Very often we hear expressions like 'One of his friends...', 'One of my books...' and so on. It goes without saying that this type of noun phrase should be treated as singular; we're talking only about that 'one', not the rest of 'his friends' or 'my books'. Though some people use a plural verb due to the proximity of the plural latter part of the phrase, it's generally not considered

Have you ever considered skipping a meal? Perhaps you have - for health reasons or otherwise. How about switching meals? Is it even possible to do so? As far as I was concerned, there were three main meals in the day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast came as the first meal in the morning - and the name is also logical as you break your nightly fast (= a time period spent without

The word 'only' in English can have many meanings. Taken out of context, it can even lead to misunderstandings.  I saw her only yesterday. This sentence could mean that the speaker had never seen 'her' until yesterday; on the other hand, what the speaker means could be that he/she even saw the other person ('her') as recently as yesterday. As many other adverbs, 'only' also often

The title and other headings of a document are generally expected to stand out. So, among other things, people like to use some capital letters in them. But which letters do you put in upper case, and which not? There seem to be several styles in this regard. Sometimes you find that all the letters of a title are capitalised. THE RISE AND FALL OF SOCIALISM In other cases, only the initial

When it comes to conditional sentences dealing with the past, we're used to seeing the so-called Third Conditional pattern very often. If you had heard his remark, you would have felt embarrassed.  It's about a remark that you didn't hear and, therefore, it's clear that you didn't feel embarrassed either. The condition (which is in the if-clause) didn't happen, so the possible result of it

Thinking is one the skills that human beings can be proud of. While it's debatable whether the lesser creatures can really think, humans have the capacity to think in many different ways. So the way the verb 'think' is used differs a little depending on the kind of thinking involved. Although 'think' can be followed by either 'about' or 'of', these two prepositions are not always

We may have a lot of ideas of our own to write about. These could be interesting to other people too. But it's a rare man (or woman) who doesn't ever need to quote something someone else has said; and sometimes it has to be quoted in their own words too. Enter quotation marks. My brother said, "I want something to eat." She asked, "Where's the bus stop?" Some people prefer to use double

Conventional wisdom has it that the proposition "between" is used when talking about a relationship involving two things or people; and "among" when more than two are involved. Although some people try to follow this advice all the time, general usage doesn't always follow this rule. The idiomatic expression "Between you, me and the gatepost" (meaning that something is meant to be strictly

The second conditional in English is used to talk about imaginary scenarios that the speaker considers unlikely to happen or to be true.  She wouldn't be happy if she found out about it. (But I don't quite think she'll find out.) If I had a million dollars, I'd buy a Porsche. (But I don't have that much money and it's not likely that I'll get it anytime soon.) If I were you, I wouldn't do

Read Anything Except This by sujeewads In some instances, the two words 'except' and 'besides' seem to have almost opposite meanings: He can cook anything except Indian food. (Here the meaning is something like 'minus Indian food', 'excluding Indian food'.) Besides Indian food, he can cook Italian and Chinese food. (Here the meaning is something like 'plus Indian food', 'in ...

Some time back I wrote a post entitled 'If I Were You...', which mainly addressed the issue of mixed conditionals. As mentioned in that post, these sentence structures come into use when the condition you're talking about belongs in a different time slot than the possible outcome. Though these patterns should come naturally to native speakers, they might seem counter-intuitive ...

The word 'agree' has several uses in English. One of the most common among them is to indicate that one person has the same opinion about something as someone else. I agree with him about/on the current situation. (I have the same opinion about the current situation as he does.) I agree with his analysis of the current situation. (I ...

The colour green is generally associated with nature today. To go green is to take environment-friendly measures; any move or movement that's called green is likely to be concerned with the protection of our surroundings. green policies - policies favouring environmental conservation  going green - taking measures to protect nature It's used, by association, to convey other ideas too: If ...

The English conjunctions of the type "no matter what/how/who..." are often used the same way as "whatever/however/whoever...". No matter what you do, I'll be with you. / Whatever you do, I'll be with you. You have to do it no matter how hard it is. / You have to do it however hard it is. No matter who opposes the ...

Some confusion exists over whether to use the nominative or accusative case of pronouns (e.g. I or me, he or him...) after "than" in English. Although the nominative case is the strictly grammatical option when it deals with the subject of the sentence, modern everyday usage often goes against it. He's taller than I. [formal] / He's taller than me. ...

The two English words "alternate" and "alternative" seem to be a bit confusing to many people. The noun "alternative" simply means "something that can be used instead of something else" and nobody replaces it with "alternate". When it comes to the adjective in the same sense, though, some people - especially those who use American English - consider both as ...

Although the second and the third conditionals in English are both used to talk about things that we think are unreal, they deal with two very different scenarios.The former appears in situations where we think the condition (which is expressed by the part of the sentence that contains the conjunction 'if' or 'unless') is rather unlikely to happen. The latter, ...

In many languages in the world, inanimate things are sometimes assigned feminine gender in a figurative way to highlight their gentle or generous qualities. The moon cast her gentle light on the fields. We sometimes marvel at nature and her abundance. However, there are some languages that always view such things as either masculine or feminine. For example, the French ...

The word 'must' is a very common one in the English language. One of its uses is to say that it's necessary for someone to do something. I must leave now, otherwise I'll be late for work.  You must work harder. The expressions 'have to' and 'have got to' are also taken to convey a similar meaning.  We have to ...

English verbs of perception like 'see', 'hear', 'feel', 'watch' and 'listen to' can be followed by an object with a verb attached to it. This happens when you talk about some perceived action of that object. I saw my brother enter the room. The child heard her sister singing.  The verb following the object is sometimes in the form of ...

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