QUESTION Which is correct?
- The four of a kind of the day is aces.
- The four of a kind of the day are aces.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Fallon, Nevada Wed, Jan 19, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I don't know what this means, and I would think that someone from Nevada would know, but I would say we need a singular verb here:The four-of-a-kind of the day is aces.I'd use the singular because you're talking about a card hand (aren't you?), which is singular (as in "A full house beats three of a kind.") Even though the singular four of a kind is connected by a linking verb to a plural complement, the singular subject still calls for a singular verb. (Wouldn't hyphens help make this sentence more readable, as in "The four-of-a-kind of the day. . ."? Or is that not done with card hands?
QUESTION In the following sentence which is correct:
An argument could be made for either one. In the first - fans enjoy the game in their living room (sing.) because each fan will be watching the game from one living room (can't be in more than one place at a time) and each fan probably only has one living room.
- Fans can enjoy the game in the comfort of their own living room OR
- Fans can enjoy the game in the comfort of their own living rooms
In the second- fans (pl.) are not all together in one giant living room, but rather in several living rooms each in their own houses. One would never say fans' house but fans' houses.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE New York, New York Wed, Jan 19, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE This is a toughie. The sentence I keep in mind when I confront such situations is "The voters will have to make up their own minds." The problem there, of course, is that the voters end up having more than one mind apiece (when they're lucky to have one). But the singular makes it sound like all these people have one mind to share amongst themselves (which might be closer to the truth). I think you have to go with the singular "living room" to avoid that multiple living rooms situation. This is what we get for trying to avoid gender-specific situations: "A fan can enjoy the game in the comfort of his or her own living room." I'll leave an e-mail icon here in case someone has a better idea or clearer explanation.
QUESTION Can you tell me which is correct: "his then-current manual" or "his then current manual"? My preference is for the former, but I cannot explain why I think so. Thanks. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Boston, Massachusetts Wed, Jan 19, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Many writers object to the use of "then" at all in this context: "The queen knighted the then Bishop of Manchester," but it's been used this way for a very long time. And when you compound it by adding an adjective and then a hyphen on top of the adjective well, it's just not worth it. If you have to use it, don't use the hyphen, and try to word the modifiers so you won't use a combination of "then" with an adjective at all, even if it means using a "which clause": "his manual, which was then current. . . " or "his manual, then current. . . ."
Authority: The New Fowler's Modern English Usage edited by R.W. Burchfield. Clarendon Press: Oxford, England. 1996. (under "then") Used with the permission of Oxford University Press.
QUESTION I hear people saying, " I got home of an evening...." I hear this phrase "of a .." often. Is it correct? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Perth, Western Australia, Australia Fri, Jan 21, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE According to Burchfield, an expression such as "She has tea with her auntie of a Sunday afternoon," is beginning to sound stuffy and archaic. It's primarily a Britishism, and some people would call it an affectation. Maybe, though, it's making a comeback?
Authority: The New Fowler's Modern English Usage edited by R.W. Burchfield. Clarendon Press: Oxford, England. 1996. (under "of") Used with the permission of Oxford University Press.
QUESTION When does one use "all" and when "all of", when followed by a noun?
I know (or at least I think I know) that we say "all men are stupid" or "I asked all of them" but should it be "I bought all the apples" or "I bought all of the apples"? Normally I write the latter but I am often asked to correct people's written English here and I come across the former construction quite frequently. I should really appreciate your guidance!
If you know of any difference between American English and English English usage in this regard, please would you let me know? Thank you.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Lisbon, Portugal Sun, Jan 23, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE According to Burchfield, this construction is neither particularly American nor British. Except when it's used with pronouns all of us, all of them, all of you, all of it and in certain idiomatic uses "we had run all of two blocks, when . . . ." the of can frequently be omitted in nominal phrases to good effect: all ofthe time.
Authority: The New Fowler's Modern English Usage edited by R.W. Burchfield. Clarendon Press: Oxford, England. 1996. (under "all") Used with the permission of Oxford University Press.
QUESTION I am having trouble editing a manuscript. I typed the problem sentence as follows:"The space beneath the table was converted into whatever facility was needed, its use limited only by the extent of our imagination."The manuscript was reviewed by another person, who thinks the word imagination should be plural with an "s"--"by the extent of our imaginations." I don't think that looks right, but I can't figure out any rule. Is imagination a collective noun here, or could it be either with an "s" or without it? Help! Thank you. I eagerly await your response. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Seattle, Washington Sun, Jan 23, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I once read a speech by President Eisenhower in which he had pluralized imagination, so I know it's acceptable (how's that for faulty logic?). It's also in the dictionary with a pluralizing "s." However, the word is usually regarded as a collective noun and not pluralized, as if the imagination were kind of a corporate mental feat that we hold in common: "Our imagination cannot conceive of such a thing." Either would work in your sentence, but I think I'd be happier with the singular.
QUESTION Is the proper plural form of the name Goodrich "Goodrichs" or "Goodriches"? I believe is is the former; my husband insists that I'm not using my new last name correctly. :) My maiden name was McGinty, and I don't recall using "McGinties" as the plural. I guess my question is: are English pluralization rules used for proper nouns? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Bakersfield, California Sun, Jan 23, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The Goodriches add an "es" to their name to form the plural. The McGintys, on the other hand, do not change the ending of their name and simply add the "s." See Plurals.
QUESTION About necessary and unnecessary prepositions. In this sentence:"I wonder if there is a type of membership that I don't have to sign up for 3 years..."Do I have to add another "for"? (...that I don't have to sign up for FOR 3 years). I know that everything would be easier if I wrote: ".....a membership for which I have to sign up for 3 years...", but in everyday speech you usually put the preposition at the end of the verb, right? Maybe this is not a big problem, but since English is not my first language, it is kind of complicated to figure it out.
Thanks for your help.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Franklin Park, Illinois Sun, Jan 23, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Indeed it is kind of complicated. If we structure the sentence that way, I don't see any way out of repeating the word for: "that I don't have to sign up for for three years." You could try something likeDo you have another, more limited, kind of membership, so I don't have sign up for three years?In speech, of course, we probably wouldn't even notice the repetition of for.
QUESTION I want to spell out the time of an event on an invitation. If the time is 6:30 in the evening, would the spelling of the time be "six-thirty in the evening" or "six thirty in the evening"? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Gaithersburg, Maryland Sun, Jan 23, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE According to the New York Public Library's Writer's Guide, you would not use a hyphen in that expression of time. I wouldn't be surprised in the least, however, if you told me you'd found another writing manual that says to put a hyphen in there.
Authority: New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage HarperCollins: New York. 1994. Cited with permission. p. 439.
QUESTION Use of the word "versus" when comparing two events and the outcome. For example: If a small pallet costs $10 to ship and a large pallet costs $5 to ship. What is the correct structure to use, when your intent is show the savings you will realize?
- "small versus large saves $5"
- "large versus small saves $5"
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE St. Louis, Missouri Sun, Jan 23, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I would think that it's the "large versus small" that saves you five dollars, but do you really have to say it that way? It's very confusing. You don't save much using "versus" (which people might read as "against" or otherwise misinterpret the math), compared to "Save $5 in shipping with the large pallet."
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