QUESTION Why don't you capitalize the word violet or daisy since it is a particular flower? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Covington, Georgia Wed, Feb 23, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE We capitalize the names of plants only when they involve a proper noun (like black-eyed Susan or Indian paintbrush, but jack-in-the-pulpit) or a trade name like Big Boy tomato. Even when the common name is derived from somone's name, the capital is lost, as in poinsettia (after Joel Poinsett). In scientific nomenclature, of course, there are different conventions: the name of the species is not capitalized but the genus is. The Chicago Manual of Style is probably the reference book of choice on such matters.
Authority: New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage HarperCollins: New York. 1994. p. 228. Cited with permission.
QUESTION I have a sentence I would like to change, but cannot figure out what I need to do to make it sound better.She leads you to believe she was swimming in the cool ocean water without clothing.I am analyzing a cologne advertisement. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Ironton, Ohio Thu, Feb 24, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I'd stick to the present tense for one thing a common practice when you're describing a work of art (such as it is in the commercial world). What about "She wants you to believe she's been swimming naked in the ocean."?
QUESTION Can you use a semi-colon to join a dependent clause and and independent clause? This is my sentence:Ever since the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, has been published, there has been increasing controversy over what some call "racism" in the book.Is this correct? or should there be a ; after published? Thanks! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Thu, Feb 24, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE No, a semicolon would be quite out of place there. See Semicolons for help. You might try changing the tense of the verb in the dependent clause and getting rid of that "there has been" construction.Ever since the publication of Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a controversy over the book's putative racism [or some such phrase] has raged in high schools and communities across the country.
QUESTION I have a question about comma placement in sentences like the following: I was convinced that if he weren't a priest, he would have become a cop. Many people believe that a comma needs to go after the "that," (in apposition to the one after "priest") but I don't. This seems to make the "if" phrase nonessential. The way I look at it, the "I was convinced that" part just acts like attribution and isn't really a part of the sentence. I think people should consider everything after the "that" as the "actual" sentence, punctuating it accordingly. What do you think? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Canandaigua, New York Thu, Feb 24, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I'm not quite convinced that we can call the "that clause" the "actual sentence," but I get your point. What's most convincing is the argument that we can't put a comma before "if he weren't a priest" because a comma there would turn that clause into something not essential, which obviously isn't the case. We put the comma after "priest" in order to make the distinction between the "if clause" and the rest of the nouns clause (which began with "that"). It is possible, of course, for a parenthetical element to appear in that same spot, and then it would be separated from the rest of the sentence by a pair of commas: "I was convinced that, when all was said and done, he should have become a cop."
QUESTION s there a capitalization rule that governs whether the word "department" is capitalized when referring to an academic department at a school?
Is this a stylistic choice?
- The English Department has a meeting today.
- The English department has a meeting today.
- The Math Department has a meeting today.
- The math department has a meeting today.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Springville, California Thu, Feb 24, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE According to the Wesleyan University Style Guide, we should capitalize the name of departments when they are used in full. So your first and third sentences, above, are correct. I'm not sure what you mean by a "stylistic choice"; I'd capitalize them if I were you. You wouldn't capitalize the name of a discipline if it's detached from the name of the department unless it's otherwise a proper noun: "She majored in biology and minored in economics and then she married the head of the History Department."
QUESTION This is a question about who vs. whom in the following sentence:`Please pass this on to anyone who/whom you feel would benefit.'In the `who/whom you feel would benefit' clause, it seems to me that you is the subject, feel is the verb, but I'm not sure if benefit or who/whom is the object. If benefit is the object, then who/whom is not the object, in which case, who is correct.
Look forward to your response.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Markham, Ontario, Canada Thu, Feb 24, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The easiest way to figure out whether you want who or whom is to turn the clause inside-out and substitute he or him where you have to make the who/whom choice:". . . you feel he would benefit. . . "This means we're looking for the subject form, which is who.
QUESTION Does "late-model", as in car, refer to a recent vehicle or an old vehicle that is no longer being manufactured?
A friend and I heard a newscaster say, "Witnesses to the hit and run reported seeing a late model Beretta". My friend said, "Saying 'late-model' is redundant... Berettas aren't being made any more, so they're all late models." But I have always thought 'late-model' was equivalent to recent. She said it's more like the late as in deceased.
Can you clear this up? My dictionary hasn't helped and I can't find it on your site.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Niles, Illinois Thu, Feb 24, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I don't have the phrase "late model" in my dictionary either. From the dictionary's definitions of "late," I could find evidence to support either you or your friend, but it's been my experience that the phrase "late model car" refers to a recent model, one recently manufactured.
QUESTION YOUR QUESTION WAS: Which is correct in the following example(s)?
Is "onto" in this context one word or two? Thanks for your help
- I have to hold on to something in order to walk because I get dizzy.
- I have to hold onto something...
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Austin, Texas Fri, Feb 25, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In many situations, it won't matter which you use, but when the verb that precedes the preposition contains the on as a phrasal verb (as it is in "holding on"), the words should be written separately.
Authority: The New Fowler's Modern English Usage edited by R.W. Burchfield. Clarendon Press: Oxford, England. 1996. Used with the permission of Oxford University Press.
QUESTION How would this prepositional phrase be diagrammed:Before two o'clock he left the house.Is this an elliptical construction of two prepositional phrases, or is the adverb "o'clock" being used as a substantive/object of the preposition? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Tijeras, New Mexico Fri, Feb 25, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I think you could go either way with it: you could treat "before two" as one prepositional phrase (modifying the verb "left") and "of the clock" [with an omitted or understood "the"] (modifying the word "two," as the object of "before"). Or you could reasonably argue that "o'clock" is the object of the preposition "before" and "two" modifies "o'clock." I think you could argue that "o'clock" is a position of clock hands or a position on the clock itself. I will leave an e-mail icon here in case someone has a better idea. I think I lean toward treating "before two o'clock" as a single prepositional phrase.
QUESTION Is this sentence punctuated correctly?Consequently, drivers following the speed limit are forced to either slam on their brakes or switch lanes quickly to avoid a collision with these inconsiderate motorists.I am tempted to put a comma after drivers and limit, but that seems like alot of commas in the sentence. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Tempe, Arizona Sat, Feb 26, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE There's nothing wrong with the punctuation of this sentence, and you certainly wouldn't want to suggest that "following the speed limit" is not essential to the meaning of your sentence. You might try putting the end of the sentence first, though, and try cleaning up the parallel form of the drivers' choices. May I suggest. . . .To avoid a collision with these inconsiderate motorists, drivers following the speed limit are forced to slam on their brakes or switch lanes quickly. [maybe a better, more dangerous, word than "quickly"?]David Easonwrites:
I would not omit "consequently." "Consequently" explicity tells the reader that the following action in the sentence is a direct result of something from a preceding sentence, and omitting consequently omits the cause-and-effect nuance of the sentence.
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