QUESTION In the following usage, should the phrase "up-to-date" include or exclude hyphens?Welcome to the first edition of the ... newsletter, designed to keep you up-to-date on what's happening at ... and to encourage open dialogue... SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Jacksonville, Florida Fri, Mar 29, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You'd use hyphens in up-to-date when it's used a pre-noun modifier, as in "Is this an up-to-date schedule?" But in your sentence or in something like "Is this calendar up to date?," no, we wouldn't use hyphens.
QUESTION Could you please to help me with at first glance simple problem!
What is the difference between "base" and "basis"? In what cases it is appropriate to use "base" and when "basis"?Thank you for the answer!
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Kyiv, Ukraine Fri, Mar 29, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Generally, we use "base" in a more literal manner: the bottom, the lower part, the foundation of something (usually physical). "Basis" has a more figurative sense: the basis for an argument or a feeling or something like "a friendly basis," etc.
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 Thank you for the excellent site! I could not find this answer in my style manual or on your website. Which of the following two sentences would you consider to be correct?
I believe it is #1 because "of five volunteers" is a prepositional pharase, but I have encountered some disagreement. What is the name of the rule that answers this question?
- A minimum of five volunteers is needed.
- A minimum of five volunteers are needed.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Milwaukee, Wisconsis Fri, Mar 29, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE This is similar to a phrase like "a variety of cigars." You'd say "A variety of cigars is a good thing" because it's the variety, a singular notion, that you're emphasizing. On the other hand, you might say "A variety of good cigars are available" when you want to emphasize a number of cigars in their marvelous plurality. In your sentence, are you thinking of "minimum" as a singular quantity or are you picturing five good and helpful people? If it's the latter (which I suspect is the case), use "are." If the notion of the minimum is what you intend to emphasize ("A minimum if five people is essential."), use the singular "is."
Authority: Dos, Don'ts & Maybes of English Usage by Theodore Bernstein. Gramercy Books: New York. 1999. p. 10.
QUESTION How should dates be written in business publications? For example, would it be April 3 or April 3rd. I know it is April 3, 2003, when written as a complete date.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Lawrenceville, New Jersey Fri, Mar 29, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE According to the Gregg Reference Manual, we can use the ordinal designation of a date when the date precedes the month, as in "the 3rd of April," or when the date stands alone, as in "we'll meet on the 7th." But when the date follows the month, use the cardinal form of the number, "We will meet April 3 in the green room."
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. 114.
QUESTION Which of the following is correct:
- One need not show their ID.
- One needs not show their ID.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Washington, D.C. Sat, Mar 30, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Can I have one more choice, like "none of the above"? The plural "their" doesn't work very well with the singular "one." So you need either to pluralize the "one" to something like "people," or to singularize (an interesting word) the "their" to "one's." See our section on the pronoun one for more choices and helpful advice.
QUESTION OK---I know that most sentences with a subordinate clause are considered to be complex sentences....however, wouldn't the sentence below be a simple sentence, since your noun clause IS the subject of the main clause...How high a person jumps is important in basketball. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Broken Arrow, Oklahoma Sat, Mar 30, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I guess it simply depends on your definition of complex sentence. Most people define it as a sentence that contains both a dependent and independent clause. The fact that the dependent clause, in this case, also serves as the subject of the sentence doesn't alter the fact that you've got two subject-verb relationships, and that's what counts.
QUESTION In the following two sentences are the commas necessary? I see this quite a bit and I think it's because of the "ands" in the sentences, but I don't think they're needed. You can count on me to provide explanations of all court and estate proceedings, and be present every step of the way as special arrangements are made and carried out. We accept the responsiblitiy and liability involved with coordinating efforts with your attorneys and accountants, and keeping detailed records to effectively manage your estate.Thanks! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE St. Petersburg, Florida Sat, Mar 30, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You can leave out the comma in the first sentence because that second "and" is connecting only two things (you don't really have a series here) and it can do that all by itself. However, we should probably add "to be present" in order to create parallel form.
The second sentence is confusing because the preposition "with" is followed by two things coordinating and keeping and the first element contains the compounded "attorneys and accountants." Can we change "coordinating efforts" to "the coordination of efforts"? (What does that mean, by the way? Can it be changed to "negotiations" or "transactions" or some such thing?) And then add "and in keeping records of /for the effective management of your estate"? The sentence might still be a mess and need an entire makeover.
QUESTION Hello! I was having a dispute with a co-worker over the following wording:"ECG readings were taken approximately within twenty minutes of the blood draw."My colleague thinks that this is perfectly correct. I said that the word "approximately" in this case was modifying the word "within" rather than "twenty minutes". I said further that "approximately" is an adverb.
Then I thought that "approximately" could be an adverb only if it were modifying a verb (were taken?). Now of course I am confused & I pose the following questions:
- Is "approximately" an adjective, an adverb, or something else?
- Is it acceptable to place "approximately" immediately before "within"?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Montreal, Quebec, Canada Mon, Apr 1, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The prepositional phrase "within twenty minutes of the blood draw" is modifying the verb "were taken." It is behaving, then, like an adverb. The adverb "approximately" then modifies the prepositional phrase that begins with "within," which is perfectly legitimate because adverbs can modify other adverbs.
QUESTION Hello! My class and I are wondering what part of speech 5,000 would be in the clause, "5,000 years ago." Can you help us out, oh great grammar king! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Maynard, Massachusetts Mon, Apr 1, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Beloved Subjects:
"5,000 years ago" is not really a clause; it's a phrase. But we will forgive you this time. It's a good question, otherwise. I would regard the entire phrase as adverbial, meaning "earlier than the present time." In other words, if we say that "something happened five thousand years ago," the phrase modifies the verb, "happened." Within that phrase, the number 5,000 is modifying the noun "years," so it has to be an adjective. If we're uncomfortable with that idea, we can simply call "5,000 years" a noun phrase (which happens to be embedded within this adverbial phrase). We wouldn't want to begin a sentence with a number like that, though, would we? (We using the "royal we," in this case would write out "Five thousand years ago, something happened. . . .")
QUESTION Would you please advise me on which is the correct usage of the word nervous in the following two sentences and why it is correct.
- 1. When Mr. Stevens approached the subject, he began to act nervously before stating his name was Carl.
- 2. When Mr. Stevens approached the subject, he began to act nervous before stating his name was Carl.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Franklin, Tennessee Mon, Apr 1, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE A handful of verbs behave in the same manner as linking verbs. Just as we would say "He was/appeared/looked nervous" (instead of "he was/appeared/looked nervously"), we would use "nervous" to modify "act." (The parallel between "appearing" and "acting" is pretty self evident.) With these words, we use adjectival modifers, not adverbs. (Thus we say, "The soup tastes good" and "the conversation turned ugly" and "the lawyer proved mean.") All of this is to say that "nervous" is correct in that sentence.
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