QUESTION Would you say, "Hold onto this coupon." or, "Hold on to this coupon."?
Also, does that question mark belong where I put it and, if so, would it belong outside of the quotation marks if it were a period? Thank you for your help.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Austin, Texas Wed, Feb 20, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE My first reaction to this was that "hold on" is a phrasal verb, and I wanted to keep that "on" separate from the "to." But the idiomatic usage here, quite acceptable, is for the "onto" to replace the "on," and we would write "hold onto this coupon."
I'd put that question mark after the quotation mark, leaving out the period, as inWould you say "Hold onto this coupon"?
QUESTION Can the phrase "more busy" ever be right? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Atlanta, Georgia Thu, Feb 21, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Why not? It looks odd when you write it by itself that way, but it works in a sentence such as "The airport has been more busy than it was last summer" or "Of bakers and candlestick makers, it's hard to say who is more busy." You have to judge whether "busier" would sound better or not.
QUESTION What is the correct possessive form for Gutierrez? Gutierrez' or Gutierrez's? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE St. Louis, Missouri Thu, Feb 21, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Most writers would use "Gutierrez's car."
QUESTION Is it correct that a comma should be used after a company name that includes "Inc.", such as:ABC Distributing, Inc., a major supplier of doors, is located in Charleston, South Carolina.
and that a comma should not be used when Inc. becomes possessive?
I can't find this rule anywhere, but I know that I have been told to do it this way by various instructors.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Charleston, West Virginia Thu, Feb 21, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Nowadays most writing manuals are suggesting that we get rid of the commas that set off "Inc." from the rest of the sentence. If the company so named, however, clearly prefers a comma between its name and the word "Inc.," you should use that comma, and you should set off "Inc." as a parenthetical element (commas before and after it) when it appears in the middle of running text (as in your sentence, above). To form the possessive of a company's name when Inc. is involved, simply add apostrophe + s to the Inc., but eliminate the second comma (if one is used): ABC Distributing Inc.'s new policy or ABC Distributing, Inc.'s new policy.
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. 156.
Authority: New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage HarperCollins: New York. 1994. Cited with permission. p. 272.
What is the difference between the use of 'much' and 'somewhat' in the previous sentences? Can both words be considered adjectives or adverbs?
- She woke up much earlier than usual.
- She woke up somewhat earlier than usual.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Chicago, Illinois Fri, Feb 22, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE They're both adverbs, both of them modifying the comparative adjective "earlier." The difference is that much is an intensifier and somewhat is called a "downtoner." She gets up a lot earlier in the first sentence than she does in the second sentence (and she's probably not very happy about it).
QUESTION What is the proper punctuation when using "however" in the middle of a sentence? For example, how would you punctuate this sentence?"This does not require a formal response however we suggest Company Leaders address the item." SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Dallas, Texas Fri, Feb 22, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE We can't say that "however" is actually appearing "in the middle of a sentence" there; it's acting as a conjunctive adverb connecting two independent clauses and it needs a semicolon to go along with it (and it ought to be followed by a comma), as in"This does not require a formal response; however, we suggest Company Leaders address the item."
(We probably don't need to capitalize "company leaders," do we?) You will sometimes see "however" appear in the middle of a sentence without any punctuation at all, as in "I will help you however I can," but the meaning is obviously different.
QUESTION When is it necessary to use the noun monies in place of money? This sign hangs by the fountain at a local mall,"All monies will be donated to charity." SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Richmond, Virginia Fri, Feb 22, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE It's probably never necessary to use monies instead of money or the plural form moneys. The spelling monies is often used by folks skilled in the ancient and dubious magic of accountancy and by those who deal in the dismal science of economics. It could be used, for instance, to refer to different kinds of currency, money coming from various resources, different kinds of funds, etc. The rest of us, especially those of us who put up signs at the local mall, deal mostly with money, when we can.
QUESTION Why is it that "My wife Betty desn't understand me" doesn't require a comma, and yet the similar "My weakness, chocolate, has rendered me fat and pimply" does?
I dimly remember my 8th grade English teacher, a ruler-wielding martinette named Miss Poff, beating the rule into me, but the lesson appears to have worn off.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Baltimore, Maryland Fri, Feb 22, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Strictly speaking (pretend I'm Miss Poff for a moment), the name Betty can be regarded as a parenthetical element. This would assume strictly speaking, of course that you have only one wife, so the name is not essential to the meaning of the sentence. Thus "Betty" could be set off with a pair of commas in the same manner that the word "chocolate" is parenthetical and can be set off in the second sentence. However, a phrase like "My wife Betty" is often regarded as a unit (be careful how you say this around Betty) and the comma omitted. I have elaborated upon rule #4 in our section on Comma Rules to reflect this discussion.
QUESTION What is it called when you give the option of a plural?For example: Give him the toy(s).And how should it be handled when the plural form changes?
- For example: Locate the blocked artery(s)
- or should it be: Locate the blocked artery(ies)?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Lewiston, Maine Fri, Feb 22, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I don't know what you call that, but when the spelling of the word changes (as a result of the addition of the plural), show both spellings as in "Located the blocked artery(ies)."
Authority: The Gregg Reference Manual by William A. Sabin. 9th Edition. McGraw-Hill: New York. 2001. Used with the consent of Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.
QUESTION How would you punctuate a possessive of a proper noun that is already a possessive? For example, if the proper noun is "St. Anne's," and I want to say "St. Anne's plea" (in discussing a legal case), how should the possessive be indicated? My inclination is to omit the additional possessive, because an apostrophe or apostrophe -s would look ugly. Multiple occurrences make the use of "plea of..." impossible. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Reston, Virginia Fri, Feb 22, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The same situation would occur with business names, like McDonald's Corporation or Friendly's Restaurants. We would write something like "Friendly's franchise program" or "McDonald's early retirement incentives." So go ahead with St. Anne's plea if you have too many "pleas of St. Anne's" already littering your text.
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