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English as a Second Language/Question formation/redundancy


Dear Jed,

(1) Is this question grammatically correct?
"What would be your perfect climate?"
Because I expect formation "What would your perfect climate be?"

"People who cannot escape from desert areas are in danger of dying from starvation."
Is "dying from" grammatically correct? Or should it be "dying of"?

Best regards,
Antoine Ghannoum

Dear Antoine,

1. Your first sentence is fine. We would normally expect the subject to come directly after the modal, as in "What would you like for Christmas?", but with BE we do not insist on this. The form you would expect is also correct.

2. I have never seen a convincing argument for preferring 'of' to 'from'. Personally, I speak of people dying OF a disease or condition or FROM the result of some other circumstances:

"He died of cancer/a hear attack."
"He died from drug abuse/a gunshot wound."

I do not claim that my personal preference is 'correct grammar'. In most sentences that I have looked at, there appears to be a free choice between the two prepositions.

With best wishes,


English as a Second Language

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Jed Webb


I can assist with questions about English grammar (syntax, morphology, pronunciation and spelling)from learners taking such examinations as TOEFL, IELTS, FCE and CAE and other internationally recognised tests.


I have over forty years of experience in the teaching of modern languages, twenty-four of them in the Teaching of English as a Second Language. I have been an examiner for FCE, BEC and IELTS examinations, and a teacher trainer on courses leading to the Trinity College Certificate in TESOL.

The Philological Society The International Phonetic Association The College of Teachers The International Association of Teachers of EFL The Royal Society of Arts (Fellow)

British Journal of Language Teaching, Vol XIX Nos I and II Education Today, Vol 41, Nos 1 and 3 Co-Author: Nix and Webb (1984) 'Creative English', Bad Homburg: Verlag Gehlen Contributor: Nix and Riederer (1973), 'Bottoms Up', Bad Homburg: Verlag Gehlen Rosenau and Nix, (1979), 'Look it up', Bad Homburg: Verlag Gehlen Nix and Ringholz, 'English in Projects', Bad Homburg: Verlag Gehlen

BA (English), University of Durham. Qualified Teacher Status, UK Department of Education and Science Further and Adult Education Teacher's Certificate, City and Guilds of London Institute ACP(TESOL), College of Preceptors Dip TESOL, Trinity College, London Dip Ed (ELT), Exeter University ACP (Management Studies in Education), College of Teachers Certificate of Proficiency in the Phonetics of English, International Phonetic Association

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I have taught: General and Business English classes for: Alcan, Allianz Versicherung, Robert Bosch, Daimler-Benz, Ford, Hewlett Packard, Kodak, Mövenpick, Radiomobil (O2), Siemens, Unilever. TOEFL and FCE classes for: eská Spoitelna,SOB, Czech Ministry of Trade, Czech Statistics Office.

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