Warsaw Will

Joined: December 3, 2010

Number of comments posted: 1336

Number of votes received: 733

I'm a TEFL teacher working in Poland. I have a blog - Random Idea English - where I do some grammar stuff for advanced students and have the occasional rant against pedantry.

Questions Submitted

fewer / less

Natural as an adverb

tonne vs ton

Tell About

“reach out”

Recent Comments

Re: Adverbs better avoided?  •  August 21, 2013, 3:45pm  •  1 vote

" I had another writer who tried to eliminate all passive usage from my work." Another piece of nonsense. Many of the people who criticise the passive mistake non-passive structures for passives, don'

Re: “I’m just saying”  •  August 21, 2013, 1:35pm  •  0 vote

@Brus - ah, it's sparring time again. I'm afraid it's a shibboleth that 'that' can't be used for people in defining (restrictive) relative clauses. What's more, it's the writers of certain American st

Re: LEGOs — Is the Plural form of LEGO incorrect?  •  August 20, 2013, 1:57pm  •  1 vote

@Capitan Typo - in the spirit of the goodwill you have so generously fostered, and in respect for curmudgeons everywhere, including me sometimes, I'll try and refrain from making valid points in the

Re: Do’s and Don’t's  •  August 9, 2013, 7:21pm  •  1 vote

@copy editor - there's a whole English-speaking world outside that of professional copy editors, or of those writing academic copy for journals that follow CMOS rules. Outside the US, even. A publishe

Re: If ... were/was  •  August 8, 2013, 6:05am  •  0 vote

@ChrisB - I'm an English teacher (TEFL) and I'd never even heard of an agent noun before today. An agent in passive constructions, yes, but not an agent noun, which I had to look up. Well, you learn s

Re: Hi all vs. Hi everybody  •  August 8, 2013, 5:35am  •  1 vote

From a British perspective, I think 'Hi everyone', but 'Dear all' sound the most natural. As for capitalisation, according to The Gregg Reference Manual, which I understand is pretty influential i

Re: Do’s and Don’t's  •  August 8, 2013, 5:18am  •  1 vote

@Chris B - Thank for the compliment. Well, you're the first person to notice the dont's, which I'm afraid is a mistake (I'd like to say misprint!) , and one which I seem to have repeated several times

Re: If ... were/was  •  August 7, 2013, 2:07pm  •  0 vote

@dave - sorry but I don't agree. I'm British and I often say things like 'If it wasn't for the such-and-such, I'd do such-and-such'. In fact, the subjunctive is used rather more in the States than in

Re: If ... were/was  •  August 7, 2013, 7:23am  •  2 votes

@jayles - I think Northern English dialect use of 'were', as in 'He were in t'pub' (He was in the pub) is a bit of a red herring here, as it has nothing to do with the subjunctive or hypothetical situ

Re: Do’s and Don’t's  •  August 6, 2013, 3:34pm  •  0 vote

Perhaps it's time to blow my own trumpet - http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2011/01/dos-and-donts-of-apostrophe-use.html

Re: “further” vs. “farther”  •  August 4, 2013, 4:27am  •  0 vote

@bubbha - and a lot of American commentators will swear blind that this is set in stone, so if writing for an American audience, it's perhaps better to stick to it. But this is rather an artificial ru

Re: Try and  •  August 3, 2013, 11:05am  •  0 vote

@Chris B - it probably depends on who the people are. I'm not so sure about spelling, which is a bit more fixed, but if enough educated speakers of Standard English use a word or phrase a certain way,

Re: Try and  •  August 2, 2013, 12:52pm  •  0 vote

@DC Howard - I don't want to knock you, because I broadly agree with you as regards usage, but I'm puzzled by one or two things. If something is idiomatically acceptable, how can it be 'not strictly c

Re: why does english have capital letters?  •  July 26, 2013, 12:15pm  •  0 vote

@aragond - I'm used to grammar lectures on this forum, but for a joke? It's not meant to be proper English. It's a play on words and is totally improper English! See my previous comment.

Re: Resume, resumé, or résumé?  •  July 25, 2013, 3:37pm  •  0 vote

On my keyboard (no separate numerical pad) , there is a ^ sign above the 6. So I just do - shift + 6 + e - which gives me ê. As simple as that.

Re: Resume, resumé, or résumé?  •  July 24, 2013, 5:38pm  •  1 vote

Hi Brus, I wasn't feeling particularly grumpy; I was trying to find a compromise. Here's you and b.r.whitney both insisting on your particular version being the only correct one, whereas you are both

Re: cannot vs. can not  •  July 24, 2013, 4:30pm  •  2 votes

@Abootty - I don't know where you got that one from, as 'cannot' is the most common on both sides of the Atlantic: OED (UK) - "cannot is the ordinary modern way of writing can not" AskOxford (UK)

Re: Resume, resumé, or résumé?  •  July 24, 2013, 3:50am  •  1 vote

I wonder why some of you seem to think you know better than the standard dictionaries. (In fact I wonder if some of you even bother checking a dictionary before declaring that such-and-such is the onl

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  July 23, 2013, 5:33pm  •  1 vote

It's certainly true that the majority of one syllable -ead / -eed verbs with that particular sound take an -ed form in the past - lead, read (in sound), bleed, breed, feed etc. But there quite a f

Re: “in regards to”  •  July 22, 2013, 1:09pm  •  0 vote

Yes, "as regards something/somebody" and "in/with/regard to something/somebody" are both formal, but sometimes in business letters or reports they're difficult to avoid. Sometimes in informal spoken l

Re: “There can be only one” or “there can only be one”?  •  July 21, 2013, 5:48pm  •  3 votes

I agree that adverbs normally go after "be" when there is no auxiliary, and we wouldn't usually say "There only is one choice" (although we might if we were stressing "is"). But here we have a modal "

Re: cannot vs. can not  •  July 18, 2013, 1:37pm  •  1 vote

@nadibes - The problem for me is that your example "I was going to X, but if you don't want me to I can not" doesn't sound particularly natural to me. Wouldn't we be more likely to say "but if you don

Re: “There can be only one” or “there can only be one”?  •  July 17, 2013, 11:37am  •  5 votes

There's a slight but well-known conflict with 'only', as purist grammarians say that any adverb, including 'only', should go next to the word it modifies, whereas most linguists and usage guides seem

Re: anything vs. everything  •  July 16, 2013, 4:43pm  •  0 vote

@Felix - in this context, I'd say none.

Re: Does “Who knows” need a question mark?  •  July 15, 2013, 12:10pm  •  0 vote

Porsche is of course right that intonation doesn't necessarily go up at the end of questions, isn't he? - I'm not really asking a question with that tag - 'isn't he?', and the intonation would usually

Re: Chary  •  July 15, 2013, 11:50am  •  0 vote

A troll that has an orange traffic light warning from Web of Trust, what's more (it's a games site).

Re: Capitalization of dog breeds  •  July 14, 2013, 4:34am  •  0 vote

I don't claim to be any expert on dog breeds, but judging by what I've seen at the biggest dog-related websites,yes. Why not try a bit of Googling to check Here's the relevant page (on gundogs) at the

Re: Capitalization of dog breeds  •  July 13, 2013, 7:16pm  •  0 vote

On their website, the Kennel Club (the authority in Britain), capitalise everything - Golden Labrador, German Shepherd, Border Collie, Standard Poodle etc., as do Wikipedia, dogbreedinfo.com, dogtime.

Re: Proper use of st, nd, rd, and th — ordinal indicators  •  July 13, 2013, 6:51am  •  2 votes

Sorry to hear of your problems. All the best.

Re: Proper use of st, nd, rd, and th — ordinal indicators  •  July 13, 2013, 5:54am  •  0 vote

@Brittany - Sorry if I overreacted a bit. I probably read too much into "our (American) normal way". Some people (and I include Brits here) sometimes forget that the English-speaking world stretch

Re: Proper use of st, nd, rd, and th — ordinal indicators  •  July 12, 2013, 9:11pm  •  1 vote

Come to think of it, forgive a Brit's ignorance, but what is an "August 1(st) card" anyway? Is it something to do with horse racing?

Re: Proper use of st, nd, rd, and th — ordinal indicators  •  July 12, 2013, 9:02pm  •  3 votes

@Brittany - It's just a different logic. For me the way you don't like is "normal". I don't really see why the month has to be the focus and why putting it first should be any more logical than puttin

Re: Fora vs Forums  •  July 11, 2013, 3:00pm  •  0 vote

As someone said way back in this thread, usage is the key,and you just have to take each word separately. No one would say musea, but on the other hand, not many would say crisises either. Some go onl

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  •  2 votes

@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  •  1 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  •  2 votes

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  •  2 votes

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  •  5 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  •  1 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  •  1 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  •  1 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  •  1 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  •  2 votes

@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  •  1 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  •  2 votes

@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  •  1 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  •  2 votes

@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

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