Warsaw Will

Joined: December 3, 2010

Number of comments posted: 1245

Number of votes received: 449

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: Computer mouses or computer mice?  •  January 18, 2013, 3:45pm  •  2 votes

@LG - being facetious, on that basis there is no plural of MOUSE, as equipment is uncountable and has no plural. So if you want to buy one, you should really ask for a piece of MOUSE. Incidentally, so

Re: Comparisons and Superlatives of Colours  •  January 18, 2013, 3:19pm  •  1 vote

You're quite right, Kingsley, reder and redest are not acceptable under the rules that guide the English language, but redder and reddest are. As for reddish, meaning fairly red or somewhat red, can y

Re: Impact as a noun  •  January 17, 2013, 1:12pm  •  0 vote

A propos of 'verbing', you may have heard of the game 'buzzword bingo', there is even an app for it. Well, Stan Carey at Sentence First, has produced a 'Usage Peeve Bingo' card, with all the old favou

Re: “get in contact”  •  January 17, 2013, 12:56pm  •  0 vote

@HS - if you're ever back this way, this graph from Ngram should make you happy: http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=get+in+contact%2Cget+in+touch%2Ckeep+in+contact%2Ckeep+in+touch&year_star

Re: Past tense of “text”  •  January 17, 2013, 12:52pm  •  4 votes

@Alison - how on earth can 'ex' be a vowel sound? - If anything it's a vowel plus a double consonant sound - 'eks'. Are 'es' and 'is' also vowel sounds? Why should 'ext' in 'text' be treated any diffe

Re: Impact as a noun  •  January 15, 2013, 2:59pm  •  0 vote

I've just read the question again, and realised I'd misread this thread the first time, assuming that someone was objecting to impact as a verb, as some people do nowadays. I'd never heard of anybody

Re: Possessive with acromyms ending in S  •  January 15, 2013, 2:21pm  •  1 vote

Actually, the original function of the apostrophe was to show a missing vowel, a use we still see today in contractions - 'I'm, he's, she'd' etc. As far as I understand, the reason that it is used for

Re: thus, therefore and hence are different  •  January 15, 2013, 2:00pm  •  9 votes

Sorry, this is going to sound like a lesson, but I am a teacher, and I write a language blog for foreign learners, so that’s how I’m used to doing it. (In fact this has given me an idea for a blog pos

Re: Impact as a noun  •  January 15, 2013, 12:58pm  •  0 vote

Well, I'm glad I'm one of the common people and not one of these people who go round telling others what they can and can't do. Even the famous William Safire, who thought this use inelegant, conceded

Re: optimiSe or optimiZe ?  •  January 14, 2013, 12:50pm  •  0 vote

@WW - prioritise /proritize is of course a newish verb made from a noun, used predominantly in business, and I think the Z version may be more common here. Other newish businessy verbs made from nouns

Re: optimiSe or optimiZe ?  •  January 14, 2013, 12:39pm  •  0 vote

The changeover seemed to have happened rather earlier than WW2. These graphs are all for British books: realise / realize - http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=realise%2Crealize&year_start

Re: thus, therefore and hence are different  •  January 14, 2013, 12:09pm  •  1 vote

@Alexander - I more or less agree with your definition of 'thereby', although I'd tend more to 'in this way, in this manner'. But the use in your examples is not how I understand the way we use thereb

Re: You Joking Me?  •  January 13, 2013, 10:10am  •  0 vote

I burst out laughing (or perhaps I should say I Iolled) when I read Anonymous's "correction" of Rufus, saying 'gotta' was a contraction of 'got to', not 'have go to', giving the examples: You've go

Re: “I’ve got” vs. “I have”  •  January 13, 2013, 1:23am  •  0 vote

@jayles - OK, we can agree on something, at least. In some contexts, there is very little difference between "have to" and "must", and your example is a good one. But there are some essential grammar

Re: Pronunciation of indefinite article “a”  •  January 12, 2013, 4:47pm  •  0 vote

@HS - do you mean some people pronounce the first syllable as in "break"? I've never heard that.

Re: “I’ve got” vs. “I have”  •  January 12, 2013, 4:41pm  •  1 vote

@HS - Why on earth anyone would want to avoid perfectly good idiomatic English is beyond me, but I suppose it was a joke. Your examples of "must "from South Africa, by the way, are just how "must" is

Re: “I’ve got” vs. “I have”  •  January 12, 2013, 2:15am  •  0 vote

@Hairy Scot - Yes, when we want to be more formal or use more elegant language, we use "have", "have to" and standard passive, but in British English, most of us prefer to use good old-fashioned idiom

Re: Rules for -ise and -ize  •  January 11, 2013, 11:31am  •  1 vote

Sorry, but this is one of the things I love about English: the fact that it doesn't follow cold logic. Language is as much about the heart as the mind; if we were going to be logical about it, we'd al

Re: “I’ve got” vs. “I have”  •  January 11, 2013, 7:55am  •  0 vote

@joelackey92 - to back up Thomas Smith, there is absolutely no difference in meaning between "She has brown hair" and "She's got brown hair". "Have got" is simply an idiomatic version of "have" for po

Re: Colon and semicolon in a single sentence  •  January 10, 2013, 11:58am  •  0 vote

@Intuit Flow - I think your colon is OK, but not the semicolon after the coordinating conjunction "so". But if you changed "so" to the conjunctive adverb "consequently" it should work: He’d been wa

Re: One of the most...  •  January 10, 2013, 12:09am  •  0 vote

@Jasper - except few would consider either of your examples as errors. :)

Re: “my” vs. “mine” in multiple owner possessive  •  January 10, 2013, 12:03am  •  0 vote

@Hairy Scot - touché

Re: One of the most...  •  January 9, 2013, 2:44pm  •  0 vote

I think this graph says it all really: http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=one+of+the+most%2Cone+of+the+more&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share= It may not be addres

Re: “as long as” vs. “so long as”  •  January 9, 2013, 2:07pm  •  1 vote

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage, the "not so ... as ..." used to be the regular form in negative comparatives; it's "as ... as ..." that is the relative newcomer (for negative

Re: Plural of name ending in Y  •  January 9, 2013, 10:46am  •  0 vote

For anyone who thinks anonymous might be right, try googling "the kennedies" and you'lll get your answer.

Re: “my” vs. “mine” in multiple owner possessive  •  January 9, 2013, 10:37am  •  0 vote

@semiotek - I agree that what you say is the answer to the original question, but the rest is not just about style, it's about sounding natural. I just don't think that "my and Gregg's child" is natur

Re: “as long as” vs. “so long as”  •  January 8, 2013, 12:34am  •  0 vote

As nearly everyone has already said, when they mean "provided that" in a conditional - they are interchangeable. But I don't quite agree about comparisons. In "as ... as" comparisons; "so" can re

Re: “my” vs. “mine” in multiple owner possessive  •  January 8, 2013, 12:08am  •  0 vote

@Sbee - I know it's not what you asked, but the more I think about it, the less reason I see to mention either Gregg or me; the other person knows whose child is involved. If we introduce our daughter

Re: “my” vs. “mine” in multiple owner possessive  •  January 7, 2013, 9:08pm  •  3 votes

@Dyske - OK, but I think Gregg's child should come first in that case to make clear what "mine" is referring to: "I so appreciate you Gregg’s child and mine to school today.” In fact, it's not

Re: “my” vs. “mine” in multiple owner possessive  •  January 7, 2013, 11:41am  •  3 votes

No. "Mine" is only used on its own, not before a noun: “I so appreciate you taking my and Gregg’s child to school today.” - but I would suggest "our child" or the kid's name would be more natural t

Re: You’ve got another think/thing coming  •  January 6, 2013, 9:14am  •  0 vote

@Traduttore and Bill S - I'm sure you're right.It's just that for somebody of my generation brought up knowing only the think version, and having the logic of that deeply engrained in us, it's difficu

Re: Preferred forms  •  January 6, 2013, 9:00am  •  0 vote

Hi again. Oxford Dictionaries put "et" first, so I'm not sure know where you get the idea it's thought of as uneducated - verb (past ate /ɛt, eɪt/), and I would have thought it to be pretty standard O

Re: Preferred forms  •  January 6, 2013, 6:23am  •  0 vote

A propos of nothing and one for British contributors. I think this is more about age than accent - but do you pronounce "ate" to rhyme with "bet" or "late"? Skeeter? Hairy?

Re: Preferred forms  •  January 6, 2013, 6:03am  •  0 vote

@Skeeter Lewis - re half-tones - there's a scene in an episode of "Keeping Up Appearances", when Hyacinth says to the unfortunate Richard - "I hope you're not going to spoil the day with lower-middle

Re: Preferred forms  •  January 6, 2013, 5:48am  •  0 vote

Up until the 70s, BBC English more or less meant RP, and so for many people of my generation the two expressions are nearly synonymous. Here's David Crystal in "The Stories of English" - "By then (192

Re: Preferred forms  •  January 6, 2013, 5:09am  •  0 vote

@Skeeter Lewis. I would say you're being a wee bit restrictive there. I certainly didn't go to Oxbridge, for example, although I did go to a public school. Public schools are certainly the bastion of

Re: Big fish, small pond  •  January 6, 2013, 3:13am  •  0 vote

A bit late perhaps, but I'm with pain, porsche and Hamlet on this one, in that the expression is often heard with "better", or is about choice - Law for Dummies asks, "Would you rather be a big fish

Re: Preferred forms  •  January 6, 2013, 2:58am  •  0 vote

@Hairy Scot - It is to my deep regret that I don't have a Scottish accent, or any other regional accent. RP, "Received pronunciation"as Skeeter Lewis says, is simply an accent that doesn't have any re

Re: Preferred forms  •  January 5, 2013, 2:19am  •  0 vote

How about "oo" in poor. My phonetics trainer (London) insisted it was /ɔ:/ (to sound like paw), but for us in Scotland it's /ʊə/ (like tour) (even for me with my RP). Mind you, for many Scots, food rh

Re: Preferred forms  •  January 4, 2013, 12:38pm  •  0 vote

@HS - saying "an 'otel" or "an 'istoric" at least has some sort of logic to it, if being somewhat old-fashioned. But using "an" before a sounded "h" makes no sense at all; that's not what "an" is for.

Re: Preferred forms  •  January 4, 2013, 10:42am  •  0 vote

It could be argued that Americans who pronounce herb without the "H" and stress ballet on the second syllable are actually being closer to the original French than we are. It wasn't so long ago that s

Re: Misplaced clauses?  •  January 4, 2013, 10:20am  •  3 votes

@Thredder - Good point. I think it's because they've added stuff like "to study" and "after applying", which weren't in the original, that makes it clumsy. If they'd kept it more like the original, I

Re: Someone else’s  •  January 4, 2013, 10:14am  •  0 vote

@mike storer - I agree with you, whoever would? I'd simply change to possessive "of" in these cases - "The faces of all the passers-by fell ...", "The families of both the sisters-in-law ..". Seems so

Re: The Best Euphemism for Shithouse?  •  January 3, 2013, 1:35pm  •  0 vote

@Percy I’m glad that that’s all you’re sceptical about, as I was beginning to get the impression that you were being pretty sceptical of everything I’ve put forward in this discussion. But never mind

Re: Misplaced clauses?  •  January 2, 2013, 10:46am  •  1 vote

I don't have any hard-core linguistics books, but a couple of more general ones - David Crystal - The Stories of English, and Steven Pinker - The Language Instinct. Since taking part in this forum

Re: The Best Euphemism for Shithouse?  •  January 2, 2013, 10:15am  •  0 vote

@Percy 1. I've conceded at least twice that gardyloo is probably not the source of "loo". But I wasn't the only one to have thought that: http://www.google.pl/books?id=m1UKpE4YEkEC&pg=PA222 2.

Re: The Best Euphemism for Shithouse?  •  January 2, 2013, 2:29am  •  0 vote

@Percy - I was joking about you being Northumbrian. For much of the time of the troubles between England and Scotland, the Percies were the most powerful family in Norhumbria and the bane of Scots on

Re: Misplaced clauses?  •  January 1, 2013, 2:33pm  •  0 vote

Something seems to have gone wrong with my organisation of information in the first sentence there!

Re: Misplaced clauses?  •  January 1, 2013, 2:32pm  •  1 vote

I wouldn't say this is about misplaced clauses in the sense of misplaced or dangling or misplaced modifiers, but rather about the organisation of information. Linguists suggest that in English we l

Re: The Best Euphemism for Shithouse?  •  January 1, 2013, 1:48pm  •  0 vote

@Percy, with a famous Northumbrian name like yours, I'm surprised at you! We had a French queen consort, Mary de Guise,whose daughter Mary, Queen of Scots, spent much of her childhood in France and as

Re: Preferred forms  •  January 1, 2013, 1:16pm  •  0 vote

While we're on the subject, can some of you Americans tell us which is more popular in the States, "Happy New Year's" or "Happy New Year". In BrE, we only use the latter, and I though Americans mainly

Re: Preferred forms  •  January 1, 2013, 1:11pm  •  0 vote

Three of these seem to be simply a difference between British and North American usage. According to Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, as Skeeter Lewis says, "envision" is mainly used in AmE,

Re: Correct preposition following different? Redux  •  January 1, 2013, 3:15am  •  0 vote

WRT - another one I had to look up! Happy New Year :)

Re: The Best Euphemism for Shithouse?  •  January 1, 2013, 3:11am  •  0 vote

Hi jayles, you're quite possibly right, according to Etymology Online. You mean it's like Cockney rhyming slang in reverse (without the rhyme)? Your other two examples play on the rhyme of the miss

Re: intend on doing?  •  January 1, 2013, 2:52am  •  0 vote

And Happy New Year, everyone.

Re: intend on doing?  •  January 1, 2013, 2:51am  •  0 vote

Seconded, or rather, thirded (sic)

Re: intend on doing?  •  December 31, 2012, 1:42am  •  0 vote

New Fowler's calls it non-standard informal American usage. As well as "intend" + to-infinitive, both Fowlers and MWDEU give "intend" + gerund as a standard usage - "I intend taking my holiday at home

Re: The Best Euphemism for Shithouse?  •  December 31, 2012, 1:28am  •  0 vote

When I was young, loo was pretty upper-class, but then got used on TV quite a lot, and seems to have now become more or less universal. I'd always assumed it came from l'eau - French for water. My

Re: Correct preposition following different? Redux  •  December 31, 2012, 1:11am  •  0 vote

@By and large, at this moment of time, once you've drilled down, pushed the envelope, thought outside the box and kept me in the loop, I might agree. All it needs is some blue sky thinking going forwa

Re: Correct preposition following different? Redux  •  December 30, 2012, 3:28pm  •  0 vote

@Hairy Scot - Hi. I don't think "different to" falls into your PS category, as it's pretty old. It seems in fact to be an older usage (1520) than "different from" (which is first attested to in Shakes

Re: hanged vs. hung  •  December 30, 2012, 1:36am  •  0 vote

@Hairy Scot - I hope you're not boasting! :)

Re: Correct preposition following different? Redux  •  December 30, 2012, 1:32am  •  0 vote

@Hairy Scot - so you like Stan's graphs, but not his conclusions, apparently. But I'm glad you've found Sentence First; it's a fascinating blog, and one of the few linguistics blogs with a BrE slant (

Re: hanged vs. hung  •  December 27, 2012, 2:27pm  •  1 vote

@Mature Lady -the answer is simple - don't! Why should any of us presume to 'correct' the way other people talk? In any case, as we can see in these pages, people's ideas of what constitutes correct v

Re: gifting vs. giving a gift  •  December 26, 2012, 11:37am  •  0 vote

re: seldomly - it's in at least a couple of dictionaries: http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/seldomly http://www.wordnik.com/words/seldomly http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionar

Re: gifting vs. giving a gift  •  December 26, 2012, 11:23am  •  2 votes

I think this is mainly an American issue, but if I can just give a British angle (without making any judgements one way or the other). On what goofy was saying, Burchfield in the New Fowler's suppo

Re: Correct preposition following different? Redux  •  December 25, 2012, 2:54am  •  0 vote

@ Skeeter Lewis - I must say I do enjoy our sword-crossing sessions (and occasional agreements), and wish you all the best for Christmas and the New Year in return. :))

Re: concerning  •  December 25, 2012, 2:49am  •  0 vote

@Jasper - in its most common use, concerning is indeed a preposition - "He asked several questions concerning the future of the company.". But I think Denkof Zwemmen has noticed the present participle

Re: who vs. whom  •  December 24, 2012, 3:37pm  •  0 vote

@RFMacG - As a Scot, I really shouldn't have missed out your patronym, sorry. I agree with you that it is a shame that there seems to be no way to add bold and italic etc, and I'm sure nobody will obj

Re: Correct preposition following different? Redux  •  December 24, 2012, 3:05pm  •  0 vote

@Skeeter Lewis - I have no problem with starting sentences with a conjunction, and don't regard it as an error, but perhaps three sentences in a row with the same conjunction is a bit much. :) You

Re: Correct preposition following different? Redux  •  December 24, 2012, 8:20am  •  1 vote

Memo to self - I must control this urge to begin every sentence with "And"

Re: concerning  •  December 24, 2012, 8:13am  •  0 vote

@Denkof Zwemmen - Any chance of some examples?

Re: Correct preposition following different? Redux  •  December 24, 2012, 7:59am  •  0 vote

Erratum - that New Fowler's quote should of course have read: "in the face of past and present evidence or of logic" Addendum - language evolves

Re: Correct preposition following different? Redux  •  December 24, 2012, 7:54am  •  2 votes

@Skeeter Lewis - well here's one educated Brit that doesn't avoid "different to" in certain circumstances. Yes, most of us use "different from" to compare two things, for example - "This one is diffe

Re: who vs. whom  •  December 24, 2012, 6:51am  •  0 vote

@RFG - I presume you're playing with the rules with your definition of bling, as it doesn't seem to gel with any definition I've seen, although it looks as if you might be right about the origins:

Re: Hey  •  December 23, 2012, 10:09am  •  0 vote

@Katie - "What's up?" is an interesting one for me,as in British English it usually has a rather different meaning - "What's the matter?" or "What's the problem?", although we are now all familiar wi

Re: who vs. whom  •  December 23, 2012, 9:54am  •  0 vote

There seems to have been one seem too many there.

Re: who vs. whom  •  December 23, 2012, 9:51am  •  0 vote

@Hairy Scot - I accept that there has been a problem with grammar teaching in schools. But it's a thorny problem: how do you teach grammar in a way that's relevant to children, in a way that doesn't s

Re: Pronunciation of indefinite article “a”  •  December 23, 2012, 9:19am  •  0 vote

A bit more on pronunciation: Edinburgh J - Many, perhaps most, people in Edinburgh pronounce the letter J to rhyme with the letter I, rather than the letter K. I wonder if this happens anywhere el

Re: Pronunciation of indefinite article “a”  •  December 23, 2012, 1:54am  •  0 vote

@Hairy Scot - Menzies - I'm of the old school here, and pronounce it 'Ming-is’. I was very disappointed when the eponymous newsagents starting using the /z/ sound in their ads. For those intereste

Re: who vs. whom  •  December 23, 2012, 1:13am  •  0 vote

@Hairy Scot - "It is a source of puzzlement to me that so many people take it upon themselves to pronounce certain rules as artificial or outmoded if those rules contradict their view." Let's be c

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  December 22, 2012, 5:30am  •  1 vote

@Skeeter Lewis - I totally agree with you as far as England (and no doubt Wales) is concerned, but not for Scotland, at least not in the legal sense (we have a separate legal system): "The defendan

Re: who vs. whom  •  December 22, 2012, 5:05am  •  0 vote

@Hairy Scot - to take your last point first. When have I ever said that people who follow the formal rules of grammar are wrong? That is nonsense. The boot is usually on the other foot. It is us (or

Re: Resume, resumé, or résumé?  •  December 21, 2012, 10:23am  •  0 vote

@Twain's Tapeworms. 1. We presumably capitalise CV because it's based on the title of a document. In any case this is the standard way it's shown in dictionaries, which is good enough for me. 2. U

Re: who vs. whom  •  December 21, 2012, 9:47am  •  0 vote

Sorry, silly misuse of copy and paste in that last one - I meant, of course - Most of us would say "Who does she mean?" or "I don't know who she means.", and would find "Whom does she mean?" and "I do

Re: who vs. whom  •  December 21, 2012, 9:45am  •  0 vote

@Robbert Forbes MacGregor - yes, that's the rule that's often taught in the US, and is repeated on many writing sites. But you won't find that rule on many ESL or EFL websites, for the simple reason t

Re: “Much More Ready”  •  December 21, 2012, 9:04am  •  0 vote

@porsche - speaking for myself, because I'm technologically incompetent. But thanks for the explanation.

Re: “Much More Ready”  •  December 20, 2012, 12:52pm  •  0 vote

@D.A.W I wasn't trying to take the glory away from the US, but rather giving a reason why we might have adopted the word 'valve' instead of vacuum-tube. I absolutely give way to you on the subject of

Re: Pronunciation of indefinite article “a”  •  December 18, 2012, 10:45am  •  0 vote

What about the long 'o' in the first syllable of Kosovo, which seems to me to be standard in American English (we give it a short 'o'). But the same thing happens with us; most British newsreaders gav

Re: “Much More Ready”  •  December 18, 2012, 10:28am  •  0 vote

@D.A.W. - The word aerodrome is not used so much nowadays in the UK, and when it is it refers to small private airfields or military air bases. The larger commercial airfields have been referred to a

Re: “Much More Ready”  •  December 15, 2012, 2:39pm  •  0 vote

@DAW - as a fan of logic, you will have no doubt noticed a slight inconsistency. In your original question back in the summer, you complained about a British announcer saying "much more ready", and as

Re: “Much More Ready”  •  December 15, 2012, 4:35am  •  0 vote

"The principal thinks Sally is more competent than any other candidate." - from the 'English Grammar from Dummies'. Quite appropriate in the circumstances. http://www.google.pl/books?id=yDtX_YeuRP0

Re: Resume, resumé, or résumé?  •  December 14, 2012, 6:40am  •  0 vote

While American dictionaries mainly list résumé as the main spelling, they also seem to allow two variants, resumé and resume. British dictionaries, on the other hand, don't. As others have already

Re: who vs. whom  •  December 14, 2012, 6:10am  •  0 vote

@Jiva - the fact that "whom" is correct in formal language doesn't make "Who do you trust" incorrect, unless you think the vast majority of educated speakers are wrong. When did you ever hear a native

Re: Steak - correct pronunciation  •  December 12, 2012, 2:16am  •  0 vote

I'm not sure you can make a general rule for steak, break etc as itorredel1 has done. Both words seemed to have started off with "brake"-like spellings. To back up Sebastian - Etymology Online Diction

Re: “I’m just saying”  •  December 12, 2012, 1:45am  •  0 vote

@Brus - Yes, that is one definition of judgemental, but I think you know perfectly well I meant the other - "having or displaying an overly critical point of view:" or "judging people and criticizing

Re: “I’m just saying”  •  December 11, 2012, 12:29pm  •  0 vote

@Brus - on my keyboard (US) - apostrophe and then the letter - é, for grave ` then the letter - è, circumflex - ^ and then the letter - ê. I can't remember cedilla, unfortunately. But back to your

Re: Hey  •  December 11, 2012, 11:58am  •  0 vote

Interesting stuff Dave, which made me decide to check with Etymology Online Dictionary. It seems "hello" is surprisingly new, dating back only to 1883, being 'an alteration of "hallo" which was itself

Re: It is you who are/is ...  •  December 11, 2012, 11:37am  •  0 vote

@Brus - I know it's perfectly correct, but "It is I who am wrong" is too formal for me and personally I prefer "It's me who's wrong". If Swan is right (and he is THE authority in my field), then in

Re: It is you who are/is ...  •  December 10, 2012, 12:56pm  •  0 vote

@Brus - It's a bit late in the day, but I'm with donnahansen and EngLove on this one. If the "you" being addressed is one person, "who" refers to a singular person and takes "is"; if the "you" refers

Re: “I’m just saying”  •  December 9, 2012, 2:05am  •  0 vote

@jf - Don't most of us have times when we are not really sure of something and want to qualify it a little, without being judged a being "lame"? It's just a suggestion.

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