Warsaw Will

Joined: December 3, 2010

Number of comments posted: 1361

Number of votes received: 776

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: “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  •  3 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  •  1 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

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

Re: “make a decision” or “take a decision”  •  April 30, 2013, 10:26am  •  0 vote

Peace breaks out all round :)) @Loumi - As you're in Canada, I'm not surprised you haven't heard it, as this seems to be a purely British English (including parts of the Commonwealth) thing, and y

Re: “make a decision” or “take a decision”  •  April 29, 2013, 4:29pm  •  0 vote

@Loumi- " Personally, I would never rely on newspaper articles wherein numerous grammatical errors can be found." Well, instances of "take" are certainly quite numerous. Google site searches today:

Re: Reference, refer.  •  April 28, 2013, 2:11am  •  0 vote

This graph would suggest that the use of "reference" as a verb has increased quite dramatically since about 1960, and that although more common in the US, has seen a similar, if smaller, increase in t

Re: Reference, refer.  •  April 28, 2013, 2:04am  •  0 vote

@Damian C - I wasn't making any judgements either way, simply observing. Although I certainly agree with you about my last BNC example, which I'm not sure was even grammatical. My interest in the US g

Re: When “that” is necessary  •  April 28, 2013, 1:50am  •  0 vote

@Jasper - Firstly, humble apologies for misidentifying you. I'd been having a bit of a discussion with jayles recently and got confused. Secondly, to the nitty gritty. I have no problem with "so th

Re: Reference, refer.  •  April 27, 2013, 12:04pm  •  0 vote

Just to mention that the verb reference has another meaning, where I don't think "refer" could be substituted. I wonder if this could be the older meaning (it is the one the dictionary lists first):

Re: Comma before “respectively”?  •  April 22, 2013, 1:32pm  •  2 votes

porsche et al are of course right about trolling being a type of fishing (although I confess I had to check a dictionary, as this seems to be more of a North American usage). Hence the meaning of to s

Re: subconscious vs unconscious  •  April 20, 2013, 4:14am  •  3 votes

@Stu_ck - it seems to me that something similar happens with the expression "begs the question". It's original use in logic is very precise, but not obvious from the words themselves - something vague

Re: “make a decision” or “take a decision”  •  April 18, 2013, 8:43am  •  0 vote

@James C - Bravo. :) But naturally, we should all continue with whatever feels most comfortable (I'm really not sure which I use, or even if I'm consistent). And you're in good company, by the way.

Re: When “that” is necessary  •  April 17, 2013, 11:03am  •  0 vote

@jayles - By the way, although I have withdrawn from the fray, I still keep an eye on the Anglish page, and your Newcastle song would be perfectly understandable to any Scot. "Haud yer whisht" is very

Re: When “that” is necessary  •  April 17, 2013, 10:52am  •  0 vote

@jayles, when "that" starts a noun clause (i.e. a "that" clause), as in your first example, I would suggest (that) it's a conjunction, not a relative pronoun. It's only a relative pronoun when it intr

Re: “make a decision” or “take a decision”  •  April 16, 2013, 10:48am  •  0 vote

@Kay K - some might disagree, but I think Brits count as native speakers. :)) Seriously though, I think it is taught as a standard collocation in British-published course books, especially those

Re: Texted  •  April 16, 2013, 10:36am  •  1 vote

Wouldn't the easiest thing be to look in a dictionary?

Re: When “that” is necessary  •  April 15, 2013, 10:48am  •  1 vote

Yup. Demonstrative pronouns (and determiners - "that book you're reading") can't be omitted.

Re: When “that” is necessary  •  April 15, 2013, 4:00am  •  1 vote

Yes, both your examples were definitely correct. And I'm sure that if it sounds grammatically correct to you as an educated native speaker, it is because it is grammatically correct (or rather vice-ve

Re: When “that” is necessary  •  April 15, 2013, 1:42am  •  1 vote

"That" has several uses, but in two of them, it is possible to omit it: 1. When it is a conjunction introducing a "that" clause which is not the subject, as in your example. But when a "that" claus

Re: On Tomorrow  •  April 14, 2013, 10:51am  •  0 vote

@Wackygrass - Most people in Britain are brought up speaking a non-standard regional dialect, and have been for centuries. It has been estimated that as many as 85% of children arrive at school with t

Re: You’ve got another think/thing coming  •  April 14, 2013, 10:22am  •  0 vote

@Corinna - you're definitely on the right track: it means to just beat somebody, to beat them by a narrow margin. It's often used in the idiom "to pip somebody at the post", the post being the winning

Re: You’ve got another think/thing coming  •  April 14, 2013, 2:16am  •  1 vote

@Corinna - we also use lawn and flower beds (some people think that no British garden is complete without its lawn), but I always used to wonder about the title of Joni Mitchell's The Hissing of Summ

Re: You’ve got another think/thing coming  •  April 13, 2013, 11:42am  •  2 votes

@Corinna - I was trying to be careful not to suggest that you personally had a feeling of superiority, but I can assure you that's the impression I get when I look at sites like Apostrophe Abuse, or p

Re: You’ve got another think/thing coming  •  April 13, 2013, 8:32am  •  0 vote

Correction - Like the use of "less" instead of "fewer"

Re: You’ve got another think/thing coming  •  April 13, 2013, 6:17am  •  3 votes

@Corinna - It all depends on how people understand "correct language". English existed for at least 1000 years before the first grammar book was published. But it always had grammar, it always had rul

Re: You’ve got another think/thing coming  •  April 13, 2013, 2:10am  •  1 vote

Is this a contest to see who's the oldest? HS, you seem to be just pipping me, although I am over retirement age. As the original questioner, I have now realised that if the "thing" version is all you

Re: “make a decision” or “take a decision”  •  April 13, 2013, 1:51am  •  0 vote

Oxford Advanced Learner's, Macmillan's and Longman's dictionaries (all BrE) all give examples of "decision" with "take", Longman's specifying that take a decision "=make an important decision, especia

Re: Apostrophes  •  April 12, 2013, 1:43am  •  0 vote

@porsche - "the standard rule, whatever that may mean" - I simply said this because I had found it on many websites, for example: grammar websites, such as: grammar.about.com and the Grammar Book,

Re: Team names — singular or plural  •  April 11, 2013, 9:34pm  •  0 vote

@colin shaw - from Fowler's (Third edition) - "In BrE it is in order to use either a plural verb or a singular verb after most collective nouns, so long as attendant pronouns are made to follow suit:

Re: Apostrophes  •  April 11, 2013, 1:09pm  •  0 vote

@Skeeter Lewis - "If there is an example of a reputable British author using this form more than say thirty years ago ...". That's a bit of a tall order! It would be like looking for a needle in a ha

Re: Team names — singular or plural  •  April 11, 2013, 12:05pm  •  0 vote

@colin shaw - in terms of "good grammatical rules" when using group nouns, sports commentators are only following standard practice in British English; just look at any British newspaper, British gram

Re: Apostrophes  •  April 10, 2013, 2:23am  •  1 vote

Hi Erin - in your original comment you wrote "If referring to their separate homes, however, it would be phrased as "Jack's and Jill's house." I assumed you were talking about two separate houses, but

Re: Apostrophes  •  April 9, 2013, 1:26pm  •  0 vote

@Skeeter - as I understand it, the standard rule for when two people own an OBJECT is one apostrophe - Jack and Jill's house (sorry about the caps, but I can't see any other way to add emphasis) . Whe

Re: “Harsh but true” vs “harsh but fair”  •  April 9, 2013, 11:18am  •  0 vote

Hi HS I've left a contact address by your comment. (What are PMs? :) )

Re: “Anglish”  •  April 7, 2013, 5:31am  •  0 vote

Sorry jayles, I'm not playing any more. I'm not a Saxon nationalist, so the whole premise of your argument completely passes me by. It seems that the Anglish supporters will brook no discussion except

Re: “Anglish”  •  April 6, 2013, 3:53pm  •  0 vote

@AnWulf - "It's hard for folks who hav spent years learning the latinates (as well as stupid spellings) to let them go." - Not only pretentious but condescending and insulting to British spelling.

Re: “Anglish”  •  April 6, 2013, 1:28am  •  0 vote

@Ængelfolc - why is it that when people want to prove something is bad in English they always choose the most preposterous example they can think of? And I'm sure you realise that "school" came into O

Re: “Anglish”  •  April 5, 2013, 6:36pm  •  0 vote

@jayles - but it is precisely because I'm a non-believer that I have neither the need nor the desire to replace continuous with anything. Sorry, but to be honest I think the whole idea is absolutely d

Re: Resume, resumé, or résumé?  •  April 5, 2013, 5:52pm  •  0 vote

@Brus and Eoin - I think you're both partly correct as regards French punctuation - I make no comment as to its standard punctuation in American English. An e acute is normally pronounced quite short

Re: Capitalizing After the Colon  •  April 5, 2013, 5:25pm  •  1 vote

@Samir Hafza - You can certainly have the link (I'm always happy to blow my own trumpet). I hope you enjoy it, although it's not very conclusive : http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2013/03/ca

Re: “Anglish”  •  April 5, 2013, 4:16am  •  0 vote

The trouble about these equivalents is that many (perhaps most) of us use both the Latin-derived and Anglo-Saxon derived words, but with subtly different meanings and collocations. A showy car, showy

Re: Capitalizing After the Colon  •  April 5, 2013, 3:00am  •  1 vote

@Samir Hafza - On forums like this it is absolutely fair game to disagree with language points other commenters make, and what I was quick to do was to question the grammar point Levant had made, whic

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  April 3, 2013, 2:22am  •  0 vote

@AnWulf - My mother tongue is modern English, not Anglo-Saxon. I revel in the fact that it has its main roots in two language groups, Old English and French, (including Norman and Anglo-french), as we

Re: “Harsh but true” vs “harsh but fair”  •  April 3, 2013, 1:37am  •  0 vote

@HS - they seem pretty evenly matched in Google search, Ngram and Newspaper websites etc. Having thought about it a bit, I think you can almost always substitute "fair" for "true", but not the other w

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  April 2, 2013, 10:51am  •  0 vote

I had thought of pointing out to Georgy Porgy that Old English was likely spoken in Edinburgh (although perhaps not exclusively) long before the Kingdom of England was established, as Edinburgh (itsel

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