QUESTION Is it correct to say 'various information'? Doesnt the word various require a plural noun or some construction like 'various pieces of information'?
Also should the question mark in the above sentence be inside or outside of the quote mark?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Boca Raton, Florida Thu, Aug 19, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Yes, information is definitely a non-count noun and doesn't allow for pluralization. As for the question mark, yes, it belongs after the quotation mark in this context. Most writers would have used a double-quote mark in that sentence (in the U.S., anyway).
QUESTION Some time ago I asked you the following:Which is correct:You told me that the answer was " THERE ARE A PEN AND A PENCIL.." However I read in a book called Reward (British Book) that THERE IS A PEN AND A PENCIL" is correct. I am confused . Please could you send me the rule that applies in this situation?, and please could you mention the book or author that supports this? You know I teach English here in Peru, and some colleagues of mine say that THERE ARE is not possible, so in order to contradict them I need something like that I mean The name of a book or author that supports me.
- There is a pen and a pencil on the table.
- There are a pen and a pencil on the table.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Lima, Peru Thu, Aug 19, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE At the risk of seeming to waffle on this question, I'll suggest that both are acceptable. Quirk and Greenbaum call the "there is/are" construction an "existential subject." This is what they say about it:Quirk and Greenbaum say elsewhere that "A subject which is not definitely marked for plural requires a singular verb." And that that explains why, in informal speech, that is/was follows the "pseudo-subject there in existential sentences."
- It often determines concord, governing a singular form of the verb (especially in declarative sentences) even when the following 'notional subject' is plural:
- There's two patients in the waiting room. (informal)
- There are two patients in the waiting room.
In the particular sentence you set up, it feels to me that you have two distinct subjects, especially since you repeat the article a. This stress on the compound nature of the subject would lead me to prefer the plural verb, at least in formal writing. In informal situations, as Quirk and Greenbaum point out, however, the singular verb is widely used and is certainly acceptable.
Authority: A University Grammar of English by Randolph Quirk and Sidney Greenbaum. Longman Group: Essex, England. 1993. p. 419, 178. Used with permission.
QUESTION I'm hoping you can settle a debate with a coworker. I believe thephrase "these ones", as in "Can I take these ones?", to be an example of bad grammar....but I cannot explain why. Can you settle this oh-so-heated argument? Thanks! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE San Diego, California Thu, Aug 19, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Why would anyone want to say "these ones" when "these" will so nicely do the job? Pluralizing the word pronoun one can only lead to anarchy and despair.
QUESTION I'm confused as to which of these three examples are correct:
- The recommendations of the report were correct. (See paragraph 3.)
- The recommendations of the report were correct, see paragraph 3.
- The recommendations of the report were correct (see paragraph 3.) (A) Doesn't look right because the parenthesis look unnecesary.
(B) Looks like it may be OK because the parenthesis may not be needed.
(C) May be OK but I'm not sure if the period should be inside the parenthesis.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Fort Worth, Texas Thu, Aug 19, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I can't decide for you whether you want to put the "see paragraph sentence" in parentheses. That's up to you. If you do, use "C," except you'll want to put the period after the closing parenthesis. If you dont, use "A" without the parentheses.
QUESTION Can you tell me which is correct in the following sentences:
Thank you so much for your help.
- - BIKE's most recent available inventory on football products... or...
- - BIKE's most recently available inventory on football products.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Knoxville, Tennessee Thu, Aug 19, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You can avoid the problem by saying "BIKE's most recent and available. . . ." Or you can put a comma between "most recent" and "available" and treat them as coordinate adjectives. Otherwise, I'd go with the inventory which is most recently available: "BIKE's most recently available inventory."
QUESTION In the context "there is no such thing as...", should one use the definite or the indefinite article?
- Examples: "There is no such thing as the king of France" vs. "... as a king of France"
- "There is no such thing as the greatest prime number" vs. "... as a greatest prime number".
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Muenster, NRW, Germany Thu, Aug 19, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I think it's going to depend on what follow "there's no such thing as. . ." If it's something rather generic, like the "a of France" you're going to want "a," as in "There's no such thing as a purple cow." On the other hand, if you're looking for something unique, you'll want the definite article, "the greatest prime number" (even it if doesn't exist). I'll leave an e-mail icon here in case someone wants to take exception to this explanation or can explain this more clearly.
QUESTION Is the following group of words a sentence?Captain John Doe, Supply Corps, U.S. Naval Reserve, that is.It is preceded by the following: Call him Captain. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Charleston, South Carolina Thu, Aug 19, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE No, it's not a sentence; it's a fragment. But I don't see any reason to change it. You might use a dash, but I think it's a stylish fragment if there ever was one ("Bond. James Bond."). Leave it alone.
QUESTION Do you use commas always if there is more than one verb in a clause? Is comma before "majoring" necessary?:Example: John Rayls teaches at the graduate school of Huntington College near Fort Wayne, Indiana and is a Ph.D. student at Capella University, majoring in Instructional Design with an emphasis in Distance Learning. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Denver, Colorado Thu, Aug 19, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The commas in that sentence have nothing to do with your verbs. We need a pair of commas to set off Indiana (one before it and one after it), and the comma to set off the modifying phrase beginnng with "majoring" is appropriate because it is a kind of added information. Personally, I would change it to "Capella University, where he majors in . . . ." Incidentally, the folks at Huntington might get upset because you felt you had to identify it by location, but you assume everyone knows where Capella is?
QUESTION Can "then" be used as a subordinate conjunction? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Eldorado, Texas Thu, Aug 19, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Not really. In informal prose, you'll read and hear it used that way, even at the beginning of a sentence. "Do you want to pass that test tomorrow? Then you had better do your homework now." But as a joiner, it's really best used in conjunction with "and," as kind of a compound coordinating conjunction. (I think I just thought up a new grammatical element!)
QUESTION I am presently unavailable.Is the word "presently" used accurately? If not, could you explain why it is incorrect? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Ojai, California Thu, Aug 19, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Many writers will object to that sentence. How can you be presently not present (unavailable)? And, also, they don't like presently used to mean now, or currently. The word present, however, has been used to mean now for centuries. To avoid the problem, you might change "presently" to "now," and that would make everyone happy. But there's really nothing wrong with the sentence or with that usage.
Authority for this note: WWWebster Dictionary, the World Wide Web edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary, Tenth Edition. Used with permission.
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