QUESTION When should the word "earth" be capitalized?
Should the word "pope" be capitalized when it stands alone without a proper name. A book I was reading called "Elements of Grammar" said it should be. Thanks for your time!
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Slinger, Wisconsin Wed, Sep 23, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You could capitalize Earth when you're thinking of it as the title of the planet -- for instance, in a list of planets, you'd have Mercury, Mars, Saturn, Earth, etc. But you wouldn't capitalize it in a statement such as "They left the earth" or "The earth's surface is surrounded by. . .." Whether you capitalize pope or not is entirely up to you. Most references nowadays wouldn't capitalize it unless it immediately precede's the pope's name: "Pope John," for instance.
Authority for this last point: New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage HarperCollins: New York. 1994. Cited with permission. p. 209.
QUESTION Should a season be capitalized (i.e. fall or Fall).
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Cambridge, Massachusetts Thu, Sep 24, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE No. Unless it's part of a proper noun -- like the Fall Festival of Small Appliances.
QUESTION Capitalization question:People who reside in Santa Clara County tend to. . . (should "county" be capitalized here?)Is it always wrong to end a sentence with a preposition? Example: The child applies for the seminars she or he wishes to take and is notified by mail which ones they have been accepted to. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Los Gatos, California Thu, Sep 24, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You'll capitalize the word county as long as it's part of the name of a political entity. So yes, capitalize it in that sentence.
See our note on Prepositions and sentence-ending prepositions in particular.
QUESTION I am looking for "standards" for writing meeting minutes are there any sources you can recommend. I work for an environmental and engineering company. Thank you for your help SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Natick, Massachusetts Thu, Sep 24, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I, too, have been looking for such guidelines in an online site, but I've never found them. And I don't happen to have such resources where I am. I assume Robert's Rules of Order speaks to the issue, and your local bookstore or library ought to have a copy of that. If someone has a better idea (especially about finding guidelines online), I'll leave an e-mail icon here.
QUESTION What exactly is passive voice? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Austin, Texas Thu, Sep 24, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE See our section on the passive in Verbs and Verbals, take the quizzes on the passive construction, and then write back if you still have questions.
QUESTION When writing about a series of items, people tend to place a comma before the "and". I feel this is not correct. Did you know, however, that Windows 97 prompts you if you delete the comma before the "and".
Please advise and provide the "rule". Thank you.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Somewhere, California Thu, Sep 24, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In journalism, newspaper writing, you would probably never put a comma before the and in a series (3 or more) things. Otherwise, you probably would; thus, Windows 97's prompt. It's still an optional thing, and many writers will leave it out. The problem with leaving it out is that sometimes the last two items in a series -- especially if it's a long or complex list -- will tend to glom together, like macaroni and cheese. Oddly enough, this is one of the first rules cited in Strunk's Elements of Style, if you're still looking for authorities in the matter.
QUESTION I am interested to know which answer to the following question is correct.
One of the popular Primary English Text Book printed "Answer b" as the model answer. As I can remember, our previous training will only accept "Answer a" as the correct answer. Please help.
- Question 1 :What is this?
- Answer a :This is a book.
- Answer b :It is a book.
- Question 2 : What are these?
- Answer a : These are books.
- Answer b : They are books.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Hong Kong Thu, Sep 24, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I see nothing wrong with any of these responses. The responses with "this" and "these" are perhaps most precise, but "it" and "they" are also appropriate.
QUESTION For one of our English assignments we are supposed to ask a grammar server a question and my question is What are the kinds of pronouns and what is the best way to learn them.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Dalton, Georgia Thu, Sep 24, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The kinds of pronouns are listed in the section devoted to Pronouns. What is the best way to learn them? I recommend that you stage a small play in which the members of your English faculty will dress up like the various kinds of pronouns. The story, of course, will dramatically illustrate the role of the pronouns. You can call it "Eight Pronouns in Search of an Antecedent." Just don't let the Personal Pronoun hog all the good lines.
QUESTION The following sentence contains a mistake."The litter may not, at present, pose a serious threat to health but it certainly decreases both comfortable and pleasure."Should I use "comfort" instead of "comfortable" here? Or should I add "environment" after "pleasure"? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Hong Kong Thu, Sep 24, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Yes, we need a noun there -- comfort (not "comfortable," an ajective) -- to go along with "pleasure." The "environment" after "pleasure" would just make things worse. Incidentally, I would put a comma after "health," before the coordinating conjunction.
QUESTION I have looked far and wide in printed and online references for any guidance on choosing between toward and towards. I suppose I can accept tha possibility that the two might be interchangeable, but in some circumstances one may sound better than the other, and I cannot tell if that is a result of familiarity or correct usage. On your prepositions page you note that a person can walk toward the desk, and I would simply ask, since I believe a person can also walk towards the desk, is there any rule of thumb for preferring one over the other? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Fairfax, Virginia Thu, Sep 24, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The short answer is no, there isn't. It's only a matter of what sounds better to you. I would recommend consistency within a document, I suppose (although I probably have violated that rule of consistency myself). I've been told that towards is more British than American, but I'm not sure I believe that.
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