Warsaw Will

Joined: December 3, 2010

Number of comments posted: 1358

Number of votes received: 775

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: Adverbs better avoided?  •  March 31, 2013, 5:23pm  •  1 vote

Why on earth should you want to condemn a whole word class? This is one of those daft ideas, like avoiding the passive, that some writing schools preach but that good writers completely ignore. The ke

Re: why does english have capital letters?  •  March 31, 2013, 8:20am  •  1 vote

@Xannatos - you do realise, I hope, that it was The Librarian's joke that was "improper", not his grammar. And as he only wrote one sentence, how can "both sentences" be (I presume you mean grammatica

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  March 30, 2013, 11:39am  •  0 vote

@alicelee - there's been quite a bit about it in the British press over the last couple of weeks, but it's a bit of a storm in a teacup, I think. The council in question hadn't been using apostrophes

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  March 30, 2013, 8:33am  •  0 vote

Not longitudinally, evidently, but attitudinally [sic] ?

Re: Newfoundland Expression  •  March 30, 2013, 3:49am  •  0 vote

I'll no doubt get jumped on for following 'It sounds like' with a clause, so I just thought I'd get it in first. Not that I really care; according to MWDEU I'm in good company.

Re: Newfoundland Expression  •  March 30, 2013, 3:39am  •  0 vote

@Mommy B - It sounds like your Portuguese friend is barking up the wrong cork tree. 'It is generally agreed these days that the name Jiggs Dinner, referring to the common Newfoundland meal of salt

Re: “ton” in the Victorian era  •  March 30, 2013, 3:31am  •  0 vote

Hi Skeeter From what I understand, simply groups of people, for example political parties. In an essay on the semantics of 'mob', one academic suggests that 'Edmund's use of head of mobs suggests the

Re: “further” vs. “farther”  •  March 30, 2013, 3:16am  •  1 vote

In the past they were more or less interchangeable, until the end of the 19th century an editor of the OED thought the distinction would be useful. In Britain, Fowler strongly disagreed with him, and

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  March 29, 2013, 1:42pm  •  0 vote

@alicelee - Georgy Porgy appears to be what we call a Little Englander in my neck of the woods.

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  March 29, 2013, 9:52am  •  0 vote

@George 7th - Your Majesty would appear to be as wilfully ignorant or disdainful of both Scotland and North America as your ancestors. From Oxford Dictionaries Online: plead - verb (past and past p

Re: “and yet”  •  March 29, 2013, 4:36am  •  2 votes

@Frogwhisperer - were there two men? As a conjunction, "yet" means "despite this", and is often used after "and" - so we could have "The man (eg. Tom) walked over the bridge, and yet he (eg. Dick) ran

Re: “deal to”  •  March 29, 2013, 4:28am  •  0 vote

By searching a bit more systematically I've found a lot more examples, although even in New Zealand, "deal with" is vastly more common, see: http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2013/03/how-i-de

Re: “deal to”  •  March 28, 2013, 3:10pm  •  0 vote

@nigel - but at least the example sentences in my links made sense, included two from the same (NZ) newspaper and hadn't been given red traffic lights by WOT (Web of Trust). I'd be very careful before

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  March 27, 2013, 5:37am  •  0 vote

@Jan - I'd never heard of agreeance before, (and its being red-lined by Firefox), but there's an interesting piece on it at - http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/agreeance - and quite a bit of dis

Re: -ic vs -ical  •  March 27, 2013, 5:31am  •  0 vote

@porsche - according to Online Etymology Dictionary you're absolutely right about animal. We apparently got it (via Old French according to Dictionary.com) from the Latin animale (n) "living being, b

Re: “ton” in the Victorian era  •  March 26, 2013, 2:15pm  •  0 vote

I seem to remember my favourites as being Devil's Cub and An Infamous Army; they may have been light books, but her eye to historical detail was excellent.

Re: “ton” in the Victorian era  •  March 26, 2013, 9:58am  •  0 vote

re: WW's last paragraph.I meant we're only allowed to see one in Google Books.

Re: “ton” in the Victorian era  •  March 26, 2013, 9:55am  •  1 vote

I'd forgotten all about "ton"; its a long time since I read any Georgette Heyer. To add a little to what Skeeter has said, it's from the French "bon ton", and refers mainly to members of the upper cla

Re: Difference between “bad” and “poor”  •  March 25, 2013, 2:14pm  •  1 vote

Both "bad" and "poor" have several meanings. Oxford Dictionaries Online list eight different meanings for "bad", one meaning being "of poor quality or a low standard:" for which they give these exampl

Re: optimiSe or optimiZe ?  •  March 23, 2013, 4:42am  •  0 vote

@jacksalemi1 - And your point is?

Re: “If I had studied, I would have a good grade.”  •  March 21, 2013, 1:20pm  •  2 votes

Just to add to what jayles and dyske have said, this is what in EFL and ESL we call a mixed conditional. The first part "If I had studied" is like a 3rd conditional (unreal event in the past), and the

Re: Capitalizing After the Colon  •  March 19, 2013, 2:34pm  •  0 vote

@Levant - Although "there is a quick succession of ..." is the more common expression, a quick check with Google Books shows that there are quite a few examples from reputable publishers that include

Re: “As per ....”?  •  March 19, 2013, 11:09am  •  0 vote

Both Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage and the New Fowler's refer to "as per" as a compound preposition (like "as for" or apart from"), so whatever its faults, I don't think you can really

Re: “my” vs. “mine” in multiple owner possessive  •  March 16, 2013, 3:20pm  •  0 vote

@annp - it is indeed what Fowler called the fused participle, but whether you use a possessive with it or not is purely a matter of formality. In object position, in informal language, object pronouns

Re: hanged vs. hung  •  March 15, 2013, 10:33am  •  1 vote

@Hairy Scot - "chuffed" is in one of Merriam-Webster's lists of "Top ten British words". Your phrase "chuffed to the knickers" reminds me that playwright Harold Pinter was rather fond of the expressio

Re: On Tomorrow  •  March 15, 2013, 10:19am  •  0 vote

@Zee - Just to complicate things, what we call "soda" in the UK is soda water, which I think you call club soda in the States. But according to Wikipedia "In many parts of the US, soda has come to mea

Re: Team names — singular or plural  •  March 12, 2013, 12:31pm  •  2 votes

@AnWulf - Good on you for backing singular they. However the examples with verbs you then give are fine for American usage, but in British usage (which is what some people are complaining about here)

Re: cannot vs. can not  •  March 12, 2013, 12:21pm  •  1 vote

@Henri - OK I misunderstood your argument. I thought you meant "may" for permission, but in fact you're talking about possibility. What I think you're really saying is "I might go, then on the other h

Re: cannot vs. can not  •  March 12, 2013, 12:06pm  •  3 votes

@Henri - do you have any evidence to back you up there. Every dictionary I've looked at has cannot =can not, without any qualification. Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage has several exam

Re: “Anglish”  •  March 9, 2013, 12:11am  •  0 vote

The perils of writing late at night. The second part of the first paragraph should have read something like: By all means choose short words over long, simple rather than over-complex. Yes, it is t

Re: “Anglish”  •  March 8, 2013, 3:48pm  •  0 vote

As this thread now seems to have left the realms of what I would recognise as English, I gracefully bow out and leave the field to the Anglish speakers. I would leave you with one thought, however. By

Re: Idea Vs. Ideal  •  March 6, 2013, 5:27am  •  3 votes

@daniel owens - nice of you to drop by and give us your fascinating insights into this debate. But somehow I seemed to miss what your language point was? It obviously came as a bit of a shock to you t

Re: “deal to”  •  March 4, 2013, 1:52pm  •  0 vote

@HS - Yes, of course (even with to!). Life would be very boring otherwise. But think about it, there is no logical reason why deal should be followed by with, or see by to. Like many phrasal verbs, th

Re: “deal to”  •  March 4, 2013, 11:44am  •  0 vote

More on "to". 1) I discovered via another thread here that there are some Americans that only know the expression "no end" as in "it pleased me no end" with an added "to" - "it pleased me to no end",

Re: “deal to”  •  March 4, 2013, 11:28am  •  0 vote

It's not that strange really; think of - "Perhaps it’s time to see to the ads that are just plain downers"

Re: “deal to”  •  March 4, 2013, 11:16am  •  0 vote

I googled "it's time to deal to" and came up with 16 hits. Apart from a couple of references to this post, they all seem to be from New Zealand. There's another from the NZ Herald: League: It's tim

Re: Defining a proper noun  •  March 3, 2013, 12:59pm  •  0 vote

Hi porsche, I've had very similar ones on my blog, so as soon as I saw it I was suspicious. I delete them there because my blog is for foreign learners and the grammar they used was awful. Talking of

Re: Correct preposition following different? Redux  •  March 2, 2013, 7:20pm  •  0 vote

@HS - to see how it is being used just do a site search of a newspaper, for example the two Scottish ones I gave (more focused than a general Google search). Incidentally my figures for the Telegraph

Re: “no end” and “to no end”  •  March 2, 2013, 5:48pm  •  1 vote

@bradmontreal - It looks as though I spoke a bit too quickly. Although for me (and I think most dictionaries) the standard idiom is "no end", reading that Motivated Grammar post more carefully I real

Re: Defining a proper noun  •  March 2, 2013, 5:54am  •  0 vote

I know I occasionally link to my own blog, but that last comment really looks like spam to me. The page directed to isn't much more enlightening than that comment, and the whole site looks as though i

Re: Correct preposition following different? Redux  •  March 2, 2013, 5:39am  •  0 vote

HI Hairy - I'm sorry, the tone of my last comment was a bit heavy, so I'll try and lighten (and shorten) this one. Personally, I've no idea what we were taught about this at school, or if we were i

Re: Correct preposition following different? Redux  •  March 1, 2013, 4:16pm  •  0 vote

@Hairy Scot - "I still await proof of correctness". Is the onus not rather on the people who criticise something to provide evidence that it is wrong. It is in fact those lambast "different to" who ar

Re: “all but” - I hate that expression!  •  March 1, 2013, 10:59am  •  3 votes

D.A.W. says (said) - "I didn't say anything about the "historical present" because that is rarely seen or heard of in the United States in American or Canadian products. " Here's a look at some of

Re: “no end” and “to no end”  •  March 1, 2013, 9:56am  •  1 vote

I would stand that on its head and ask. Is "This amuses me to no end." as acceptable as “This amuses me no end.”? And if it is, do they mean the same thing? "No end" is an idiomatic expression mean

Re: Correct preposition following different? Redux  •  March 1, 2013, 8:10am  •  0 vote

@Hairy Scot - 'I do of course include "different to" in that category.' Then you're at odds with just about every authority on British English I've seen. Here's what Fowler had to say in the origin

Re: As of  •  February 28, 2013, 1:53pm  •  0 vote

@jayles - I think you mean "fings" I was taught on my teacher training that the use of the continuous is a standard part of Indian English, not an "overuse". When did I say that I "taught" RP?

Re: “all but” - I hate that expression!  •  February 28, 2013, 12:59pm  •  0 vote

@D.A.W. - I was going to let this drop, but I think I'll follow your habit of serial comments. Coincidentally, I happened to be doing present tenses with a student this morning. This is from Intellige

Re: “all but” - I hate that expression!  •  February 28, 2013, 12:48pm  •  1 vote

@D.A.W. A propos apologising: You originally wrote (just check back - February 24, 2013, 6:25pm): "So many people have lost sight or the fact that the present tense means RIGHT NOW. Here are som

Re: “all but” - I hate that expression!  •  February 28, 2013, 12:29pm  •  0 vote

@D.A.W. - I knew it would be fun! And with such a gentleman, too! This is from the American Heritage Dictionary, quoted in the Free Dictionary: "Usage Note: In American usage government always t

Re: “all but” - I hate that expression!  •  February 27, 2013, 11:20am  •  1 vote

@D.AW. - I don't see why are you are still going on about a building sitting or standing somewhere; I have absolutely no problem with that. I just find using the example of something that has been the

Re: “Anglish”  •  February 27, 2013, 10:58am  •  0 vote

@Holy Mackerel - "Mostly they have no clue what they're talking about" - Who would they be here, and what are they talking about? Just curious. I've been doing a bit of research on the -ise/-ize b

Re: As of  •  February 26, 2013, 11:35am  •  0 vote

@jayles - OK, I do check with Swan now and then, and the OALD occasionally, but that's about all.

Re: As of  •  February 26, 2013, 11:28am  •  0 vote

@jayles - Why do we need more concrete benchmarking? I'm sure your experience both as an educated speaker and as an experienced teacher has given you a feel for what is grammatical or natural and what

Re: “Anglish”  •  February 26, 2013, 11:14am  •  0 vote

@jayles - you do know about grannies and sucking eggs, don't you? :)) When do you ever date an email? It's done automatically for you, isn't it? Anyway, it's not an issue here, as other European c

Re: “all but” - I hate that expression!  •  February 26, 2013, 11:02am  •  2 votes

Unfortunately I can't claim to have had a mother who was a teacher, but I can claim to be one myself. Putting aside your insults to British English, which of course are just a lot of prejudiced nons

Re: “Anglish”  •  February 25, 2013, 12:58pm  •  0 vote

@Holy Mackerel - Here's one Brit saying that any Brit that told you that is talking out of their proverbial. Unfortunately, there are a few idiots in Britain who think that BrE is the "only true Engli

Re: As of  •  February 25, 2013, 12:19pm  •  0 vote

@jayles - I don't think your definition of Standard English - "as being anything that a well educated English speaker would understand clearly and could use" is that far removed from my "sounding natu

Re: “all but” - I hate that expression!  •  February 25, 2013, 11:53am  •  3 votes

@D.A.W. - Well, it no doubt makes a first that we are in agreement, but without wishing to spoil the moment, I can't understand your objection to "the Sun writes". This is quite standard English and i

Re: “all but” - I hate that expression!  •  February 24, 2013, 4:41pm  •  0 vote

Apparently even newspapers (well, the Sun) get confused with this one. The Sun writes: With all but a monumental collapse now standing between Manchester United and a record 20th league title, all

Re: “Anglish”  •  February 24, 2013, 4:33pm  •  0 vote

@HolyMackerel - I appreciate what you say, but I wouldn't rely overly on Strunk and White. Their bit on the Passive is absolute nonsense, and usage mavens of this sort rarely follow their own advice i

Re: “Anglish”  •  February 24, 2013, 4:28pm  •  0 vote

@Gallitrot - of course anyone can say what they like about the language, although I prefer to avoid passing judgement - I leave that to prescriptivists and pedants. And from reading some of what you'v

Re: Is there any defense of capitalizing after a semicolon?  •  February 24, 2013, 2:27am  •  0 vote

@JohnN - Yes, you're absolutely right, as I found out later when I commented on that LL post. All very embarrassing! I am of course used to seeing (and using) this convention you mention in film and b

Re: “Anglish”  •  February 24, 2013, 2:05am  •  0 vote

Damn, I hit the wrong button! That unfinished sentence should read - And I find changing the meaning of some existing words like "bespeak" really annoying and confusing. When I see it with its standar

Re: “Anglish”  •  February 24, 2013, 1:54am  •  0 vote

OK jayles, and I usually try to avoid these words, but in science they can sometimes add a bit of precision, no doubt. And you could say just the same (about one-upmanship) about business buzzwords, a

Re: “Anglish”  •  February 23, 2013, 11:17am  •  0 vote

@Gallitrot - I'd also quibble with the word "supercilious" being the exact equivalent of "haughty". My dictionary defines "supercilious" as "behaving towards other people as if you think you are bette

Re: “Anglish”  •  February 23, 2013, 5:23am  •  0 vote

@gallitrot - (belatedly) by all means substitute Anglo-Saxon based words for Latin based ones if that's what floats your boat, but at least choose equivalents: "lexicography" is exclusively to do with

Re: “would of” instead of “would have” or “would’ve”  •  February 23, 2013, 4:16am  •  0 vote

@Carl - as this excellent post by linguist Stan Carey at Sentence First shows, it is fairly ubiquitous. http://stancarey.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/would-of-could-of-might-of-must-of/ But comments

Re: “gift of” vs. “gift from”  •  February 23, 2013, 3:59am  •  0 vote

In answer to the question, I agree with mshades, and this dictionary entry supports that: http://oald8.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/dictionary/gift But there seems to be one exception - when G

Re: “gift of” vs. “gift from”  •  February 23, 2013, 3:30am  •  0 vote

@mshades - On the contrary, you were quite right to use "between". It's nonsense that "between" can only be used for two, and anyone who gives you a smacking for it has only learnt half a rule. When w

Re: “Anglish”  •  February 23, 2013, 3:19am  •  0 vote

@jayles (who for some reason comes up in Google reader as jayles the unwise). I live and teach Poland (Central Europe), and while Polish has a few words of Germanic origin, it also has quite a lot fro

Re: As of  •  February 22, 2013, 11:30am  •  0 vote

@Jo - that ending was a bit harsh, so I'll add a couple of these - :)), :))

Re: As of  •  February 22, 2013, 11:10am  •  1 vote

@Jo - Ah, "correct English", that's a topic and a half, and I bet that you and I come at that from completely different angles. For me what is important is whether something sounds natural, not what s

Re: As of  •  February 21, 2013, 12:24pm  •  1 vote

@jo - Google brings up plenty of examples "quitting as of", and there are a couple of hundred in Google Books (i.e. proofread, edited material). Enough to suggest, perhaps, that this could in fact be

Re: from among  •  February 21, 2013, 11:57am  •  1 vote

Hi andreea. it wasn't meant to be a dig at you, but at all the rest of us. Unfortunately I didn't read your comment properly before I did all that. If I had, I could have saved myself some work. But I

Re: from among  •  February 20, 2013, 9:09am  •  1 vote

Interesting question. I can't think why it took so long for someone to answer. A quick check for "selected from among" on Google Books suggests that sometimes there seems to be no difference: "sele

Re: “Bring” vs. “Take” differences in UK and American English  •  February 19, 2013, 11:44am  •  1 vote

@v pinches - Few commentators nowadays see any problem with using hopefully as a sentence adverb. In fact, I doubt that it is used that much to mean in a hopeful manner, and in any case there's unlike

Re: Actress instead of Actor  •  February 19, 2013, 11:21am  •  2 votes

@Tom Rose - I have to confess it always amuses me when the Guardian write something like - "such and such an actor has just won the Award for Best Actress". But more seriously, long before feminis

Re: “Anglish”  •  February 17, 2013, 3:46am  •  0 vote

@Gallitrot - you're quite free to use what language you want, and to avoid fancy foreign words if you like. I rather enjoy your use of words like "manifold", "bespattered" and "haughtiness". You're al

Re: Idea Vs. Ideal  •  February 17, 2013, 2:51am  •  0 vote

@Jan Morrow - does that mean you have no ideals (noun)? :)) More interestingly, there are times when either could be appropriate. Here are some example sentences from four different advanced learne

Re: “Anglish”  •  February 17, 2013, 2:38am  •  0 vote

@HolyMackerel - I understand your position, and certainly don't equate you with some of the loonier ideas on this page. But I do find this 'Anglish' business at best a fantasy based on a misunderstand

Re: “Anglish”  •  February 16, 2013, 1:17pm  •  0 vote

@Gallitrot - according to David Crystal, the period of greatest French influence was not that of the Conquest, nor that of the eighteenth century inkhorns (who were in a minority in the educated class

Re: “Me neither.” or “Me either”  •  February 16, 2013, 12:17pm  •  0 vote

@Hairy Scot - "Nor I", would be pretty formal, I think. "Nor me" sounds more neutral to me. Some possible answers, in descending order of formality, the numbers are the number of hits in the British N

Re: “Anglish”  •  February 16, 2013, 11:35am  •  0 vote

@HolyMackerel - The beauty, no, I grant you. But the size and variety of the language does reflect the diversity of sources, to which you are quite right to add Norse and Gaelic. The latter might not

Re: “Anglish”  •  February 16, 2013, 5:46am  •  0 vote

@Holymackerel - As far as I can see, apart from poem (1540s replacing ME poesy), all your examples are in fact from the earlier part of Middle English or even earlier: place - c1200 (or earlier) -

Re: “my” vs. “mine” in multiple owner possessive  •  February 15, 2013, 5:45am  •  1 vote

@John Gibson - and your second example has the advantage that the possessive pronoun comes after "child", so it now has an antecedent. But I agree with you that the last is probably most natural.

Re: “Anglish”  •  February 15, 2013, 5:40am  •  0 vote

@John Gibson - I think you've got a very good point. Instead of trying to recreate some phoney purist language which never existed (there were Latin elements in the various languages that melded into

Re: Impact as a noun  •  February 11, 2013, 1:16pm  •  0 vote

@Anthony123 - Sorry, that link doesn't work any more. The publishers must have changed their policy, which is a great shame, as I and others have often used it as a reference in these pages. Here's an

Re: gifting vs. giving a gift  •  February 11, 2013, 12:19pm  •  2 votes

@David Teangue - it's not an advertisement, it's simply the book's page in Google Books. Until very recently the whole book was available to read online at Google Books, but unfortunately the publishe

Re: Impact as a noun  •  February 10, 2013, 11:59pm  •  0 vote

@Anthony123 - Yes, some people have problems with "impact" as a verb now, but there was an earlier controversy in the 1960s over its use as a noun to mean "effect" etc. At that time some people though

Re: “all but” - I hate that expression!  •  February 9, 2013, 5:56pm  •  0 vote

Something strange happened in that first sentence - it should of course have read - I don't really see how you can purchase .... Unfortunately there are a couple of other typos as well.

Re: “all but” - I hate that expression!  •  February 9, 2013, 5:50pm  •  2 votes

Hola Jose. Are you sure you didn't mishear? I don't really see how can you purchase part of your salary? Surely he spent all but 8 cents of his salary on war bonds, or he invested all but 8 cents of h

Re: Is there any defense of capitalizing after a semicolon?  •  February 9, 2013, 7:42am  •  0 vote

@Skeeter. Perhaps you're right. Here's a capital after a comma, in the New York Times, of all places: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/07/technology/personaltech/microsofts-surface-pro-works-like-a-t

Re: Is there any defense of capitalizing after a semicolon?  •  February 8, 2013, 9:55am  •  0 vote

Sorry Skeeter, I didn't read your comments very well. I see you've been talking about colons all along. But as the question was about semicolons I sort of assumed ... :):) @shay - I don't know why

Re: Hi all vs. Hi everybody  •  February 7, 2013, 1:09pm  •  0 vote

@ Brus - "Here in Thailand, we bow ..." - Well, you certainly assimilate quickly, don't you? I can just imagine you saying, when you used to live in Scotland, "Here in Scotland we say - See yous all l

Re: Is there any defense of capitalizing after a semicolon?  •  February 7, 2013, 12:52pm  •  0 vote

Hi Skeeter. I doubt that it has anything to do with the Americans; they are a lot stricter on so-called "correct" semicolon use, and in fact punctuation in general, than we are. In an overbearing rev

Re: Is there any defense of capitalizing after a semicolon?  •  February 6, 2013, 12:49pm  •  3 votes

That's a pretty big convention you want to overturn there. The only way you'd get it published is to self-publish, I'd imagine. But I don't really see your problem: when we see a semi-colon linking tw

Re: Where used you to live?  •  February 5, 2013, 9:18pm  •  1 vote

@BigD - I have vague memories that I was taught at school some fifty years ago that imperfect does indeed include 'used to', and checking Wikipedia I see you are right there, so I concede to you on th

Re: Where used you to live?  •  February 5, 2013, 11:42am  •  1 vote

@Big D -"before you came here" is a specific time in the past; we don't have to have a specified beginning date. "It all happened before the war ", "She died before he was born", "How did people manag

Re: “I’ve got” vs. “I have”  •  February 2, 2013, 12:26am  •  0 vote

@Curious indeed - that should read - not many people contract "I have to" to "I've to" ... "I've got to". With simple "have" I grant that it happens much more often: "Hey, I've an idea.", "I've a good

Re: “I’ve got” vs. “I have”  •  February 1, 2013, 3:04pm  •  2 votes

@Curious indeed - you might, but it would seem that not so many others would: "I've to say" - Google hits - 3 million "I've got to say" - Google hits - 62 million "I have to say" - Google hits -

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