QUESTION I was wondering if the words "unhealthy" and "unhealthful" were interchangeable. Let's use the example of air pollution. Is smog "unhealthful" to sensitive people, or should it be phrased "unhealthy" to sensitive people? I've checked several dictionaires and didn't even find a listing for "unhealthful." Thanks for any help you can provide. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Sierra Madre, California Wed, Jun 7, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Looking up definitions for "healthy" versus "unhealthy" might be more helpful. In Britain, no one uses "healthful" (according to Burchfield), and "healthy" can mean either "possessing or enjoying good health" or "conducive to good health." In the U.S. "healthful" is used to describe something that is "conducive to good health." So fresh air is "healthful" in the U.S., but "healthy" in the UK. I have to assume that the opposite is also true.
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 Because "well-spoken" is a compound word, is it okay to say "We should be more well-spoken," or should it be said "We should be better spoken." I would appreciate your help. Thanks! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Baltimore, Maryland Wed, Jun 7, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE "Well-spoken" is a compound modifier, but I would avoid using the construction as anything other than a pre-noun modifier, "the well-spoken representative," or a simple predicate adjective, "the representative was well-spoken." In any other construction, I'd use something like "We should speak with propriety and courtesy." A construction like "better spoken" puts a focus on the word "spoken" that it isn't meant to handle.
QUESTION A listing of words with the suffix -ize... ie. prioritize, cauterize, etc. looking for a complete listing. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Manteca, California Wed, Jun 7, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE If you look up "-ize" in your dictionary, you might find a list, but a complete listing would be nearly as long as your dictionary. This is what Merriam-Webster's has to say about -ize words:The suffix -ize has been productive in English since the time of Thomas Nashe (15671601), who claimed credit for introducing it into English to remedy the surplus of monosyllabic words. Almost any noun or adjective can be made into a verb by adding -ize: hospitalize, familiarize; many technical terms are coined this way: oxidize; as well as verbs of ethnic derivation: Americanize; and verbs derived from proper names: bowdlerize, mesmerize. Nashe noted in 1591 that his coinages in -ize were being complained about, and to this day new words in -ize finalize, prioritize are sure to draw critical fire.Authority for this note: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Electronic Edition. 1994. Used with permission.
QUESTION This one always trips me up. Is one elected a member, or as a member?Example:This site is a great resource, thanks so much!
"The university was elected as a member of AAU." "Professor Smith was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences."
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Santa Barbara, California Wed, Jun 7, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The dictionary provides for being elected member of the National Academy, and that is certainly the standard way of saying this, leaving out the indefinite article altogether. "Being elected as a member" could mean that you were elected by virtue of the fact that you were a member (which wouldn't make a lot of sense, but that's how it could be read).
QUESTION When rescheduling a meeting from the 1st of June to the 30th of June has been seen written in this manner: The meeting has been moved back to June 30th (when in fact it has been 'moved forward' in time). Is this considered slang? When did this type of terminology begin? Any help is appreciated. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Las Vegas, Nevada Thu, Jun 8, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I'm not sure where this usage began (maybe the Oxford English Dictionary would help, which I don't happen to own), but the dictionary does allow for the meaning "delayed," which fits this usage. Expressions of time, in any language I know of, all tend to be kind of weird. Moving a meeting "up" usually means making it earlier, but it can also mean making it later.
QUESTION I was wondering whether it correct in both cases to say: I feel well (or) I feel good, when someone asks me how I'm doing. I was taught that the first one was correct, but I was challenged on this and didn't know why it was correct (as an adverb). The same thing goes for "I felt badly" and "I felt bad". Is it just that most people don't know their adverbs? Thanks! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE New York, New York Thu, Jun 8, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You feel bad there's no doubt about that one because "feel" is a linking verb and the subject wants to be linked to a predicate adjective ("bad"), not an adverb. Whether you feel well or good, however, can go either way. Generally, "well" is confined to feelings of good health whereas "good" can also imply wholesome or healthful or high spirits.
QUESTION I was just wondering if "stupider" is a word? I was made fun of today when I used it and just wanted to prove them wrong. I said "we are just going to only going to get stupider". Thanks SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Canyon Country, California Thu, Jun 8, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE It's in the dictionary. If two people are stupid, one is bound to be stupider than the other. I would have said "more stupid," myself.
QUESTION May we use the verb "to like" in order to express a polite question like:"How are you liking your student's life?" SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Somewhere, Romania Thu, Jun 8, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The chief meaning of "like" is "enjoy," and that seems to fit that sentence. I don't think there's anything particularly "polite" about it, though. Merrriam-Webster's lists the meaning of "to be suitable or agreeable to" as "dialect," but there's nothing really wrong with it. I think most people would write "How do you like the student's life?" (or "the life of a student").
QUESTION I am trying to find out how to properly quote the following type of sentences do you put comma after "says" or "say":
- Where the document says, "For the policy to be effective, you must endorse the following page," did you understand that you had to do that immediately?
- When you say, "I was asked questions," do you mean that Ms. Jones asked you questions?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Fri, Jun 9, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE When a quotation is a direct object of a predicate nominative of a sentence, we don't set it off with a comma, as inShe said "No way" and turned away.orThe new policy for the Army is "Don't ask, don't tell."However, because the language you have in quotation marks (in both sentences) represents actual quoted language, written or spoken, we would set it off with a comma. I hope that the distinction between your examples and my first example (using "No way") is not overly subtle.
QUESTION I'm confused about when words modified with "well" are hyphenated. Is it the rule that they are always hyphenated when serving as an adjective, but not when they follow a verb? Or does it depend on the word?
- Example 1: We say: "It was a well-deserved award."
But would we say: "The award was well deserved" OR "The award was well-deserved"?
- Example 2: "Her speech was well received" OR "Her speech was well-received"?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Santa Barbara, California Fri, Jun 9, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE According to the Chicago Manual of Style, compounds with well, ill, better, best, little, lesser, and least, are hyphenated before the noun (well-deserved award), not hyphenated after a noun (the award was well deserved), and not hyphenated when modified by an adverb (very well deserved award).
Authority: Chicago Manual of Style 14th ed. U of Chicago P: Chicago. 1993. p. 221.
Previous Grammar Log
Next Grammar Log
Index of Grammar Logs
Guide to Grammar and Writing