QUESTION In making an adjective out of a proper noun, would you still capitalize the adjective form of the word? For example, would you capitalize Congressional (referring to U.S. Congress but not using "U.S.") or Departmental (assuming you were refering to your Department in internal correspondence and capitalizing Department was correct in this usage)?
Thank you in advance.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Washington, D.C. Tue, Sep 29, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Consistency within documents and within a department's (or other entity's) correspondence and documents is the most important thing here. Generally, no, it's not appropriate to capitalize such words. However, it may be appropriate when you're attempting to distinguish between your department's activities and more generic departmental activities.
QUESTION In a quotation is there a limit to how long it could be? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Ottowa, Illinois Tue, Sep 29, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE That is going to depend on how long the text is that contains the quotation. There is no strict rule on the matter, as far as I know, but you don't want someone else's ideas and language overwhelming what you're saying about the matter. When a quoation becomes too lengthy, readers begin to wonder why they weren't simply referred to the original source.
QUESTION I am writing a paper on the solar system, but am confused as to if/when the words "earth" and "sun" should be capitalized. I have asked friends, family and co-workers, and no one seems to agree. Please help if you can. Thank you SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Folson, California Tue, Sep 29, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Usually, when preceded by the definite article "the" (most of the time), you won't capitalize the word. "We left the earth and circled the sun." You would, however, say, "We left Earth behind." Probably the only time you'd capitalize "sun" would be when you're trying to distinguish it from other stars just like it.
QUESTION Please define difference between theme and motif. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Orlando, Florida Thu, Oct 1, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE A theme is the main idea of your essay. See Thesis Statement. A motif is an idea or pattern of ideas that re-emerges from time to time in the course of your essay. In other words, as I understand it, a theme need only be stated once (although it might actually recur in your essay); a motif is a pattern of modulated statements that we see running through an essay.
QUESTION I am trying to understand the rule or guideline for using commas to connect clauses using subordinate conjunctions. I know you need a comma with this sentence:Because the pool opens today, I brought my bathing suit.When you switch it around, do you need a comma? Or is it better without one?I brought my bathing suit because the pools opens today.I thought I could make a rule saying that you only use commas when the subordinate conjunction came at the beginning of the sentence. But then the following sentence feels like it needs a comma:I love swimming in clean rivers, although it's hard to tell which ones are safe.Is there a rule for this, or do you have to trust your gut level?
Thanks for your help clarifying this point.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Berkeley, California Thu, Oct 1, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You're right: when the dependent (usually adverbial) clause comes first, it requires a comma. When it comes later in the sentence it will be set off by a comma when it offers what is called "added information" or parenthetical information (i.e., something that can be removed from the sentence without changing its essential meaning). That's the hard part: the difference between what's "added information" and what's essential to the sentence. Sometimes it's a toss-up.
The essential thrust of your swimming suit sentence was to tell the reader why you've bought a swimming suit; without the dependent clause, the sentence has lost its essential meaning. So I need the clause and I won't use a comma. With the other sentence, the dependent clause offers important meaning, but it's "added information" as far as the main clause is concerned.
QUESTION What is the difference between Reflexive and Emphatic Pronouns? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE New Delhi, India Thu, Oct 1, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Those pronoun forms are covered in the section on Pronouns. We use the word "intensive" instead of "emphatic," however. ("Emphatic" might be a better word, come to think of it.)
QUESTION This is a question for the apostrophe expert. Should it be sales appeal or sale's appeal? An example: The product has more sales appeal to the buyer. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Marshalltown, Iowa Thu, Oct 1, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE It's possible, I suppose, that you could be talking about the appeal of a particular sale, and then you would be talking about a sale's appeal, but usually you're talking about the appeal of something to make sales (in the plural), and the plural noun becomes what we call "attributive," and no apostrophe is called for.
QUESTION Dear Grammar,
Would you take a look at the following?1. It was warm, too warm for that time of year.Should "year" become "a year" or "the year" because "year" in #1 refer to the general sense of "year"?
I'd appreciate your comment on this. Thank you for your help.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Sappro, Japan Thu, Oct 1, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE "That time of year" is an idiomatic expression; no article is required. The definite article the would not be incorrrect, however.
QUESTION Would you say, "We look forward to YOUR joining the department" or "We look forward to YOU joining the department"?
Please explain the answer. That is, is joining the object of to? If so, what is "the department"?
Thank you very much.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Moscow, Idaho Thu, Oct 1, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE We would say "We look forward to your joining the department." "Joining the department" is a gerund phrase and it is your doing it that pleases us.
Just wanted to know when using last name first separated by a comma, if the person has a Jr. or III after his name where does it go?example: Smith (III), John
Smith, John III
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Chicago, Illinois Thu, Oct 1, 1998 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE According to the Chicago Manual of Style, it would beSmith, John, III
Authority: Chicago Manual of Style 14th ed. U of Chicago P: Chicago. 1993. p. 735.
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