Grammar Guru: You’ll want to turn left at the light

You’ll want to… The pragmatics of this phrase is interesting: Driver: How do I get to the lake? Pedestrian: You’ll want to turn left at the light up there and then just go straight til you hit Shore Drive. Why do we consider it acceptable and polite to predict what the person we are talking […]

Teaching the present perfect

A longstanding client of mine recently wanted to pick up lessons again with the aim of refreshing his grammar skills, to increase his confidence in using the language which he is already quite proficient in and uses on a daily basis. While I generally am more of a business and communication skills trainer, teaching the […]

Grammar Guru: for or since?

I’ve known Theo _______ 5 years.  Is it for or since? Easy: I’ve known him for a long time, it seems. I’ve known him since he showed me his collection of old records and we discovered that we share a hobby. Incorrect: I know him for a long time -> I’ve known him for a […]

Grammar Guru: until or by?

You’re going camping and want to borrow a friend’s tent over the weekend. So you say: “Could I have it ______ Friday afternoon? We’re leaving on Friday after work.” Until or by? Until means from now until then. By, used for deadlines, means not later than then. By… at the latest! Imagine: If you said […]

Grammar Guru: I asked her how much…

“How much do I need to pay?” I asked her how much… do I need to pay. did I need to pay. I need to pay. I needed to pay. This is reported speech and a quoted, or indirect, question. Two rules apply: Make the verb match the tense of the reporting verb, “asked” (change […]

Grammar Guru: Must or has got to?

This week’s question is one of business register. From an order form: “Please note that payment for food platters ___________ be received in advance.” Must or has got to? How would you say the same thing to a customer?

Grammar Guru: Needs to be done, or needs being done?

You can say “This laptop needs repairs” and, very elegant: “This laptop needs repairing.” But which of these two is correct: “This laptop needs to be repaired.” “This laptop needs being repaired.” Yes, unfortunately I’ve worked my poor laptop so hard that it’s got several hardware problems now. One key sometimes doesn’t work (the 9), […]