Is this past perfect tense put because of the previous tense?

He dashed back across the road, hurried up to his office, snapped at his secretary not to disturb him, seized his telephone, and had almost finished dialing his home number when he changed his mind. He put the receiver back down and stroked his mustache, thinking… no, he was being stupid. Potter wasn’t such an … Read more

“Ought” vs “Should”

I found that Should, when compared to Ought has some additional uses, in particular replacing “would” or similar, as a neutral joint of sentences, but I’m interested in differences in their fundamental meaning: used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions Do they differ in subtle ways, like one being more … Read more

What does this perfect tense intend to say?

Quirrell’s voice trailed away. Harry was remembering his trip to Diagon Alley – how could he have been so stupid? He’d seen Quirrell there that very day, shaken hands with him in the Leaky Cauldron. (Harry Potter) What does the perfect tense intend to say? Answer The meaning is that Harry is recalling a past … Read more

“it be” instead of “it could/would be”

Need we add that it be usable in the woods? This paper1, albeit an old one, contains an example of this odd way of writing. Where I would expect “..that it would/could/may/should/… be”, there is nothing! I feel there is some lost information in here. Is this an ordinary way to express oneself nowadays, or … Read more

How should I construct a question from a sentence containing “used to”?

What is the question form of “She used to come here.”? Is “Did she use to come here?” or “Used she to come here?” From my high school English classes, I remember I was taught it is “Used she to come here?” but now it seems a strange way to form a question. Which one … Read more

Should vs. had better

What is the difference between “should” and “had better”? Consider these sentences for example: It’s cold outside. You should wear a coat. It’s cold outside. You’d better wear a coat. What are the differences in meaning? How can one decide which one to use? What pitfalls are there? Answer The primary difference between the two … Read more