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The Best of the Blog

Gennaio 2015
The Speak Up blog answers any questions you may have either about the English language or our articles. Write to us (preferably in English) at: http://blog.speakuponline.it. The most interesting questions will be published on this page. A word of warning, though: our blog is not a translation or homework service!

Jobs Act
Is the phrase “Jobs Act” a mistake, a possessive genitive (without the apostrophe), or an expression like  “centuries old tradition” with a plural reference?

“Jobs Act” is correct. This is “an act about jobs” and so “jobs” is effectively an adjective. The apostrophe in the genitive usually denotes personal possession, rather than description.  “Job’s Act” would sound like the action of the biblical figure of Job (Giobbe in Italian).

Wish you were here
I’ve just come across the use of the verb “wish.” I still struggle to understand whether to use the verb wish with the “past simple” or with “would.” My teacher told me that we use wish+past simple to talk about regrets/situations we don’t like in present or future tenses. We use wish+would to talk about situations that bother us, but this specific action is done by another person, so we cannot do anything about it. In some examples, though, I still can’t understand which one to use because they both sound good to me. An example is “I wish my brother would be more fun” and “I wish my brother was more fun.” Which one is the correct one and why?  

Both forms are correct but, as your teacher has said, there are subtle differences in meaning. With the simple past it is the basic expression of a desire:  “I wish I spoke French,” “I wish I had more money.” With “would” it is more an expression of impatience: “I wish you would stop saying that!” “I wish more people would answer my email!” “I wish you would just go away!”

Stuck in reverse
I can’t understand what “stuck in reverse” means.

“Stuck in reverse” means that the gear in your car is jammed, locked or blocked in the reverse position (in retromarcia), and so your car is going backwards and there’s nothing that you can do about it. This expression can also be used figuratively.

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