QUESTION For the past four years, my boyfriend and I have had an ongoing argument about one sentence. When I make reference to the TV show "The Simpsons" I say, "'The Simpsons' is on." Now, he thinks that I should be saying, "'The Simpsons' are on." I keep telling him that the proper thing to say is "is" because I am making reference to one TV show. Please tell me which one of us is right. This argument is getting old.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Fairfield, Ohio Wed, Jan 31, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Technically, you're right: you're using the title of the show as a singular entity and you ought to use the singular verb, "is." Occasionally, singular entities with plural titles are treated as plural "The Giants are playing the Ravens." but that doesn't really apply to your situation. Unless he's referring to the members of the Simpson family in the plural, he's got to use the singular verb here. If you mean the title of the show, you need the singular.
QUESTION I've seen the words 'meet' and 'consult' used both with and without the preposition ' with.' Is it correct to write 'meet with' or 'consult with' ? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Brooklyn, New York Wed, Jan 31, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE "Meet with" is certainly correct when it means "encounter," as in "he met with unexpected opposition." Generally, these phrasal verbs probably American inventions are unnecessary. "Meet up with" is often an unnecessary elaboration of "meet." You could argue, I suppose" that "meet with" conveys a greater sense of give-and-take, of genuine discourse, than the root "to meet," and the same is probably true of "consult with." Generally, though, the base form of these verbs will suffice quite nicely. I have a feeling that "meet with" has made greater inroads into the language and is more widely accepted than "consult with."
QUESTION 'Lets go a/round the boulder.'Is it around or round? Thanks SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Altona Meadows VIC Australia Wed, Jan 31, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Except when you mean "approximately" and then you want "around" you can use whichever of these two words sounds better to you. I think most writers would use "around" in that sentence you give us.
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 Recently, I have heard people at work using the phrases "on yesterday", "on tomorrow" or "on today" in their spoken language and written in memos. (i.e. I spoke to you about this on yesterday). Something just doesn't sound right here. I am certainly used to hearing "on Thursday", as in "I spoke to you about this on Thursday." However, I have never before heard the preposition "on" used before the words yesterday, today or tomorrow. Somehow, those words don't call for a prepositional phrase. What, if anything, is grammatically incorrect about the prepositional phrases "on yesterday", "on today", and "on tomorrow"? Why don't the words yesterday, today or tomorrow need the preposition "on" before them... or for that matter "last week" (i.e. "I spoke to you about this last week" not "on last week".)? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE New Orleans, Louisiana Wed, Jan 31, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE That's a new one on me! Is it a regional expression, do you think? Odd how these things crop up from time to time. My kids used to say "standing on line" and "it happened on accident" before we threatened them with starvation for doing so. You're right: the "on" is completely useless in that construction. It doesn't sound so bad in "We'll do this on the day after tomorrow," even though it's unnecessary even there. But if people are saying it and writing it using the "on" in that construction, there's not much you can do about it except hope that it remains within a very limited geographical area (sort of like a bad strain of the flu). Getting too excited about such things can drive you insane.
QUESTION Hello. My question may seem a little childish and ridiculously idiotic but, I am puzzled with this one word. Okay, the word "forget." Would it be correct if I were to say, "I forget what he said?" Or would it be more proper to say, "I forgot what he said?" This is not a joke. I do not know if I am making a mistake when I say that word in a statement like that. My girlfriend always corrects me when I say that, but I think it to be correct grammar usage. Any help would be appreciated. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Mon, Feb 5, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In the sense of "being unable to recall," there's nothing wrong with "I forget his name." I see the sense of what your girlfriend is saying that the forgetting is something that you did, in the past but there's nothing wrong with the present tense expression, either.
Authority for this note: WWWebster Dictionary, the World Wide Web edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary, Tenth Edition. Used with permission.
QUESTION I've heard that jealousy is different from envy, but I can't make out any distinction between the two in my American Heritage dictionary. Would you enlighten me? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Brooklyn, New York Mon, Feb 5, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE As I understand it, if you go out and buy a new automobile, I can be envious of your new car or envious of you. You, on the other hand, might be so jealous of your car that you refuse to let people ride in it because you're afraid the new-car smell will disappear. Thus you are vigilant in guarding your possession. Jealous is also used to describe someone who suspects rivalry or unfaithfulness in somone else, a jealous husband, say. In truth, however, in common usage, the word jealous is frequently used interchangeably with envious, and you will hear something like "Joe just bought a new car. I'm so jealous!"
QUESTION 'Explain to whoever it is I'm late.' Shouldn't 'whomever' be used?
'Amongst the people is a child.'
Can amongst be replaced with among?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Altona Meadows VIC Australia Fri, Feb 9, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In that particular construction, you need a subject form ("whoever") as the predicate nominative for "it is _____." That clause, then, becomes an object of the preposition "to," but the form of the pronoun doesn't change to "whomever." A "that" would be a good idea before "I'm late" in that sentence.
In the U.S., you're far more apt to find "among" than "amongst." The word "amongst" is somewhat more common in England. I don't know about Australia.
QUESTION I'm in a dilemma. My dictionary says that the adverbial form of 'motionless' is 'motionlessly,' but it seems to me that I usually see clauses of the form "he sat motionless," "he stood motionless," etc. , and when I have to use the word myself, I'm not sure which form to use. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Brooklyn, New York Fri, Feb 9, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I've never seen "stood motionlessly." Use the adjective form there. "Stand" is what is referred to as a "current copula," a linking verb (which should be linked to an adjective, not an adverb). It's like "he remained uncertain," "he looks dejected," "she sounded surprised."
Authority: A Grammar of Contemporary English by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. Longman Group: London. 1978. p. 821.
QUESTION Why does my grammar check think this sentence is wrong?"Thinking it was the tooth fever acting up again, the father was slow to stir."It keeps telling me my comma is missplaced, that it should go after the word acting. But that doesn't make any sense. Thank you for your help. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE CDA, Idaho (?) Fri, Feb 9, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I can't imagine why the grammar checker would want the comma after "acting." It probably can't deal with the noun clause being tucked into the participial phrase this way: "Thinking [that it was the tooth fever] . . . ." I wonder if you left out the "it was" and wrote it, "Thinking the tooth fever was acting up again, the father was slow to stir," would the grammar checker leave it alone? Maybe the grammar checker has never heard of the phrasal verb "act up"? In any case, it's not a comma placement problem.
QUESTION "I bring with me, interest, traits and skills that will mesh with this business."What is the proper punctuation that will offset the 3 things interest, traits, and skills from the "me" in this sentence? Thank you for your advice. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Sat, Feb 10, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I don't think there is a way of working those three elements into that sentence without a different way of introducing them. There really shouldn't be a comma after "me," but if you leave it out (as you have seen), the sentence is unreadable. First of all, I'd get rid of the "with me." And then I'd change those three rather vague elements into something a bit more specific: "I bring an intellectual curiosity, a _____ motivation, and mechanical [or whatever] skills that mesh nicely with this business." The word "traits" doesn't mean much. Something more specific will show that you've really thought about what this potential employer is looking for.
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