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Which of the following statements is grammatically incorrect? And why? (I don't know the answer. Ignore the marks)

  1. Meats and vegetables are so expensive these days. We'd better eat out.
  2. I'd rather go swimming than playing tennis outside. I hate sweating.
  3. We should not forget those who have given their lives in the defence of freedom.
  4. I gave him the invitation myself. He can't have forgotten about the wedding.
  5. Since the accident, he sometimes doesn't speak clearly. The injury may have caused brain damage.

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  • IMHO this question is very much offtopic due to being a "find and correct errors" type, but is definitely interesting, challenging, and has a high bounty. So I feel if ELL is going to let it slide for this question, a good answer needs to really explain why in depth without resorting to the term "idiomatic". I really think #2 is incorrect but can't immediately find anything to justify it. – LawrenceC Mar 18 '20 at 17:16
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+500

Let's look into each sentence:

Meats and vegetables are so expensive these days. We'd better eat out.
Grammatical structure: [Subject] + had better + [base verb].
Correct.

I'd rather go swimming than playing tennis outside. I hate sweating.
The second sentence is correct: after "hate" we use a gerund. But if we talk about verbs used to talk about sports (link), we say go swimming (swim with -ing), but play tennis ("play" is a base verb in here).
That is why we should say: I'd rather go swimming than play tennis outside. I hate sweating.
Incorrect.

We should not forget those who have given their lives in the defence of freedom.
"Who" is the appropriate pronoun (related to people). The structure have given is OK as we talk about past actions and results are noticeable in the present.
Correct.

I gave him the invitation myself. He can't have forgotten about the wedding.
To give sth yourself is a grammatically correct structure. The second sentence is also fine because "cannot" means 0% probability and Present Perfect after this modal verb refers to the connection with past actions.
Correct.

Since the accident, he sometimes doesn't speak clearly. The injury may have caused brain damage.
The second sentence is the replication of the rule discussed in the 4th example. We use Present Simple in the first sentence because of "sometimes" - word-linker.
Correct.

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    I would say that the first sentence is not idiomatic, because though "meats" exists (meaning different kinds of meat) it is not something that anybody would say in this context: we would use the uncountable "meat". I would not class this as a grammatical error, but some people might. – Colin Fine Mar 18 '20 at 16:47
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    I agree with your conclusion about the second sentence, but I think your explanation is confused. The -ing on "swimming" is not the issue here: it is simply the parallelism between base verbs "go" and "play". – Colin Fine Mar 18 '20 at 16:49
  • @ColinFine I am not sure that the issue is just parallelism. "Go playing tennis" is not idiomatic in at least US English whereas "go swimming" is. Thus to make the sentence grammatical, we have to infer "go playing tennis," which renders it unidiomatic. The issue is that grammatically we need a complete verb after "I'd" not just a participle. I decided to avoid what is a complex subtlety in my answer. Am interested in your view. – Jeff Morrow Mar 18 '20 at 18:40
  • @JeffMorrow: right. I didn't even notice the reading where playing parallels swimming. – Colin Fine Mar 18 '20 at 18:43
  • The first sentence is definitely incorrect. it's ironic that it's been accepted as an answer! – Fermichem Mar 21 '20 at 9:39
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Number 2 has a definite error. It should be

I'd rather go swimming than play tennis.

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  • I agree. "go swimming than playing tennis" lacks parallelism. – Jack O'Flaherty Mar 18 '20 at 16:28

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