of coursework, counselors will give advices dealing with the workload, and the option to drop a class early.
I was in empty space in an elevator one day when it occurred to me that it’s actually “pains-taking”, the taking of pains to do something thoroughly. I’d never thought about it before.
But it’s too hard to pronounce “painz-taking”, because the “z” sound must be voiced; whereas the unvoiced “s” combines easily with the “t” to make “-staking”, so that’s what we say. That’s my theory, but BrE might be different. Is it?
For example, “Every morning, I wake up at 6:00 am and then I make a cup of coffee.”
As a writing teacher for international students, I see this kind of sentence all the time. I know it is technically correct to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction, but I have found that so many Americans omit this comma that it has become extremely commonplace even among native English speakers. Is it socially acceptable in writing to omit the comma? How serious is it to mandate that my international include this comma?