QUESTION We are having a family argument about this. I am a 16 year old and have always been taught in English class that, when in the predicate, one should use "me" and not "I". My mother disagrees. My younger sister agrees with her, but my brother agrees with me. For example, in the sentence, "The only people that have colds are Nick and me" vs. "The only people that have colds are Nick and I". I was taught that to check for this, one should remove the other person and see if the sentence still sounds reasonable. For example, take away "Nick" and try it. "The only person that has a cold is me" makes sense whereas "The only person that has a cold is I" does not. Therefore, I was taught that the sentence containing "me" would be most correct. If I am wrong, then someone needs to tell my English teacher so! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Louisville, Kentucky Sat, Feb 26, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Generally, the principle you're using is going to work. You remove the other person and see which pronoun works. You would say "He gave the money to me," so when you add Nick, you don't change the form of "me": "He gave the money to Nick and me."
However, there's another problem in the sentence you're working with. (And I must say it is such a pleasure to hear that there are other families that argue about grammar!) When the subject and predicate are linked with a linking verb, the predicate takes the nominative form. This is why, when answering the telephone, we might say, "This is she." Your sentence uses a linking verb, "are," and the compound subject, technically, should be in the nominative, "Nick and I." There is a difference, however, between what one ought to use in formal writing and what one actually says and uses in most situations. What does the famous detective say when she finally discovers the body of the murder victim? "That is she!"? I think not. I think she'll blurt out, "That's her!" And that's what will happen in your sentence: most people are going to say and even write "The only people that have colds are Nick and me." Many good writers, in fact, will argue that there is no reason why the linking verb (a "copula," it's sometimes called) cannot link to an object form of the pronoun. The French do that when they say "C'est moi." (Although arguing from the French would be a dangerous thing to do, wouldn't it?) It's an interesting argument and another example of how the language continues to change and evolve. The evolution of English is not happening in the editorial offices of dictionary and textbook publishers; it's happening over your dining room table.
QUESTION In the following, should the words 'hon and love' be capilalized?
- "Get the paper, hon."
- "Oh, I don't believe that for a moment, love."
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Orlando, Florida Sun, Feb 27, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Those words are called vocatives, and they should be capitalized only when they have come to be substituted for the person's name (as in a nickname), which doesn't seem to be the case here.
Authority: A University Grammar of English by Randolph Quirk and Sidney Greenbaum. Longman Group: Essex, England. 1993. Used with permission.
QUESTION Could you please tell me which of these is the most correct:
Does it make a difference whether it is being used as a multiple choice question? e.g could "which" be used when multiple choices are given and "what" used when a direct answer is expected?
- With which sport do you associate the term silly point?
- With what sport do you associate the term silly point?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Norwood, South Australia, Australia Wed, Mar 1, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE If you gave me a list of sports that "silly point" could be associated with soccer, cricket, tennis, etc. you could ask me "With which sport do you associate the term silly point?" You're then asking me to select from a list (whether the list is actually stated or understood doesn't matter). If you don't provide me with any clues and you're asking me to come up with the name of a sport from all possible sports, you want to ask "With what sport do you associate the term silly point?"
QUESTION I recently saw this in a play program. Is this incorrect?She has also performed in several community theater productions including this past's summer's presentation.Should you ever make past possessive? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Columbia, Mississippi Wed, Mar 1, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE We can use the word "past" as an adjective there (modifying "summer"): "this past summer's presentation." The writer of the program got a bit carried away with possessiveness. It's doubtful if you'll ever see the word past in the possessive ('s) form. For one thing, it's almost impossible to pronounce: "The past's worries." Instead, we will invariably say something like "of the past" or "in the past" or "to the past."
QUESTION What is the name of the dot above the small case letter i?
I believe it is called a tittle. Please confirm
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Boynton Beach, Florida Wed, Mar 1, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I don't know. My ancient unabridged Webster's says a tittle is any mark over a word or a letter, so I don't know if tittle is precise enough, exactly, to be the dot over the letter i. You might have to consult a textbook on typography or calligraphy. I'll leave an e-mail icon here in case someone else knows.
QUESTION If writing a memo is it correct to write freshmen class or freshman class? In the same memo would it be correct to say all freshmen class officers and reps should meet or all freshman class officers should meet? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Columbia, South Carolina Wed, Mar 1, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE When you're using the word as a modifier, use its singular form, "freshman." (When it's not used as an attributive, you can use a pluralized form: "The freshmen have voted for a new class president.") Many campuses have decided that there is an inherent gender bias in freshman and eschew the word altogether, using "frosh" or "first-year" instead.
QUESTION The phrase is:"unless retention of a road is approved . . . as being necessary to support the postmining land use or necessary to adequately control erosion and the necessary maintenance is assured."(The phrase is not punctuated.)
Is "and the necessary maintenance is assured" tied to both "necessary to support the postmining land use" and "necessary to adequately control erosion" OR is "and the necessary maintenance is assured" tied only to "necessary to adequately control erosion ?"
That is to say, should the phrase read:
The phrase is part of a Federal rule. The preamble to the rule, which is supposed to clarify the rule, states:
- "unless retention of a road is approved . . . as being (1) necessary to support the postmining land use or (2) necessary to adequately control erosion and the necessary maintenance is assured."
- "unless retention of a road is approved . . . as being (1) necessary to support the postmining land use and the necessary maintenance is assured or (2) necessary to adequately control erosion and the necessary maintenance is assured."
"Therefore, § 715.17(l)(1) has been modified to require reclamation of roads that are not necessary to support the postmining land use, are not necessary to control drainage, or will not be maintained in an appropriate manner."
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Denver, Colorado Wed, Mar 1, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I should have known from the outset of your message that the language of the federal government was involved. I have a sudden urge to do my taxes. Rather than repeat the "and the necessary maintenance is assured" clause, wouldn't it be better to put that idea in a separate sentence? Otherwise, as you point out, it's difficult to say whether that stipulation belongs to the second alternative or to both. (I think it belongs to both, but the sentence is mired in ambiguity (like a postmining road!) and ought to be reworked, preferably by breaking it into two parts.)
QUESTION I have recently seen, e.g. in articles in the New York Times and in Scientific American, sentences (not questions) that start with "Which." For example,"I want to vote for president. Which is precisely what I am talking about."I thought that the last sentence would be considered incomplete. Am I incorrect? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Westborough, Massachusetts Wed, Mar 1, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Yes, that second sentence is a fragment. Constructions like that are certainly heard often enough in common speech, however, and if the quoted language seems to set the clause aside as a separate sentence, as a stylistic fragment, then it seems acceptable. I certainly wouldn't write it that way in formal, academic prose, though. Instead, I'd attach the clause to the previous sentence with a comma or maybe, if I wanted a more significant ("thoughtful"?) pause, a dash.
QUESTION HELP! We are having a disagreement on the following.
If a family's last name is Myers (e.g., John Myers and Carol Myers) and it needs to be plural possesive, is either of the following correct, or is there yet a better way.
This is referring to the daughter of Mr. Myers and Mrs. Myers; therefore it is a plural possessive.
- the Myers' daughter
- the Myerses' daughter
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Terre Haute, Indiana Wed, Mar 1, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE When a name (like Myers) ends in a "z" sound, we don't add "-es" to pluralize the name. We say "The Myers are coming to dinner." The plural possessive simply adds an apostrophe to the end of the name: "the Myers' daughter." If the name ended in "s," but it didn't have a "z" sound "The Davises are coming to dinner." we do add "-es" and the possessive apostrophe comes after the "-es": "the Davises' daughter."
QUESTION YOUR QUESTION WAS: Which of these is properly phrased, and why?? Or, does it not matter?
Thank you for your time!
- What can we do to serve you better?
- What can we do to better serve you?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Tinton Falls, New Jersey Wed, Mar 1, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE There was a time when the Grammar Police would nab you for splitting the infinitive "to serve" (by inserting the "better" between the "to" and the root of the verb). Nowadays, even the most careful copy editor will happily ignore the old injunction against split infinitives (unless it actually improves the sentence not to split the infinitive). Either phrasing does the job, but you should be warned that there are still people among us who despise the split infinitive and who will plot for the ruin of those who split one. Personally, I wouldn't worry about it: most writing manuals nowadays point out that the rule against split infinitives never enjoyed much credence among good writers anyway.
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