Warsaw Will

Joined: December 3, 2010

Number of comments posted: 1267

Number of votes received: 472

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: ...ward/s and un...worthy  •  December 3, 2011, 7:09am  •  0 vote

@sigurd - we are not saying you can't do it, but in your apparent enthusiasm for stretching the uses of certain grammatical forms of English, especially with your previous question, you often seem to

Re: Backward vs. Backwards?  •  December 2, 2011, 1:41pm  •  1 vote

I really don't see that 'in regards to' has any connection at all with the backward(s)/forward(s) issue, which is one of different usage between BrE and AmE. In contrast, 'in regards to' seems to be m

Re: ...ward/s and un...worthy  •  December 2, 2011, 12:30pm  •  0 vote

@sigurd - this might interest you - http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:English_words_suffixed_with_-worthy As you yourself point out, -worthy words are almost all based on nouns - airworthy, pr

Re: “Me neither.” or “Me either”  •  December 2, 2011, 5:08am  •  1 vote

I go with the general flow: 'me neither' is absolutely standard spoken English, but there are (formal) occasions when 'neither do I' would be more appropriate. But my main concern is 'me either', beca

Re: Semicolon between sentences joined by a coordinating conjunction  •  December 2, 2011, 4:57am  •  0 vote

GrammarBook.com's rule is supported by several expert websites, for example: Prof Paul Brians at Common Errors; and writing support websites at Towson University, Wisconsin University and the Universi

Re: Had he breakfast this morning?  •  December 2, 2011, 4:31am  •  1 vote

@Hacovo - No wrath incited. For me there is a difference in meaning. In British English, at least, 'starving' just means very hungry. 'God, I'm starving. What's for supper?', but 'starved' is rather s

Re: When “one of” many things is itself plural  •  December 2, 2011, 4:20am  •  1 vote

@Hacovo - Thanks for the comment. Just on the crowd, team thing, there is a difference between American and British usage here, as has been mentioned on other posts. Americans tend to prefer formal ag

Re: When “one of” many things is itself plural  •  November 28, 2011, 2:07pm  •  0 vote

Thanks Ing and JAC for confirming my thoughts. I had written it (with 'is') without thinking and then thought it looked a little odd. I realised later that one way round is to reverse it: There are

Re: Semicolon and omission of repetitive words  •  November 27, 2011, 6:35am  •  0 vote

Sorry, that wasn't of course an appositive; I was obviously trying to be too clever. Hoist with my own petard, perhaps. But the idea is still the same.

Re: Semicolon and omission of repetitive words  •  November 27, 2011, 6:15am  •  0 vote

@nigel - “To err is human; to forgive, divine” - Sigurd was directly quoting the poet Alexander Pope, from his Essay On Criticism (1711), and punctuated it exactly as in the original. http://www.ourc

Re: “with the exception of” or “with the exceptions of”  •  November 27, 2011, 3:35am  •  0 vote

@Everybody else - Sorry, this is off topic, but there are some language points, vaguely. @Hairy Scot - Thanks for visiting my blog, and having a good look round. Of course we all have our pet pe

Re: “went missing/gone missing”?  •  November 27, 2011, 2:47am  •  0 vote

@Nancy - if you had said in American English, you might have had a point, as this expression seems to grate over there. But in my branch of the English language (BrE), it is an absolutely normal expre

Re: ...ward/s and un...worthy  •  November 27, 2011, 2:28am  •  0 vote

-wards - If you can have skyward/s (which is in the same dictionary), I see no reason why you can't, in theory, have sunward/s.(And in fact it's in the Free Dictionary). Anthony Trollope used the word

Re: Interchangeability of possessive “s” and “of”  •  November 26, 2011, 1:04am  •  0 vote

Goofy's examples and descriptions all come from the work of a certain Fries, quoted in MWDEU (p 474). There are couple of things I find interesting here: nearly all the examples sound more natural

Re: Interchangeability of possessive “s” and “of”  •  November 25, 2011, 10:05am  •  0 vote

Sorry, obviously a typo - tend to argue - but I better correct it before New Reader jumps in.

Re: Interchangeability of possessive “s” and “of”  •  November 25, 2011, 10:02am  •  0 vote

@goofy - Point taken, although I'd include 'Terry Pratchett's latest book' as possession - Terry Pratchett has a new book out'. But I don't think that really makes any difference to the examples Sigur

Re: Interchangeability of possessive “s” and “of”  •  November 24, 2011, 12:17pm  •  0 vote

Just to add that this wider interpretation of possession is common in ESL/EFL circles and I think linguistics and grammar circles: http://www.eslcafe.com/grammar/showing_possession04.html

Re: Interchangeability of possessive “s” and “of”  •  November 24, 2011, 11:35am  •  1 vote

@Sigurd - I too see your point, and part of it is no doubt, as HairyScot said, what we are used to hearing. But I think we also perhaps have to broaden our ideas of possession. Note Priestley said Pro

Re: Correct preposition following different?  •  November 23, 2011, 10:46am  •  0 vote

@HairyScot - 'Glescaranto' - that's a new one on me, although I do remember Parliamo Glesga. But I'm from 'that other city', you know, where the best thing is the train back to Glasgow. I've only b

Re: “with the exception of” or “with the exceptions of”  •  November 23, 2011, 10:30am  •  0 vote

Thanks Hairy Scot - Sorry if I've been a bit hasty elsewhere. Lang may your lum reek. :)

Re: Interchangeability of possessive “s” and “of”  •  November 23, 2011, 10:25am  •  2 votes

The word 'of' can indicate origin or position as well as possessive. But genitive 's 'denotes property or possession' (Joseph Priestley - The Grammar 1798) Robin of Loxley and Joan of Arc (Jeanne d

Re: “with the exception of” or “with the exceptions of”  •  November 22, 2011, 11:19am  •  2 votes

Keep it as it is. Here are two examples from MWDEU, which says 'with the exception of' is commonly used as a synonym for 'except (for)': ... with the exception of British Guiana and the Virgin Isla

Re: What happened to who, whom and whose?  •  November 21, 2011, 12:36pm  •  0 vote

@Brus - 'Fill in the missing word from the ones on the list in brackets: "The old lady ~~~~ I had helped across the street thanked me." (she/her/who/whom/that). "The man to ~~~~ I had given a lift

Re: Correct preposition following different?  •  November 21, 2011, 11:33am  •  0 vote

@HairyScot - good joke about 'similar', but everything else you say only strengthens my impression that you live outwith the UK now. If I only use 'different to' before 'that' and 'what', does that st

Re: Had he breakfast this morning?  •  November 21, 2011, 11:21am  •  0 vote

In support of Kyle, I had assumed he was meaning this as past perfect, (in addition to my present perfect example), not as an inverted 3rd conditional (to use an ESL/EFL term) as Jen has interpreted.

Re: O’clock  •  November 20, 2011, 11:23am  •  0 vote

'My lord, I was born about three of the clock in the afternoon, with a white head and something a round belly.' - Falstaff in Henry IV Part 2, Act 1, Scene 2

Re: Specifying time duration without “for”  •  November 20, 2011, 10:59am  •  0 vote

You can live a tranquil life, live life to the full, and live and die a single man - these are the only uses my dictionary gives for the transitive of 'live' - to spend your life in a particular way -

Re: What happened to who, whom and whose?  •  November 20, 2011, 10:43am  •  0 vote

@Brus qui is the subject pronoun - for both people and things Toi qui es si malin. - You who are so intelligent/astute Prenez la rue qui monte - Take the street which/that goes up (the hill) que

Re: “If I was” vs. “If I were”  •  November 20, 2011, 10:13am  •  0 vote

Despite our differences, this post has thrown up some really interesting stuff, and I thought it would be worth doing (rather a long) blog entry on my thoughts. So if any one is interested it's at:

Re: Had he breakfast this morning?  •  November 20, 2011, 4:22am  •  1 vote

I think I gave you a logical explanation, but perhaps not the answer - No, we can't say ‘Had he breakfast this morning?’ - the correct answer is 'Did he have breakfast this morning'. For the reasons a

Re: Correct preposition following different?  •  November 20, 2011, 3:28am  •  0 vote

My understanding is that in both AmE and BrE, 'different from' is the norm. But in BrE we also have the choice of 'different to', and are probably more likely to use it before 'that' and 'what'. My di

Re: Whom are you?  •  November 20, 2011, 2:59am  •  1 vote

@Stavros K. - To me, yes, it sounds stilted. It's very unusual, in BrE a least, to use 'whom' as a direct object. In your example I would simply say 'Who'. We can usually get round the problem in r

Re: “If I was” vs. “If I were”  •  November 20, 2011, 2:38am  •  1 vote

@Hairy Scot - I wouldn't call you a pedant for using 'were', my objection is only if you insist that my saying 'was' is wrong. My impression is that you no longer live in the UK, but probably in North

Re: “by the time”  •  November 20, 2011, 1:48am  •  6 votes

'By the time' is referring to 'arrived', not 'had finished' 'By the time' really means 'before (the time)' - try it this way: 'The lesson had finished before he arrived.' The lesson could hav

Re: Had he breakfast this morning?  •  November 20, 2011, 1:41am  •  1 vote

Sorry - that should be "have a shower", obviously

Re: Had he breakfast this morning?  •  November 20, 2011, 1:39am  •  3 votes

Hi. The verb 'have' has three main functions: As a main stative verb, eg: possession as in have a car, have an idea etc As a main active verb, eg: have lunch, gave a shower etc As an auxiliary(help

Re: “If I was” vs. “If I were”  •  November 14, 2011, 1:03pm  •  0 vote

Sorry, that should have been: - The ''were" construction is really all that's left, apart from in fixed expressions, so it's not really surprising that's disappearing too, albeit very slowly. T

Re: “If I was” vs. “If I were”  •  November 14, 2011, 12:58pm  •  5 votes

Wow, what a lot of issues to address! So I'll start with the easiest ones. @Willy wonka, much as as I like chocolate, I can't let you get away with this one - "If I lived in Paris, I would visit the

Re: “My writing books” or “Me writing books”?  •  November 13, 2011, 9:07am  •  1 vote

There is an excellent discussion on this topic by prominent professor of linguistics Mark Liberman at Language Log, with the relevant MWDEU entry embedded http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=26

Re: Past Perfect vs. Past Tense  •  November 11, 2011, 9:21pm  •  0 vote

@BrockOhBMA - Sorry, but the function of the past perfect is not 'to intensify' the 'regular' past tense. Your three sentences have totally different meanings, not simply different intensities,

Re: “8 inches is” or “8 inches are”  •  November 11, 2011, 8:47pm  •  1 vote

I don't think that group nouns (team, government, Facebook etc) are really relevant here. I'm British so I almost always treat them as plural - 'The government are introducing a new law', etc, as do m

Re: “If I was” vs. “If I were”  •  November 11, 2011, 7:58pm  •  1 vote

@Mediator - The most annoying thing about pedants is that they are usually correct. - Only if you believe in some kind of prescriptivist bible. I don't. I side with those linguists who think that t

Re: “My writing books” or “Me writing books”?  •  November 11, 2011, 4:58am  •  0 vote

@Goofy, Hannah - Also from MWDEU p753 - 'The gerund, or verbal noun, ... is the past participle used as a noun'. While I agree that the gerund can also take an object, I would argue that the resulting

Re: “If I was” vs. “If I were”  •  November 11, 2011, 3:24am  •  3 votes

According to the Bad Linguistics blog, all three candidates said 'If I was your prime minister', before the last election, which is hardly surprising, as that's probably what the majority of educated

Re: attorneys general vs. attorney generals  •  November 11, 2011, 2:37am  •  2 votes

To add to AnWulf ... nor in the British army. AnWulf is quite right. One way to see it is that a sergeant-major is a type or grade of sergeant, whereas lieutenant-general is a type of grade of genera

Re: Correct way to omit words?  •  November 11, 2011, 2:22am  •  0 vote

I think there's a lot of different stuff going on here: some of your examples, for instance 'Come what may' and 'if need be' are simply idiomatic (check in a dictionary); others I find very dubious, f

Re: Stood down  •  August 5, 2011, 5:12am  •  1 vote

"stand (somebody) down - if a soldier stands down or is stood down, he stops working for the day" - Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (BrE) - I'm sure I've heard the order "Stand the men down

Re: want it that way  •  April 11, 2011, 11:03am  •  1 vote

The line 'I want it that way' or a variation of it occurs throughout the song, not just in the chorus. Look at the first verse: You are my fire The one desire Believe when I say I want it that w

Re: I dove my hat  •  April 8, 2011, 8:28am  •  5 votes

Are you sure it's dove, not doffed. To doff your hat is when (usually) a man takes off his hat briefly as a sign of respect, for example to a woman. It's still done a lot here in Poland, where some me

Re: “I’ve got” vs. “I have”  •  April 1, 2011, 10:22am  •  0 vote

@Jim - I've sent 4 dictionary references as well as some grammar website references, but they're being held over for approval (too many URLs). In the meantime if you google 'have got', the first two

Re: “I’ve got” vs. “I have”  •  April 1, 2011, 10:15am  •  3 votes

@Jim - Hi. I think this is mainly British usage, which is why you might not find it in US dictionaries (but you will find it if you google it) . So here's a couple (or four) - http://www.oxfordadv

Re: “I’ve got” vs. “I have”  •  March 31, 2011, 6:47am  •  3 votes

@Jackbox - my 'full stop' was meant to be an ironic reply to @Jim's 'period'. Well yes, I am relatively sure of myself because I've been teaching English for ten years, and I also checked out my facts

Re: “I’ve got” vs. “I have”  •  March 30, 2011, 1:09pm  •  11 votes

"He's very lucky really. He's got a wonderful family and they've got a lovely old house in the country, which his family have had for centuries. The house has also got a huge garden, which needs a lot

Re: “I’ve got” vs. “I have”  •  March 27, 2011, 7:28am  •  13 votes

First, I suggest you do a little experiment. Say 'I have a car' and then 'I've got a car', and notice how your mouth moves. The second is more efficient (we don't have to open wide for the 'a' sound i

Re: Rules for -ise and -ize  •  March 11, 2011, 1:44am  •  0 vote

@sigurd, you are no doubt right on point one, and I rather regretted having written that, but that is how it is often perceived in the UK. This from Wikipedia - 'In the last few decades, the suffi

Re: Past Perfect vs. Past Tense  •  March 11, 2011, 1:21am  •  5 votes

Look at the preceding 'The problem now was that the car was filling up with water and mud' and then we have ' ... and was pulling it out with the tractor'. This use of past continuous makes it all ha

Re: Rules for -ise and -ize  •  March 10, 2011, 1:55pm  •  1 vote

I can't answer your question (well maybe I can) , but I can answer @Remek and @terence. Oxford English uses standard British spelling - colour etc, but American -ize verb endings, so it is different f

Re: “I recommend that you do not” vs. “I recommend you not”  •  March 10, 2011, 1:36pm  •  2 votes

In British English we very rarely use subjunctive in this kind of sentence, or in fact in any type of sentence, apart from second conditional (I were etc) and even that's on the wane. The standard way

Re: Past Perfect vs. Past Tense  •  March 10, 2011, 1:03pm  •  2 votes

(BrE) I think the original and your version are both grammatically correct, but whereas the past simple / past simple version simply describes a sequence of events which is now finished, for me at lea

Re: Whom are you?  •  December 11, 2010, 12:39am  •  0 vote

@rj74210 'It should be, were one to express oneself in such antiquated verbiage, ...' I think one just did, didn't one?

Re: Does “Who knows” need a question mark?  •  December 3, 2010, 4:49pm  •  3 votes

Why don't we ask Who? He'll know.

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