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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. If you have a question of your own,

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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?

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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.

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In making a plaque, I need to know the correct grammar for the following.

  1. Walking Heavens woods with her daddy.
  2. Walking Heaven’s woods with her daddy.
  3. Walking Heavens’ woods with her daddy.

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I just read this in a Wall Street Journal article

 ”Sandy Bleich, a technology industry recruiter, says that for years a bachelor’s degree was enough ... Now recruiters like SHE are increasingly looking for someone with hands-on experience...”

Query: is the use of SHE correct?!

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“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?

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“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.

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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?)

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Is it correct to say “she is in my same school”?

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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?

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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 [1] 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?

[1] “Who/whom am I to judge.” (?)

[2] “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>

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Latest Comments

On Tomorrow

CONVERSATE IS SLANG. Recently I was corrected that the word is, in fact, in the dictionary, though it is not correct English, and it is considered slang. The correct English word is "converse" which is less to pronounce. Many feel those who use "conversate" are less than literate and not well educated.

On Tomorrow

This has nothing to do with being Southern. Only black people say it, and it is an insult to correct English, just like "axe" for "ask." Nomesayin?

People have lost sight of the fact that there is an "ellipsis" here. In other words, something has been left out, and the result is idiomatic in English.
In these discussions, "but" means "except", and the fact is that "except what?" has been left out. The ellipsis is "a negligible amount" or "a negligible number".
The expression, "The Colonials were all but eliminated by the Cylons," means "Except for a negligible number of them, the Colonials were eliminated by the Cylons."
Likewise, "The fighting strength of the boxer was all but extinguished," means "Except for a negligible amount, the fighting strength of the boxer was gone."
People get all but completely confused when they do not recognize the idiomatic nature of some expressions.
Please do not try to interpret them literally. You will all but lose your mind!

"...acclimate, acclimatise, and acclimatize all mean the same thing."
I completely agree. There are plenty of such similar words in English, and we should be prepared to understand all of them. Some of the differences are very slight, such as in the case of "judgement" and "judgment".
Furthermore, I have read that for reasonably comprehensive dictionaries, you need 100,000 words in French, but you need 200,000 words in German, and you need 300,000 words in English!
Just give your acknowledgment/ acknowledgement to these facts. English is a very rich language.

Yes, people like she is grammatically correct. Like in this case means "such as". People like her would mean people are fond of her.

I think we're as stuck with "all but" as we are with "each and every."

I hate the way people misuse the word "concerning" these days, i.e. " Her headaches are very concerning." Concerning what? Where did it start? Why does it go on? Thank you for listening. I'm blowing off steam. It's not politically correct to be grammatically correct these days. is most assuredly “THIS IS SHE”! mother was an English teacher.....”is” implies a “state of being”, and that requires a “subjective pronoun”, even though it is in an “objective position” in the sentence!


  • Dgirl
  • May 14, 2018, 5:55pm

Text should be the same as hurt for the present and past tense. Period.

Screw The Pooch

Screwed the pooch, hell, that woman screwed the entire dog pound.