QUESTION I am having difficulty with this sentence:Matching, shaping by the removal of excess metal, includes many operations, such as grinding, sawing, drilling, and milling.I have my parenthetical element, shaping by the removal of excess metal, set off by commas, but I want to expand on the operations by adding grinding, sawing, drilling, and milling. I don't understand how to classify the last part of the sentence, or how to punctuate it. Could you please help me with this? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Herndon, Virginia Thu, Sep 9, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Although you've nicely set off the appositive "shaping by the removal of excess metal" with a pair of commas, I'm wondering if it's enough to tell the reader that these are the same thing. When I first read the sentence, I thought they were two different things (probably because of the repetition of the "-ing" form). I'm wondering if dashes might not suit your purpose better:Matching -- shaping by the removal of excess metal -- includes many operations, such as grinding, sawing, drilling, and milling.Or you could try a colon after "operations." ". . . includes many operations: grinding, sawing, drilling, milling, and others." But there's nothing wrong with the way you end that sentence.
QUESTION When do you capitalize the names of courses? I always thought common names (history, math, science) were lower case, and courses followed by a number (History 101, Math 105, Science 110) were caps. I have a book that says if it's a specific class, you capitalize the title (Music Appreciation). For example, I would not capitalize advanced math, or the "l" in French literature. I have looked in several books, and they do not address this specific question. I cannot find this rule on any web site, and I have spent an hour on line. Please help. Thanks SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Fayetteville, North Carolina Thu, Sep 9, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE It all depends on how you're using the words that would go into a title (unless it's a proper noun or a word derived from a proper noun, like "French" or "Marxist" or some such thing, and then it's always capitalized anyway). For instance, you could say "I took a course in music appreciation last semester." But then you would say "I got an A in Music Appreciation last semester" because you're naming the specific course. In general, we don't capitalize the names of disciplines any more (unless, again, the names are derived from proper nouns, like Italian studies). See the section on Capitalization for more help.
QUESTION I am confused with the difference between a common noun and a concrete noun. They seem to be interchangeable -- Help !! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Dryden, Ontario, Canada Fri, Sep 10, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE A common noun can be distinguished from a proper noun in that a proper noun is nearly always capitalized. So "pride" would generally not be capitalized as a common noun (unless it were being used as some kind of personification, which happens a lot in literatures of the past), but it is not a concrete noun because it isn't tangible.
QUESTION Which of the following sentences is correct?
- Medicial manufacturing is one of many industries that is growing with our help.
- Medicial manufacturing is one of many industries that are growing with our help.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Regina, SK. Canada Fri, Sep 10, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE When confronted with a sentence such as this, turn it around and you can usually figure out the correct verb: "Of [the] many industries that are growing with our help, medical manufacturing is one." So you want are in that sentence. (But watch your spelling of "medical.")
QUESTION Is this sentence correct?He walked through the doorless opening, no one at the receptionist's counter.Or, is this more correct?He walked through the doorless opening to find no one at the receptionist's counter.Please explain. Thank you. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Baton Rouge, Louisiana Fri, Sep 10, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The second sentence is a huge improvement. The first version is a run-on; two independent clauses are improperly connected. The second sentence takes the incorrectly connected clause and nicely subordinates its idea in the form of an infinitive phrase, "to find no one at the counter." I might have added "only" before "to find." (And may I add that I find the phrase "doorless opening" less than helpful.)
QUESTION Is it correct to say "I have gotten very tired"?
In other words, when do you say "I have got, versus I have gotten"? Is "I have gotten..." an American style and not used in England?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Laguna Beach, California Fri, Sep 10, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You're right about its not being used in England at all, according to Burchfield. Some writers would prefer "I have become tired," or just "I'm really tired now," but the "gotten" is not incorrect. Burchfield says the word is virtually nonexistent in the English-speaking world except for its use in the United States. (It is also used occasionally, he says, in New Zealand). He adds that "gotten" is preferred to "got" when a notion of progression is involved.
Authority: The New Fowler's Modern English Usage edited by R.W. Burchfield. Clarendon Press: Oxford, England. 1996. Used with the permission of Oxford University Press.
QUESTION I am a grammar teacher who has always taught that adjectives modify nouns and pronouns. However, the other day I thought, "Can adjectives really MODIFY pronouns?" The only way that I can see that an adjective can modify is pronoun is when that adjective is serving as a predicate adjective in a sentence. In this case, however, the adjective is not truly a modifier, it is a complement, a word that completes the meaning started by the subject and the verb.
It's interesting, in grammar books dated before 1900, adjectives are defined as words that modify nouns. In newer grammar books, they are defined as words that modify nouns and pronouns. What say ye?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Tyler, Texas Sat, Sep 11, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I'm sure it's a rare event for an adjective to modify a pronoun, but it can happen, especially with the indefinite pronouns. "The best student in the class is the tall one leaning against the wall." "The days dwindle down to a precious few."And "Will someone responsible for ordering the food please take over?" I can't think of a way for an adjective to modify a personal pronoun. How about "the royal we"? (Naah.)
QUESTION Please let me know the following:"a white and a black cat"Do we need to put an "s" for "cat"? I think we should use "cats" because there are two cats; one is white and the other is black. So it's logical to use a plural form here. Am I right? But on many occasions people do not use the plural form. I have seen a similar noun pharse ex-England and Barcelona coach - in an article. Why did the writer not use "coaches" instead? If the person coached England and Barcelona in two different periods, then there should be two jobs we are talking about. Am I right?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Hong Kong Sun, Sep 12, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE No, what happens here is that the first noun can simply be left out, so we understand this sentence to be about "a white [cat] and a black cat." (Notice that without the repetition of "a" we have one two-colored cat "a black and white cat.") The "ex-England and Barcelona coach" one would take to be a singular person. (It's not a particularly happy way of expressing the fact that this person has held the same job in two places, but it does work.)
QUESTION In the sentence below, Microsoft Word program prompts the user to either place a comma before "which" or replace "which" with "that". The program suggests the use of "that" if the group of words following this determiner are essential to the meaning of the sentence. However, the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English does not place any comma and is also indifferent to the use of "which" and "that" in the same sentence.
Must we place a comma in the sentence below and is the explanation provided in the Microsoft program correct? Please advise. ThanksThis is the book which I told you about.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Singapore Mon, Sep 13, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The Microsoft Word programprobably because it's being run by a computer, which doesn't have a lot of judgment in such mattersis apparently going by a very strict usage for the word "which." Indeed, many writers prefer that "which" be used only with nonessential clauses which means, of course, that a comma would precede the "which." And I think that most writers would prefer a "that" in that sentence. The word "which," however, is not actually wrong. If the Longman dictionary is actually "indifferent" about the choice, as you say, I think that's going too far the other way. If the clause being introduced is essential to the sentence, you're probably better off with "that."
QUESTION Hi! I like to ask how to the use the word,"today's". Is it right to use it in this sentense?In today's society, losing weight is one of the greatest north american obsession.Can you give me some examples of how to use "todays" in a sentense. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Somewhere, Canada Mon, Sep 13, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You've used "today's" correctly in that sentence; the society "belongs to" today, so we use the possessive form. (But capitalize North American.) How can I pluralize "today"? I can't imagine that. . . . Which seems odd, I must admit, because we talk about yesterdays and tomorrows, but we can't have todays? -- There, I just used it.
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