Questions and answers


Please use the comments boxes below to ask and answer questions about English grammar and academic literacy. Ms Parrot will not be able to answer all the questions herself, but I hope we can use this section to help each other.

48 comments:

  1. This was posted on our display board in school "can you think of any acitvities that makes you feel stronger". I am not sure but should we say make or makes.

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    1. Hello Anonymous.
      If you look at the subject, 'activities', you'll see it's plural (more than one), so you need to say 'make'. If you changed the sentence round, you could say 'These activities make you feel stronger', so you can see you need 'make', not 'makes'.

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  2. this was posted our school notice board"All girls will wear white shorts till the sports day" should there be an articel 'the' before the word 'grils'

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  3. Hello Anon (the same person?)
    If you're talking about girls generally you don't need an article. If you are being specific about the girls (e.g. distinguishing them from the boys, or if you've mentioned them before) then you could say 'the girls'. e.g. 'All the boys will wear black shorts and all the girls will wear white shorts.' I wouldn't say 'the sports day' though, just 'Sports Day', as it's usually a particular event in a school calendar and so it's like a name. You wouldn't use an article before 'Christmas', 'New Year's Day' or 'Thanksgiving', and Sports Day is like that in this case.

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    1. Thank you Julia for your reply.This was very helpful

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  4. Hey what is the difference between attributes and qualities? I searched through the dictionary but am still confused since according to the dictionary there is hardly any difference

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    1. The more I searched for answers for this question, the more complicated the answers became!

      I think the words can often be used in the same way, as in 'graduate attributes' and 'graduate qualities', but quality may sometimes have more of a value judgement attached to it. I have heard of good and bad qualities in a person, but not so much good and bad attributes. However, I've just done a Google search and found 742,000 examples of "good qualities" and 334,000 examples of "good attributes", so they are obviously both used widely.

      Perhaps a quality is more innate (something that someone has) while an attribute is something we think a person has. ie it is something that we attribute to them.

      I'm not sure how much detail you want to go into. There is a discussion here, for example, that is quite complicated: http://forum.objectivismonline.com/?showtopic=26009

      If you'd like to give me more of the context of what you want to say I'll see if I can suggest some more ideas.

      What a thought-provoking question!

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    2. hey Thank You Julia, actually we have to make a presentation on attributes of a teacher and while searching we found a presentation on qualities of a teacher, so now we are confused about the meaning. If we put both the list is different and yet similar

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    3. I think there is a lot of overlap and to be honest I don't think I can articulate the difference clearly. I'd suggest that in your presentation you talk about the problem of distinguishing between the terms and if possible show where they differ and where they overlap. It could be that there are differences because you are only comparing a small number of journal articles. If you do more research you might find there is more overlap. I found 512,000 pages on teacher attributes and 610,000 on teacher qualities on Google Scholar, so there may not be much difference in theory. Terminology is often complicated, so if we have had a problem finding the differences then so have hundreds of other people, including your classmates. You could try asking your teacher, but I suspect they are having trouble too. As long as you define your terms at the beginning of your presentation it will be clear what you are talking about. I'd be very interested to know what you find out and how your presentation goes. Good luck!

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    4. hey Thank you,we asked our colleagues and our head but no one had a clear idea about the difference and everyone was confused and so are we and we are still not sure how to explain it to our participants.anyway will try to explain and perhaps someone amongst the participants might give us some idea.lets see what happens tomorrow,Thank you

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    5. Hey Thank you, we have been asking our colleagues and our head but no one is clear about it.in fact everyone is confused. will tell them it overlaps.Thank you for your effort.

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    6. You are welcome. I would love to hear what feedback you get. Please let us know if you can!

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  5. Can you please give me a solution for this question :

    Given below are four sentences or parts of sentences that form a paragraph. Identify the sentence(s) or part(s) of sentence(s) that is/are incorrect in terms of grammar and usage. Then, choose the most appropriate option.

    A. Once, very long time ago, our ancestors were animals, and simply did
    B. whatever came naturally without noticing that that was what they were doing,
    C. or indeed without noticing that they did anything at all.
    D. Then, somehow, they acquired the capacities to ask why things happen.

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  6. I'm sorry, Anon, but this looks like an exercise you've been given to do, not a specific grammar question, so I can't help you. In addition, the word 'option' doesn't seem to refer to any options I can see. Good luck with your class, though!

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  7. Is this sentence correct?This was on our school notice board
    Kindly make sure your child wears his/her badge for the first few days in School.
    should it be 'of school and should we say 'is wearing'

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    1. Yes, the sentence is correct. Official language is often different to spoken language. In fact, I prefer 'wears' here, maybe because it refers to a habitual action, for which we usually use the present simple. 'in School' is fine - it refers to the location. 'of school' is ok, but it refers more to the concept of schooling rather than the place, so I'd probably use 'in School' or even 'at school'. I don't think School needs a capital S, either.

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  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  9. is this sentence correct'willingly don't join a group' I think it should be don't join a group willingly'

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    1. Yes, it should be 'Don't join a group willingly'. You could also say 'Don't willingly join a group', but not 'willingly don't join a group'.

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  10. hi Thank you for your reply. is this sentence correct ' what environmental factors affect the developing brain" my colleague and I have a disagreement over this, I think it should be "which environmental factors affect the development of the brain".

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  11. Both 'which' and 'what' are correct. If you say 'what factors', the answer could be anything. If you say 'which factors' then this suggests that there may be a limited number of factors and the choice is made from one of this limited number.
    Multiple choice tests, for example, often use 'which', because they give a limited set of answers.

    'developing brain' = 'the brain which is developing'
    'the development of the brain' refers more to the act of development.
    In practice, though, both could mean the same thing.

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  12. hi Thank you for your reply

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  13. is this sentence correct "by the grace of God I have been blessed by a granddaughter"or should it be with a granddaughter

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    1. Technically, it should be "blessed with". If you say "blessed by" it sounds as though the granddaughter blessed you.

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  14. This was posted on our bulletin board
    don't wash or iron costumes. Shouldn't it be 'the costumes'

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    1. If it says "costumes", it means any costumes. If it says "the costumes", it is referring to a particular set of costumes, and assuming that everyone knows which costumes are being referred to.

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  15. Is this correct
    how does this integration looks like?
    give a shelter or provide a shelter which is correct
    my daughter and I will go or my daughter and myself will go

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    1. There are a few things here.
      First, don't forget to start each sentence with a capital letter.

      how does this integration looks like?
      This should be 'What', not 'how'. We always say 'What does x look like?'. There is also a question, 'How does x look?'

      give a shelter or provide a shelter which is correct
      You can 'give shelter to someone' or 'provide a shelter for someone' - note the use of the article and the different prepositions.

      my daughter and I will go or my daughter and myself will go
      These are both correct, though the first one ('my daughter and I will go') is more usual. The second one ('myself') is very unusual.



      give a shelter or provide a shelter which is correct
      my daughter and I will go or my daughter and myself will go

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  16. I have a question about the parts of speech of the sentence below:

    I admire my sister for her fair attitude towards a person who hurt her a lot.

    Are I and who subjects in the sentence?
    Are admire and hurt the verbs in the sentence?
    Thank you.

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  17. Thank you for your question. You are correct both times.
    'I' and 'who' are both subjects ('who' is a relative pronoun used as a subject), and 'admire' and 'hurt' are both verbs. There are no other subjects or verbs in the sentence.

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  18. This sentence was on our notice board 'children should wear their house t-shirts every Friday. Starting tomorrow. Shouldn't it be starting from tomorrow.

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    1. 'Starting from tomorrow' is correct, but 'starting tomorrow' is also ok. 'Starting from tomorrow' uses 'tomorrow' as a noun, whereas 'starting tomorrow' uses 'tomorrow' as an adverb.
      To be really correct, the sentence would put a comma after 'Friday' and then add 'starting [from] tomorrow'.

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  19. My collegue andI had a disagreement over this sentence "I will get dropped to your house". I said it should be "I will get dropped at your house" which is correct

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    1. In British and Australian English, we would say 'dropped at your house'.

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  20. Is this correct: "swimming commences for the following classes". I am not sure but I think commences doesn't sound right.I am not sure but it should be Swimming will commence for the following classes.

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    1. We can use the present tense to talk about the future when we are writing formally, which is often the case with announcements. The word 'commences' sounds formal, compared to 'starts', so I'd suggest this is a formal use of the present simple to refer to the future. There is more on the future on the English for Uni site: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/english-for-uni/tenses/ and go to the 'Future tenses' section.

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  21. This was posted on our bulliten board " Parents meet on 15.August to select a co-coordinator. This doesn't seem right.Should it be Parents will have a meeting or Parents will meet on..

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    1. This is interesting compared to the question above about 'swimming commences'. Without the context of the surrounding sentences it's hard to say, but it seems that in this case 'Parents will have a meeting' or 'Parents will meet' would be more appropriate, perhaps because it seems to be giving a direction to parents rather than making an announcement.

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  22. My collaeuge asked me about this sentence Our faith is based upon following. should it be based on or upon?


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    1. Both 'on' and 'upon' are ok. To get an idea of which is used most, and in which contexts, you can visit http://www.webcorp.org.uk/live/ and type in "based on", using "". Have a look at those results. Then try "based upon" and see how frequently that is used, and if there is any difference.

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  23. My colleague wrote on the notice board "The children will have a show and tell about our family"I am not sure but I think it should be just children and not "The children". adding an article is always confusing

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  24. It really depends on the surrounding sentences. If this is the only sentence, then 'Children' sounds more correct, as it means children in general rather than specific children. This is complicated, as even 'children' probably refers to a context, like 'the children at this school'. However, if there is nothing in a previous sentence to indicate specifically which group of children is being referred to then 'children' on its own is correct.
    We often write this way in signs. e.g. 'Patrons are asked to leave their coats at the door.' We know which patrons (the ones entering the establishment) but we do not include 'the' - we just address the sign to all patrons in general.

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  25. This was written on our display board "Wait your turn at the playground equipment"Shouldn't it be wait for your turn. I asked our headmistress and she said they took it from a book but that book was printed in Singapore and they omit for so it is correct.Do you think so? is Singaporean English Grammar different and acceptable?

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  26. Sorry for the delay, Anonymous. I was at a proverbs conference. In this case, I can say that a watched pot never boils!
    In answer to your question, I would say that both versions are correct, though 'wait your turn' is more informal.
    There are many different varieties of English and as long as someone is consistent within that variety then their speaking and writing are acceptable.
    For example, I have noticed that Singaporeans use the past perfect a lot in their writing. (eg 'They had gone' instead of 'They went'.) At first I thought this was wrong; then I realised that many/most people in Singapore do this, so it is a Singaporean variation, just as many American speakers of English don't use the present perfect. (eg 'They already went' instead of 'They have already gone'.)

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  27. This was written on our bulleitn board 'There is a heat wave currently.Kindly send in a bottle of juice'. I think it should be currently there is a heat wave and send a bottle of juice and not send in.

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  28. I'm not sure of the context. Am I right that you are referring to a school bulletin board? In that case, I would say:

    There is currently a heat wave. Please make sure your child brings a bottle of juice to school.

    'Send' is correct, but it is not clear who will benefit from the juice if you just say 'send'. I would use 'send in' more for something like an assignment.

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