Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

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Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. Learn More

Username

Warsaw Will

Member Since

December 3, 2010

Total number of comments

1371

Total number of votes received

1527

Bio

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.

Latest Comments

“This is she” vs. “This is her”

  • October 8, 2015, 8:59am

@polisny - My point about the expression 'bound relative clause' was that it is rare outside specialist circles - indeed I would call it jargon, while 'relative clause' is pretty well common currency. On Google, there are a mere 400 hits for "bound relative clause" ( a thousand times that for relative clause, and none at all on Ngram.

In most grammar teaching outside linguistics, bound relative clauses ("the type most often considered" - Wikipedia) are simply referred to as relative clauses, although divided into defining and non-defining, or other similar expressions: restrictive / non-restrictive, identifying / identifying, and ocasionally sentential and co-ordinating. Yes in linguistics, bound relative clauses contrast with free relative clauses: "What I want is ..., All I said was ...", but we usually call them nominal relative clauses, and deal with them separately.

Hi HS. I think there are a couple (of) different things going on here.

Firstly, days of the week: I think it's common in American English not to use "on", and I don't think there's anything very new here, although some would say it's used more in casual speech. In Huckleberry Finn, 1884, in spoken dialogues (dialect?), "on" is sometimes ommited:

"Well, after dinner Friday we was laying around in the grass at the upper end of the ridge, and got out of tobacco.

"Do you like to comb up Sundays, and all that kind of foolishness?"

although it seems to be used in the main text:

"and on Sundays he wore a blue tail-coat with brass buttons on it."

And from Henry James, The Turn of the Screw, 1898:

' "You'll receive the packet Thursday morning?" I inquired.' (the narrator)

And in Walden, 1854, by Henry Thoreau:

"and is obliged to sprout potatoes in a cellar Sundays, in order to keep awake and keep the Sabbath".

More up to date, these are both from NJ.com, published in New Jersey:

"The two teams will make up the game Saturday as part of a day-night doubleheader."
" “I will be coaching the game on Saturday,” Rutgers football coach said."

But it has to be said that there are far more Google entries for "the game on Saturday" (4m+), than for "the game Saturday" (c.300,000)


Again, omitting the "and" after hundreds is standard in American English, and English course books point this out when teaching numbers. Most foreign learners of course, much prefer the simpler American way.

Which only really leaves the dates, and I have to confess, I haven't heard them said this way. Although, I would suggest that omitting prepositions, especially "of" is common in writing, and I see no problem with that. For example, the Economist (paper edition) has "October 3rd - 9th 2015". Online, the Guardian has " 8 October 2015", The Times "Thursday, October 8", the Telegraph "Thursday 08 October 2015". But that doesn't mean we say them like that.

If anyone else were...

  • October 8, 2015, 7:44am

Many would consider both correct, Oxford Dictionaries giving these two examples:

"if I were to lose ..."
"if I was to tell you, you’d think I was mad"

There is some argument to say "were" is more elegant (others might say it simply makes you sound "educated"), but few today would say "was" is incorrect, at least in speech. But it's true that by using "were" you're unlikely to upset anyone, whereas there is still a rather tradionalist school of thought that considers "was" incorrect here, and I'd certainly use "were" in more formal contexts. On the internet with "if he/I" "was" is well in the lead, with "if anyone" the difference is not so great, although "was" is still ahead.

I think jayles has the possibly the best answer: it sounds good. That's fine, and I'd no doubt agree, but we don't have to be elegant all the time.

@jayles - I think the second reference was a bit too specific, with very low numbers. I think this gives a better picture, and is what I'd largely expect:

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=if+anyone+were+to%2Cif+anyone+was+to&case_insensitive=on&year_start=1500&year_end=2008&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t4%3B%2Cif%20anyone%20were%20to%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Bif%20anyone%20were%20to%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BIf%20anyone%20were%20to%3B%2Cc0%3B.t4%3B%2Cif%20anyone%20was%20to%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Bif%20anyone%20was%20to%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BIf%20anyone%20was%20to%3B%2Cc0

The 1900s

  • September 24, 2015, 9:23am

Not another one! I'm getting fed up with these. Reported.

“This is she” vs. “This is her”

  • September 24, 2015, 9:20am

@polisny - I'm afraid you lost me at "diachronic lexicon", and then again at "referential indexicality". I teach English and run a grammar blog and have a pretty reasonable grasp of grammatical terms, but you seem to delight in using highly specialist terminology, which I would suggest is rather out of place here, (a "bound relative clause", for example, is known to most of the world and his dog simply as a relative clause), or feel the need to explain at great length concepts we are well aware of , such as subject complements.

Sorry to say this, but I might be more interested in reading what you have to say if you used a bit of plain English, in perhaps a rather more concise way, and I didn't feel I was being spoken down to the whole time.

How does one debate a person?

  • September 22, 2015, 6:04am

Hi Jim,

There's a bit of "will debate you/him/her/them" on the Internet, mostly American, but not only. This is from British comic commentator and columnist, Mark Steel:

'To sum up, Cameron is saying to Miliband "I will debate you anywhere, anytime, as long as no one can see or hear the debate." '

This was no doubt after Ed Milliband, then British leader of the opposition had said (of David Cameron):

“The British public deserve this debate. I will debate him, any time, any place, anywhere. He should stop ducking and weaving and he should name the date.”

Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party was also in on the act:

"I will debate him anytime, anywhere, on any number of occasions"

And this is from Australia:

"If Monckton is indeed a windbag (as you presume) the easiest way to make him go away is to debate him"

“This is she” vs. “This is her”

  • September 16, 2015, 8:53am

Well, it seems to me you’ve somewhat overcomplicated a relatively simple issue, but you raise some interesting points. I'll limit myself, however, to briefly looking at just four:

You call “He ain’t happy” colloquial American English, to which a Londoner might reply “No, it ain’t”, well, not exclusively, at least. It seems to have developed from “an’t”, of which there are three examples in Congreve’s Love for Love (1695), my favourite being “Sea-calf! I an't calf enough to lick your chalk'd face, you cheese-curd, you.”. There are several examples of the use of “ain’t” in Dickens, and for a while it was also part of British upper class cant. In modern London dialect “ain’t” is often used in double negatives –“I ain’t never seen him”, “It ain’t none of your business”. In popular culture there was the 1970s British TV series “It ain’t half hot, Mum”, and more up to date, we have “I ain’t bovvered” (Lauren, Catherine Tait Show). While I totally agree with you about the “my variety of English is better than yours” way of thinking, which of course is linguistic nonsense, I would hate to see British English denied its claim to this particular and important corner of the language.

It’s true that English has no academy, a fact I rejoice in, but you seem to be suggesting that for that reason descriptivism “takes home the prize” . But I’m afraid I don’t see any necessary connection between the two. Prescriptivism and descriptivism are two different ways of looking at language, and the lack of an academy didn’t stop prescriptivism ruling the roost in English grammar on both sides of the Atlantic for some two hundred years. Nor does the existence of an academy rule out a descriptive approach: the three volume Gramática Descriptiva de la Lengua Española, is published under the auspices of none other than the Real Academia Española (R.A.E), often seen as the guardians of prescriptivism in Spain.

Ellipsis, gerunds and present participles – some modern grammarians are dropping the distinction between gerunds and present participles, and in EFL teaching we often refer to both as –ing forms, but seeing you mentioned them, there is no way I can see “Speaking” in your “Hi Scott” example being an ellipsis of a gerund phrase (at least not in the way gerund is understood in English grammar, i.e. as having a nominal function). Nor do I think tit ios necessary to think about any number of possible variations – “Speaking” here is simply an ellipsis of the natural English expression “This is Scott speaking”. No further explanation (such as “the person who(m) ... etc ”) is necessary, and I would suggest, leads you into very unnatural constructions that no native speaker would ever utter. As I understand it, elipsis is the omission of words from natural expressions, such as "It's time you went to bed" "I don't want to (go to bed)", not from artificial constructs.

Lastly, I would be careful with expressions like “a lot of common French people”. Native speakers might not read this in quite the way you intended!

@Warsaw Will - More than 5 votes?

What is the significance of the yellow backgrounds that some comments have?

waiting on

  • September 1, 2015, 9:06am

HS got there before me. Yes, you hear it quite a lot in Scotland - "I'm just waiting on my friends". I was going to suggest it was more colloquial than standard, but then I found this on the official website of Edinburgh University:

"Those waiting on exam results will be sent offers once your exam results have been received by the University."

and this from Skills Development Scotland ("a public body", i.e. a quango)

"Waiting on Exam Results - Don't Panic"

It's also crept south of the border. This is from The Telegraph

"Liverpool news: Jordan Henderson waiting on results from scan on injured foot"

And from the Scottish press:

(Alistair) Darling: World is waiting on currency answers - The Scotsman
Horse Racing: Sprint boss waiting on course thaw - The Scotsman
Cold comfort for patients waiting on operations - The Herald

But there aren't too many, and this one from the Herald suggests the writer perhaps wouldn't use the expression himself - ' He said the advisory group was "still waiting on an answer" from the industry on the question of an alternative to strict liability.'

Some are a bit ambiguous. This is from the BBC, but does the "on" belong more with "waiting" or "deals"?:

"Crewe Alexandra: Steve Davis waiting on two defender deals"

A couple from the British Parliament:

"but they have always seemed to be waiting on a decision from others in order to be able to allocate time."

"Q7 Jeff Cuthbert: So, Arriva Trains is just waiting on a decision from the Welsh Assembly Government. Is that what you are telling us?"

Does it have a special affinity with words like "results" and "decision" in these more standard English contexts, I wonder?

Questions

When “one of” many things is itself plural November 27, 2011
You’ve got another think/thing coming September 29, 2012
Fit as a butcher’s dog May 22, 2013
“reach out” May 25, 2013
Tell About October 18, 2013
tonne vs ton January 25, 2014
apostrophe with expressions of distance or time February 2, 2014
Natural as an adverb April 13, 2014
fewer / less May 3, 2014
Opposition to “pretty” March 7, 2015