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Questions tagged [grammaticality]

Grammaticality refers to whether something obeys the rules of English grammar.

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Is “I was had” standard English?

I've recently watched West Side Story and heard some weird expressions, one of which is "I was had": Dear kindly Judge, your Honor, My parents treat me rough. With all their marijuana, They ...
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Why is “Mary told the cake to be cut by John” ungrammatical?

Mary told the cake to be cut by John. A textbook says that this example is ungrammatical, but it seems to make sense to me: where does the sentence have its fault?
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Is “says you” grammatically correct?

So I heard it from a character in a movie, and looked it up. If it's correct, why add '-s' to say when the subject is "you"?
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What's wrong with “Most people in the country would like to own their house some day.”?

The following is a problem from my textbook. The following sentence has an error. Find it and correct it. (1)[Most people] in the country (2)[would like] to own (3)[their house] (4)[some day]. ...
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I have “a doubt” about whether this phrase is acceptable English

To my (British) ear, it never sounds correct to say you have a doubt about something. I expect that doubt to be pluralised, even if there's only one specific thing that I'm doubtful of, in one ...
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In how many ways can something not be right?

There's this large source of confusion among learners and sometimes even native speakers. They tend to think if something doesn't sound right to their ears, it must be ungrammatical, while that's at ...
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Two consecutive gerunds? -ing -ing?

I am considering to set up a cyber cafe. I am considering setting up a cyber cafe. I think it should be version #2 where the verb considering is followed by the gerund setting. But it sounds ...
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Why is “He is the kind of person who, if he had lived …, people would not have been able to categorise him.” ungrammatical?

Could anyone explain why this sentence is considered ungrammatical? You often hear quite literate people saying hideously ungrammatical things such as: "He is the kind of person who, if he had lived ...
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If “I woke up at 10” is okay, what about “I slept at 10”?

When did you wake up? I woke up at 10. But then if I say, “When did you sleep?” I slept at 10. – seems difficult to digest! That's because sleep is a process that includes duration. I ...
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Difference between “where are you from” and “where do you come from”

What is the difference between "where are you from" and "where do you come from"? Are they the same? Are they used in the same situations or not? When you see someone for the first time which one ...
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Is “The two men Savchenko, an Iraq war veteran, was convicted of helping to kill were . . . ” grammatical?

In a blog, I read the following sentence: The two men Savchenko, an Iraq war veteran, was convicted of helping to kill were Anton Voloshin and Igor Kornelyuk. I can only understand that it says ...
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Is it wrong to say “You are smarter than me”?

You are smarter than me. You are smarter than I am. Is there any difference between these two? One of my friends told me first sentence is wrong, but the second one is correct. But he could not ...
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Can things “grow smaller”?

This is the headline of an online article: Tasty Fish Grow Smaller in Warming Ocean. And this is from Google search: Why Belgian coins grow smaller. Growing is all about increasing in size and ...
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“I talk dog talk to the dog.”

I read a kids’ story book. In the story book, it says: I talk dog talk to the dog. [. . . .] I talk baby talk to the baby, and the baby talks back to me.Source: Talk, Talk, Talk, by Joy ...
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“Too expensive for me to afford it” why ungrammatical?

The medicine was too expensive for me to afford it. My practice question marked that as wrong for I didn't put the It out at the last. It suggested me to use "...too expensive for me to afford". I ...
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Is it wrong to hyphenate a phrasal verb like “log in” or is it a matter of style?

People log in to Facebook. In this sentence, if I change log in to log-in, will it be grammatically incorrect? Or the adding/omission of a hyphen is just a matter of style? The other thing is, if ...
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A sentence in Present tense was understood as future tense

I came across a Chinese web site selling skirts and then paid for two skirts in different colors. After I had paid for the skirts, I sent a short message to them: please let me know when you send ...
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“president-elect” grammatically correct?

Why is "president-elect" grammatically correct? Shouldn't it be "president-elected" or "elected president"?
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2answers
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“me [gerund]” or “my [gerund]” at the beginning of sentences?

A.1 The lions reacted to my singing. A.2 The lions reacted to me singing. B.1 My singing alarmed the lions. B.2 Me singing alarmed the lions. As far as I know, both A.1 and A.2 are ...
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What does this sentence in Harry Potter mean?

“Well, Voldemort’s going to try other ways of coming back, isn’t he? I mean, he hasn’t gone, has he?” “No, Harry, he has not. He is still out there somewhere, perhaps looking for another body to ...
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Why not use “casualties” in “Small shops have been a casualty of the recession.”?

From the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary: Small shops have been a casualty of the recession. "Shops" is plural here while "casualty" is singular. Any reason for that? Can I have the sentence ...
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Is this sentence grammatically wrong? (Using as)

As owning a car is helpful, it costs a lot. Is this sentence grammatically wrong? The answer key said 'As' can't be used in this situation. But I think as can be used in many different ways.
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Are double negatives like 'he's never not been in the family' grammatically correct? [duplicate]

I'm asking this question because I was taught not to use double negatives, because they are ungrammatical and that people who use them sound uneducated. However, today here on this site I found an ...
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5answers
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Analysing the “kind(s) of problem(s) are [ones]/[to be]” construction

A. These kinds of problem are to be avoided. B. These kind of problems are to be avoided. Are both A and B grammatical? If not, why not? If so, after having noticed the parallelism between A and ...
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On the singular vs plural aspects of “who”

In a question like this one, for example, Who have/has come? Is the word "who" singular or plural? Or is it both plural and singular? I have heard it’s plural. Please correct me if I am wrong.
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“Is it proved that …?” vs. “Has it been proven that …?”

Searching The New York Times, I found 22,100 results for "is it proved" and, therefore, I argue that that phrase is likely correct English. But on History Stack Exchange a user edited the following ...
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“The group of fifty people {is / are} going to arrive Thursday” - which is preferred?

Isn't the following sentence grammatically correct? The group of fifty people are going to arrive Thursday. What's wrong with it? Someone said it should be The group of fifty people is going ...
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1answer
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“Gave me one of the recipes that were/was”?

I know this is a common question on the web, but I still wasn't sure about this particular sentence. "She gave me one of the recipes that were/was in her personal cookbook." In this sentence, I'm ...
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Is “Call me when you are available to talk” correct?

Call me when you are available to talk Is that correct? Can I use it that way?
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“I'm teaching at university VS I teach at university”

What is the difference between "I'm teaching at university" and "I teach at university"? another example: "I work in the library every day" VS "I am working in the library every day"
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1answer
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Is it 'cold to touch' or 'cold to the touch'?

Do you need the article 'the' in the following sentence. Please explain. The gun felt cold to touch. The gun felt cold to the touch.
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Meaning of 'What are they upto?'

I had heard this from someone who was saying this to her dogs. As 'upto' has different meanings and those meanings do not fit in this sentence. So what does it mean ?
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What does “I want him to know I want him to know” mean?

Lately, I watched Kill Bill (Vol. 1), with quite an attention. At the last (when Beatrix speaks to Sophie), I got confused by a few dialogues. She said, "I want him to know what I know. I want him ...
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Grammar of Polonius, Act 2, Scene 2, Hamlet

15% down the page: LORD POLONIUS [says:] This business is well ended. My liege, and madam, to expostulate What majesty should be, what duty is, Why day is day, night night, and time is time, ...
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What's the difference between in/to?

I am confused now because I don't know what is the difference between in/to in the sentence like this one. For example : She has been to York. (And) She has been in York. She was in London (and) She ...
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what kind of an animal vs. what kind of animal

An excerpt from Java for Dummies, 6th Edition: If you already know what kind of an animal Java is and know that you want to use Java, skip Chapter 1 and go straight to Chapter 2. Believe me, I won’...
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Is “It is I who decides.” correct?

Google Translator translates c'est moi qui decide as "it is I who decides." I'm confused about "decides" being correct, since there is I before who. Is decides right, or should decide be used?
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Can we shorten explanatory “that is” to “that's” in speech and writing?

I've never seen or heard the explanatory "that is" shortened to "that's", but it wouldn't hurt to be sure if it's possible or not When you recount a story, you can either use past or present tenses,...
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Grammatically correct: 'are you hurt' and 'do you hurt'

"Are you hurt?" is grammatically correct. However, is it correct to ask someone in pain "Do you hurt?"?
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3answers
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Grammatically right way to answer the phone

When you pick up the phone and someone asks for you, should you say "It is I" like you were an actor from a Shakespearean play or "It is me" like you had dropped middle school?
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“start from the beginning” vs “begin from the starting”

What is the difference between the following two sentences? Do they both mean the same? Why don't you start from the beginning? Why don't you begin from the starting?
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Is it correct to say 'It takes 2 hours, 4 hours top'?

I'd have expected it should rather be 2 hours, 4 hours max. So can top in this context be used like a synonym for max? Is this a common phrase?
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“It's an interesting topic for me” versus “It's interesting to me”: Does it really matter?

I've just caught myself out twice by writing something down as being interesting for me! This is a typical Italian mother-tongue error, but Italian is not my first language. It used to be English, but ...
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3answers
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Seemingly unnecessary verbs in comparisons

I've come across a strange habit in comparisons that seems to be pretty popular. Instead of saying (what I think to be correct): He runs faster than Robert. Sometimes I hear or read: He runs ...
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At or in the mirror?

I am confused with the prepositions. Is it... looking at the mirror looking in the mirror
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Is it incorrect to say “I slept at six” in English? [duplicate]

I know there are many sentences like I went to sleep at six and I slept at six, but I want to know why it is incorrect to say "I slept at six" in English.
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How should I ask a barber the fee of a haircut?

I'm struggling as to which one of these two sentences is right. If neither, then what is the right sentence? How much is the fee for a haircut? How much do you charge for a haircut?
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“bigger” vs. “more big”

As we know, comparatives compare two things. So, for example, we say that one thing is larger or more temperate than another thing. Now, let us consider the following examples. A. The African ...
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“To go to buy” or “to go buy”?

When I spoke with a friend of mine, I had noticed she used sentences similar to "I need to go buy food." Is it correct to say "to go buy," or should I say "to go to buy"? I know that I could say "...
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1answer
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I'd rather stay than go/to go/going home?

Despite being reasonably fluent in English, I have no intuition for what's correct here: I'd rather stay than go home. I'd rather stay than to go home. I'd rather stay than going home. ...