Monday, July 29, 2013
There are some words and expressions that over time, take on new meanings, either in addition to their old meanings, or more or less replacing their old meanings altogether. An example of the first is awesome, which now has a rather different meaning to the one I was brought up with, but still coexists with the old meaning. While gay is an example of the latter, where the current meaning has pretty well replaced its old meaning of "happy, jolly".
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Thursday, July 25, 2013
When deciding whether a certain construction or phrase is natural English or not, it makes sense to check how it is actually used. One way of doing this is to use corpora, but they can be quite complicated for laymen like me to use.
And as we have this wondeful 'corpus' that is the Internet, it is tempting to use search result counts, as well as web-based tools like Ngram Viewer, to make comparative assessments as to how language is used.
What's more, it's not only non-specialists like me who do this; Google search counts are not infrequently used by professional linguists at the linguistics blog Language Log, for example. But it turns out we need to be very careful.
Saturday, July 20, 2013
Recently I came across this sentence in an article in the Guardian newspaper, by one of my favourite journalists :
A wide range of activists, both African and European, is furious about the New Alliance
This didn’t sound quite right to me; I’m pretty sure I would have written are furious, not is furious, and if you take away the extra bit in the middle and substitute people for activists, it sounds even weirder:
So which is "correct" - is or are, or perhaps either? I've already posted about a couple of similar expressions, a number of and a succession of, so I decided to investigate.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
Some verbs can take two objects. The first one is usually a person or group of people, and the second one a thing or things. Learn all about them with these exercises.
At the end of the post there's also a table of the different patterns that can be found with these verbs.