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March: Your questions of the month

Average: 3.8 (6 votes)

Here are the top questions you sent to our online newsletter, English in your Inbox. Thanks to everyone who took part.

Future perfect tense

How we use future perfect tense? It's confusing.

This is one of the tense for which there are very few real, and practcal uses in real life and so consequently, generally, of little use to most students. We use it when we want to say that something will be done/completed before or on a specific date in the future. We commonly use it to talk about when we will have finished paying back money that we have borrowed ( mortgage/loan/credit cards etc). It is also frequently used with the prepositions by and within EG:
"I will have paid off my mortgage within 12 years."
"He will have cleared his debt by 2012."
"She will have finished paying back the loan for her car by this time next year."

British films

"Is anyone suggesting movies which is a British English ?"
It's my own question on the EC forum.. But it seems gramatically wrong.. I couldn't sure; Is anyone or Does anyone ... Can you correct the sentence for me ? Also, I've hesitated between the suggest and the suggesting .. Which one is correct ?
Note: (Can I ask more questions to you ? I have many questionmarks on my mind )

Yes, it is rather a strangely structured question. I'm not sure what you want by way of reply, but I think you want to be given some ideas of British films to watch, am I right?
So, I think you want to say.
"Can anyone suggest some good British films?"
(Can is often used when we want some help)

Or another way of getting a similar answer is,
"Does anyone know any good British films?" or "Has anyone seen any good British films they can recommend?"

Let's (have a) swim

"Let's have a swim!" & "Let's swim!". What is the difference between the situation, when we should use the first sentence & the situation when we should use the second one?
Best regards,

The meaning is the same with both structures, and they are both correct, but the second is more colloquial and uses swim as a noun. It's a very common British English structure,'let's have a cuppa', 'let's have a think', 'let's have a look', 'let's have a rest', 'let's have something to eat'. Much in the same way we use 'go for a ...', 'Let's go for a swim,' 'let's go for a walk,' 'let's go for something to eat' and so on.
By the way, 'a cuppa' is British English slang for 'cup of tea.'

How to use off

I have a big challenge about the using of "off". Many times I couldn't understand it's exact meaning.. It has many meanings. I've recently read this sentence, I understand it, but using of off doesn't make sense, "I need to finish off the first bit of my essay until Friday."

Don’t worry, phrasal verbs very rarely make sense if you separate the words. Phrasal verbs are expressions as a whole, and should not be broken down into their constituent parts! Also, except within the contexts of place, prepositions rarely give much clue to their meanings on their own, they need other words to work with.
In one context, off is the opposite of on. In others, off could mean:

  • not fresh
  • not friendly
  • not central
  • not well

Frequently, in the context of phrasal verbs, off can indicate the idea of separation or completion. To finish something off simply means to finish or complete something, here off is used for emphasis. But I think the sentence should read, "I need to finish off the first bit of my essay by Friday." ('by' means 'on or before' Friday)

In home vs. at home

I have a grammar question which is : - when should we use "in home / at home", "in office/ at office", "in the university at the university". I'm always confused by them.

Ok, we don’t say in home, but we do say at home. We would say in the office when we are actually within the walls of the office but perhaps we might say at the office to mean in the office or just outside the office! The same goes for university, in is within, at might mean in or just outside. So, in is in, and at is in or just outside!

Even if vs. even though

Which is th difference between "even if" and "even though"?
Maria Laura

Right, even suggests something of a surprise or perhaps contrast to the word or clause that follows it. Even though is more emphatic than though or although. Even if is like a contrast to if, eg:
If you think it’s going to rain, take an umbrella with you.
Even if you think it’s not going to rain, take an umbrella with you. (because it still might rain!)
There is a great explanation and gap fill exercises to help you with even though, even if, even so and other uses of even at this website. http://www.englishpage.com/minitutorials/evenexercise.htm