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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • Is is just me, or are there vast seas of difference between its/it's confusion and arbitrary latin-derived strictures about future tense and passive voice? The former is just a spelling error, and one way (whichever one its;) is misspelled. The latter are violations of rules that help with formal writing, but are rarely heard of otherwise, and are routinely violated in speech. The guy on the street has no idea what you're talking about (or no idea of what about which you are talking?) -- although he prob
    • Almost every "rule" is violated in spoken language (and anyway, who can hear the difference between "its" and "it's"? :-).

      That's okay for most people (less okay for professional orators such as politicians, not that I'm thinking of a particular jackass with his finger on the nukular button). In case it wasn't clear, I was talking about writing that I have to edit for publication.

      When you're writing, you have only the words to communicate with. And printed words are a very clumsy way to communicate (th

      • I guess I don't understand mistaking its for it's, because once you unpack it, the mistake's right there -- "X rain" is either "it is rain" (it's) or "the rain belonging to it" (its). So while it may be easy to misspell, there's a straightforward way to bring language intuitions to bear on the problem. Plus, I thought it was "good style" to avoid contractions in formal writing. Maybe this is why...

        On the other hand, if asked whether I should say "the book which I like" or "the book that I like", it's d

        • Um... in the 'that'/'which' example you give, what's wrong with "the book I like"?

          I always get mixed up with shall and will. But I gather the US rule on that is 'You shall always use will.'

          • There's an implicit "that" in "the book I like". I write sentences like that--strategic omission of implied words can make sentences easier to read, I feel. I did this when editing TorgoX's chapters, and the next draft I got from him had all the "that"s put back in! Apparently he didn't feel the same way :-)

            He won, by the way. It's a stupid person who argues against a linguist about language.


            ("stupid person" can also be read as "another linguist", which I ain't :-)

          • As for shall and will, it's a very English thing. The grammar books waffle about shades of meaning (shall implying "obligation, necessity, or permission" and will implying "resolve or determination") but nobody has ever convinced me that anybody who uses those words knows this rule or consistently employs it.

            Torgo? Can you prove me wrong?


            • There is a difference, Gill always quotes the pair: "I shall drown! No one will save me." and "I will drown! No one shall save me."

              One implies intent on the part of the drowner (the latter I think), and the other implies the inevitable workings of a natural process.

              And, on googling for those phrases I find that my gut feeling was right.

              However, note that it's one of those irregular verbs... "I shall, you will, he will" implies 'Inevitable, no intent involved'. "I will, you shall, he shall" implies 'obli