Talking about someone who has died in a picture

If someone has died, which tense should I use when my friend sees a picture of him and asks me who he is?

I should refer to him in the present tense in the first sentence and in past in the following. (Thread 3558119)

Imaginary situations from the thread:

  • If they did know:
    • A: This is my friend.
    • B: What was his name?
    • A: Tom.​
  • If they didn’t know:
    • A: This is my friend.
    • B: What is his name?
    • A: His name was Tom. But sadly, he died.

If someone has died, they are referred to in the past tense, for the obvious reason that they no longer exist. But if you’re pointing to a photo of someone, that image does exist and it’s perfectly natural to say “This is [a picture of] my friend Tom”. Anything else you wanted to add about him would be said in the past tense, because it’s no longer about the picture but about the now dead person.

Gerund or infinitive as a subject

Which one would you use?
Working hard leads you to success.
To work hard leads you to success.

There is a long thread talking about their use as a subject, and “The infinitive form sounds more abstract or literary” is someone’s conclusion. Another article talking about this suggests ‘As a rule of thumb a gerund is better most of the time.’

“To think of him as an ornithologist, as I always had, was to miss the point of his life.” From On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition

Flat adverbs

“Make a moat deeper or more deeply?” While I was writing “Make a moat deeper,” I wondered whether deeply was a better choice, and learned the term ‘Flat adverbs,’ which means its adjective form and its ‘adjective + ly’ form can both act as adverbs, for example, wrong and wrongly.

  • He was wrongly accused of the crime. (Cambridge)
  • You’ve spelled my name wrong. (Cambridge)
  • It seems wrong sounds better, being put behind the verb; on the other hand, wrongly sounds better in front of the verb.

Slow and deep are in the category, too. 

  • You’re driving too slow. (Cambridge)
  • You have to drive slowly on these narrow country roads. (Cambridge)
  • He just can’t stand it when people drive too slowly in front of him. (the COCA)
  • Federal authorities need to dig more deeply. (the COCA)
  • Let’s make the moat deeper. (I made this.)

We may have inherited prescriptive grammarians’ mistaken idea that flat adverbs are adjectives being used wrong. Or wrongly, as they would insist.

times tables/timetables/sentences about time

「times table」的圖片搜尋結果

The above is called multiplication tables/times tables, the 1 times table, the 2 times table, etc.. and how to read them could be different between regions.

One times one is one
Two times one is two

One one is one
Two ones are two

One two is two
Two twos are four​


The above is called a timetable, similar to a schedule, listing the times of classes and events.

Also, I found sentence examples of TIME in the Longman dictionary (Whether I should use TIME in the singular or plural is confusing.):

  1. It seemed to me if time periods were considered, times in the plural is used. If we talked about a certain amount of time (hours, days, weeks, or years), time in the singular kicked in. After I read several examples in the Longman, the guide was probably misleading.
  • It felt just like old times/old time. (Plural is used more often.)
  • I just feel tired all the time.
  • It’s the worst natural disaster of modern times/modern time/ancient time/ancient times/our time/our times. (Time in the plural is used more often.)
  • At our times, money is not as important.
  • I think he’s the greatest musician of all time.
  • Children must be supervised at all times while in the park. (always)
  • They used to go there from time to time.
  • I felt like crying at times during the film.
  • He got three times the number of votes.
  • Our equipment is a bit behind the times. (out of fashion)
  • The company hasn’t moved with the times. (It is out of fashion.)
    • We’ve got to move with the times/ change with the times/ keep up with the times.
  • Even at the best of times the roads are dangerous. (They are usually worse.)
  • The company hasn’t moved with time. (After a certain amount of time has passed, the company’s still there.)
    • These symptoms will start to get better with time.
    • I would have thought of the answer, given time.
  • if you do something for old times’ sake, you do it to remind yourself of a happy time in the past
  • It’s just a sign of the times that many children have mobile phones. (Something shows how people live now.)
  • At one time she wanted to be a nurse, but the thought of working at night put her off. (at a time in the past but not now)
  • The president said his actions were ‘the right ones at this time’. (Now)
  • At no time did anyone involved speak to the press.
  • Now, for the time being, she is living with her father in Tijuana. (For a short time)
  • Coleridge was far ahead of his time in his understanding of the unconscious. (Having the most advanced ideas, methods, designs, technology, etc.)
  • He seemed to grow into an old man before his time.
  • Mason’s goal 13 minutes from time earned his team a place in the finals (the end of playing time).
  • Waltzes are usually in three-four time. (Music)

count by 2s/count in 2s

When you do skip counting, do you count in 2s or count by 2s?

When you write, do you write count in 2’s/2s or by 2’s/2s?

When I teach my child, I use count by 2s, 3s, 4s, etc.. However, the title of a math question says ‘count in 2s,’ which forces me to hunt for answers.

It turns out:
1. AE: count by 2s
2. BE: count in 2s

2’s, 3’s, 4’s, etc. are used to be the norm, but now it seems the apostrophes are dropped.

I have noticed that I should use by with an American and in with a British-English speaker.

Succeed in/at Life

Do you want to succeed in life or at life?

  • They do well at jobs that many make fun of or would not do. They succeed at life as it is.
  • If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.

The thread below explains the difference. As a well-known violinist, you tour the world, earn a fortune, and succeed in life. Spending too much time on music, however, you end up with a broken family; then at the end of your life, you may think you succeed in life but failed at life.

The idea here is that the smaller challenges are “in life.”

I feel it is similar to school: you can succeed in school and fail at school. You are good at everything in school; arrogance starts to dictate your behavior; a degree from a top college can’t land you a good job. In the end, you succeed in school but didn’t succeed at school. Does it make sense?



apply for/to (school-related)

In Taiwan, a student picks his major and a college he wants to apply to before getting into college; he has to choose both at the same time. So it’s natural for me to say, “I applied for Medicine at Taipei Medical University.”

However, it seems it’s a bit different in the US. Not all universities have the same application system, so ‘apply for a major’ is probably bewildering. Some students don’t need to decide their major when applying to a school at the undergraduate level; they can indicate their areas of interest, but they are accepted by/at/into a school before declaring their majors. ‘Major’ is also more commonly used at this level, not for graduate students.

The 10th mistake in the above video is about what I am talking about:
I still need to apply to university.

The sentences below are from the Internet and this thread (1443870) on Wordreference:

You would apply to the University of Chicago; You might apply for a place to do history at the University of Chicago.

I’m applying to Durham to do/study/read French and Spanish.

I’m applying to do/study/(rare)read French and Spanish at Durham

While I was at University A, where I received my bachelor’s degree, I applied to University B for graduate school.

I’m applying to the architecture program at Rice University.

I’m applying to the admissions department at Chicago U.

Apply for admission to Stonehill College/Graduate Studies.

apply for ___ at a school: apply for History at Oxford (controversial)

Apply for school (school is an abstract idea about education, controversial. Some people say, “apply to school.”), apply to a school

declare/choose/undertake a major


Thread 2166250

I would apply for something specific that had an application process: for a grant, a scholarship, a fellowship, a job. I would also say “I applied for work at the local factory” or “I applied for financial aid after I had been admitted to Exemplar College.”

But I wouldn’t say “I never applied for college” as a general statement. I would say something like “I never tried to get into college” or “I never tried to go to college.”