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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. You can browse through the latest questions and comments below. If you have a question of your own, please submit it here.

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I was talking with someone via Facebook. I thought she was wrong, and she wrote back to me: “No, Donna, it is you who are wrong”. Had she left out the word “who” then I believe “are” would be correct, but since she included the word “who” then it changes to singular “you” which would require the word “is”. I believe it shoud read “No, Donna, it is you who is wrong”. Please help me on this grammatical issue.

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Watching the World Cup recently has prompted me to ask: Why do the announcers refer to teams as if they are plural? For instance, “England are on the attack.” I think it should be “England is on the attack,” as we are referring to the English team which is a single unit and therefore singular?

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In the interest of being concise, is it acceptable to use “Following is a complete list of tags...” instead of “The following is a complete list of tags...”

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I was speaking to my administrator and explaining how I met another person in our company. I said “her and I traveled to Kansas together”. She stopped me and said it should be “she and I traveled to Kansas together”. I feel both were appropriate, but she disagreed. Could we both be correct?

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There was a pen and three pencils on the table


There were a pen and three pencils on the table.

In this example, the singular noun must precede the plural noun. Which verb is the correct one?

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Consider a scenario where a bloodstain was discovered and analyzed. It was determined the blood came from a single source. Joe is not the source of the blood. Jack is not the source of the blood. Which of the following statements is correct and why? Joe and Jack are excluded as SOURCES of the blood. Joe and Jack are excluded as THE SOURCE of the blood.

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“His being chosen as a headmaster have surprised us.”

Is the sentence above right? Do I have to change the gerund to:

“His having been chosen as a headmaster have surprised us.”

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When one has rendered a female animal unable to bear young, one spays the animal. If it happened last week, the animal was spayed. Over and over, including in vets’ offices, I have seen references to “getting an animal spade,” and even worse, “We had our cat spaded.” I don’t know what that would be: Hit over the head with a small shovel-like object?

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I’d love to know your take on the plural form of sense of humour. Is it sense of humour or senses of humour?

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In the following sentence, would “me” or “myself” be correct and why?

Serious gardeners like my wife and me/myself always use organic fertilizer.

Since the person talking is also a gardener and has referred to himself once already in the sentence as being in the group serious gardeners (”we gardeners”), it seems as if he should use “myself” in the reflexive. Yet this sounds wrong.

Please help! The horrid trend of using “myself” in place of “me” is starting to wear me down and confuse me.

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Latest Comments

eg, e.g., or eg.

Just come across this site as I was taken to task for NOT including stops in eg and wanted to definitively know what's the formal line on this.
[Waaah! EeeeK! Your website wouldn't allow me to write eg. It wanted e.g. !! A subtle ploy to MAKE me do it?]
I have not used stops in dates and abbreviations in years. I agree that it looks cleaner without; the time for old-fashioned flowery style has gone. Even official documents are no longer in this style so we do we need to be? Language, spoken and written evolves. As for saving time: does it? I don't think in this day of fast keyboards that it does but it just looks simpler – and that does it for me.

I stumble over it more and more often, using tumblr. As a non-native speaker it's really annoying. Because we wade into the deep waters of english internet communications to strengthen our language skills. But while I understand that nobody outside of English class speaks Oxford English, I noticed that nowadays it is pretty unlikely to keep your English on an acceptable level for job applications using the internet. Most English and American tumblr bloggers, Goodreads reviewers and Facebook users seem to be worse in writing English than I am. And even though my college ranked me as 'native speaker level' I simply do not understand what they are trying to tell me. While I can communicate with French, Russian and Indian citizens (and mostly Brits as well) in English, especially writing with Americans becomes more and more difficult. Even though I read novels in English and watch most TV shows in original version as well.
So while all those little quirks might seem like natural language evolution to those who use them, they are making it harder to communicate. In a time when English is spoken (or at least written) by almost everyone on the planet and the internet brings us all together, those people segregate themselves again.

Newfoundland Expression

I cook a batch of salt beef 2-3 times a year and make enough to have leftover peas pudding and corned beef hash. The latter is a mix of the leftover meat and vegetables mashed up and fried for breakfast with eggs and bacon, nothing in world like it. ummm. The leftover peas pudding is great cold or hot and good for lunches (nasty side effect though if you get my drift, LOL).
But back to my intended response, the comments on what beef to use.
The salt beef used in "Corned Beef N Garbage" was indeed, salted beef in watery brine, this was a preservative in days gone by. I do not know the cut of the beef but it was low quality and fatty, hence the need to cook it for such a long period. As a boy in St. John's Nfld I remember just about every corner store would have a big wooden barrel full of brine and salt beef. The brine kept it preserved. The store used a big hook to pick out pieces and often the customer would say, not that one, too fatty, etc. There were always complaints about quality LOL. The purchased piece of meat would be weighed and wrapped in paper.
Fast forward to today. You can get salt beef in a few supermarkets but in small pails (4-10 lb sizes). Up until a few years ago most of what I saw in supermarkets was made by Maple Leaf foods but lately there are other brand names, i.e Best Meats.
Yesterday I made a batch of Corned Beef and Cabbage, oops, a Jiggs dinner, and will have leftover corned beef hash for breakfast tomorrow, yeah!!.
What you buy today. I purchased a 4 lb pail ($16.95 cnd), labeled “cured navel beef packed in brine” after cutting off the major fat it yielded less than 2 lbs of fatty raw meat and some with bone in so the meal is no longer an affordable staple meal. This does not seem to be a negative to the brand, it is just what you get these days when you purchase it. I have yet to find a place to buy the salted meat without paying for the brine. Another note, as a boy, the fat was never removed, we burned it off in work and play. Also note the commercial purchased pails now say “keep refrigerated” so I guess the brine is no longer a reliable preservative.
Alternatives. The meat flavor from the salted brine cannot be beat so if you can afford it that is the best way to go. But if you want to increase the meat proportion and keep the cost down a little try adding some pre-packaged “Corn beef brisket”. I say adding because making the meal with just “Corned beef brisket” is good but produces a different meal, not the typical corned beef and cabbage flavour.
This time, I also purchased 2 lbs brisket at $5.4 lb cnd and it yielded no bone and very little fat. I mixed the 2 lbs of brisket with the 2 lbs salt beef from the pail and got a good result. Caveat; wash the brisket really well to get the spices off as much as possible. I like to wash the salt beef but I do not soak it anymore as it is not as salty as it used to be. But that depends on your affinity for salt in your food and the proportion of meat to other vegetables. I use a lot of vegetables to have left overs for corn beef hash. I also cook the meat longer than most suggested 4-5 hours (with peas pudding) adding the vegetables and cabbage at the end.

Pronunciation: aunt

I'm 55 and from Long Island. Ive pronounced it like "ant" my whole life and I refuse to change. And while we're on the subject, i can't stand when people pronounce "anna" as "on a". I mean the two sounds for the letter a is long a as in "acorn" and short a as in "accurate"

Computer mouses or computer mice?

  • Jelal
  • March 11, 2018, 8:40pm

Hello all,

I have just read through 12 years of comments lol. It has thoroughly entertained me.

I studied Computer Science at Uni and the lecturer advised the students that the correct term was "mouses". It could have been his own opinion though.

I wish you all the best and thank you for the lovely read.

Surprise!!!! Both are wrong you can't say she or me for the first person. The answer is " Yes that's me".

Writing out percentages correctly

  • jayles
  • March 4, 2018, 12:08am

Four and seventy-three thousandths per cent ??? (4.073%)

i am stuck on a legal document: how to express "four whole seventy-three thousand percent"

Now mine and my sons glasses are going to cost me a little over $400

Neither is or neither are

  • Gerald
  • February 27, 2018, 2:24pm

What if you were to recast it as "neither one"? I think "is" sounds more natural there.