Warsaw Will

Joined: December 3, 2010

Number of comments posted: 1309

Number of votes received: 598

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: 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  •  2 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

Re: “Harsh but true” vs “harsh but fair”  •  April 2, 2013, 9:23am  •  1 vote

The judge's sentence was harsh but fair, given the ferocity of the crime. What she said about how drink was destroying his life was harsh but undoubtedly true.

Re: Adverbs better avoided?  •  April 1, 2013, 7:04am  •  3 votes

In the article I mentioned above, Professor Pullum finishes by saying "And I don’t mean just that fine writing with adverbs is possible; I mean that all fine writing in English has adverbs (just open

Re: Anyways  •  March 31, 2013, 5:34pm  •  0 vote

It seems to be dialectal (MWDEU), or informal (Oxford Online). Anyways, you're in good company: both Dickens and Joseph Conrad used it. And in connection with your other question - it is, of course, a

Re: Adverbs better avoided?  •  March 31, 2013, 5:23pm  •  1 vote

Why on earth should you want to condemn a whole word class? This is one of those daft ideas, like avoiding the passive, that some writing schools preach but that good writers completely ignore. The ke

Re: why does english have capital letters?  •  March 31, 2013, 8:20am  •  1 vote

@Xannatos - you do realise, I hope, that it was The Librarian's joke that was "improper", not his grammar. And as he only wrote one sentence, how can "both sentences" be (I presume you mean grammatica

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  March 30, 2013, 11:39am  •  0 vote

@alicelee - there's been quite a bit about it in the British press over the last couple of weeks, but it's a bit of a storm in a teacup, I think. The council in question hadn't been using apostrophes

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  March 30, 2013, 8:33am  •  0 vote

Not longitudinally, evidently, but attitudinally [sic] ?

Re: Newfoundland Expression  •  March 30, 2013, 3:49am  •  0 vote

I'll no doubt get jumped on for following 'It sounds like' with a clause, so I just thought I'd get it in first. Not that I really care; according to MWDEU I'm in good company.

Re: Newfoundland Expression  •  March 30, 2013, 3:39am  •  0 vote

@Mommy B - It sounds like your Portuguese friend is barking up the wrong cork tree. 'It is generally agreed these days that the name Jiggs Dinner, referring to the common Newfoundland meal of salt

Re: “ton” in the Victorian era  •  March 30, 2013, 3:31am  •  0 vote

Hi Skeeter From what I understand, simply groups of people, for example political parties. In an essay on the semantics of 'mob', one academic suggests that 'Edmund's use of head of mobs suggests the

Re: “further” vs. “farther”  •  March 30, 2013, 3:16am  •  1 vote

In the past they were more or less interchangeable, until the end of the 19th century an editor of the OED thought the distinction would be useful. In Britain, Fowler strongly disagreed with him, and

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  March 29, 2013, 1:42pm  •  0 vote

@alicelee - Georgy Porgy appears to be what we call a Little Englander in my neck of the woods.

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  March 29, 2013, 9:52am  •  0 vote

@George 7th - Your Majesty would appear to be as wilfully ignorant or disdainful of both Scotland and North America as your ancestors. From Oxford Dictionaries Online: plead - verb (past and past p

Re: “and yet”  •  March 29, 2013, 4:36am  •  2 votes

@Frogwhisperer - were there two men? As a conjunction, "yet" means "despite this", and is often used after "and" - so we could have "The man (eg. Tom) walked over the bridge, and yet he (eg. Dick) ran

Re: “deal to”  •  March 29, 2013, 4:28am  •  0 vote

By searching a bit more systematically I've found a lot more examples, although even in New Zealand, "deal with" is vastly more common, see: http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2013/03/how-i-de

Re: “deal to”  •  March 28, 2013, 3:10pm  •  0 vote

@nigel - but at least the example sentences in my links made sense, included two from the same (NZ) newspaper and hadn't been given red traffic lights by WOT (Web of Trust). I'd be very careful before

Re: Pled versus pleaded  •  March 27, 2013, 5:37am  •  0 vote

@Jan - I'd never heard of agreeance before, (and its being red-lined by Firefox), but there's an interesting piece on it at - http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/agreeance - and quite a bit of dis

Re: -ic vs -ical  •  March 27, 2013, 5:31am  •  0 vote

@porsche - according to Online Etymology Dictionary you're absolutely right about animal. We apparently got it (via Old French according to Dictionary.com) from the Latin animale (n) "living being, b

Re: “ton” in the Victorian era  •  March 26, 2013, 2:15pm  •  0 vote

I seem to remember my favourites as being Devil's Cub and An Infamous Army; they may have been light books, but her eye to historical detail was excellent.

Re: “ton” in the Victorian era  •  March 26, 2013, 9:58am  •  0 vote

re: WW's last paragraph.I meant we're only allowed to see one in Google Books.

Re: “ton” in the Victorian era  •  March 26, 2013, 9:55am  •  1 vote

I'd forgotten all about "ton"; its a long time since I read any Georgette Heyer. To add a little to what Skeeter has said, it's from the French "bon ton", and refers mainly to members of the upper cla

Re: Difference between “bad” and “poor”  •  March 25, 2013, 2:14pm  •  0 vote

Both "bad" and "poor" have several meanings. Oxford Dictionaries Online list eight different meanings for "bad", one meaning being "of poor quality or a low standard:" for which they give these exampl

Re: optimiSe or optimiZe ?  •  March 23, 2013, 4:42am  •  0 vote

@jacksalemi1 - And your point is?

Re: “If I had studied, I would have a good grade.”  •  March 21, 2013, 1:20pm  •  2 votes

Just to add to what jayles and dyske have said, this is what in EFL and ESL we call a mixed conditional. The first part "If I had studied" is like a 3rd conditional (unreal event in the past), and the

Re: Capitalizing After the Colon  •  March 19, 2013, 2:34pm  •  0 vote

@Levant - Although "there is a quick succession of ..." is the more common expression, a quick check with Google Books shows that there are quite a few examples from reputable publishers that include

Re: “As per ....”?  •  March 19, 2013, 11:09am  •  0 vote

Both Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage and the New Fowler's refer to "as per" as a compound preposition (like "as for" or apart from"), so whatever its faults, I don't think you can really

Re: “my” vs. “mine” in multiple owner possessive  •  March 16, 2013, 3:20pm  •  0 vote

@annp - it is indeed what Fowler called the fused participle, but whether you use a possessive with it or not is purely a matter of formality. In object position, in informal language, object pronouns

Re: hanged vs. hung  •  March 15, 2013, 10:33am  •  1 vote

@Hairy Scot - "chuffed" is in one of Merriam-Webster's lists of "Top ten British words". Your phrase "chuffed to the knickers" reminds me that playwright Harold Pinter was rather fond of the expressio

Re: On Tomorrow  •  March 15, 2013, 10:19am  •  0 vote

@Zee - Just to complicate things, what we call "soda" in the UK is soda water, which I think you call club soda in the States. But according to Wikipedia "In many parts of the US, soda has come to mea

Re: Team names — singular or plural  •  March 12, 2013, 12:31pm  •  2 votes

@AnWulf - Good on you for backing singular they. However the examples with verbs you then give are fine for American usage, but in British usage (which is what some people are complaining about here)

Re: cannot vs. can not  •  March 12, 2013, 12:21pm  •  1 vote

@Henri - OK I misunderstood your argument. I thought you meant "may" for permission, but in fact you're talking about possibility. What I think you're really saying is "I might go, then on the other h

Re: cannot vs. can not  •  March 12, 2013, 12:06pm  •  3 votes

@Henri - do you have any evidence to back you up there. Every dictionary I've looked at has cannot =can not, without any qualification. Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage has several exam

Re: “Anglish”  •  March 9, 2013, 12:11am  •  0 vote

The perils of writing late at night. The second part of the first paragraph should have read something like: By all means choose short words over long, simple rather than over-complex. Yes, it is t

Re: “Anglish”  •  March 8, 2013, 3:48pm  •  0 vote

As this thread now seems to have left the realms of what I would recognise as English, I gracefully bow out and leave the field to the Anglish speakers. I would leave you with one thought, however. By

Re: Idea Vs. Ideal  •  March 6, 2013, 5:27am  •  3 votes

@daniel owens - nice of you to drop by and give us your fascinating insights into this debate. But somehow I seemed to miss what your language point was? It obviously came as a bit of a shock to you t

Re: “deal to”  •  March 4, 2013, 1:52pm  •  0 vote

@HS - Yes, of course (even with to!). Life would be very boring otherwise. But think about it, there is no logical reason why deal should be followed by with, or see by to. Like many phrasal verbs, th

Re: “deal to”  •  March 4, 2013, 11:44am  •  0 vote

More on "to". 1) I discovered via another thread here that there are some Americans that only know the expression "no end" as in "it pleased me no end" with an added "to" - "it pleased me to no end",

Re: “deal to”  •  March 4, 2013, 11:28am  •  0 vote

It's not that strange really; think of - "Perhaps it’s time to see to the ads that are just plain downers"

Re: “deal to”  •  March 4, 2013, 11:16am  •  0 vote

I googled "it's time to deal to" and came up with 16 hits. Apart from a couple of references to this post, they all seem to be from New Zealand. There's another from the NZ Herald: League: It's tim

Re: Defining a proper noun  •  March 3, 2013, 12:59pm  •  0 vote

Hi porsche, I've had very similar ones on my blog, so as soon as I saw it I was suspicious. I delete them there because my blog is for foreign learners and the grammar they used was awful. Talking of

Re: Correct preposition following different? Redux  •  March 2, 2013, 7:20pm  •  0 vote

@HS - to see how it is being used just do a site search of a newspaper, for example the two Scottish ones I gave (more focused than a general Google search). Incidentally my figures for the Telegraph

Re: “no end” and “to no end”  •  March 2, 2013, 5:48pm  •  0 vote

@bradmontreal - It looks as though I spoke a bit too quickly. Although for me (and I think most dictionaries) the standard idiom is "no end", reading that Motivated Grammar post more carefully I real

Re: Defining a proper noun  •  March 2, 2013, 5:54am  •  0 vote

I know I occasionally link to my own blog, but that last comment really looks like spam to me. The page directed to isn't much more enlightening than that comment, and the whole site looks as though i

Re: Correct preposition following different? Redux  •  March 2, 2013, 5:39am  •  0 vote

HI Hairy - I'm sorry, the tone of my last comment was a bit heavy, so I'll try and lighten (and shorten) this one. Personally, I've no idea what we were taught about this at school, or if we were i

Re: Correct preposition following different? Redux  •  March 1, 2013, 4:16pm  •  0 vote

@Hairy Scot - "I still await proof of correctness". Is the onus not rather on the people who criticise something to provide evidence that it is wrong. It is in fact those lambast "different to" who ar

Re: “all but” - I hate that expression!  •  March 1, 2013, 10:59am  •  3 votes

D.A.W. says (said) - "I didn't say anything about the "historical present" because that is rarely seen or heard of in the United States in American or Canadian products. " Here's a look at some of

Re: “no end” and “to no end”  •  March 1, 2013, 9:56am  •  0 vote

I would stand that on its head and ask. Is "This amuses me to no end." as acceptable as “This amuses me no end.”? And if it is, do they mean the same thing? "No end" is an idiomatic expression mean

Re: Correct preposition following different? Redux  •  March 1, 2013, 8:10am  •  0 vote

@Hairy Scot - 'I do of course include "different to" in that category.' Then you're at odds with just about every authority on British English I've seen. Here's what Fowler had to say in the origin

Re: As of  •  February 28, 2013, 1:53pm  •  0 vote

@jayles - I think you mean "fings" I was taught on my teacher training that the use of the continuous is a standard part of Indian English, not an "overuse". When did I say that I "taught" RP?

Re: “all but” - I hate that expression!  •  February 28, 2013, 12:59pm  •  0 vote

@D.A.W. - I was going to let this drop, but I think I'll follow your habit of serial comments. Coincidentally, I happened to be doing present tenses with a student this morning. This is from Intellige

Re: “all but” - I hate that expression!  •  February 28, 2013, 12:48pm  •  1 vote

@D.A.W. A propos apologising: You originally wrote (just check back - February 24, 2013, 6:25pm): "So many people have lost sight or the fact that the present tense means RIGHT NOW. Here are som

Re: “all but” - I hate that expression!  •  February 28, 2013, 12:29pm  •  0 vote

@D.A.W. - I knew it would be fun! And with such a gentleman, too! This is from the American Heritage Dictionary, quoted in the Free Dictionary: "Usage Note: In American usage government always t

  5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13