Warsaw Will

Joined: December 3, 2010

Number of comments posted: 1247

Number of votes received: 451

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: Evolution of Exactly the Same  •  October 31, 2014, 8:42pm  •  0 vote

@Skeeter Lewis - that's possible for the duke, but unlikely for 'the same exact time', I would have thought. But I grant you that in many cases 'exact' could be taken to mean 'precise', such as t

Re: Evolution of Exactly the Same  •  October 31, 2014, 6:50am  •  0 vote

Judging by Ngram, 'the exact same' started being used more often around 1970, as did to a much lesser extent 'the same exact', but 'exactly the same' is still by far the most common. The Ngram figure

Re: What words were used to refer specifically to males before “man” did?  •  October 19, 2014, 4:43am  •  1 vote

Here's a link to the entry for 'wer' in the Bosworth -Toller Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, which has several definitions: I. a man, a male person II. a man, a male that has reached man's estate III.

Re: Why so many different spellings for some Arabic terms?  •  October 19, 2014, 4:14am  •  1 vote

Lets get the easy one out of the way first - Ayatollah is Persian, Ayatullah is Arabic,: Persian: آيت‌الله‎ ayatollah from Arabic: آية الله‎, āyatu allah (Wikipedia) As for the Lebanese group,

Re: What words were used to refer specifically to males before “man” did?  •  October 19, 2014, 3:23am  •  0 vote

From Etymonline - 'Old English man, mann "human being, person (male or female)' From Oxford Online (usage note) 'Traditionally the word man has been used to refer not only to adult males but

Re: Selfie  •  October 8, 2014, 6:46am  •  0 vote

The day people stop inventing new words: that's the day we should start worrying about the state of English. But of course they won't, because people are creative with language, especially young peopl

Re: that vs. if and whether  •  October 5, 2014, 2:17pm  •  0 vote

Re: Banjo's spelling idea - In most words starting "ec", a single c is followed by a consonant, "eclaire, eclectic, eclipse, ecstatic, ectoderm, ectoplasms, eczema" - all with a short e as in "be

Re: that vs. if and whether  •  October 5, 2014, 12:28pm  •  0 vote

@Olivia Queen - "Using whether is far more common" - Here, Grammar-Monster was only referring to "whether/if ... or ..." constructions, as in "She didn't know whether to stay or go". In normal

Re: Assist in or assist with  •  October 3, 2014, 5:54pm  •  0 vote

Incidentally, I somewhat disagree with those earlier commentors who see a difference in meaning between the two, or say that 'in' is followed by a verb, and 'with' by a noun. Both 'in' and 'with'

Re: Assist in or assist with  •  October 3, 2014, 5:06pm  •  0 vote

Sorry, that Ngram address didn't work. Go to http://books.google.com/ngrams and enter: assist in the *,assist with the *

Re: Assist in or assist with  •  October 3, 2014, 5:01pm  •  1 vote

@MD - Both are correct, but "assist in" seems to be the most popular. Learner's dictionaries, for example, allow both, but most of the examples they seem to give are with 'assist in'. Incidentally, l

Re: What’s happening to the Passive?  •  September 28, 2014, 4:55am  •  0 vote

@jayles - Fair enough. In history classes at university we had a lot of discussion as to whether certain changes that took place in the UK after WWII, such as the rise of consumerism and the new

Re: What’s happening to the Passive?  •  September 27, 2014, 6:31pm  •  0 vote

According to that Ngram, 'no-show' started to take off in Britain in about 1970, which means it's been around here all of my working life, and about the same time as quite a lot of words that origina

Re: What’s happening to the Passive?  •  September 27, 2014, 2:46am  •  0 vote

@jayles - incidentally, while I agree that 'show' to mean 'show up' is mainly American English (and is shown as such in, for example, the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary), I don't think that the

Re: What’s happening to the Passive?  •  September 26, 2014, 8:24pm  •  0 vote

@jayles - It's a standard road sign in the UK, approved by the Department of Transport, and often used at road works - http://www.google.com/search?q=%22when+red+light+shows%22&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa

Re: What’s happening to the Passive?  •  September 26, 2014, 5:37am  •  0 vote

And it's not particularly new: "The rain poured down, and never a light showed" - Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn, 1899 "Close to the top of the staircase, however, there opened a door, through wh

Re: What’s happening to the Passive?  •  September 26, 2014, 5:01am  •  0 vote

@Skeeter Lewis - what's wrong with intransitive 'show'? From various dictionaries: Fear showed in his eyes. She tried not to let her disappointment show. She's nearly forty now.And it shows.

Re: “The plants were withered” Adjective or passive?  •  September 24, 2014, 3:13pm  •  0 vote

The only one I can think of is 'breakable' - where the active (ergative) meaning - it can easily break - is just as likely as the passive one - can easily be broken. But I can't find any other ergativ

Re: Why ‘an’ in front of an ‘h’-word?  •  September 23, 2014, 1:56pm  •  0 vote

@jayles - I think quite a few Brits do it as well. At the British National Corpus it's 159 'an historic' to 126 'a historic', but of course pronunciation doesn't come into play there. Funnily enough I

Re: Why ‘an’ in front of an ‘h’-word?  •  September 22, 2014, 4:42pm  •  0 vote

Couldn't resist it - I wrote this three years or so ago - http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2011/01/how-i-ngrammed-historic-occasion.html

Re: Everybody vs. Everyone  •  September 9, 2014, 6:49am  •  0 vote

I've just noticed this from dogreed way back in 2010: ' The words "everyone" and "everybody" are not entirely interchangeable. For example, the phrase "God bless us, everyone" is generally taken to

Re: When did contacting someone become reaching out?  •  September 3, 2014, 4:37pm  •  0 vote

@Phil Woodford - that sounds pretty much like this definition from Oxford Dictionaries Online: "(chiefly North American) Seek to establish communication with someone, with the aim of offering or ob

Re: What’s happening to the Passive?  •  September 1, 2014, 2:31pm  •  0 vote

@Sophie - I'm all for simpler English, but the passive should be regarded in the same way as any other construction - not get the blanket (and unthinking) disapproval it does in certain quarters.

Re: While vs Whilst vs Whereas  •  August 31, 2014, 7:24am  •  0 vote

@jayles - I've finally finished my (rather long and detailed) take on 'while' and 'whereas', and concession in general: http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2014/08/exploring-concession-and-cont

Re: While vs Whilst vs Whereas  •  August 19, 2014, 11:37am  •  0 vote

Yes, I'd go along with your first paragraph. I think the 'inasmuch as' meaning of 'whereas' is specific to legal English, and I've ignored it. It seems that 'whereas' is the most restricted, and shou

Re: Can every letter be used as a silent letter?  •  August 19, 2014, 11:04am  •  0 vote

You were doing so well until you got to Q - Colquhoun Ok, but Mosquito and Tequila? I don't think a K sound quite counts as silent. But you know what they say about pride! As for your Vs, do fami

Re: While vs Whilst vs Whereas  •  August 18, 2014, 11:42am  •  0 vote

At last I've found at least one source that suggests that 'while' can be used in either position for contrast, but only in first position when used concessively : the OALD: used to contrast two thi

Re: While vs Whilst vs Whereas  •  August 18, 2014, 10:12am  •  0 vote

So it didn't really work - but you can get the gist - Contrast in first position - Dictionaries 2, The Guardian 6, The Telegraph 0 etc So for example, at the Guardian there were 31 definite contras

Re: While vs Whilst vs Whereas  •  August 18, 2014, 10:06am  •  0 vote

OK, thanks. As I understand it, IELTS Level 7 is about the same as CAE, so 8.5 must be pretty well Proficiency. Incidentally, although there's quite a bit on while / whereas in Quirk et al - The Co

Re: While vs Whilst vs Whereas  •  August 16, 2014, 5:09pm  •  0 vote

@jayles - sorry, you've lost me there. What are EAP and GRA? And trailing (contrast) clauses? I've tried googling all three, but without any success.

Re: “This is she” vs. “This is her”  •  August 15, 2014, 6:03am  •  0 vote

A bit off topic, but never mind. The literal translation of 'soy yo' may well be 'I am I', but that is meaningless in English and an idiomatic translation would be something more like 'it's me'. From

Re: While vs Whilst vs Whereas  •  August 12, 2014, 11:04am  •  0 vote

@jayles - and I thank you. Sometime ago I started a post on contrast and concession. This might just goad me into doing a bit more research and finishing it. Just a thought, but it occurs to me tha

Re: While vs Whilst vs Whereas  •  August 11, 2014, 1:16pm  •  0 vote

Let's agree on that. I've looked at example sentences from a dozen or so dictionaries, and I can't find much in the way of 'whereas' with a concessionary meaning starting a main clause either, althoug

Re: attorneys general vs. attorney generals  •  August 9, 2014, 8:05pm  •  0 vote

@Hairy - I've only just seen your comment, and sorry, only three years late, but I have to disagree - It's major generals, not majors general, and general is a noun here, it's not an adjective - if a

Re: While vs Whilst vs Whereas  •  August 9, 2014, 7:34pm  •  0 vote

@jayles: I don't quite agree: 1. Not necessarily - "While roses are red, violets are blue" expresses a simple contrast, and could just as well be written "Roses are red, but violets are blue." T

Re: While vs Whilst vs Whereas  •  August 9, 2014, 9:29am  •  0 vote

As regards 'whilst', in British English it is just a substitute for 'while', so is always possible instead of 'while', although sometimes seen as a bit formal or literary. It is hardly ever used, howe

Re: Resume, resumé, or résumé?  •  August 8, 2014, 2:27pm  •  0 vote

@looloo - there was a type of cheap café in Britain in the fifties and sixties, serving things like fried food more than coffee, as far as I remenber, which were indeed known by many people as 'kayfs'

Re: troops vs soldiers  •  August 4, 2014, 2:59pm  •  0 vote

"a great number of the troops were killed and wounded" "The militia hung upon their rear; and many of the regular troops were killed and wounded." "in which many of the provincials, and more of the

Re: What’s happening to the Passive?  •  August 3, 2014, 4:42am  •  0 vote

Just to clarify something - not all these verbs are ergative verbs, one test for which is to interpose 'and so' between the transitive version and the intransitive one: 'Little Johnny broke the win

Re: Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive  •  August 1, 2014, 2:47pm  •  0 vote

@Jasper - I'm sorry about your name ; I think I also confused you with jayles once - I get a bit muddled with all these Js (That's no excuse, though!). Incidentally, the whole book is online, il

Re: Are proverbs dying?  •  August 1, 2014, 1:11pm  •  0 vote

@Rdavis202 - 'Cats and dogs' - that surprises me too. It's in lots of EFL course books, but I've always found it a bit artificial, and tell my students we're probably more likely to say something like

Re: obstinacy vs. obstinancy  •  August 1, 2014, 1:03pm  •  0 vote

"Obstinancy"is certainly in the OED, at least according to Wiktionary, but is listed as 'rare', and it is not listed in Oxford Online. In fact it is only listed in two of the many online dictionaries

Re: What’s happening to the Passive?  •  August 1, 2014, 12:19pm  •  0 vote

"The situation was transformed into something quite different." - this is fine when we know that there was an agent who/which transformed the situation, but situations have a habit of changing under

Re: What’s happening to the Passive?  •  August 1, 2014, 11:51am  •  0 vote

"Now we all know who is the agent that increases taxes" - something not quite right there: "Now we all know who it is that increases taxes, who the agent is"

Re: What’s happening to the Passive?  •  August 1, 2014, 11:48am  •  2 votes

First, jayles is right that there is a lot of antipathy to the passive from people who really should know better, especially in American writing schools - their reason being that they see it as 'wimpy

Re: Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive  •  July 20, 2014, 9:54am  •  0 vote

@Jason - I must confess I hadn't read your final concessionary paragraph until now. So sorry about that.

Re: Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive  •  July 20, 2014, 9:50am  •  0 vote

@Skeeter Lewis - I sort of gathered after I posted - sorry. And I agree with you that both sides should take a step back. I was rather taken aback by Jason's 'I don't care' and 'spout off ESL' comment

Re: Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive  •  July 20, 2014, 7:01am  •  0 vote

@Skeeter Lewis - As we are often on opposite sides in these dicussions, I took your comment at face value. But I'm now beginning to wonder if your comment wasn't perhaps meant to be ironic, in which c

Re: Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive  •  July 20, 2014, 6:47am  •  0 vote

"It's true - dear old Will does try to bludgeon us to death with his tolerance." - so a mere one person standing up for a different view to the one held (and oft repeated) by the majority (which now s

Re: When did contacting someone become reaching out?  •  July 20, 2014, 6:24am  •  0 vote

Beat you to it HS - http://painintheenglish.com/case/5118 - apparently it's quite common in something close to your ex-line of business - tech companies.

Re: Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive  •  July 18, 2014, 8:34am  •  0 vote

One swallow doesn't make a summer!

Re: Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive  •  July 18, 2014, 8:31am  •  1 vote

Wow! Someone got out of bed on the wrong side this morning. But I'll ignore all the negative stuff and try and answer some of your points: I'm sorry you think that some arbitrary rules that hardly

Re: Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive  •  July 17, 2014, 7:30pm  •  1 vote

“Whom did he want to meet?” - Does anyone actually say that? Conversationally? Apart from in radio dramas, etc. I have very grave doubts about your opening premise, beloved by certain grammar sites

Re: Are proverbs dying?  •  July 4, 2014, 8:09pm  •  0 vote

@Jasper - on Ngram, 'count your chickens' is soaring, and 'your eggs in one basket' is holding steady, if fluctuating a bit - http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=count+your+chickens%2Cyour+e

Re: Are proverbs dying?  •  July 4, 2014, 8:04pm  •  0 vote

@jayles (the un-nothing this time) - Ngram links with asterisks don't work on PITE. @HS - Re kettle, that would have been my hunch too, but it doesn't even show up in the Ngram British books sele

Re: Are proverbs dying?  •  July 3, 2014, 4:23pm  •  0 vote

"A watched pot never boils" is still pretty active on Ngram, especially if you shorten it to "A watched pot". Milton Friedman may have used "There's no such thing as a free lunch" for the title of one

Re: Are proverbs dying?  •  July 2, 2014, 2:49pm  •  0 vote

One small thought: You'll find a lot more for "beggars can't be choosers" than "beggars can not be choosers". Both seem quite popular on Facebook and Twitter - actual counts (front-page figure in b

Re: Putative (-ly) vs. Supposed (-ly) vs. Ostensible (-y)  •  June 29, 2014, 11:08am  •  0 vote

@jayles - Or that the mother knows something the ostensible father doesn't: "It is not entirely clear why this fascinates Stephen except that if his ostensible father Simon Dedalus was a cuckold, p

Re: Use my brain or brains?  •  June 28, 2014, 7:14pm  •  0 vote

@jayles - "Perhaps that explains why "brains" in the plural is increasingly used when referring to women" According to Ngram, the increase since 1970 has been less than 100% and the current level i

Re: Putative (-ly) vs. Supposed (-ly) vs. Ostensible (-y)  •  June 26, 2014, 2:32pm  •  0 vote

There does seem to be a key difference between 'putative' and the other two: if something is putative, it is generally believed, but not usually openly stated (yet), as far as I can see. Whereas the o

Re: Putative (-ly) vs. Supposed (-ly) vs. Ostensible (-y)  •  June 26, 2014, 2:42am  •  1 vote

There seems to be a slight difference in how true you believe something to be. All definitions from Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary: putative - "believed to be the person or thing mentioned",

Re: Plaque for family home  •  June 25, 2014, 4:51pm  •  1 vote

Hi - this seems a particularly North American custom and as a Brit I probably shouldn't be commenting, but the answer to your question can easily be found by searching for "family plaque established"

Re: subwait  •  June 25, 2014, 4:09pm  •  0 vote

Subwait , sub-wait and sub wait all seem to be used, either for an area where you wait for test results, or small waiting areas away from the main one. I thought it was a purely American term, but I'v

Re: “As per ....”?  •  June 23, 2014, 10:53am  •  0 vote

@Lance - "In the UK I only ever heard these phrases ..." As a few of us know, Hairy Scot no longer lives in the UK, so here he is correctly using past simple, not a slang version of present perfect

Re: Using country name as an adjective?  •  June 22, 2014, 4:32pm  •  0 vote

Ivorian Salomon Kalou, in the short My World Cup Dream, on BBC World News, calls it Ivory Coast.

Re: Using country name as an adjective?  •  June 22, 2014, 5:34am  •  0 vote

@Chris B - The only other one I can find is Gibraltar, and a few island or island groups with 'island' in the name. Some single islands have the same adjectival form as the name, eg Pitcairn Island;

Re: Using country name as an adjective?  •  June 22, 2014, 5:09am  •  0 vote

Some commentators may be following the FIFA guidelines, but the print and online media certainly aren't. A site search of BBC Sport returns 9130 for Ivory Coast, with a mere 9 for Côte d'Ivoire, at S

Re: fewer / less  •  June 20, 2014, 7:44am  •  0 vote

Correction - perhaps not so obscure, and colloquial would be a better description than slang. NB context is everything: "More than 100 mph" = better, if speed is what you want "More than 30 mpg

Re: fewer / less  •  June 20, 2014, 7:23am  •  0 vote

@Skeeter Lewis - I still don't know why you assume advertisers have picked up 'better-than-half-price' from a relatively obscure piece of American slang and 'got it wrong'? This expression makes perfe

Re: Use my brain or brains?  •  June 17, 2014, 2:22pm  •  0 vote

An afterthought: couldn't these expressions be referring both to intelligence and the physical organ? I don't think the difference is so clear cut.

Re: Use my brain or brains?  •  June 17, 2014, 2:06pm  •  0 vote

@jayles the unwhateverwillitbenext - as a general idea, I'd agree with you: "She's the brains of the family" But Wiktionary gets it wrong when it says plural only for British English to mean in

Re: Is Punctuation Part of “Mechanics”?  •  June 16, 2014, 2:41pm  •  0 vote

@Skeeter Lewis - As Brits, there are some who run writing courses who might disagree with you, in line with one of the definitions of 'mechanics' at Oxford Dictionaries Online - "The way in which some

Re: Why Don’t We Abolish Irregular Verbs and Nouns?  •  June 15, 2014, 2:12pm  •  0 vote

@Dyske - some five years later I bet your daughter has got them sorted now. At the age of four, children are still mastering the basic rules, and the whole beauty of language acquisition is that they

Re: Infinitive without “to”  •  June 15, 2014, 1:57pm  •  0 vote

An infinitive without "to", also known as the bare infinitive, is used after modal auxiliary verbs (amongst others), for example: "can do, will do, must do" etc The verb "need" is a semi-modal,

Re: Is Punctuation Part of “Mechanics”?  •  June 15, 2014, 1:39pm  •  0 vote

I'd never heard of mechanics being used in this way before (I think it's mainly American - actually the whole idea of writing schools is pretty American). But a quick look around suggests that some go

Re: “...not that there’s anything wrong with that.”  •  June 15, 2014, 1:05pm  •  0 vote

Seinfeld may well have popularised it, but it was around well before that. Earliest example at Google Books is from a comedy from 1924, but it really seems to have taken off in the 1960s. This is from

Re: “she” vs “her”  •  June 15, 2014, 12:49pm  •  0 vote

Looking again at the original question, I've noticed that, apart from the fact that strict grammarians wouldn't allow "her" as the subject, there is an inconsistency here, in that "her" is objective a

Re: Anglican  •  June 15, 2014, 12:00pm  •  1 vote

This reminds me of something from "1066 and all that", a gentle parody of history teaching in British schools by W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman, published in 1930. "Noticing some fair-haired chil

Re: Use my brain or brains?  •  June 15, 2014, 8:59am  •  1 vote

I think it's mainly due to one ("use your brain") being a simple description, and the other ("rack your brains") being an idiom. But no doubt there has been a bit of cross-fertilisation between the t

Re: “fraction of...”: singular or plural?  •  June 15, 2014, 7:39am  •  0 vote

It's a genuinely interesting question, this. It seems to me that in wh-questions with the verb "be" plus a noun, the verb is generally governed by by the noun that follows it: perhaps because it's a s

Re: Referent of “one”  •  June 13, 2014, 2:34pm  •  0 vote

"One" refers to the real subject - "a (highly unusual) form of melody", which is a noun phrase. Take away the pronoun and you have - "It is a highly unusual form of melody that occurs only in this com

Re: Team names — singular or plural  •  June 13, 2014, 2:07pm  •  0 vote

@jayles (the ?) - another for your collection - "a fraction of the people present were/was", etc - see http://painintheenglish.com/case/5237/

Re: “fraction of...”: singular or plural?  •  June 13, 2014, 2:04pm  •  0 vote

Just noticed this, which is an interesting parallel to what we've been discussing elsewhere (the thread on team names) - For a start I would prefer "What fraction" to "Which fraction", but the real qu

Re: Team names — singular or plural  •  June 13, 2014, 1:05pm  •  0 vote

It occurred to me that social media might be a good way of gauging normal (not published) use. The first figures are for actual instances, the ones in brackets the numbers given on the first search pa

Re: Are sports commentators and sports show anchors out to change the language?  •  June 13, 2014, 12:45pm  •  0 vote

My expanded take on the history of 'early doors', illustrated with lots of examples from the past and present - http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2014/06/random-thoughts-on-early-doors.html

Re: that vs. if and whether  •  June 12, 2014, 3:32pm  •  0 vote

I wonder where this figure of 95% comes from; it certainly doesn't seem to apply to British English and like njtt I don't think I've ever heard "I wonder that" used instead of "I wonder if/whether". P

Re: Are sports commentators and sports show anchors out to change the language?  •  June 10, 2014, 2:55pm  •  0 vote

@HS - But I thank you; I'd never heard of "early doors" before, but it looks as though it's now moving outside sporting circles. "Watching on", incidentally, was apparently coined by Jonathan Pearce o

Re: Are sports commentators and sports show anchors out to change the language?  •  June 9, 2014, 4:42pm  •  1 vote

"Early doors" - is especially associated with English football, and with commentator Ron Atkinson in particular - one Telegraph writer wondered "Does Big Ron ask his wife if she might get breakfast re

Re: When is “of course” impolite?  •  June 7, 2014, 12:48pm  •  0 vote

I don't quite follow the question - I don't see that's it ambiguous in any of these. Sarcastic (f), over-generous (g), cheeky (b), perhaps, but ambiguous? Perhaps the guy in (g) is being ironic, but y

Re: “went missing/gone missing”?  •  June 7, 2014, 12:28pm  •  0 vote

A note on the grammar - it seems we were barking up the wrong tree when talking of gerunds: 'missing' is generally regarded as an adjective here (just check missing in any dictionary, for example - h

Re: “went missing/gone missing”?  •  June 6, 2014, 7:18pm  •  0 vote

@DesertRat71 - ' "Gone missing" has a "street" ring to it and causes the person saying it to appear lacking in education. If this is the sort of thing they were taught in school it's an indictment of

Re: Meaningless Use of “key”  •  June 5, 2014, 4:22pm  •  0 vote

@HS - that puts you pretty well in line with Prof Brians at WSU (link above). But is it very far from saying "this is the key to our success" to "this is key to our success"? Yes, you could say "vita

Re: Use of multiple periods  •  June 5, 2014, 3:49pm  •  0 vote

@Jasper - I get that, especially after "but", but it's a bit odd to trail off after "no problem", isn't it? No problem is usually said in quite a bright breezy way, I would have thought. However, as

Re: Use of multiple periods  •  June 4, 2014, 5:05pm  •  0 vote

@jayles the unwoven - but surely "No problem" is in itself a complete utterance. We might say "That's no problem", but we wouldn't normally follow "No problem" with anything, would we? Except, perha

Re: Modal Remoteness & Tense  •  June 4, 2014, 4:53pm  •  0 vote

That should of course read - "If he were to move his arm" means exactly the same as "If he was to move his arm", the only difference is one of formality.

Re: Modal Remoteness & Tense  •  June 4, 2014, 4:51pm  •  0 vote

@Jasper - "Although my Word (not always the best basis to go by) tells me that "was" should be "were", I however cannot see how this would be an unreal conditional. First, the action hasn't taken plac

Re: Meaningless Use of “key”  •  June 4, 2014, 2:53pm  •  0 vote

A couple of links, one more or less taking the side of those who don't like 'key' as an adjective: http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2007/07/key-bored.html And a fairly neutral one about adjecti

Re: Meaningless Use of “key”  •  June 3, 2014, 3:43pm  •  0 vote

Would you also object to "key witness" and "key evidence"? - this article is related but not exactly about the same thing - http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/key.html

Re: Meaningless Use of “key”  •  June 3, 2014, 3:32pm  •  0 vote

OK - the rise in its use as an adjective is pretty recent in both American English and British English, but its occurrence seems to be more common in BrE. http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?conte

Re: fewer / less  •  June 3, 2014, 3:20pm  •  0 vote

@Skeeter Lewis - I don't really see why there should be any connection between the two - I doubt that many Brits even knew of the American idiom. Far more likely is that they've decided to avoid "less

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