QUESTION Would the phrase "in text" be hyphenated, as in "in text citations," for example? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Redding, Connecticut Thu, Mar 9, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The usually trusty Chicago Manual of Style doesn't seem to have this example listed, but the compound "intext" looks like something we've never seen before, and "in text citations" can be misread, so we vote for the hyphenated "in-text citations."
QUESTION He has experienced, first hand, the efforts of the company.
Is the first comma necessary? Thank you
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Arlington, Texas Thu, Mar 9, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE My Merriam-Webster's writes "first hand" as one word: "firsthand." If you want to treat the expression "firsthand" as a parenthetical element (implied by the second comma), then you need the first comma also. If you choose to regard "firsthand" as an adverb modifying the main verb, you could omit the commas altogether. Either no commas or two commas.
Authority for this note: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Electronic Edition. 1994. Used with permission.
QUESTION What is a reflexive verb?
What is an example of one?
When would you use it?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Perth, WA, Australia Thu, Mar 9, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Reflexive verbs are dinosaurs in English. The remnants of one might be found in a verb such as Excuse me, in which the action rebounds upon the speaker, and more exactly in the old children's prayer: "Now I lay me down to sleep. . . ." One finds reflexive verbs in other languages. The translation of the Spanish command, Sit down!, would be "Sit yourself down!" When Germans say that they remember, they say something that we could translate as "I recall to myself [something]." The "-self" (or other pronoun form) becomes a necessary part of the verb structure ("Ich erinnere mich," or something like that). We don't say "Now I lay me. . . " anymore; we say "Now I lie. . . ."
QUESTION > Should one, especially writing fiction, drop the past perfect tense once it has been established? I can't find a rule on this, but I get remarks from other writers that the constant use of had for past perfect clutters the work. On the other hand, when I drop the past perfect, I get remarks that my readers are confused as to what time I'm in. I'll be darned if I do, I'll be darned if I don't. I've noticed that some established writers drop the past perfect and then "tie-in" with the past perfect when the tense returns to the simple past.
If possible, I'd like some tangible reference on this.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Sumter, South Carolina Thu, Mar 9, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Yes, the past perfect is used as a transition device to carry your reader from your fictive present to an earlier time and vice versa.
See the flashbacks in Hemingway's "Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber." You'll be happily at home in the fictive present (in which Hemingway uses the simple past tense), and then you'll see just two or three sentences in the past perfect and eureka! you're in an earlier time, the time of the lion hunt itself (where the regular simple past takes over again). It works the other way, too, when it's time for Hemingway to bring Francis and us back to the original present scene.
QUESTION How would you refer to someone who is 1000 years old? Would it be his 1,000th birthday or 1000th birthday? I am referring here to the first Viking, who is 1000 years old this year.
Thank you so much
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Fri, Mar 10, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE This sounds like a bad Mel Brooks joke or a very tired Viking! You can omit the comma in round numbers like that.
QUESTION With respect to the capitalization quiz, you capitalize the "Secretary" of the Society for....., but not the "ambassador" of South Africa; sounds inconsistent. Also, Charles, "Prince" of Wales is a title and would "always" be capitalized. You clearly don't understand how seriously monarchist's take these things.
Nice Website (One or two words?). Thanks.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada Fri, Mar 10, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Unless I'm going nuts, the quiz insists that the word secretary not be capitalized and marks it wrong if you try to capitalize it; same with ambassador in that sentence. As for the Prince of Wales, you're right: British custom forbids his appearance in less than capitals. I've changed the example to Juan Carlos, king of Spain.
QUESTION For the following sentence, should the verb "is" be "are"?John's performance represents a relative weakness in his ability to store and retrieve previously acquired knowledge with new knowledge when auditory and visual information (is) presented simultaneously in a decontextualized format.Are "auditory" and "visual" adjectives or are they part of a compound subject? Thank you. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Silver Spring, Maryland Fri, Mar 10, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Those are adjectives modifying, in this case, a non-count noun, "information." We want the singular "is."
QUESTION Which of the following show correct verb-subject agreement?
- As Shylo walks through the realm, the smell of death and decay follow her.
- As Shylo walks through the realm, the smells of death and decay follow her.
- As Shylo walks through the realm, the smell of death and decay follows her.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Brantford, Ontario, Canada Fri, Mar 10, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I'm going to have to leave it to you (or less squeamish sorts) to decide whether this is one smell or two (one, I suspect). If it's singular, we need the singular verb "follows." "The smells of death and decay" sounds too weird.
QUESTION Please explain the difference between "the Japanese" and "Japanese".
- I was under the impression that Japanese were overconsumers.
- The Japanese use chopsticks, while Western people usually employ the knife and fork.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Yokohama, Japan Tue, Mar 14, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Some of the uses of the definite article in English simply can't be explained (in my opinion). Burchfield says that we use the definite article "as a guide to a particular place, person [people], etc. known to exist by the speaker/hearer/writer." And he gives examples such as "the Church, the sky; the aristocracy, the French, the Chinese."
Authority: The New Fowler's Modern English Usage edited by R.W. Burchfield. Clarendon Press: Oxford, England. 1996. (cf. "definite article") Used with the permission of Oxford University Press.
QUESTION I am helping a friend put together a website to promote a few books he has authored. We disagree on a couple of important grammatical issues that I hope you might be able to help us resolve:
Thank you in advance for your help.
- The author's last name is Wells. How do you make this name plural, as in: "...the civilization to which the Wells__ belonged."
- How would you make this possessive? Example: "the Wells__ home"
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Santa Cruz, California Tue, Mar 14, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In the course of an entire document it might not be possible to avoid the situation forever and always say, "The Wells family," but it might be preferable to "the Wellses." Usually, when a name ends in a "z" sound, we don't add "-es" to pluralize: "We're going to visit the Chambers," we would say, not "Chamberses." But in the first example you give us, we have to write "to which the Wellses belonged." (A name like Jones falls somewhere in the middle, I suppose: "We're visiting the Jones/Joneses" either would do.) Once you form that plural, though, it's not so hard to make it possessive: "the Wellses' home." I would urge the writer to adopt a pseudonym something like Smith would be nice.
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