QUESTION Is there a specific rule for using the hyphen? I have found that sometimes vice president is hyphened or dive-in and good-bye. Could you please respond? My students are very curious about why sometimes they are used and sometimes they are not.
Thank you very much for your time.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE West Grove, Pennsylvania Fri, Jan 8, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE If your library has a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style (and it ought to), you would find a dozen pages of tables of recommended hyphenations (and non-hyphenations) in chapter six -- of both modifiers like over-the-counter and underhanded and nouns like self-restraint and half moon. It can get awfully complicated, and that doesn't even touch upon the hyphenation used in word-division at the end of a line (which we don't worry about anymore with word-processors). It wouldn't hurt to review the suggestions on hyphens in our Guide -- and then to rely on a good dictionary. As for inconsistencies in what you read -- the rules on these matters are among the most malleable in typography, and sometimes writers and their editors are wrong. Now that you mention it, I'm not too sure of the "word-division" and "word-processor" that I've used in this paragraph.
QUESTION I am an English teacher enmeshed in a debate about elliptical clauses. My senior colleague maintains that the only true elliptical clause is that which involves leaving out the predicate in a comparison: for example: He is taller than she. Your guide, however, indicates that an elliptical clause may also involve the omission of the relative pronoun: for example: He said she was taller. I have researched this matter and have not seen the latter sort of clause defined as elliptical except in your guide; could you tell me where you got your information or explain how the term "elliptical clause" has evolved to include sentences that omit, "that," for instance? Also, are there other relative pronouns that are sometimes omitted? Examples and a full response would do much to ease my mind, since I am afraid that I have mis-taught my students. Thank you! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Silver Spring, Maryland Fri, Jan 8, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE My definition of an elliptical clause is based on H. Ramsey Fowler's Little Brown Handbook and Quirk's University Grammar of English. Fowler's definition is nearly as simple as mine, but Quirk gets into the many aspects of ellipsis. Other relative pronouns can also be ellipted (to use Quirk's word): "The man [whom] they arrested this morning is their chief suspect."
Authority: The Little, Brown Handbook by H. Ramsay Fowler and Jane E. Aaron, & Kay Limburg. 6th ed. HarperCollins: New York. 1995. p. 196. By permission of Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc.
Authority: A University Grammar of English by Randolph Quirk and Sidney Greenbaum. Longman Group: Essex, England. 1993. Chapter 9.Used with permission.
QUESTION Having just arrived here from South Africa, I am still trying to get used to local expressions, and have been wondering about a phrase that is used by a lot of people: "was sat." For example:He was sat on the couch drinking his milk.In South Africa, we'd say "He was sitting on the couch, drinking his milk."
At first, when I heard this, I thought it was just local slang, but then I read it in a technical book, so now I'm wondering whether this is a correct form of English?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE London, England Fri, Jan 8, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE According to Burchfield, using "sat" as a substitute for the participle "sitting" is an English regionalism, used widely in the north and west of England. It is, however, purely a dialect variation, and ought to be avoided in formal writing. If "sat" has snuck down to London, it just confirms America's good sense in declaring our independence. Whatever you do, don't take it back to South Africa with you.
Authority: The New Fowler's Modern English Usage edited by R.W. Burchfield. Clarendon Press: Oxford, England. 1996.
QUESTION Example 1:
On October 21, 1998, she (along with four other women) was honored by a U.S.-based women's media foundation for her courage on the job.
I think that 'along with four other women' dictates a plural verb. But does putting 'along with four other women' in parentheses call for or allow a singular verb?
Also, doesn't the wording suggest that all five women were honored for courage on the job?
Was convicted of "publishing false information" and initially sentenced to life imprisonment which was later reduced to 15 years (and was released by Abubakar after the death of Abacha).
The example ends a long paragraph of information. The parentheses blacken my grammatical eye. I would write: 15 years. Was released by Abubaka after the death of Abacha.
Are, however, the parentheses grammatically okay?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Sat, Jan 9, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The phrase "along with four other women" modifies the subject, "she." It does not make the subject plural, however. Whether the modifying phrase is in parentheses or not, you want a singular verb.
I assume the other example is going to have some subjects provided? Even so, it's a disastrous sentence and needs to be broken into at least two parts. [Somebody's] sentence was reduced to fifteen years, but he was released by Abubaka afater the death of Abacha.
QUESTION "Indexed by our team of engineers into its ever-expanding library"
Does "ever-expanding" in the example above need a hyphen??
Please e-mail me asap on this with what the rule is for hyphen. Is there a hard, fast rule? What about Virginia Woolf? k.y.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE New York, New York Sat, Jan 9, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE There is no hard and fast rule about this, except that you should use a hyphen when it helps you avoid ambiguity and forget the hyphen when you don't need it. For instance, in a "long-running feud" I need the hyphen so the reader doesn't think I'm talking about a running feud that happens to be long. (What's a "running-feud"? the reader might ask.) In your example, however, there is such a thing, of course, as an expanding library, and that expanding library is ever expanding -- thus, no comma. It helps, I think, to visit the Chicago Style Manual, which has an entire chapter devoted to this issue.
What about Virginia Woolf? Who's afraid of her?
Authority: Chicago Manual of Style 14th ed. U of Chicago P: Chicago. 1993. Chapter six.
QUESTION We are diagramming sentences, and the following sentence has me stumped.The jury deliberated without reaching a verdict.I know that the verb is "deliberated" and the subject is "jury." I'm not sure what "without reaching" is...whatever it is, verdict looks like its object. I thought "without" was a preposition, "reaching" was a gerund, and "verdict" was its object, but I'm not sure. Can you help? Thanks!! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Medford, Oklahoma Sat, Jan 9, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I think you're right, except that I think the entire gerund phrase, "reaching a verdict," is the object of the preposition "without." Is it possible to show it that way in diagramming? The prepositional phrase, then, modifies the verb "deliberated" adverbially.
QUESTION What is the rule on using an apostrophe after a name to make it possessive? My son's name is Ross. How would I write Ross's Room or Ross' shirt? I would like to know the correct way because right now I do both. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Sat, Jan 9, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The nice thing is that you're right both ways. Most of my reference manuals suggest that you add the apostrophe and the "s" to create the possessive, but the NYPL Writer's Guide doesn't like the three s's in a row and suggests that you write Ross' shirt. Personally, I go with Ross's.
QUESTION Is there a comma after the independent clauses in the following sentences? There is sometimes and not others.
- In the book Arctic Adventure a dog that had frozen during a blizzard was left behind.
- Russian is a difficult language I haven't ever understood it.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Sat, Jan 9, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In your first sentence, you might set off the introductory phrase, with a comma after Adventure -- otherwise, no commas. The second sentence is actually a run-on, with two independent clauses run together without proper puntucation. You could write it like this: "Russian is a difficult language; I've never understood it."
QUESTION Use of the past tense for the word strive (strove/has striven/strived?) Thank you! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Des Moines, Iowa Sat, Jan 9, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You can use either strove or strived, has striven or has strived. I gather the two prior forms are somewhat preferred.
Authority for this note: WWWebster Dictionary, the World Wide Web edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary, Tenth Edition. Used with permission.
QUESTION Is this correct useage of subject-verb agreement:What are a dinghy and a tractor doing on our premises? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Mon, Jan 11, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Yes. The parallel repetition of the "a" might make it sound as if you want a singular verb, but you've got two things as subject here and you want a plural verb. If you make the question into a statement, you'll see how it works: "A dinghy and a tractor are sitting on our premises."
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