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Might Could, Might Should

Modals are helping verbs that affect a verb’s grammatical mood and express possibility, capability, likelihood, permission, or obligation. The use in the Southern United States of multiple modals, such as might could and might should reflect...

Urban Speech in India

If you live in a city in India, you probably have at least some facility in at least two languages. As Salman Rushdie once observed: “If you listen to the urban speech patterns there you’ll find it’s quite characteristic that a...

Gnarly Foot

It’s the Up Goer Five Challenge! Try to describe something complex using only the thousand most common words in English. It’s a useful mental exercise that’s harder than you might think. Also, if you want to make a room dark, you...

Softening Imperatives with Maybe

When someone says maybe, are they suggesting an option, or merely being polite? A caller from Anna, Texas, met a Canadian who used the word maybe to soften his imperatives. The same effect is often achieved with conditional phrases: “Would you...

Sleeping Pallet

Many in the South know a pallet to be a stack of blankets or a makeshift bed. The classic blues song “Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor” gives a perfect illustration. The “I vs. me” grammatical rule isn’t hard to remember...

Eating the Frog

Do you start each day by "eating the frog"? Don't answer too quickly -- maybe you do and don't know it. "Eat the frog" means to do the most distasteful thing first. Imagine you were lost in the jungle and all...

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