Warsaw Will

Joined: December 3, 2010

Number of comments posted: 1351

Number of votes received: 749

I'm a TEFL teacher working in Poland. I have a blog - Random Idea English - where I do some grammar stuff for advanced students and have the occasional rant against pedantry.

Questions Submitted

fewer / less

Natural as an adverb

tonne vs ton

Tell About

“reach out”

Recent Comments

Re: North or northern  •  August 27, 2015, 7:06am  •  0 vote

Occasionally it gets political, for example, Northern Ireland. Traditional loyalists prefer to call it Ulster, while many in the South (and republicans in the North) call it the Six Counties or the N

Re: English can do perfectly well without “Tenses”  •  August 21, 2015, 10:22am  •  1 vote

@Leonid Kutuzov - The only trouble is that it is a bit more complicated than past, present and future, as English (and not only English) often uses past forms to distance things, call it the unreal pa

Re: English can do perfectly well without “Tenses”  •  August 20, 2015, 7:20am  •  0 vote

@jayles - Yes we can use other modals to talk about the future, and if you want to get linguistically technical, you can come up with various arguments why 'there is no future tense'. It's possibly an

Re: English can do perfectly well without “Tenses”  •  August 18, 2015, 7:24am  •  0 vote

I like the UCL site, but here grammar (naturally enough) is seen mainly from a linguistics point of view, so it is perhaps no surprise that they go down the two-tense avenue. And I can't actually find

Re: Pronunciation of the second ‘a’ in Canada and Canadian  •  August 18, 2015, 6:48am  •  0 vote

Addendum to above: there's a missing 'on' in P1, and a superfluous 'both of which' in P3. And here is a more user-friendly link (p2) - http://translate.google.com/#en/fr/general

Re: Pronunciation of the second ‘a’ in Canada and Canadian  •  August 18, 2015, 6:43am  •  1 vote

In no way can I improve linguisttype's comment, but I can perhaps reinforce it a little. What linguisttype calls the 'uh' sound is often called the schwa (phonetic symbol /ə/), which is in fact the mo

Re: Why do we have “formal” English?  •  August 13, 2015, 7:23am  •  0 vote

I can go along with K.I.S.S., but one sentence per paragraph? What would be the point then of paragraphs. Unless each idea is to be expressed in one sentence. And I fear that would sound rather stacc

Re: English can do perfectly well without “Tenses”  •  August 12, 2015, 10:28am  •  0 vote

I'm an EFL teacher, and to a large extent British EFL course books stick with the same time/aspect combinations, present simple etc. I'm not too worried whether we call these tenses or forms, as long

Re: How does one debate a person?  •  August 10, 2015, 5:26am  •  0 vote

But even in the US 'with' is more common, and the with-less version is relatively recent: http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=debate+him%3Aeng_us_2012%2Cdebate+him%3Aeng_gb_2012%2Cdebate+w

Re: “escaped prison” or “escaped from prison”?  •  August 10, 2015, 5:16am  •  0 vote

@jayles - good point. The first page of a site search of The Guardian for "escaped prison" shows mainly the idea of escaping a prison sentence. "However, they escaped prison after part of the sente

Re: When is the “-wise” suffix okay?  •  August 10, 2015, 5:07am  •  0 vote

As soon as we use the word 'indiscriminate' we are in the area of subjectivity, and the use of the word itself suggests a certain attitude. Me, I prefer 'the creative use of suffixes', which of course

Re: have a knowledge of  •  August 10, 2015, 4:52am  •  0 vote

I found this on a WordReference forum: "Besides bringing out a certain aspect of the notion denoted by the noun the indefinite article also has a stylistic effect making a description more vivid.

Re: Why do we have “formal” English?  •  August 10, 2015, 4:28am  •  1 vote

No doubt most languages have differences between their written and spoken forms. This partly goes with the medium. Written language tends to be more 'careful' and we have a body of precedents to go by

Re: English can do perfectly well without “Tenses”  •  August 10, 2015, 4:06am  •  1 vote

There are basically two ways of defining tense: morphological and functional. Linguists tend to use the former, and therefore see only two tenses, past and present (as the main verb itself only has th

Re: Obj of Prep + Gerund  •  August 5, 2015, 5:58am  •  0 vote

@jayles - I don't have it to hand, but I seem to remember that in the 3rd edition of Fowler, Burchfield suggests that in sentences like 'She doesn't like him/his smoking in the house', use of the obje

Re: Is “leverage” a verb?  •  July 28, 2015, 9:56am  •  0 vote

@DaveBoltman - "verbing weirds language": so, off the top of my head, here are some examples of weirding: to park a car to book a room to leg it to rain, snow etc to light a fire to plough

Re: “I’ve lived many years in Kentucky.”  •  July 21, 2015, 11:54am  •  0 vote

@jayles - I agree with point no 2 when it comes to two indepent clauses, but strangely neither of your sources seem to specifically mention dependent clauses. However I think the principle outlined a

Re: “I’ve lived many years in Kentucky.”  •  July 20, 2015, 10:24am  •  0 vote

@jayles - I don't think even an inveterate pedant would have any grounds for insisting on commas in the second one. As far as I know, the accepted (and traditional) rule is that when the subordinate c

Re: “my” vs. “mine” in multiple owner possessive  •  July 20, 2015, 9:40am  •  0 vote

@HS - and there lies part of the problem: it's ambiguous independent of whether we use 'my' or 'mine'. (I see that in my first comment I had assumed they were talking of one child,but on second glanc

Re: Unusual use of “infringed”?  •  July 17, 2015, 11:31am  •  0 vote

Judging by the results of googling "will be infringed with" it's not so much unusual as probably unique, apparently being limited to this one health centre, which accounts for half the entries on the

Re: “I’ve lived many years in Kentucky.”  •  July 15, 2015, 9:47am  •  0 vote

I know many Americans were raised on Strunk , but the book is is almost unknown in the UK. What's more his chapter on the passive is so awful I wouldn't be likely to pay any attention to anything he s

Re: “I’ve lived many years in Kentucky.”  •  July 14, 2015, 9:13am  •  0 vote

Part 2 - More grist 1) "He searched five years for his estranged daughter." As well as the adverbial cropping up in an unexpected place, there's the added problem that 'searched' and its depende

Re: “I’ve lived many years in Kentucky.”  •  July 14, 2015, 7:53am  •  0 vote

Part 1 - For the original question: it seems neither particularly American, nor particularly new: "and he lived many years there, after my return to England." The Valetudinarians Bath Guide, Londo

Re: On Tomorrow  •  July 7, 2015, 11:05am  •  0 vote

@Ash78 - As a matter of interest, "where do you stay?" (for "where do live?") is very common in Scotland.

Re: “hand”  •  July 3, 2015, 9:53am  •  0 vote

Third time lucky: this time I couldn't agree with John Thiesmayer more. What's more the link is nothing to do with the question, and looks like spam, pure and simple. In any case I don't think I'd wan

Re: Let’s you and me/I  •  July 2, 2015, 6:28am  •  0 vote

Interesting question. Garner has a good explanation of why "me" is the grammatically correct version, but then goes on to show that several good writers have chosen the "I" variant, and he appears to

Re: “nervous to perform” or “nervous of performing”?  •  June 30, 2015, 10:21am  •  1 vote

Both "nervous of" and "nervous about" are common in British English, and both are given at Oxford Dictionaries Online: "he’s nervous of speaking in public" "The days are gone when I am going to

Re: Opposition to “pretty”  •  June 29, 2015, 10:45am  •  1 vote

I accept that in certain academic work you might want something more specific, but for most of us, informal speech is what we use English for, the vast majority of the time. And that goes for my stud

Re: “In the long term”  •  June 25, 2015, 9:24am  •  0 vote

It shouldn't really sound odd, as "in the long term" appears to be more common than "over the long term", both in the US and Britain, but especially in Britain. At Ngram (published books)- "in the lon

Re: “It is I” vs. “It is me”  •  June 12, 2015, 8:45am  •  0 vote

@Lance - those of us who put forward usage as the yardstick rarely dictate grammar rules to anyone; you have to look elsewhere for that. What we do say, however, is that there is something called regi

Re: The 1900s  •  June 12, 2015, 7:55am  •  0 vote

Some pre-1960 examples of "in the 1800s" at Google Books, (there are less than thirty entries all told) which I presume refer to the century: "it would triple the former record set in New York duri

Re: “In the long term”  •  June 12, 2015, 7:01am  •  0 vote

Sorry, that link won't work. I forgot PITE doesn't like asterisks in web addresses.

Re: “In the long term”  •  June 12, 2015, 6:59am  •  0 vote

For what it's worth, there's not a lot of difference at the BBC website, 473 for "in the long term", 517 for "in the long run". And at the Economist it's even closer: 480 to 485 respectively. But thes

Re: Is “painstaking” pronounced the same in Britain as here, as “pain-staking”?  •  June 4, 2015, 6:48am  •  0 vote

It's definitely officially with a hard z sound in BrE. Check out (and listen at) Oxford. But after repeating it to my (British) self several times, I think you might well be right that the s sound ten

Re: How important is it to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in writing these days?  •  June 4, 2015, 6:30am  •  0 vote

Sorry about that. I tapped twice.

Re: How important is it to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in writing these days?  •  June 4, 2015, 6:28am  •  0 vote

In academic writing (especially, I think, in the US), commas seem to be expected, unless the second clause is very short. But I can't imagine your example occurring in any formal context, so I don't s

Re: How important is it to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in writing these days?  •  June 4, 2015, 6:28am  •  0 vote

In academic writing (especially, I think, in the US), commas seem to be expected, unless the second clause is very short. But I can't imagine your example occurring in any formal context, so I don't s

Re: Could I use both a colon and semicolon in a sentence?  •  June 4, 2015, 5:49am  •  1 vote

Just one small point: you should keep the same grammatical form for the listed items after the colon. You have noun, clause, noun; so better would be: study skills etc, counsellors who will give advic

Re: Past tense of “text”  •  May 7, 2015, 9:22am  •  0 vote

There are approximately twenty irregular verbs that have all three forms the same, and most of these have been around for hundreds of years. And, as you show, most of these have a single vowel followe

Re: Capitalizing After the Colon  •  April 20, 2015, 4:36am  •  0 vote

@HS. Well, I keep looking in hope that someone will provoke one of my rants, or, simply an explanation, if I can give one. I often prefer PITE to other language forums such as Stack Exchange or Word

Re: and so...  •  April 7, 2015, 3:06am  •  0 vote

This might be of interest: an article linking to research on the conversational benefits of 'so': http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/apr/07/research-into-using-so-move-conversation-along

Re: Social vs Societal  •  April 2, 2015, 8:08am  •  0 vote

I'll ignore all the historical / social stuff, which I suspect is a lot of 'golden age' bunkum; rear-view mirrorism, I think it's called; you know the sort of thing: 'back in the good old days', 'now

Re: It is you who are/is ...  •  March 26, 2015, 7:04am  •  1 vote

Although 'Is it you who are' is the gramatically 'correct' answer, I'm increasingly convinced I'd normally say 'Is it you who's ...' or use a workaround. A similar problem with a relative clause ca

Re: Opposition to “pretty”  •  March 24, 2015, 6:50am  •  0 vote

@AnWulf - No, the teacher is Polish. I think the 'mates' bit was the words my student used. @HairyScot - One of my English teachers used to give this example of the oddities of English: ' "Now,

Re: It is you who are/is ...  •  March 19, 2015, 8:40am  •  0 vote

Judging by its use in books, the plural is the norm; this is from Thackeray, ' "It is you who are cruel," cried Pen'. I think in informal English, however, we might well say 'It's you who's wrong';

Re: Can every letter be used as a silent letter?  •  March 13, 2015, 9:11am  •  1 vote

@Dean. I think you're cheating a bit with almond and dinghy, and perhaps even with honour. There are still sounds there; they wouldn't sound the same if you take away the letter altogether, as with 'l

Re: Why do sports teams take a definite article?  •  March 13, 2015, 9:01am  •  0 vote

As I've said before, I know nothing about football, and so nothing about 'iPro Stadium' without going to Wikipedia myself, so I think perhaps you should start doing a little research of your own. As f

Re: being used  •  March 13, 2015, 8:50am  •  9 votes

These are both 'reduced relative clauses', and both are passive (present simple passive and present continuous passive): 1. The instruments (which are) used are very reliable. 2. The instruments

Re: “If I was” vs. “If I were”  •  March 9, 2015, 6:51am  •  0 vote

Wake up, HS, it's morning again :). And the subjunctive, and especially the use of 'were/was', being one of the most controversial areas of grammar, I doubt it will ever go away. My discussion wi

Re: attorneys general vs. attorney generals  •  March 9, 2015, 6:33am  •  0 vote

But, HS, one or two people saying something doesn't make it common usage. Common usage is what is generally used and/or accepted by educated speakers and writers of a given language community, not 'a

Re: “If I was” vs. “If I were”  •  March 7, 2015, 1:04pm  •  0 vote

@jayles - Hi, I confess to knowing next to nothing about the use of subjunctive in early English, but looking around, the subjunctive is usually seen as a form of inflection, some of whose functions w

Re: Why do sports teams take a definite article?  •  March 7, 2015, 12:04pm  •  0 vote

There are two Etihad Stadiums, one in Manchester and one in Australia. The latter rarely seems to get a 'the', the former sometimes. Officially the Manchester seems to take 'the', but more often than

Re: ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF  •  March 5, 2015, 7:54am  •  0 vote

@jayles - custom, I guess - the way a lot of grammar is formed. It's the same for a five dollar bill, an eight pound baby, any time we have a number being used with a noun of measurement. It's not s

Re: “If I was” vs. “If I were”  •  March 5, 2015, 7:43am  •  0 vote

In fact that sentence "If I was the Prime Minister, I would have changed the law." does work,as a mixed-time hypothetical condition, but only if you accept that "was"can be used in hypothetical cond

Re: “If I was” vs. “If I were”  •  March 3, 2015, 6:58am  •  0 vote

@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 -

Re: “If I was” vs. “If I were”  •  March 3, 2015, 6:23am  •  0 vote

uninverted, narrowness

Re: “If I was” vs. “If I were”  •  March 3, 2015, 6:21am  •  0 vote

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 us

Re: ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF  •  March 3, 2015, 5:52am  •  0 vote

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 pe

Re: Why do sports teams take a definite article?  •  March 3, 2015, 5:44am  •  0 vote

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 stadium

Re: Why do sports teams take a definite article?  •  March 2, 2015, 9:49am  •  0 vote

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 lear

Re: ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF  •  March 2, 2015, 9:14am  •  0 vote

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

Re: ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF  •  February 28, 2015, 7:54am  •  0 vote

Damn, I was sure I had removed that 's'.

Re: ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF  •  February 28, 2015, 7:54am  •  0 vote

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

Re: “If I was” vs. “If I were”  •  February 27, 2015, 5:18am  •  0 vote

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 amo

Re: ‘S (apostrophe+S) versus OF  •  February 26, 2015, 9:28am  •  1 vote

@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 oth

Re: Why do sports teams take a definite article?  •  February 26, 2015, 7:45am  •  0 vote

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 the

Re: Why do sports teams take a definite article?  •  February 24, 2015, 6:30am  •  0 vote

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

Re: Why do sports teams take a definite article?  •  February 23, 2015, 9:48am  •  1 vote

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 d

Re: He was sat  •  February 10, 2015, 7:18am  •  0 vote

@jayles - Southerners could also get quite uppity - 1215, 1481, 1830. OK, 1936 was pretty easy to get, but I had to look quite hard for the other two. And the common thread? Taxes (and especially

Re: He was sat  •  February 9, 2015, 12:39pm  •  1 vote

@hank faenrich - 'worse', 'shameful'? What specifically is bad or shameful about it? That an idiom that was apparently fine in Northern dialect is now gaining ground in that other dialect known as St

Re: “Thanks for that”  •  January 8, 2015, 9:26am  •  3 votes

As this is mainly conversational, this will be a very difficult one to prove either way, but I would have though that both uses have been around for quite a long time. At the British National Corp

Re: gifting vs. giving a gift  •  January 8, 2015, 2:33am  •  0 vote

Here's an example of a peculiarly British use of 'gift' as a verb, escaping from the sports pages to politics - 'She' is Teresa May, the British Home Secretary, Nigel Farage is the leader of the anti

Re: “Rack” or “Wrack”?  •  January 4, 2015, 5:25am  •  1 vote

@HS - Americans seem to go for 'Wrack and ruin', British online dictionaries for 'rack and ruin', with 'wrack' as a variant. This is the case at Oxford, Cambridge, Macmillan, Longman and Chambers. Onl

Re: “Rack” or “Wrack”?  •  January 2, 2015, 7:40pm  •  0 vote

According to Oxford Online, both are acceptable, wrack being a less frequent variation of the verb rack, in the meaning of 'cause extreme pain, anguish, or distress', and in a usage note they say:

Re: “Thank you for reverting to us”  •  January 2, 2015, 3:26pm  •  0 vote

I'd certainly never heard this before. Oxford Concise has nothing in the sense of reply, but funnily enough Oxford Advanced Learner's does - calling it Indian English and rather formal, giving the exa

Re: “I’ve got” vs. “I have”  •  December 30, 2014, 10:50am  •  0 vote

Thanks, HS

Re: “Watching on”?  •  December 26, 2014, 6:32pm  •  0 vote

From 1845 - http://books.google.pl/books?id=NBQNAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA4&dq=%22Nella+too+was+glad+to+be+spared+all+speech,+and+the+cousins+watched+on+in+silence%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=zO-dVLGQK4X_UuOegbgL&ved=0CB8Q

Re: “I’ve got” vs. “I have”  •  December 26, 2014, 7:22am  •  2 votes

I've noticed that one Kernel Sanders thinks I'm 'too obsessed with specialist book definitions and don't pay enough attention to actual use', and that I should trust what occurs in specific instances.

Re: Victorian Era English  •  December 21, 2014, 10:34am  •  0 vote


Re: Victorian Era English  •  December 21, 2014, 10:31am  •  0 vote

According to David Crystal, in 'The Stories of English', present continuous (with present reference) started being used in the Middle English period, at much the same time as the auxiliaries started t

Re: Friendly - adjective and adverb?  •  December 20, 2014, 12:29pm  •  2 votes

I have to agree with the majority of native speakers on this thread, 'friendlily', even though listed by Oxford and Merriam-Webster, sounds awkward, and I have no problems with 'in friendly way', 'in

Re: issue as problem  •  December 20, 2014, 3:10am  •  0 vote

@jayles - good choice of parameters - to which I'd add - http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=she+has+an+issue%2Che+has+an+issue%2Cyou+have+an+issue&case_insensitive=on&year_start=1800&year_en

Re: issue as problem  •  December 19, 2014, 3:55pm  •  1 vote

I don't think the way people use it today, it is totally synonymous with problem, or at least only in certain contexts. Sure "Do you have an issue with that?" has to a certain extent replaced "Do you

Re: Victorian Era English  •  December 18, 2014, 3:13pm  •  0 vote

@jayles - You're no doubt right about 'will' and 'shall' instead of present continuous with future meaning, but I'm not so sure about 'here comes': Charlotte Bronté - Jane Eyre is coming 1 - Te

Re: Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive  •  December 17, 2014, 5:34pm  •  1 vote

It's not well known that Santa has several brothers. There's a younger brother who is always giving into him, and so is known by the rest of the family as Concession Claus. Another brother has so

Re: “I’ve got” vs. “I have”  •  December 16, 2014, 4:36pm  •  0 vote

@Harrycastle, belatedly - "In the French language, for example, the present perfect doesn't exist - rather they use a simple present. i.e. I have = j'ai and I have got = j'ai." This is a double wha

Re: 3 Laning?  •  December 13, 2014, 5:11pm  •  0 vote


Re: 3 Laning?  •  December 13, 2014, 5:09pm  •  0 vote

@jayles - "I never understood why the French for 'detour' is 'deviation' on all the roadworks". French has two words - détour and déviation; 'taking the scenic route', for example, would be 'fai

Re: 3 Laning?  •  December 11, 2014, 2:38pm  •  1 vote

Ah. The forgotten beauty of 'Road works ahead'.

Re: 3 Laning?  •  December 10, 2014, 1:59pm  •  0 vote

@HS - and please keep feeding me these little titbits to research. These little oddities are grist to the mill as far as I'm concerned, and as I neither pay much attention to sports pages nor live in

Re: 3 Laning?  •  December 9, 2014, 4:00pm  •  1 vote

In fact, it turns out to be quite a bit older than that: "This overpass built at a cost of $507,000 completes the three-laning of Highway U. S. 30 from the city of Cheyenne east to the Nebraska sta

Re: 3 Laning?  •  December 9, 2014, 3:47pm  •  1 vote

I don't really see the problem. It's succinct and tells you exactly what's happening in a more precise way than "Road widening in progress" or "Motorway upgrade in progress" or some such thing. Also

Re: Victorian Era English  •  December 8, 2014, 2:39pm  •  0 vote

You could start with OneLook.com, which checks the word in a lot of dictionaries. It found definitions for 6 out of 9 words I found from a collection of curious Victorian words and sayings at http://w

Re: deliberately mispelled (sp!)  •  December 6, 2014, 1:54pm  •  2 votes

Deliberate misspelling is usually done for effect, innit? - I would imagine signalling that it is deliberate would rather spoil that effect. Cos (sp!) it wouldn't be very kool (sp!) if yer (sp!) had

Re: “Watching on”?  •  December 6, 2014, 10:31am  •  0 vote


Re: “Watching on”?  •  December 6, 2014, 10:31am  •  1 vote

Thanks HS for putting me on to this. I've now done a bit of research, which I've posted on my blog, and this this is how I conclude: "The expression 'look on', as in 'watch from a distance', goes b

Re: “Watching on”?  •  December 2, 2014, 5:22pm  •  0 vote

Correction - 'watched on_ADV'

Re: “Watching on”?  •  December 2, 2014, 5:21pm  •  2 votes

I'm afraid the results at Ngram don't really tell us anything, because in most of the examples 'on' is simply a preposition: "how much violence they watched on television". "Tell me,is there anyth

Re: Plaque for family home  •  November 29, 2014, 5:27pm  •  0 vote

Marking plurals of nouns ending in vowels,especially of foreign origin was, of course, one of the original functions of the apostrophe: 'Comma's and points they set exactly right' - Alexander Pope

Re: me vs. myself  •  November 21, 2014, 6:47am  •  0 vote

"There were Tom, Dick, Harry and myself" - of course whether we should use an object pronoun after 'be' is a different question, discussed in some detail on other threads.

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