QUESTION Is my use of the word "arouse" correct? for example ,"Colourful utensils should be used to arouse the children's appetite." Or rather must I use the word "improve"? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Singapore Mon, Sep 21, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You've used the word correctly, although it seems a bit extreme in the context. "Stimulate" or "help stimulate" might be more appropriate? "Improve" is not: you're not trying to improve anything; you're just trying to wake it up. [Watch the spelling of the possessive of children, by the way.]
QUESTION Where should the commas be placed correctly in this sentence?John Lawson, in his pamphlet The Father Heart of God, says, "God's promises are conditional." SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Streetsboro, Ohio Mon, Sep 21, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE We could use quotation marks around that pamphlet title. The comma before the quotation itself is correct; you would omit the comma if you used the word "that" to introduce the quotation. We might be better off moving that parenthetical element toward the beginning of the sentence so that the subject is closer to the verb:In his pamphlet "The Father Heart of God," John Lawson says, "God's promises are conditional."
QUESTION Can we use "usually" and "sometimes" at the first of statement or should be after subject? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Tehran, Iran Mon, Sep 21, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Can we begin a sentence with "usually" or "sometimes"? Putting those adverbial modifiers at the beginning of a sentence will tend to draw attention to them, especially if they're followed by a comma, and that can sometimes be a bit intrusive or clumsy, but it can also be effective. Try it both ways -- putting them at the beginning and tucking them into the sentence later -- to see which sounds better to you.
- That can sometimes be a bit intrusive or clumsy.
- Sometimes that can be a bit intrusive or clumsy.
QUESTION I would like to know which of the following two sentences is grammatically right or both of them are equally right.
- The government has spent billions of dollars to clean up the air in big cities.
- The government has spent billions of dollars cleaning up the air in big cities.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Ulsan, Korea Tue, Sep 22, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You can use either the infinitive ("to clean up") or the gerund ("cleaning up") in that construction. I would personally prefer the gerund, but I have no real reason for doing so.
QUESTION I wonder whether it is necessary to put period at the end of the phrase. I'm told that we put periods only at the end of the sentence.Huge source of webpages for movie loversDo you need period for this phrase from advertisement? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Gold Coast, Australia Tue, Sep 22, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Ad copy is notorious for its lack of grammatical correctness. You'll frequently find questions with question marks: "Need Money?" and exclamations with exclamation marks: "Buy now!" And fragments are certainly possible in ad copy. Whether or not they're followed by a period depends more on layout than anything. Tucked into other sentences, I suppose you'd have to follow a fragment with something. If it's just floating out there graphically, I'd not bother to put a period after it.
QUESTION I would like to know the following. When I want to know the birth year of other person, can I say "In what year were you born?" Is this expression right or wrong? And any other expression which has that meaning in English? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Ulsan, Korea Tue, Sep 22, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE There may be other expressions that mean the same thing, but I can't think of one that does a better job. "When were you born?" asks for one's entire birth-date. It's a perfectly acceptable construction.
QUESTION Thank you for this valuable resource. My question pertains to the use of a second period when an abbreviation falls at the end of a sentence: <0L> Let's all go to the Puppet Co.. Let's all go to the Puppet Co. Let's all go to the Puppet Co.! 0L> Thank you in advance for your response. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Washington, D.C. Tue, Sep 22, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You don't want two periods at the end of a sentence (so the first sentence is incorrect); you can, however, add an exclamation mark or question mark after a sentence-ending abbreviation.
QUESTION Punctuating "and therefore"
Michael Irvin is known for being ostentatious after scoring a touchdown and is therefore is unpopular among the humble athletes.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Danbury, Connecticut Tue, Sep 22, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You certainly don't want the "is" twice -- but that was probably a typo, right? Or were you asking where to place the therefore? If therefore comes before the "is," I think you can go either way -- setting it off with two commas or not. If the "is" comes first, I would treat therefore as parenthetical and place a comma before and after it. In any case, however, I think you're better off creating two independent clauses, connected by a semicolon and using therefore as a transitional expression:Michael Irvin is known for being ostentatious after scoring a touchdown; he is, therefore, is unpopular among the humble athletes.
QUESTION We've had a difference of opinion among staff members as to how this sentence should be punctuated:You may place books on hold, just ask us for help.Should it have a comma or semicolon?
Thanks so much for your help.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Schaumburg, Illinois Tue, Sep 22, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE That's a comma splice -- a little ol' comma, trying to hold together two independent clauses all by itself. We need big sister, the semicolon, to help out there. Or we could use two separate sentences.
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