The right tenses to use
Fadzilah Amin tackles sentence structure.
Are the following sentences correct? 1. Thanks for having helped me. (I want to mean that he helped me and I find saying “thanks for helping me” sounds present.)
2. Do we say “How about yourself?” instead of “How about you?”. When do we use “how about yourself?”?
3. Is this sentence all right? “You can either have it or not have it.” or should we say “You can either have it or not”?
–JennyYoong 1. In the sentence “Thanks for helping me.”, “helping me” is an –ing noun phrase which is the object of the preposition “for”. “Helping” there is not part of a present continuous verb, and it can be used for help that has already been given.
It is not wrong to say “Thanks for having helped me.”, but the structure is unnecessarily complex. The structure “Thanks for _ing me” is used much more than the structure “Thanks for having _ed me”, e.g. “Thanks for showing me the way.” vs “Thanks for having shown me the way.” or “Thanks for defending me.” vs “Thanks for having defended me.”
One way to avoid using an –ing noun phrase is to say “Thanks for your help.”, using “help” as a noun.
2. We write “How about you?” if that question comes after a statement like “I like travelling.” Thus someone may say: “I like travelling. How about you?”
But we may have a conversation that goes something like the following:
A. How are you, B? Haven’t seen you for a long time.
B. I’m fine, thanks. And yourself? How are you?
We don’t say “How about yourself?” but we do say “And yourself? How are you?” in that context. See meaning 3 of “yourself” in the online Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary at:
3. It is a correct sentence, but the shorter “You can either have it or not.” is more often used. One of the few examples of the former available on the Internet (through Google Books) is found in Robert C. Greene’s book, Cardboard Condo: How The Homeless Survive The Streets:
“And I had a gift you know. You can either have it or you don’t have it.” (p.74)
Below are two examples of the use of “You can either have it or not.” on the Internet, from two scholarly works:
“This gives a rather large number of options. For each topping there are two choices: you can either have it or not.”
(from a document made available by the UK Open University)
“One conclusion consistent with this observed data is that the word that in English is optional. You can either have it or not.” (from the first chapter of a book by the US linguist Andrew Carnie)
I WoulD like to know which is the grammatically correct sentence.
1a) The children enjoy playing with lanterns during lantern festival.
b) The children enjoy playing lanterns during lantern festival. 2 a) Monkeys have long tails. b) The monkeys have long tails. –SooShyan 1. The grammatically correct sentence is a) “The children enjoy playing with lanterns during the Lantern Festival.” I have added “the” before “Lantern Festival” and capitalised the “F” in “festival” to indicate that there is only one Lantern Festival among the Chinese.
2. Sentence a) “Monkeys have long tails.” is the correct sentence here. It makes a general statement about all monkeys, and so the plural form of monkeys is used without “the” before it.
Sentence b) would be correct if there was an earlier reference to some monkeys, as in the following sentences: “I can see some monkeys on our neighbour’s rambutan tree. The monkeys have long tails.” “The” then refers to the monkeys seen on that particular rambutan tree, and not all monkeys.
Aiming for clarity
I WonDer if these sentences are correct. 1. She is wrapping a trophy on the table. 2. She is reading a book on the sofa. ( I know it sounds better to say, “She is sitting on the sofa”, “... reading a book”.)
–Sheila Sentences 1 and 2 contain some ambiguity and may be misunderstood.
1. “She is wrapping a trophy on the table.” may be taken to mean that “she” is sitting or standing on the table wrapping a trophy.
Similarly, 2. “She is reading a book on the sofa.” may be taken to mean that the book is on the sofa and she is reading it, but she is not necessarily sitting on the sofa: she may be seated on the floor or carpet in front of the sofa, reading the book that is on the sofa. I would suggest writing: 3. “She is standing at the table wrapping a trophy.” instead of 1, and
4. “She is sitting on the sofa reading a book” (your sentence) instead of sentence 2.
Sentences 3 and 4 don’t just sound better; they are also clearer in their meanings.
‘As’ or ‘like’
WHICH sentence is correct? 1. Just as she said, it’s beautiful. 2. Just like she said, it’s beautiful. 3. Just as/like what she said, it was beautiful.
–JasonNg Sentence 1, “ Just as she said, it’s beautiful.” is correct. When saying that things are similar, “as” is used before a clause, e.g. “she said”. The comparison here is between your own impression (of a place, perhaps) and what “she” told you about it.
You can, however, use “like” instead of “as” in informal speech (as in Sentence 2). But in more formal usage, “like” is followed by a noun or pronoun, when used to say that things are similar, e.g. “Her impression of the place is just like mine (my impression).”
Sentence 3 is incorrect, because we don’t use “what” in “just as/like she said”, whether formally or informally.