QUESTION I am trying to end a month long debate on grammer within our department. There are two schools of thought on this subject. Please respond by explaining whether or not this sentence is grammatically correct and if it is proper english."I will watch no TV this week." SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Cleveland, Ohio Tue, Nov 16, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE There's nothing wrong with that sentence. We can use "no" as a determiner in front of a singular noun, a plural noun, or a non-count noun (which is how TV is functioning in this sentence). The "translation," as it were, of this sentence, puts the negative with the verb: "I will not watch any TV." But there's nothing wrong with using the "no" as a determiner instead. You do have to be careful in your use of "no," however, to make sure that it cannot be misunderstood. As Burchfield points out, "He is no teacher" can mean either that he's something else a banker, lawyer, merchant, thief or that he's a lousy teacher. There is no such ambiguity in your statement.
Authority: The New Fowler's Modern English Usage edited by R.W. Burchfield. Clarendon Press: Oxford, England. 1996. (under "no") Used with the permission of Oxford University Press.
QUESTION I'm working on a screenplay and I'm perplexed on one line. Ms. Pendleton asks: Where is Mom and Dad?
or should she say: Where are Mom and Dad?
Where are your parents?
Where is Mom?
Where is Dad?
Where are Mom and Dad?
Where is Mom...and where is Dad?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Tue, Nov 16, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Assuming Mom and Dad are separable entities and, granted, sometimes, they seem to be a singular entity unto themselves we want a plural verb there, "are." If you make separate subjects of them, as some of your examples do, then you'll want singular verbs. I would think the most natural thing is for Ms. Pendleton to ask "Where are Mom and Dad?"
There is one further consideration, however. Some writers will call "where" in this construction an "existential subject" and say that it deserves a singular verb. In this way, "there" is sometimes treated as an existential, singular subject. "There is a man and a woman in the lobby." In formal or academic text, however, the correct verb would be "are."
QUESTION Is "s" considered a suffix? I know that endings such as "ed" and "ing" are. For example, "fire" can be changed to "fired", and "walk" can be changed to "walking". However, when you add and "s" to a word, it doesn't change the meaning of the word; it only makes it plural ("friend" + "s" = friends). I was told that a suffix changes the meaning of a word. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Fresno, California Tue, Nov 16, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE According to my dictionary, the verb inflection "s" is just as much a suffix as an "-ed" or "-ing." Frankly, I had always thought of suffix as an ending like "-ness" or "-ism," but the definition apparently extends to verb inflections as well. I suppose "friend" and "friend/friendly" are as different as "walk" and "walks/walked," for that matter.
QUESTION I have a long-standing debate with my boss over the use of "however". He insists that whenever "however" is used it must have a semi colon. Can you please support me and let him know that that is not the case? I have looked in all sorts of grammar books (but have had no luck) to cite some examples and have shown him its use in magazines, books. He insists that the magazines are misusing the word. Any response would be greatly appreciated as he is driving me nuts!!! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Toronto, Ontario Wed, Nov 17, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE We must learn compassion for our unenlightened bosses. When the semicolon is used as a conjunctive adverb, and it appears exactly at that point where two independent clauses come together (or are separated, depending on your point of view), it will invariably be accompanied by a semicolon. There are many other occasions, however, (and we just passed a good case in point) where this is not true, where the word "however" is a parenthetical element in the middle of a clause and does not deserve or want a semicolon. See the section on semicolons for further help.
QUESTION What are the grammatical elements in this sentence:I feed the dog.Is dog the direct object or indirect object? If you add "I feed the dog food" then dog is definitely the indirect object. So how can it be a direct object in the first example? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Dalton, Georgia Wed, Nov 17, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE "Dog" changes from direct object to indirect object because the structure of the sentence changes. If you wrote "I petted the dog," the word "dog" would clearly be your object, right? It works the same way with "I feed the dog." When you add an object to the sentence ("food," in this case), however, what was an object becomes the indirect recipient of the action, an indirect object.
QUESTION How does tense work when speaking of a past event, but using examples from literature? Here's an example from my essay:Many of her problems were psychological. In her excerpt entitled "Farewell to Manzanar" she says, "You are going to be invisible anway, so why not completely disappear?" She implies that the people are not going to notice her or pay attention to her because of her race. Because of this situation she is led to wonder what exactly her purpose in life is. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Kearney, Nebraska Wed, Nov 17, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE When you're writing about literature, it's always a good idea to use the present tense, to describe events as if they are going on now (which is, after all, the effect of good fiction in the first place). The only problem you have in that excerpt is the first verb: change "were" to "are." If it is necessary for logical reasons, you can shift to the past tense, but generally you ought to be able to sustain a discussion in the present tense. See, also, Suggestions on Writing about Literature.
- "During" the next three months you'll see changes . . .
- "Over" the next three months you'll see changes . . .
What, please, is the term for mis-using such terms?
- "During" indicates in the course of . . .
- "Over" indicates a position, such as over the cabinet . . .
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Fallbrook, California Wed, Nov 17, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I don't know if an incorrect usage such as that one if, indeed, it is one has a special name. My dictionary provides this acceptable meaning of "over": "throughout, during, [as in] over the past 25 years."
QUESTION A sign on a school door: "WOMEN STUDENTS" Is "women" an adjective? Wouldn't "female" be correct? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Braintree, Massachusetts Wed, Nov 17, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The only times that "women" is an acceptable adjective is when there is a need to distinguish between younger and older female students (in this case), so you could have "girl students" and "women students"; and then there's the sexist cliché, "women drivers." Other than those two occasions, you're right: we're much better off using "female" as the appropriate adjective.
QUESTION Which is proper: "The name and address of Plaintiff is" or "The name and address of Plaintiff are" SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Dallas, Texas Thu, Nov 18, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In this context, I think it's possible to think of "name and address" as one singular block of information (comprising two pieces of information, but nonetheless a singular entity). I'd go with "is." In other contexts, name and address are apt to be regarded separately and the sentence would require a plural verb: "Are the name and address legible?"
QUESTION YOUR QUESTION WAS: I am sending a thank-you note to a client who visited recently. She was accompanied by an associate. I am addressing the note to only one person, but would like to say it was a pleasure meeting them both. For example, should I say: "It was a pleasure meeting Sara and you."
- or, "It was a pleasure meeting Sara and yourself."
- or, "It was a pleasure meeting you, as well as Sara."
- or, "It was a pleasure meeting you and Sara."
- or, "It was a pleasure meeting both Sara and yourself."
...you get the idea.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Austin, Texas Thu, Nov 18, 1999 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The choice with "yourself" are not really appropriate; neither the reflexive nor intensive forms of the pronoun really fit here. I'd go with either "you and Sara" or "Sara and you" (in that order).
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