This is a forum to discuss the gray areas of the English language for which you would not find answers easily in dictionaries or other reference books.
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Latest Posts : Grammar
What does “that” mean in the following sentences? Are there any rules which apply to the exact phrases which “that” refers to?
1. The graphs above show the rates of electricity generation of Kansas and “that” of the U.S. total in 2010.
Q. Doesn’t “that” refer to “electricity generation”? If yes, isn’t “of” needed before “that”?
2. The rate of electricity generation by nuclear power plants in Kansas was about the same as that of the U.S. total.
Q. Doesn’t “that” refer to “the rate of electricity generation by nuclear power plants”? If yes, why is it “that in the U.S. total”, instead of “that of the U.S. total” to be parallel with in Kansas?
There is a structure used by native speakers that I often read on social media, referring to people who have passed away, on the day of their anniversary. e.g. “He would have been 60 today.” Shouldn’t it be “He would be 60 today”? Meaning, if he were alive, he would be 60 today.
“I had a talk with so and so,” is a common phrase, so I would imagine that “I had a small talk with so and so,” is equally correct. But “small talk” appears to be treated as an uncountable noun most of the time. Is it countable or uncountable? If both, in what contexts does it become one or the other?
“We have to go to the store yet.”
I would just remove the “yet” all together; however, I keep hearing someone use the word yet in this fashion and I am wondering if they are grammatically correct.
Problem with capitalizing and pluralizing official titles. For example:
He is a State Governor (or a state governor; a State governor; a state Governor: a governor of a state; Governor of a State?) in Nigeria.
She is a deputy registrar (or is it a Deputy Registrar?) in my university. Many Deputy Registrars (or is it deputy registrars?) attended the conference.
Some university Registrars (or is it university registrars) have criticized the policy.
Many Presidents (or is it presidents) came in person. Others were represented by their Vice Presidents (vice presidents?)
Dear Sirs, I read your post on “I was/ I were”. I found it very helpful, resuscitating memories of English classes. I’m still not sure if I should use “was” or “were” in this sentence, below.
“And if anyone else were to peek, they would see the bear cubs looking fast asleep, dreaming of all the things they loved.”
The “anyone else” might be peeking and might not be peeking. We don’t know. “were” sounds better to my ear, but my MS Word has it underlined in green. Who is correct? Me or the machine?
Now, I’ve been rolling this question over for few weeks now. I personally believe whom in the cases, but on we go. After writing most of this, I think  should be who now.
The infinitive phrase/clause normally takes the objective case as its “subject”.
“I wanted to meet him.”
Thus, the corresponding interrogative:
“Whom did he want to meet?”
But what happens if you take this construction and use it with a copular verb?
 “Who/whom am I to judge.” (?)
 “I am who/whom to be.” (?)
Which may correspond to the declarative sentences (U=unacceptable; A=acceptable):
[1a] “I am he to judge.”
[1b] “I am him to judge”
[2a] “I am he to be.”
[2b] “I am him to be.”
[2c] “I am to be he.” (U)
[2d] “I am to be him.”(A)
It is possible to expand them into relative clauses:
[1a'] “I am the person who can judge them.”(A)
[1b'] “I am the person whom can judge.” (U)
[2a'] “I am the person (who) you should be.” (U)
[2b'] “I am the person (whom) you should be.” (A)
The construction has two verb constructions (one copular and the other infinitive) vying for dominance. So thoughts? These conundrums are fascinating and, due to my obsessive-compulsiveness, frustrating. </p>