QUESTION The following phrase does not sound grammatically correct to me. Could you please suggest an alternative?It has been decided to introduce a pricing system. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE London, England Thu, Jun 15, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE It's grammatically correct, but it's couched in what we could call "weasel language," phrasing that doesn't allow responsibility for action. Can we avoid the passive construction "has been decided" by assigning a subject to this action? "The committee/management/whatever has decided to introduce a pricing system." Or get rid of "has decided to" altogether: "The company will introduce a new pricing system. . . "?
QUESTION It is critical that the Foundation receive (s) funding. S or no S??? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Thu, Jun 15, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE This would be an appropriate use of the subjunctive mood: leave off the "s."
QUESTION I know that prepositions are not capitalized in titles; however, what if a preposition is linked with a verb? Here are some examples: "Learning How to Turn on the Computer" and "Learning How to Power up the Truck." Should on in "turn on" and up in "power up" be capitalized? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE San Diego, California Thu, Jun 15, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I can't find a rule for this in the usually trusty Chicago Manual of Style or anywhere else for that matter. In the NYPL Writer's Guide, though, I see the name of their second chapter is "Setting Off Words, Terms, and Names." I would capitalize the preposition of a phrasal verb, as in "Learning How to Power Up the Truck."
Authority: New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage HarperCollins: New York. 1994. Cited with permission. p. 217.
QUESTION Does there have to be a "that" or a "which" after "than" in a reference to a list containing "more items than can be included" in a certain period of time? A similar reference to "a wider degree of consensus than is possible" was found in the same author's paper. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Cape Elizabeth, Maine Thu, Jun 15, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The clause introduced by the conjunction "than" seems to get along just fine without a subject. Burchfield includes the following sentence in his examples for using "than":I think I spoke no more harshly than was deserved.He calls this one of the "miscellaneous standard uses of than."
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. p. 770.
QUESTION I am transcribing the oral history of an Army World War II veteran. We are stuck on sentences where a soldier's rank is used as a substitute for his name, such as:
I believe such uses should NOT be capitalized, but I'm not really sure.
- I was called down to the Colonel's tent where we discussed the attack.
- I drove the Lieutenant to Algiers after he signed my pass.
- The Captain chewed me out for missing the bus.
Also, is it "He became a 2nd Lt. after a year." or "He became a 2nd lt. after a year."?
Thanks for any help.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Llano, Texas Thu, Jun 15, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The NYPL Writer's Guide says to capitalize military titles when they precede a name, but to leave them in lower case when they stand alone. Thus, "We met Colonel Jones at the Pentagon. The major joined us later." Can't you spell out lieutenant to avoid the problem? (The "lt." looks ridiculous. If I had to use it abbreviated that way, I'd capitalize it, in spite of the advice I just gave.) You might go to a good war novel, like Graham Swift's Last Orders (more about veterans than war action), and see how the author handles such issues.
Authority: New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage HarperCollins: New York. 1994. Cited with permission. p. 224.
QUESTION What is the correct way to write "methinks"? As one word (methinks) or as two (me thinks)? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Mon, Jun 19, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE If you really must use that word, spell it as one word. Unless you're just trying to be funny, you'll sound either peculiar or archaic. "It seems to me" would probably do the job nicely or "I think."
QUESTION Which is correct?
May I pose another question, please? Regarding proper use of elipses, should there be a space after the third dot? For example "I see...no I don't." Or "I see... no I don't."
- "Let's meet for lunch. How is Tuesday or Wednesday for you?"
- "Let's meet for lunch. How are Tuesday or Wednesday for you?"
Thank you in advance for your help.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Burbank, California Mon, Jun 19, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The "or" does not conjoin in the same way that "and" does. The subject closer to the verb, the singular "Tuesday," determines the number of the verb, the singular "is" in this case.
It seems to me that you have two sentences there. If you really want an ellipsis, probably to indicate a pause here, you ought to end the first sentence before adding the ellipsis:I see. . . . No, I don't.
QUESTION What is the correct punctuation following the phrase, "Guess which one didn't use this product"
Should it be:
So, to clarify, do we need a question mark or a period at the end of this phrase? Or could it be either, depending on what is intended? Thanks.
- "Guess which one didn't use this product?"
- "Guess which one didn't use this product."
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Chicago, Illinois Mon, Jun 19, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE That's not a question; the period will do the job. If you want it to be a question, you'll have to change it to something like "Can you guess which one didn't use this product?"
QUESTION In Portuguese we can wear "a shoe", which means "a pair of shoes" and speakers understand that it is a pair of shoes that we are wearing, since we have two feet! In English, though, we must be more specific and say that we are wearing shoes. That's OK. The problem is that in Portuguese we say "I bought three shoes" (Three pairs of shoes). How can we say that in English? Just "Three pairs of shoes," or is there some other way? How about pants, or glasses? Do we always have to be that specific? I'm looking forward to your reply. Thanks in advance. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Tue, Jun 20, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE That's an interesting observation. We really can't say "There are three glasses on the counter" and mean spectacles; it would mean that there are three containers to hold liquid. We'd have to say "There are three pairs of glasses on the counter." And "three pants" would be almost as odd.
QUESTION Please notify me at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio whether "the" before "University" should be capitalized. I don't think so but it's almost always capitalized here. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE San Antonio, Texas Tue, Jun 20, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Capitalize the The only when the official corporate name of the institution is called for. The example used in the Chicago Manual of Style is "© 1992 by The University of Chicago." In other words, most of the time, don't capitalize the the.
Authority: Chicago Manual of Style 14th ed. U of Chicago P: Chicago. 1993. p. 258 n.
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