QUESTION When citing time via the 24-hour clock, does one use a colon or not? e.g. 2130 hours v. 21:30 hours
Thank you for your time and assistance.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Fri, Sep 7, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Don't use a colon there. If, for technical reasons, you're recording seconds as well, you'd want to introduce colons, as in 12:08:31 (which would mean eight minutes, thirty-one seconds after noon).
Authority: Chicago Manual of Style 14th ed. U of Chicago P: Chicago. 1993. p. 306.
QUESTION Hello, I'm having a hard time understanding appositives. I've read they rename a noun, but that just doesn't seem clear to me. I ran across this example in a text I'm reading
They both use students, which is the appositive. They are both labels of teenagers. What am I missing?
- One class of teenagers can be labeledstudents. (Incorrect)
- One label would fit almost any teenagerstudents. (Correct)
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Sat, Sep 8, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You're not missing much. That's a very subtle difference between those two sentences. If we said "One label, students, would fit almost any teenager," we can see how the word "students" is, essentially, the same thing as "one label." Thus "students" is an appositive for "one label." How "students" is not an appositive for "one class of teenagers," however, is not clear to me. I'll leave an e-mail icon here in case someone can explain this.
A Mr. Peterson of Sweden wrote the following:
Students in the first example is a complement to the predicate can be labelled. The dash does not create apposition -- all it does is incorrectly separate the predicate from its complement. It's misplaced. Without the dash you can read out a perfectly grammatical sentence. In the second example, you cannot. Well, that's my take anyway.
QUESTION How shall i combine two possessive pronouns? Is it for example grammatically correct to write:
Please, tell me!
- "My and my wife's house."
- "My and Ann's work."
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Sat, Sep 8, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You're not actually combining two possessive pronouns there; you're combining a possessive pronoun with the possessive of a proper noun. Generally, it's going to sound better if you put the other person's name first and, yes, use the possessive form: "my wife's and my house." If it sounds too weird to you, you can always resort to "the house that belongs to me and my wife" or "our house." If you were combining two possessive pronouns, you'd simply use the two possessive forms: "his and her towels."
QUESTION Please help to analyze the composition of the following sentence:He does more than merely summarize the facts.Thanks SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE San Francisco, California Mon, Sep 10, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I've just spent half an hour submerged in chapter 11 of Quirk and Greenbaum's Grammar of Contemporary English, (about comparative clauses) and I'm more confused than ever (although I am still capable of using "more than" with some success). Within the comparative element, the word "more" is capable of performing several functionsquantifier, adjunct, head of noun phrase, etc. I believe that in your sentence, it is acting as the modifier of the adverb "merely." In explaining the sentence, "He more than complained . . . ," Q&G explain that the "comparative item may have certain anomalous functions in non-clausal comparative constructions. What is in common formally between these constructions is that the comparative item is followed by than, which in turn is followed by one of a range of syntactic elements, including adjectives, verbs, adverbs [true in the case of your sentence], and prepositional phrases. Semantically, the sentences amount to comments on the inadequacy of linguistic expressions."
I recommend that you get hold of Quirk and Greenbaum's book if you're interested in exploring the complexities of comparative expressions.
Authority: A Grammar of Contemporary English by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. Longman Group: London. 1978. pages 772-3.
QUESTION I have a question about a word. I was looking up the word perusal in the dictionary today and it gave it the meaning of "to read over carefully." My question is does perusal really mean such? I thought perusal meant to give only a brief look-over.
Or is this an instance of a word that has been used so much in such a manner (most people I have heard say it have meant it to be "to give a brief look-over."), that it has come to mean "to give a brief look-over" and it is perfectly acceptable to use the word in that manner? I look forward to hearing from you, and thanks for your most informative site.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Mon, Sep 10, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Actually, I think most people think that it means to read or examine something very carefully, minutely. An American dictionary will provide for both meanings, oddly enough, but the Brits use it to mean "to read carefully" or "to examine minutely." The next time you're in a library rich enough to own the Oxford English Dictionary, you might discover how this word came to mean two such divergent things.
By a most peculiar coincidence, the Merriam-Webster's "Word of the Day" is the verb "to peruse," and this is what they had to say about it:peruse \puh-ROOZ\ (verb)
- a: to examine or consider with attention and in detail b : to look over or through in a casual or cursory manner
- : read; especially : to read over in an attentive or leisurely manner
"The [Web] site features a section where visitors can peruse a listing of great toasts for any occasion." (PR Newswire, August 2001)
Did you know?
"Peruse" has long been a literary word, used by such famous authors as Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and Tennyson, and it tends to have a literary flavor even in our time. "Peruse" can suggest paying close attention to something, but it can also simply mean "to read." The "read" sense, which is not especially new and was in fact included by Samuel Johnson in his 1755 dictionary, has drawn some criticism over the years for being too broad. Some commentators have recommended that "peruse" be reserved for reading with great care and attention to detail. But the fact remains that "peruse" is often used in situations where a simple "read" definition could be easily substituted. It may suggest either an attentive read or a quick reading.
QUESTION SAF Officers Wives' Club or SAF Officers' Wives' Club SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Singapore Tue, Sep 11, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The wives definitely "belong to" the officers (in a sense, anyway), so I would use the possessive form, "officers'." However, I wouldn't use the possessive form for "wives'." The plural form, "wives," will suffice here (although I don't think the possessive form is really wrong, either).
QUESTION I am writing medical instructional material for an online help presentation. There are some within my organization that don't seem to like instructional material written to the second person. Do you know where I can locate reference material to better subtantiate my claim that addressing the second person is more a more effective method for communicating technical information? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Orlando, Florida Tue, Sep 11, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Eliminating "you" from instructional text can bleed all life from such writing. There's nothing wrong with allowing the reader to feel personally addressed, and you can do that without using "you" in every other sentence. Although the writing is not exactly technical in nature, the IRS uses "you" constantly in their instructions, to good effect: "You can deduct the actual cost" as opposed to "the actual cost can be deducted."
Authority: The Elements of Technical Writing by Thomas E. Pearsall. 2nd Edition. Allyn and Bacon: Boston. 2001. p. 28.
QUESTION What is the difference between 'a while' and 'awhile'. Can you explain and give me an example for each? Thanks. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Thu, Sep 13, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE "Awhile" is an adverb and it will always modify a verb: "A bus will come soon. Just wait awhile." (The word awhile is modifying the verb "wait.") In the sentence "A bus will come soon. Just wait here for a while," the prepositional phrase "for a while" is acting as an adverb modifying the verb "wait," but the word "while" is a noun, the object of the preposition "for."
QUESTION I'm not sure about using a comma in a situation where I must quote a regulation. For example:
I find myself stumbling over the comma in the first example, but I know that structure is consistent with:
- The policy manual states, "the employee must ...."
- The policy manual states "the employee must ...."
Thank you for your help!
- She said, "The employee must ...." which would be correct.
Or am I better off to go with:
- The policy manual states that "the employee must ...." which would not seem to need a comma.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Atlanta, Georgia Thu, Sep 13, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE When quoted material comes at the end of a sentence, it is usually set off with a comma, especially when it is preceded by a phrase like "he said" or "the manual states." If the quotation is quite brief, though, you can omit the comma. If the quotation is a complete thought unto itself or contains more than one sentence, you can use a colon instead. As you have noted, in your last option, if the quotation is preceded by "that" or is otherwise part of the flow of the sentence, the comma does not feel necessary and should be omitted.
Authority: The Gregg Reference Manual by William A. Sabin. 9th Edition. McGraw-Hill: New York. 2001. Used with the consent of Glencoe/McGraw-Hill. p. 68.
QUESTION When referring to professional sports teams, do you treat them as singular or plural. e.g.,The Toronto Blue Jays has/have decided to add to their roster.Could you briefly explain the reason. Thank you very much. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Thu, Sep 13, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The names of sports teams are regarded as plurals, regardless of the form of that name. We'd write that "the Blue Jays have" and "the Utah Jazz have. . . ." The "their" of your sentence is another clue to how you are using this collective noun.
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