Warsaw Will

Joined: December 3, 2010

Number of comments posted: 1202

Number of votes received: 413

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: Table of Content vs Table of Contents  •  July 11, 2013, 8:11am  •  0 vote

@Aeomer - sorry to be a bit obtuse, but could you explain?

Re: Plural of Yes  •  July 11, 2013, 6:30am  •  0 vote

@Chris B - Good one! That took me a second or two to work out - at my school we got dressed up as soldiers twice a week and did drill, and I was getting confused with "Eyes right", but I take it you'r

Re: Plural of Yes  •  July 11, 2013, 4:56am  •  1 vote

'Yes' can be a countable noun - "I'll take that as a yes, then", so we can definitely have a plural, and don't need to resort to apostrophes (yes's). Dictionaries seem to give two possibilities - 'ye

Re: have gone to  •  July 10, 2013, 11:54am  •  1 vote

@Hairy Scot - we wouldn't normally use a present simple with 'since', so it would need to be 'I have attended X High School since I was 15', or (I think better) 'I have been attending X High School s

Re: Skilled or skilful?  •  July 9, 2013, 12:12pm  •  0 vote

@calvin mpilo - A skilful person is someone who is good at doing something, whereas a knowledgeable person is someone who knows a lot about something. Someone may be very knowledgeable about plants, f

Re: Five eggs is too many  •  July 9, 2013, 11:52am  •  1 vote

I answered in the spirit of the question, but actually, I don't really find any of the answers with "Five eggs is/are too many/much" all that natural. I think I'd be much more likely to say something

Re: have gone to  •  July 7, 2013, 3:30am  •  0 vote

@roland_butter - There are also a couple of other useful websites for finding collocations etc. I've written about the here - http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2013/04/finding-collocations-and-l

Re: have gone to  •  July 6, 2013, 3:10pm  •  1 vote

I would say that your follow-up example is OK, "always" being an adverb of frequency, so suggesting a repeated action. And in this case, present perfect continuous would sound weird. Although I might

Re: Five eggs is too many  •  July 6, 2013, 8:55am  •  0 vote

@Skeeter Lewis - you pipped me at the post. I hadn't seen your (rather more succinct) answer when I posted.

Re: have gone to  •  July 6, 2013, 8:50am  •  1 vote

As you point out, the verb 'go' has two different past participles - "gone" and "been" - with 'have gone somewhere" meaning that the person is not "here" - "He's gone to the shops", "She's gone to Par

Re: Five eggs is too many  •  July 6, 2013, 7:50am  •  4 votes

Unlike Tim33 and Jasper, I have no problem with 'five eggs is too much' - once you've broken them into a mixing bowl, we are talking about an uncountable mass, not separate eggs. Nor do I have any

Re: Chary  •  July 6, 2013, 6:46am  •  1 vote

There are certainly some restrictions on adjective position. Some adjectives, like "elder, live (in the sense of living)" are only used attributively (before the noun), while others are only used pred

Re: “I’ve got” vs. “I have”  •  June 30, 2013, 12:32pm  •  2 votes

@Kernel Sanders - I'm afraid I have to disagree with you about these nuanced differences. In British English there is absolutely no difference in meaning between "have" and "have got" (which is why it

Re: I’ve vs I’ve got  •  June 30, 2013, 11:25am  •  0 vote

@HS - I've just come across a webpage from the Arts Department at Glasgow University where they suggest that, whereas "Have you got any?" is more common in English Standard English, "Do you have any?

Re: “Ten Items or Less (Fewer?)”  •  June 30, 2013, 5:32am  •  1 vote

@Paul Newcomb - Stephen Fry's paean to the wonders of the English language should be compulsory viewing for all those who think love of the language consists of criticising others for not following so

Re: Someone else’s  •  June 30, 2013, 4:23am  •  0 vote

Two more exceptions like passers-by - hangers-on and runners-up

Re: When is a bridge not an overbridge?  •  June 29, 2013, 6:57am  •  0 vote

@HS - as to common use, you maybe answered your own question there, as you say in NZ "civil engineers", (from which I assume not necessarily the general public) are fond of the term. The document

Re: Someone else’s  •  June 29, 2013, 6:03am  •  0 vote

Sorry, that should read - And where the S goes doesn't depend on the grammatical nature of the components either.

Re: Someone else’s  •  June 29, 2013, 6:01am  •  1 vote

There seem to be two completely different questions here - someone else's and passers-by. I see that my browser is red-lining the former, but I can think of no reason why - of course it's correct.

Re: I’ve vs I’ve got  •  June 28, 2013, 2:24pm  •  0 vote

@Hairy Scot - I think your reference to your own question is really more about 'have' vs 'have got', whereas this thread is mainly concerned with whether it's possible to contract 'have' when it's th

Re: When is a bridge not an overbridge?  •  June 28, 2013, 1:27pm  •  0 vote

These terms seem to be British, but I (a Brit) hadn't heard them before, and I think they're probably more technical terms.They're both in Oxford Online: overbridge - a bridge over a railway/railro

Re: “reach out”  •  June 26, 2013, 4:32pm  •  0 vote

Here's an example of the more traditional use of 'reach out', from William Dalrymple writing in today's Guardian - "The efforts of Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan's prime minister, to reach out to India may st

Re: Fit as a butcher’s dog  •  June 26, 2013, 2:47pm  •  0 vote

@SinTax'ed Enough - I take your point about it being a simile, but I wonder if you'd have found it quite as straightforward if you hadn't read Graeme's comment first; it certainly didn't hit me that w

Re: optimiSe or optimiZe ?  •  June 26, 2013, 2:04pm  •  0 vote

@Mahesh - sure we are in the 21st century, and communication is what language is all about. But language also has a history; we're allowed to be interested in that, aren't we? :) Incidentally, The

Re: One of the most...  •  June 25, 2013, 2:20pm  •  0 vote

@Nemo - I generally agree with you (I think), but not with "everything except the least one" or your statement that - "One of the (comparative)" is always wrong. It's always "one of the (superlative).

Re: I’ve vs I’ve got  •  June 25, 2013, 1:43pm  •  1 vote

In British English, at least, the 'got' versions are more common in normal speech, where we usually contract, while the 'have' versions are more common in written language where we don't usually contr

Re: LEGOs — Is the Plural form of LEGO incorrect?  •  June 24, 2013, 2:02pm  •  0 vote

Hi Chris B - Probably only on TV comedy programmes, to be honest. But you're right, I no doubt see it a lot more than I hear it. As for LOL, perhaps if the British PM, David Cameron, had checked this

Re: Past tense of “text”  •  June 22, 2013, 11:10am  •  1 vote

@Really?? - while agreeing with your grammatical conclusions, I wonder whether it is really necessary to be quite so condescending.

Re: LEGOs — Is the Plural form of LEGO incorrect?  •  June 21, 2013, 8:18am  •  0 vote

@Capitan Typo - What is the job of a dictionary if not to tell people the meanings of words and expressions they hear or see and might not know? Like it or not, a sizeable number of speakers of Standa

Re: LEGOs — Is the Plural form of LEGO incorrect?  •  June 16, 2013, 4:48am  •  0 vote

@Captain Typo - I generally like your favourite saying, but would suggest: 1) What the brand-owner wants is neither here nor there in a language sense, only in a legal sense. You can Google with wh

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  June 15, 2013, 5:02am  •  3 votes

@AnWulf - good to see you doing your bit for international understanding by using what I understood to be a Britishism - 'spot on'. (Although I think the hyphenated spot-on before a noun is American).

Re: “reach out”  •  June 14, 2013, 1:43pm  •  1 vote

@Blokin' Smunts - Sorry if you think that definition is a bit vague (although I don't, personally), but in that case, your problem is with Oxford Dictionaries, not with me. Perhaps you find it vague b

Re: When did we start pluralizing prepositions?  •  June 14, 2013, 12:33pm  •  0 vote

@fbf - Was that meant to be answering my question to RichT, of biscuits fame? If so, my point exactly: that's an adverb. If not, I'm not sure of your point. :)

Re: When did we start pluralizing prepositions?  •  June 13, 2013, 2:09pm  •  0 vote

@RichT - could you perhaps give us an example of either afterwards or afterward being used adjectivally, since, as far as I know, both are only ever adverbs - 'I'll see you afterwards'. In the UK, the

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  June 12, 2013, 4:21pm  •  0 vote

@Limey Pat - firstly, there's nothing wrong with a bit of redundancy in spoken language. Secondly, does 'get those things off of the table' involve any more redundancy then 'get those things out of th

Re: Is ‘love’ continuous or not?  •  June 11, 2013, 2:04pm  •  0 vote

And as another English teacher, I beg to differ. From Swan's Practical English Usage - 'Note that many non-progressive verbs are occasionally used in progressive forms in order to emphasise the idea o

Re: On Tomorrow  •  June 7, 2013, 1:28pm  •  0 vote

Even though, according to one commenter, the soda /pop thing doesn't belong on this thread, I thought this might regional variation map might be of interest - http://www4.ncsu.edu/~jakatz2/files/spcMa

Re: Mileage for kilometers  •  June 6, 2013, 4:27pm  •  0 vote

Except kilometrage doesn't seem to be in most dictionaries. Europcar, one of the biggest car rental companies serving European and international markets, uses mileage (71 references on their site). Th

Re: “my bad”  •  June 5, 2013, 1:53pm  •  0 vote

Corrections: It then got taken up by streetball players followed by more general use, its popularity no doubt increasing after its use in the 1995 film "Clueless". And it's been used on this forum a

Re: “my bad”  •  June 5, 2013, 1:50pm  •  1 vote

It looks like it started in the seventies, probably first among basketball players, with a first mention in print 1986 in a basketball publication. It then got taken up by streetball player followed b

Re: Exact same  •  June 1, 2013, 5:03am  •  0 vote

Just a thought on colours - going back to earlier comments. Compound colours like navy blue, royal blue, emerald green and pillar-box red are listed in the dictionary as adjectives in their own right.

Re: Exact same  •  May 31, 2013, 8:30pm  •  0 vote

@Shirley Young - except same doesn't mean similar - these are from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary: same - exactly like the one or ones referred to or mentioned similar - like somebody/s

Re: “This is she” vs. “This is her”  •  May 31, 2013, 6:23am  •  0 vote

@Brus - My problem (one of them at least) is that neither 'I am me' nor 'I am myself' are natural English - nobody would ever say these, so I don't know why you'd want to use them to explain a grammat

Re: “This is she” vs. “This is her”  •  May 30, 2013, 7:04pm  •  0 vote

@Brus - Perhaps 'This is me (in the photo)' or 'This is us'. But 'I am me'? Sounds like something from 'I am the Walrus'. :) Your disjunctive pronoun theory is interesting, although I've never seen

Re: “This is she” vs. “This is her”  •  May 30, 2013, 5:59pm  •  0 vote

@P - I think you just answered your own question. But as some people have suggested that the phone example doesn't happen that often, I hope you don't mind if I rephrase your question. If somebody acc

Re: O’clock  •  May 29, 2013, 5:48pm  •  0 vote

@Skeeter Lewis (belatedly) - Well remembered (nearly) - "Beaver has the Audience and Admiration of his Neighbours from Six 'till within a Quarter of Eight, at which time he is interrupted by the Stude

Re: Same difference  •  May 29, 2013, 12:40pm  •  0 vote

@suitjackets - I don't think you were the only one. :)) I was thinking in that Jobs quote, he could also have used another idiom - "They're two sides of the same coin".

Re: Same difference  •  May 29, 2013, 7:45am  •  0 vote

@suitjackets - sorry, but I think you're over-analysing a very simple idiom, which just means "there's very little difference (as far as the speaker is concerned)": "Which do you prefer, apples or

Re: Same difference  •  May 27, 2013, 4:25am  •  0 vote

There's a fairly level-headed discussion of "could care less" here - http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-ico1.htm

Re: “graduated high school” or “graduated from high school”?  •  May 27, 2013, 1:52am  •  0 vote

@providencejim - Yes, I nearly linked to that one myself; it's not often Mignon Fogarty gets in that much of a tizz about something. But there's no real reason why an intransitive verb can't turn into

Re: “graduated high school” or “graduated from high school”?  •  May 26, 2013, 12:44pm  •  0 vote

Oops! - university, vice versa

Re: “graduated high school” or “graduated from high school”?  •  May 26, 2013, 12:43pm  •  1 vote

@wes - that only makes sense if you don't pronounce the H - do you really say 'orrific? And I'm sure you don't say 'igh school, unless you're a Cockney. To give a British perspective, for us it's e

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  May 26, 2013, 3:09am  •  0 vote

Go back to the Anglish page? You must be joking! That page is the private domain of the Saxon Brotherhood, and woe betide any visitors who don't share their views. In my case, it's a case of thrice bi

Re: He was sat  •  May 25, 2013, 9:24am  •  0 vote

@Brus - OK, I apologise, "despise" was too strong a word and I was a bit harsh. But you do seem to use words like "ugly" and "terrible" rather a lot when discussing dialect expressions or grammatical

Re: He was sat  •  May 25, 2013, 4:39am  •  0 vote

@porsche - from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary for sit: 1. intransitive - to rest your weight on your bottom with your back vertical, for example on/in a chair - "He went and sat beside h

Re: A quote within a quote within a quote  •  May 25, 2013, 4:35am  •  0 vote

This page on "MLA Formatting Quotations" at the Purdue Online Writing School should answer all your questions: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/03/ Not in answer to your question,

Re: Same difference  •  May 25, 2013, 4:26am  •  0 vote

@J.Alexandre - and then there's the saying - "The more things change, the more they stay the same" @Max-Eliot - it's just an idiom. And yes, of course it's about comparison of two things - but one

Re: Same difference  •  May 24, 2013, 7:55pm  •  0 vote

@ J.Alexandre - Thanks for your reply, which was rather more diplomatic than my comment. Talking of oxymorons, my English teacher's favourite expression was "Now, then he said, giving me a pretty ugly

Re: He was sat  •  May 24, 2013, 7:42pm  •  0 vote

@porsche - A couple of things - 'As in all the other examples, "was sitting" is the past progressive (continuous, state of being); "was sat" is the past perfect (discrete action, action verb).' - that

Re: He was sat  •  May 24, 2013, 7:42pm  •  0 vote

@Brus - I'd love to be at the job interview where someone says "Hey, you lot sat in the corner!" - You say that "the users of such ugly expressions are diminished in the opinion of the audience who ma

Re: Same difference  •  May 24, 2013, 6:40pm  •  0 vote

First of all it's an idiom, so it doesn't really need much justification. And in any case it's only used informally; nobody's going to write it in an academic essay! But secondly, it's far from me

Re: your call will be answered in the order it was received  •  May 24, 2013, 9:03am  •  0 vote

@Brus - what you are referring to is "singular they", and may be an "unhappy clash of singular/plural" to you, but for many of us is a much more elegant solution than "the caller withheld his or her n

Re: Word in question: Conversate  •  May 24, 2013, 8:25am  •  1 vote

@FD - What right have you to call other people ignorant? You are obviously not an expert on language, as anybody who classes others as "ignorant" simply because they speak differently is only displayi

Re: Colon and semicolon in a single sentence  •  May 24, 2013, 8:09am  •  0 vote

I think there are several (language) problems with this text, but to answer your question, I don't think the semicolon works here. Yes, you have two independent but related ideas: The US didn't interv

Re: He was sat  •  May 24, 2013, 7:26am  •  0 vote

@porsche - Sorry to put a spanner in the works, but "She was sat at the bar", as used idiomatically in British English, means precisely "was sitting", and has nothing to do with being placed there by

Re: Plural of name ending in Y  •  May 22, 2013, 8:00am  •  0 vote

@MBS - Forget my last comment. I presume "So I am writing a historical novel" means something like "Supposing I were writing a historical novel" - it doesn't mean you actually are. Anyway, it was quit

Re: Plural of name ending in Y  •  May 22, 2013, 7:54am  •  0 vote

Forget Word, Firefox doesn't like either of them either, but the far superior spell check in Google docs, which is contextually based, accepts both. Judging by Google Books, you could go either way, b

Re: Had he breakfast this morning?  •  May 22, 2013, 7:17am  •  0 vote

@qurat - "Ali hasn't had breakfast this morning" - is perfectly correct, as long as we are still in the morning, in which case we are talking about the current time period. In theory, at least, Ali co

Re: Try and  •  May 22, 2013, 6:46am  •  0 vote

@Ray Riems - I think you're the one who's having difficulty reading English, as you somewhat misquote John, who has been one of the few people on this post to talk any sense, along with JJMBallantyne

Re: He was sat  •  May 22, 2013, 5:56am  •  0 vote

@Brus - I'm not sure how terms can "pretend to be standard English" or not, but that's by the by. Standard English is the form that is acceptable to a majority of native speakers. Sometimes that form

Re: Idea Vs. Ideal  •  May 19, 2013, 5:32am  •  3 votes

@Melvis D. Dixon - People in glass houses. Perhaps somebody who talks about Obama being elected governor of Chicago (or perhaps you mean Illinois?) shouldn't be quite so quick to call others "dumb eno

Re: Heaven or heaven?  •  May 18, 2013, 5:52am  •  0 vote

I was wondering about what Ross Eiry was saying about there being many different myths with versions of heaven and hell. And I thought, yes, but these words surely have their roots in the Christian He

Re: Do not induce vomiting  •  May 17, 2013, 12:18pm  •  1 vote

@commincents - so you joined especially to say something you "hate to say", call someone names and make absolutely no comment on the subject in hand, or even on the English language? So what does that

Re: “This is she” vs. “This is her”  •  May 14, 2013, 2:57pm  •  1 vote

@Brus - demotic credentials? Is that something like street cred? Seriously though, I'm glad you accept "Who wants to go? Not me!" and "She is taller than me." I like your point about a disjunct

Re: He was sat  •  May 14, 2013, 2:33pm  •  0 vote

@Brus - OK, here's my suggestion - it's not a passive, it's not an incorrect past progressive, it's an adjectival participle, as in: "The house is situated between two large oak trees" "There were

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  May 12, 2013, 1:14pm  •  0 vote

@Justice Jim - sorry! But I think the "pled" "pleaded" thing did get pretty well discussed before we got diverted. There aren't many of these threads that go "into the grey".

Re: On Tomorrow  •  May 12, 2013, 1:07pm  •  1 vote

@Brus - Words change, this is from Oxford Dictionaries Online, for 'demographic' (not 'demographics'), and it means more than just class or race: "noun - a particular sector of a population - the d

Re: Pronunciation: aunt  •  May 12, 2013, 9:46am  •  0 vote

@Skeeter Lewis - for example I've just heard an announcer on BBC Radio 4, with an otherwise standard "middle class" accent pronounce "past" with a short a - /pæst/ rather than a long a - /pɑ:st/.

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  May 12, 2013, 9:38am  •  0 vote

Inkhorn terms - for anyone interested, there is also quite a lengthy discussion in "Early Modern English", by Charles Laurence Barber, much of which is available at Google: http://books.google.pl/boo

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  May 12, 2013, 9:33am  •  0 vote

@Warsaw Will - "While many if not most of the inkhorn terms you so despise are still with us, few of the "English" substitutes have survived." OK, I probably overstated the first part, although I stic

Re: On Tomorrow  •  May 12, 2013, 8:40am  •  1 vote

"After moving from Chicago down to northeastern Georgia, I have noticed an extremely vexing trend among many of the native Southerners" - it really is so vexing when other people don't speak like we d

Re: On Tomorrow  •  May 12, 2013, 8:08am  •  0 vote

@brus - I don't really see why you think the use of "demographic" is weird. Its use is not uncommon, especially in the States: "And in this case, it seems, the commanding officer of a precinct is s

Re: Pronunciation: aunt  •  May 12, 2013, 7:20am  •  0 vote

@Skeeter Lewis and others - I agree with you that there is an element of class to it, but I think it's a little more complicated than that, as peteskully pointed out. There's also a regional differenc

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  May 12, 2013, 7:02am  •  0 vote

@jayles First and foremost language is about communication. No, we don't all have to use exactly the same words or word combinations, but if you use other words they need to be understandable. Now, f

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  May 11, 2013, 2:43am  •  0 vote

@jayles - Meaning?

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  May 10, 2013, 2:18pm  •  0 vote

@AnWulf - " I said Gaelic, which is a broader latter day word for the Celtic tung which is broken into sundry dialects (or sunder tungs even) to inhold Brythonic Celtic tho I don't think there are any

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  May 10, 2013, 1:08pm  •  0 vote

@jayles - I'll return your question. Why use "Moon eclipse", when we have a perfectly good expression already. (Unless you are a believer in "pure English" - A pure English that many of us have some

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  May 9, 2013, 2:06pm  •  0 vote

@jayles -But that's exactly what already happens. Words that are useful stay, those that aren't, or that don't appeal to people, drop by the wayside. And 'lunar' has stayed because some people obvious

Re: “I says”  •  May 9, 2013, 1:38pm  •  0 vote

It's a dialectal variation on the "historic(al) present" (aka dramatic or narrative present) used, for example in jokes: "This horse goes into a bar and orders a beer. Sorry, says the barman, we do

Re: When did we start pluralizing prepositions?  •  May 9, 2013, 1:03pm  •  0 vote

@fbf - Firstly, let me make it clear I am only talking about British English, and as with one or two other grammar points, we do indeed have dealer's choice, as you put it. And as I said before, I per

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  May 8, 2013, 2:55pm  •  0 vote

@Anwulf - " Every time one writes the -our ending in English, then you're giving "homage" to France" - This is the sort of balderdash that really does your cause no good outside the little band of the

Re: “I says”  •  May 7, 2013, 4:13pm  •  0 vote

@porsche - I've just noticed this (a year late, but never mind) - "Actually, if a particular manner of speech is unacceptable in a particular social context, then wouldn't that be the very definition

Re: Word in question: Conversate  •  May 7, 2013, 2:12pm  •  1 vote

From several commenters - "conversate is not a word" - so how are we discussing it? - or "it is not a word; it is slang/ebonics". If slang and dialects don't have words, what on earth do they have? Is

Re: When did we start pluralizing prepositions?  •  May 4, 2013, 7:33pm  •  0 vote

Personally I like having the choice; it's a bit like among and amongst (which is also frowned on in the US). Sometimes one fits the surrounding words better, sometimes the other. But we also seem to p

Re: When did we start pluralizing prepositions?  •  May 4, 2013, 2:45pm  •  0 vote

Oops! An extra 'they' slipped into that first sentence. Sorry!

Re: When did we start pluralizing prepositions?  •  May 4, 2013, 2:44pm  •  1 vote

I wouldn't call this a plural, and besides (in any case), 'backward(s)' and 'forward(s)' are adverbs not prepositions (although they backward and forward, without an s can also be adjectives). Etym

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  May 2, 2013, 11:55am  •  0 vote

@jayles - It's mainstream English for me too, not just for students. When I first came across "lexis" (in New English File Advanced - where they were really using it instead of "vocabulary") I tho

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  May 1, 2013, 7:42am  •  0 vote

@jayles - I largely agree with you about short words and nominalisations, but I would prefer to say 'use informal, natural, frequently-used words and avoid long-winded, over-formal, relatively unknown

Re: Don’t mind if I do  •  May 1, 2013, 6:26am  •  2 votes

douglas.bryant, porsche and JoshK have more or less said it all. I don't know about American English, but it's quite common in British English, and it's never occurred to me that it could be anything

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  April 30, 2013, 12:23pm  •  0 vote

@AnWulf - Let's take them one by one. "That my scorn of Lucky Bill upsets you doesn't amaze me" - I have no doubts about the tyranny of William I. What I have doubts about is how relevant events th

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