Warsaw Will

Joined: December 3, 2010

Number of comments posted: 1309

Number of votes received: 596

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: 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  •  1 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  •  2 votes

@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  •  1 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  •  1 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  •  2 votes

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  •  1 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  •  3 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  •  1 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  •  1 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  •  1 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.

Re: “It is what it is”  •  December 9, 2012, 1:55am  •  0 vote

@providencejim - Hi. In the news today: Roberto Mancini says Manchester United are favourites for the title - The Independent United are title favourites - Mancini - Irish Times Hopefully, you

Re: “It is what it is”  •  December 8, 2012, 9:46am  •  0 vote

@providencejim - Sorry, I hadn't noticed you'd already placed the origins of "oftentimes" in the 14th century.

Re: Pronunciation of indefinite article “a”  •  December 8, 2012, 5:00am  •  3 votes

@Ingebiorg Nordén - And the interesting thing with your example is that the same thing would happen with "the", which would change from the shwa sound / ðə / (thuh) to stressed /ðɪ :/ (thee), the sam

Re: “It is what it is”  •  December 8, 2012, 4:51am  •  1 vote

@hot diggedy dayum - this sort of comment would be more at home on YouTube than here, where we're used to something a bit more constructive (and informed). You complain about "different than", when "d

Re: and so...  •  December 6, 2012, 12:27pm  •  3 votes

@Hal121205 - If you're so concerned about extraneous language, why don't you just "do" a web search, like the rest of us? And why should you be so concerned to find a definitive answer? If you don't l

Re: who vs. whom  •  December 3, 2012, 11:51am  •  1 vote

Yes, we'd normally use whom after a preposition, but a lot of us don't use it simply because it's the object - for me, "Who do you love?" is a lot more natural than "Whom do you love". In your example

Re: He and I, me and him  •  December 3, 2012, 2:25am  •  1 vote

Hi Jaxagirl - Just to defend the Queen, not that I'm a great monarchist, she does in fact use "My husband and I" absolutely correctly, as she always uses it in subject position in full sentences. Whet

Re: He and I, me and him  •  December 2, 2012, 4:47am  •  2 votes

@Jaxagirl - Thanks for adding a word to my vocabulary. I take it you're Australian. I would use 2 (neutral) or 3 (informal), depending on the occasion. It doesn't bother me particularly, but a lot of

Re: “He gave it to Michelle and I”  •  December 2, 2012, 4:39am  •  0 vote

@Skeeter Lewis - and to complete the trilogy - object form - that's the term we use in TEFL, where we don't talk much about case. @marnold - 'He gave it to Michelle and myself' - you're asking for

Re: my being vs me being  •  November 30, 2012, 2:04am  •  0 vote

"She doesn't like me smoking in the house" "She doesn't like my smoking in the house" As AnWulf said both are correct, but I would say that the meaning is exactly the same. Use of the possessive see

Re: tailorable  •  November 29, 2012, 4:58am  •  0 vote

Don't we already frequently use 'tailor-made' for plenty of things which have nothing to do with clothes? I can't see much difference with 'tailorable'. If somebody says to me 'This is tailorable to y

Re: Where used you to live?  •  November 29, 2012, 4:49am  •  0 vote

@SpeakEnglandveryDelicious - in TEFL we teach the following: I used to live in London. - positive I didn't use to like tea. - negative Where did you use to live? - questions This makes perfect s

Re: Pronunciation of indefinite article “a”  •  November 27, 2012, 11:02am  •  2 votes

In my experience (British English), it's usually pronounced "uh", the sound known as the shwa (/ə/). But it is sometimes pronounced "aye" (/eɪ/) when stressed. For example "Can I have 'uh' biscuit?"

Re: Rules for -ise and -ize  •  November 27, 2012, 10:46am  •  0 vote

@AnWulf - I take your point about the spelling system, and also about the "reforms" of the classicists (I think the c in scissors is part of that). I suppose I'm just too old to change (and I'm a prod

Re: Where used you to live?  •  November 26, 2012, 11:43am  •  0 vote

@Percy - re: "do I ought". I think we only have a choice between normal tense forms (with do) and modal modal forms with three verbs - the so-called semi-modals - need, dare and used to (but I agree m

Re: Everybody vs. Everyone  •  November 25, 2012, 5:17am  •  0 vote

@Johnson G - whichever takes your fancy; there is no difference - Or are you just having a little joke? :). If you really have any doubts that they are the same, just check a dictionary. Oxford Online

Re: watch much stuff?  •  November 24, 2012, 4:21am  •  0 vote

@Hacovo - Are you sure people are saying "I don't watch much stuff" without further qualification? For example, if somebody said - "I don't watch much of the stuff that's on TV nowadays" - that would

Re: Punctuations for a series of sentences  •  November 24, 2012, 4:10am  •  0 vote

This sentence is often given as an example of when it's acceptable to use a comma splice, that is to divide independent clauses with commas, rather than semicolons. I think it's mainly to do with the

Re: Where used you to live?  •  November 24, 2012, 3:56am  •  0 vote

In Michael Swan's Practical English Usage (Oxford 1995), which is almost my 'bible', he says that 'used to' can indeed be used as a modal auxiliary (ie without 'do'), especially in formal British Eng

Re: watch much stuff?  •  November 23, 2012, 4:07pm  •  0 vote

"Stuff" is neither a plural noun, like "things", nor a collective noun, like "group" or "pack". Stuff, sugar, metal etc are uncountable (or non-count) nouns. As others have said, "many" is used with c

Re: replaced by or replaced with  •  November 23, 2012, 9:53am  •  1 vote

@porsche - and rather a good thought, I think. And there might be a good reason. In your second example, we know that somebody (or some people) 'actively' replaced them, so it would be strange to thin

Re: replaced by or replaced with  •  November 21, 2012, 9:36am  •  1 vote

@Thomas Smith - I have some sympathy for your argument, and I've seen it elsewhere, but in these dictionary examples can we really call the machine or the plastic bags agents? They are hardly the ones

Re: “I’ve got” vs. “I have”  •  November 21, 2012, 9:26am  •  1 vote

@Skeeter Lewis - Here's a thought: use "I've got" etc when you would use other contractions - "I'm", "he's", "they'd" etc, but use "I have" etc when you would normally use uncontracted forms.

Re: Medicine or Medication?  •  November 21, 2012, 2:55am  •  0 vote

@Hairy Scot - I think this may be an example of what you were talking about - I would just call these signs - http://www.dailywritingtips.com/7-vehicular-violations-of-proper-english/

Re: “I’ve got” vs. “I have”  •  November 21, 2012, 2:22am  •  1 vote

@Thomas Smith - I teach foreign students and have never come across "Enjoy English", but I can assure you that all the major British course books still teach both forms. And I have never, ever seen st

Re: “He gave it to Michelle and I”  •  November 17, 2012, 5:35am  •  0 vote

Mark Liberman, of the University of Pennsylvania, has a post on this phenomenon at Language Log - http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4274

Re: replaced by or replaced with  •  November 16, 2012, 4:39pm  •  4 votes

Strangely, dictionaries don't seem to be a lot of help here. According to Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary it looks as though they're interchangeable - 'replace somebody/something with/by somebo

Re: Someone else’s  •  November 16, 2012, 6:40am  •  1 vote

@Hmmmm - redundancy has nothing to do with grammar; it's about style and usage. And in informal discourse there's nothing wrong with a bit of redundancy here and there. In fact in spoken language it o

Re: Everybody vs. Everyone  •  November 16, 2012, 6:30am  •  0 vote

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary: everybody = everyone anybody = anyone nobody = no one somebody = someone The main entries are under the "one" versions, probably because we tend to use the

Re: cannot vs. can not  •  November 12, 2012, 10:45pm  •  1 vote

Sorry again. That should have course read "which is better in negative statements", NOT "which is better in positive statement." Silly me!

Re: cannot vs. can not  •  November 12, 2012, 2:23pm  •  2 votes

Sorry, that's not distancing, but a polite form.

Re: cannot vs. can not  •  November 12, 2012, 2:21pm  •  3 votes

"Both the one-word form cannot and the two-word form can not are acceptable, but cannot is more common (in the Oxford English Corpus, three times as common). The two-word form is better only in a cons

Re: “If I was” vs. “If I were”  •  November 12, 2012, 1:42pm  •  0 vote

@Skeeter Lewis - You might well prefer "were", and that's fine. But I don't for one minute go for this confusion argument. In the article linked to above, Professor Pullum points out that the avera

Re: Verb-tense agreement for a quote that is still true  •  November 12, 2012, 1:21pm  •  0 vote

@Kamran - my version would go something like: Sara: Hello Natasha: Is that Sara? Sara: Yes, this is Sara (speaking). Nat: Is that really you, Sara? Sara: Yes, this really is me / Yes, of course i

Re: “If I was” vs. “If I were”  •  November 9, 2012, 3:50pm  •  0 vote

And another article, by Professor of linguistics, Geoffrey Pullum, at The Chronicle of Higher Education - http://chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2012/11/09/grammatical-relationship-counseling-needed/

Re: “If I was” vs. “If I were”  •  November 9, 2012, 3:28pm  •  0 vote

If anyone is still following this, there's an interesting blog post (relevant to the original question) by Jan Freeman, ex of the Boston Globe at her blog - http://throwgrammarfromthetrain.blogspot.co

Re: Verb-tense agreement for a quote that is still true  •  November 9, 2012, 10:21am  •  0 vote

@Skeeter Lewis - Hi. Although Sequence of tenses may be the standard term in traditional grammar, it's not one that's used much in my field, which is EFL/ESL. Probably the most popular British EFL re

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