QUESTION What does "All his children are not at school" mean? Does it mean that none of his children are at school, or does it mean "Not all of his children are at school, so some are, some are not"?
Thanks a lot
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE San Francisco, California Wed, Oct 10, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The sentence, as phrased, is ambiguous at best. That's why the placement of the negative element is critical. Your rendering of the meaning is possible; at least it's clear what you mean when you say that "Not all his children are at school." You could also say that "None of his children are at school."
QUESTION I'm looking for something on the incorrect uses of 'but' (ie where it is used and there isn't any sense of opposition or contrast).
using it where there is no sense of contrast or oppositionJohn bought an ice cream but Jane bought a drinkis better asJohn bought an ice cream and Jane bought a drink (first clause sets up no expectation).
SimilarlyHe was not affected by the wine but what made him drunk was the beeris better asHe was not affected by the wine; what made him drunk was the beer (as a clarification not a comparison).
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE London, England Wed, Oct 10, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE It is true that the conjunction but denotes a contrast. As Quirk and Greenbaum point out, however, a contrast can be set up when what is said in the second conjoin is unexpected in light of what is said in the first. That's probably not true of your first sentence, but it would be true, say, of "John bought an ice cream but Jane bought nothing at all." Also, the contrast can be a restatement in affirmative terms of what has been said or implied negatively in the first conjoin. The example they give is "John didn't waste his time in the week before the exam, but studied hard every evening." There is enough of a difference between that sentence and your second example that I would not argue with your analysis (clarification, not comparison) or with your revision of that sentence.
Authority: A University Grammar of English by Randolph Quirk and Sidney Greenbaum. Longman Group: Essex, England. 1993. Used with permission. p. 259.
QUESTION Does "etc." require a comma following its use in a sentence such as"He kept dogs, fish, lizards, etc. as pets,"even though if we were to substitute "and so forth," there wouldn't be a comma? The same question applies to "et al." If it does, can you explain the rationale? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Wed, Oct 10, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The answer is yes and no. Yes, conventions require a comma after "etc.," but no, I can't provide a rationale. You would put a comma directly after the period in the sentence you give us. You're probably not going to be using the abbreviation "et al." in a situation outside of research documentation, anyway, and that process requires its own set of rules (which are often quite capricious and arbitrary), so I wouldn't worry about that one.
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. 291.
I have a strange question for you. I teach English here in Taiwan, and last week I got into an argument with an English professor here (who is Taiwanese). I wrote the following sentence: "San Francisco is a nice place to live."
The English professor insisted that my sentence is gramatically incorrect, and should be changed to the following: "San Francisco is a nice place to live in."
Who's right? And why?
Sorry to trouble you, and thanks very much for your help!
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Taiwan Thu, Oct 11, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Your professor friend as a good point. Your sentence is saying that San Francisco is nice and that it is living, and although that's true in a metaphorical sense, that's not what you mean. You mean that it's a nice place to live in, and we really can't leave out that preposition.
QUESTION Which is correct: "Woe is me" or "Woe is I?" Why? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Lewisville, Texas Thu, Oct 11, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Patricia T. O'Conner has a complete book called Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English (which, I must admit, I do not own), and I'm assuming she addresses this sentence in much detail. The structure, I'm guessing, is based on the premise that "Woe" is the subject so we need a third-person verb, "is," and the predicate should be in the subject form (because we've got a linking verb) so we need "I." And you end up with something entirely silly: "Woe is I." I would highly recommend using either "Woe am I" or just forgetting the whole archaic mess and saying "Oh [expletive deleted]!"
QUESTION Do you ever use an apostrophe to indicate possesion with a word that ends in something other than an s. Is it correct to write "the Wilcox's house" or "the Velez's house"? I seem to remember some constanant that you don't put " 's " after to indicate possession. Am I crazy? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Richmond, Virginia Fri, Oct 12, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In the examples you give us, you would first pluralize the name and then add the apostrophe that indicates possession. So you'd write "the Wilcoxes' house" and "the Velezes' house." The only time you wouldnt' do that is when adding the "-es" ending messes up the pronunciation of a word. The plural of "Chambers" is "Chambers," not "Chamberses." So we'd write "the Chambers' house" (and "the Hodges' house"). There are some exceptions, especially among French names: "the Dumas' most famous novels" (two French authors), "the sixteen King Louis" (not Louises), and "the four Martinvoix have moved to Paris."
Authority: Chicago Manual of Style 14th ed. U of Chicago P: Chicago. 1993. p. 197.
QUESTION Would the verb in the following sentence be singular or plural and why. We are having quite a debate..Pizza Hut in partnership with Kentucky Fried Chicken present (presents) the IPS Card.Many, many thanks. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Fri, Oct 12, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The subject is still "Pizza Hut" and you want the singular "presents." The phrase "in partnership with KFC" modifies the subject but it doesn't compound the subject as "and" would do.
QUESTION I'm having a disagreement with a coworker about the use of hyphens in the term "face-to-face." Webster's says the hyphens should be used in both adjective or adverb use, but my friend says he doesn't see why the hyphens are needed in adverbial use. I was guessing it orginated from the French vis-à-vis, but that didn't convince him. If two guys duke it out "man-to-man," should that follow the same rule? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Minneapolis, Minnesota Fri, Oct 12, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The Chicago Manual of Style says that an "adjectival phrase of long standing" will appear with hyphens regardless of where it is used (in other words, in a predicate position or used adverbially). Examples it uses are "over-the-hill" and "matter-of-fact." Personally, I have my doubts, as does Bill Sabin in the Gregg Reference Manual. I would never write "The center fielder is over-the-hill," as CMOS suggests. I would use a hyphen when the compound is used adjectivally before a noun a face-to-face meeting and I would use an open form (no hyphens) when it's used adverbially or as a predicate (unless some kind of confusion results as a result of not using hyphens). "They met face to face for the first time in 1989." In My Sense of Silence, Lennard J. Davis writes (adverbially), ''Face to face, I belonged to my parents' world and the world of sign language." (U of Illinois Press, 2000). A recent art book is called Van Gogh Face to Face: The Portraits. The AP Stylebook, Bill Sabin points out, contains these two sentences: "They walked side by side" and "The stories received side-by-side display."
Authority: Chicago Manual of Style 14th ed. U of Chicago P: Chicago. 1993. p. 224.
QUESTION All were present except John.
All were present except for John.
The road is quite clear except a few cars.
The road is quite clear except for a few cars.
Are there any rules regarding the use of "for" after except?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Singapore Fri, Oct 12, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE It might have something to do with the fact that the preposition "except" is closely related to the verb forms of "except" and "excepting" that it tends to be compounded with the preposition "for." I can't find anything that dictates against or for this usage. I'll leave an e-mail icon here in case someone else can explain further (if there's anything to explain).
QUESTION Concerning the convention for streets with numbered names, I have found two sources that say that numbered street names up to 10 should be written out, as in First Street, Second Avenue, etc. This seems to me like changing the street's name, especially if it appears on the map as 1st Street, 2nd Avenue. Is this really the accepted convention?
Thanks for your time.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Irvine, California Fri, Oct 12, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE According to William Sabin, editor of The Gregg Reference Manual (whom I trust absolutely in all such matters), yes, that is the accepted convention.
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. 362.
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