QUESTION What is the correct way to write this sentence:
- I didn't know about the cow's eating its cud.
- I didn't know about the cow eating its cud.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Tulsa, Oklahoma Wed, Mar 29, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You have to decide whether your sentence is about the cud-eating or a specific cow that's up to this particular activity. (Do cows actually eat their cud, or just chew on it? In either case, we should put a stop to it.) If it's a specific cow you have in mind, then the second sentence is correct. If you're talking about "eating/chewing its cud" and how this activity belongs to cows in general (probably what you have in mind), you'll want to use the possessive form, "cow's."
QUESTION I am wondering what the correct wording for this sentence should be. Should it be, "Orders placed Friday through Sunday will be shipped the following Monday", or should it be, "Orders placed Friday through Sunday will ship on the following Monday?"
Or, are both incorrect?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Sausalito, California Wed, Mar 29, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I have heard people in the moving and shipping profession say something to that effect, that an order "will ship. . . ." The dictionary at least my dictionary doesn't actually provide for that usage, however. There is an intransitive form for the verb "ship," but it refers directly to going on board a ship. I'd go with "will be shipped," myself.
QUESTION Here is the sentence I'm having trouble with:
Does the verb agree with thing (singular) or ribs (plural)?
- The only thing smoking is the ribs.
- The only thing smoking are the ribs.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE New York, New York Wed, Mar 29, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The subject is still at the beginning of the sentence. Even though the predicate noun, "ribs," is plural, the subject, "thing," is singular, so we want "is" to be the verb. This is an excellent example of those situations in which a singular subject is connected to a plural predicate (or vice versa). The verb is apt to feel a bit odd.
QUESTION I'm promoting consistency in use of computer terminology in my workplace. However, no matter how much I research, I cannot come to any conclusions about the following terms: Is website one word or two? Is it capitalized? Is e-commerce, e-mail, etc. hyphenated or not? Should the e be capitalized or not? Is it online or on-line? Is Web always capitalized even in Web page? Is home page one word or two?
Please help! I know there may be more than one "right" answer and that consistency is most important, but if could guide me toward the most widely accepted form, I'd appreciate it.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Baltimore, Maryland Thu, Mar 30, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE This Guide to Grammar and Writing has been quite inconsistent about the spelling of such words. If you're troubled by such hobgoblins as consistency, you might refer to Yale University's Web Style Guide at http://info.med.yale.edu/caim/manual/. They use "on-line"; "e-mail"; and they always capitalize "Web" and write it as a single word separated from "pages" or "sites." That's as good as anyone else's advice, I suppose, but you will find other resources with other spellings. I don't see anything wrong with "online," myself. It will be a while before the editors of dictionaries get together on these matters. Oh, and "Internet" is always capitalized.
Which of the two sentences is correct, 1 or 2 or none? Thank you.
- "The utilization of retrorockets and drag chutes is desirable."
- "The utilization of retrorockets and drag chutes are desirable."
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Nova Scotia, Ontario, Canada Thu, Mar 30, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The first one is correct because "utilization" is singular. Can we use "use" instead of "utilization"?
QUESTION In the sentence"The heavy beam fell, causing paralysis to the man below it."what part of the sentence is "paralysis" and why? Is it a direct object? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Orion, Illinois Thu, Mar 30, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The participial phrase "causing paralysis to the man below" is what you could call a sentence modifier; it modifies the entire rest of the sentence before it and not any particular word (which is part of its problem, I suppose). Within a participial phrase you will frequently find a complement, just as if the participle itself were a regular verb phrase (which it is not). For instance, in "The faculty members causing all the trouble have left the hall," "causing all the trouble" is a participial phrase just like yours. "Trouble" in that sentence is the complement of the participle, and if you were to diagram the sentence you would indicate that the word "trouble" is an object of the participle. ("Causing" would be shown on a curved line right under "members," because it clearly modifies that word.) The short answer to your question is that "paralysis" is the complement in the participial phrase.
Or is either correct?
- Bill's attempts to do this clearly demonstrate how difficult this is to do.
- Bill's attempts to do this clearly demonstrates how difficult this is to do.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Martinsville, Virginia Mon, Apr 3, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The plural subject of the sentence, "attempts," needs a plural verb, "demonstrate." Incidentally, "clearly" is what we call a squinting modifier. Does it modify "demonstrate" or "to do this"? It would be better if "clearly" came after "demonstrate."
QUESTION "His team was winning by two points." Is the use of the verb "win" in this sentence correct? Technically, the verb "win" indicates a finite action. You either win or you lose. It would seem more correct to say: "His team was ahead by two points." So, is my first sentence grammatically correct? Or is it just something that seems okay because it's used popularly? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Columbus, Indiana Wed, Apr 5, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I'm not convinced that winning is a finite action (I'm not even sure what that means). Surely we can say that at some point it was clear "that the United States was winning the war," even before victory was secured. One could argue that "to die" would be an extreme example: you either die or you don't. But dying, like winning, is a process and the progressive verb does not seem inappropriate. On the other hand, it is probably more precise to say that the team "was ahead by two points," so the change is an improvement, however insignificant.
QUESTION I'm managing editor of an education journal. When I get an English spelling, I change it to U.S. spelling, except for quotes. This isn't usually a problem, but in a current article, the author refers to an activity called Rumour Clinic and then uses the word rumour in the same paragraph. I would normally leave Rumour Clinic as is, since that's the title of the activity (It's also quoted in a figure) and change rumour to rumor where it's not quoted. But this looks inconsistent, especially within the same paragraph.
I don't find an answer to this question in your web site or in any of my sources. It may just be a matter of opinion, but if you have a source that addresses it or an opinion, I'd appreciate it very much.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Columbus, Ohio Wed, Apr 5, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE If I were editing a book, say, or an entire article that was first produced in an English periodical, I'd leave the British spellings alone. In "setting" a British text for first publication in an American printed book or journal, however, I'd change the spellings to American orthography. Unless I'm misinterpreting things, this seems to be what the Chicago Manual of Style is calling for:The practice of the University of Chicago Press is generally to change British spelling to American (e.g., colour to color) in books published under its imprint and composed in the United States. . . . Retaining British orthography is particularly perilous when heavy editing is called for.I'd try to stick with that policy consistently regardless of where the British spelling occurs.
Authority: Chicago Manual of Style 14th ed. U of Chicago P: Chicago. 1993. p. 195.
QUESTION Which one of the following is correct?
- The keyboard interrupt enable register determines which of these bits are being used.
- The keyboard interrupt enable register determines which of these bits is being used.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Allentown, Pennsylvania Wed, Apr 5, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Assuming there are only two bits to choose from, use the singular verb "is." But can't we do something about the noun phrase "keyboard interrupt enable register"? It consists of a noun and four verbs, yet it's supposed to be a single noun; that's almost impossible to read. Can't we come up with another name for it like "Fred" or "the Jolly Register"?
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