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  • There's a sign reading "No Entry".
  • There's a sign reads "No Entry".
  • There's a sign which reads "No Entry".
  • There's a sign that reads "No Entry".
  • There's a sign to read "No Entry".

Which one is right? I'm quite confused about the usage of these tenses.

2 Answers 2

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The basic sentence is "There is a sign." You then need a modifier and there are two choices. You can either use a participle:

There's a sign reading "No Entry".

Or a relative clause

There's a sign that reads "No entry".
There's a sign which reads "No entry".

The second option is not grammatical (though learn about relative clauses without a pronoun)

The last gives purpose of the object, which is not the meaning you want. Compare with:

I use my glasses to read the newspaper.

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  • Nice explanation; +1. I'd like to add that #2 would be okay, if in the form: There's a sign and it reads "No Entry".
    – J.R.
    Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 11:19
  • What do you mean by "the second option is not grammatical"?
    – KarlG
    Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 11:20
  • I mean "There's a sign reads "no entry"" does not follow the "rules" of English syntax.
    – James K
    Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 11:50
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1, 3 and 4 are grammatically correct. 2 and 5 are not. But generally signs, in BrE at least, don't "read": they "say", as in "There's a sign saying 'No Entry'".

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  • 1
    Not sure I agree. "The sign reads..." seems fine to me. (native Br Eng speaker)
    – James K
    Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 10:42

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