Answers

Answers to common questions about the English language.

Why do English speakers mix present and past tense?

A PhraseMix reader asked this interesting question:

I have realized that some people use present tense mixed with past tense while talking about past events. For instance, check out the following statement:

I wouldn't say the man lied to his surbordinates yesterday. However, it is...


How should I use "I hope" and "I wish"?

If you want to use "I hope" and "I wish" correctly, you just need to memorize these two phrases:

I hope I can...

I wish I could...

You may be wondering: why do English speakers use the present tense for "hope" and the past tense for "wish"?

The secret is that "could" is not really past tense....


Why do you use "them" to talk about just one person?

I've made a choice in how I write explanations in PhraseMix which is a little controversial. Sometimes PhraseMix readers ask me about it, like this question: 

This subject ("You've made plans to visit a friend that you haven't seen for a while. You tell them:") says "You tell them"....


What's the difference between "problem", "trouble", and "issue"?

The words "problem", "trouble", and "issue" are very close in meaning. What's the difference bewtween them? The answer is quite complicated, actually! Let's look at the meaning of each word and some of the ways that they're used:

The meanings of "problem", "trouble", and...


How sure should I be when I say 'I believe ~'?

A reader emailed me this question:

Can you help me with "I believe" please? – which I'm sure suggests that "I'm not entirely sure about what I'm going to say", but at the same time, is it based on my knowledge or experience. 

When I say "I believe that~", does it mean that I'm "just...





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