QUESTION I am always confused by the usage of (The and A). I often do not know when to use which. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Somewhere, South Africa Thursday, August 27, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Please review the material in Articles and Determiners and write back if you still have questions. You're not alone!
QUESTION Which is the correct form and are there situations when to use "in" or"at"
Thank you in advance
- At the Institute of...?
- In the Laboratory we perform experiments.....?
- at the Laboratory we perform experiments.....?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Raahe, Finland Thursday, August 27, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE There's not a whole lot of difference in this context. (Unlike, say, other contexts such as "I live in Raahe, Finland, at such and such an address.) If we were sitting in your kitchen, at home, you would probably tell me that "at the Lab we perform experiments"; if we were in the lab building itself, you might point to the lab door and tell me that "in the lab we perform experiments." It's a matter of proximity.
QUESTION What is the equivalent of "eloquent" which would be used to describe how a written thing was written. For example, "When he spoke, he was eloquent, and when he wrote he was ___ ? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Newport Beach, California Thursday, August 27, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I'm not convinced that eloquence has to be restricted to the spoken word. The online Merriam-Webster's refers to an eloquent monument, for instance. Given the kinds of things that are protected under our Freedom of Speech amendment, I would apply whatever can be applied to speech to the written word as well.
QUESTION Please explain the rules that govern the use of was and were.
If I were King is correct as is if I were you. However, If I was to go to the store and if I was you is also correct. Correct?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Wilton, Connecticut Thursday, August 27, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE We're not actually talking about the choice between was and were here; that would be a question about number, singular or plural. What we're talking about it is the the use of the Subjunctive Mood. Click on the phrase to read about the uses of the subjunctive -- especially the little caution from the New York Public Library's usage guide.
QUESTION Is the combination of words "Exact" and "Similar" in the context of the sentence in the example below, proper grammer?Example: This new instrument is exactly similar to the existing instrument. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Cleveland, Ohio Thursday, August 27, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE One of my dictionaries makes a point of saying that "similar" means that things are not exactly the same, but that they are comparable in essentials. Similar geometric forms, for example, share exactly the same angles, but they're different in size. Another dictionary, however, uses the negative construction, saying that "no two animal habitats are exactly similar." Personally, I would think that when things become exactly similar, they're no longer similar; they're the same.
QUESTION When are words like "state" and "nation" capitalized? For example, are these correct?
- He is a state worker.
- He works for the State.
- The State has a program to deal with that.
- The State of California has a program to deal with that.
- We serve the citizens of the State.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Sacramento, California Thursday, August 27, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The only time you'd capitalize words such as "state" would be in a document in which it becomes important to distinguish between this State and more generic uses of the word. I wouldn't capitalize state in any of the examples you give us, and I can't think of any reason for capitalizing nation.
QUESTION I was wondering which was correct: Let me know. Thanks SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Burbank, California Friday, August 28, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Choice 1 is OK except that we need a comma after Wind (and we would either italicize or underline the title of the book). Choice 2 is worse than the movie.
QUESTION In the following sentence is the area of study "latin american studies" capitalized?"My undergraduate degree in anthropology followed by graduate work in latin american studies has allowed me extensive contact with people of diverse backgrounds." SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Chicago, Illinois Monday, August 31, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You would capitalize Latin American because it is an adjectival construction based on a geographical area that normally is a proper noun. Don't capitalize "studies" in this context, however.
QUESTION I have combed through various sources to find a hard and steadfast rule about hyphenating compound words in which the first word ends in "Y" (e.g., royalty bearing, attorney sponsored).
I was told some time ago that such words are NOT hyphenated whereas other compound words (such as interest-bearing and film-related) are hyphenated.
Are you aware of this rule? Or was it just something that somebody made up because he/she preferred it that way?
Thank you in advance for your help.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Culver City, California Monday, August 31, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE What you might have heard is that when an adverb (which will usually end in "ly") precedes an adjective, you don't want to put a hyphen between the adverb and the adjective. The weirdly obnoxious duck, for example -- no hyphen between weirdly and obnoxious (not a good example, but I'm tired).
QUESTION Is there a term for "words that rhyme"? For example, words that sound alike are homonyms.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Saratoga Springs, New York Monday, August 31, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I've always called them rhymes or rhyming words. I hope that answer doesn't sound like I'm being a wise guy; I've just never heard of another term for such words.
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