grammar talk

a place to discuss grammar questions...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

grammatical interpretation of law

Is the following law saying that the COMMUNICATION has to occur in one of the three locations mentioned or that the HARM has to be planned for one of the locations? Note the placement of the commas in the first part of the law.

Va. Code 18.2-60 subsection A2

"Any person who communicates a threat, in a writing, including an electronically transmitted communication producing a visual or electronic message, to kill or do bodily harm, (i)on the grounds or premises of any elementary, middle or secondary school property, (ii) at any elementary, middle or secondary school-sponsored event or (iii) on a school bus to any person or persons, regardless of whether the person who is the object of the threat actually receives the threat, and the threat would pace the person who is the object of the threat in reasonable apprehension of death or bodily harm, is guilty of a Class 6 felony."


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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Done eating?

Is it ever correct to say "Are you done eating?" or "Are you finished eating?" I know you can say "Have you finished eating?"

Friday, February 25, 2005

Modals and tense


1. He may be eating- pres. prog. cond.

2. He may have been eating- pres. perf. prog.

3. He might be eating- pres. prog. cond.

4. He might have been eating- past or pres? perf. prog. cond.

may- pres.
might- past

so what is indicating the tense in #4?
I have been told that modals do not carry tense

He had been eating is past because of the had
but then we have no modal.
Can we not have modals in past? Or only past perf? or prog?

He could have gone yesterday is past.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

grammar Q + A

Reducing adjective clauses to adj. phrases

clause: The boy who is playing the piano is Ben.
phrase: The boy playing the piano is Ben.


clause: The boy (whom) I saw was Jeff.
phrase: cannot be reduced

why can this clause not be reduced?

Grammar questions

A: Mr. Lee is a recent immigrant, isn't he?
How long has he been in this country?
B: I have no idea, but I'll be seeing Mr. Lee this afternoon.
Would you like me to ask him how long he has lived here?
" " how long he has been living here?

Which one is right and why?

Thursday, February 17, 2005


It has always been said around here that people who are learning English, as well as people who are learning how to teach it, need to learn to talk about the grammar problems that they face in teaching and learning a language (in this case, English), and learn how to talk about how it is used, why things are done the way they are done, etc.

In this weblog we open up a conversation about these issues. The value of weblogs is as follows: You can link to various explanations of the problem; you can link to previous posts; the most recent entries are seen first, but you can follow a thread all the way back; you can access various grammatical sources on the side as you work. The possibilities are obvious.

To those of you who are new: welcome. Feel free to ask questions, any questions. Whether you are a learner, a teacher, or just someone who would like a clear explanation of what happens and why, give it a shot. We hope someone will answer you to your satisfaction. If not, your question will hang there until they do!

Please reply to questions in the comments. That will help people refer to it, and scroll up for the original query.

For reference, we live in southern Illinois, USA, on the seam of several dialects, where it is interesting to point out dialect differences and the difference between what you might hear and what your grammar book says.

The first step is to ASK. Go to (at the top of the page). Login: grammartalk Password: fanerhall Welcome!

Thanks...Tom Leverett, CESL, SIUC, Carbondale, IL USA