QUESTION I've been struggling with the following sentence:And even if donated blood were plentiful, no one could guarantee that it didn't carry the AIDS virus or some other disease.Is "didn't" right, or should it be "doesn't"? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Somers Point, New Jersey Sun, Jul 2, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The "were plentiful" is, appropriately, in the subjunctive mood. "Could guarantee" and "didn't carry" will cast the main clause into the past. On the other hand, I don't see anything wrong with "no one can guarantee that it doesn't carry. . . ." if you want to describe a present situation.
QUESTION Is it correct to write the following:Getting the authentication number enables you to use all application features and not as demo version.The sentence does not sound correct to me, especially the last part of it: and not as demo version. Please advise. Thank you. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Jordan Tue, Jul 4, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You're right. That final phrase is trying to modify something and it's not being allowed to modify anything correctly. I think you need to say something like ". . . enables you to use all application features, some of which are not available in the demo version." Or you might be better off noting the inadequacies of the demo version in a parenthetical note.
QUESTION Are there any commas in the following sentence:I saw George who as you know is a 13 month old male. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Reno, Nevada Tue, Jul 4, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I would write it this way:I saw George, who, as you know, is a 13-month-old male.That looks like a lot of commas in a short space, but they're all necessary. You could always simplify the sentence as "I saw George, a 13-month-old male."
QUESTION Should a comma be used before an 'and' when joining two ideas in a sentence?
I am a primary school teacher and have just completed reports. I was told to make changes as a comma should never be used before 'and'. I have used it to show a pause between ideas.
- Jake is an attentive and co-operative student at all times, and has continued to make good progress in all areas this semester.
- Sarah is a very capable reader. She applies herself well to all written tasks, and is always keen to participate in oral reading activities.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia Tue, Jul 4, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE It's certainly an overstatement to say that you'd never use a comma before and. You do use a comma + and to connect two independent clauses and to connect the final element of a series. See the Rules for Comma Usage. In the sentences you give us, you don't really need the comma because the ideas you're adding together are not expressed as independent clauses. On the other hand, I think you can argue that the comma (especially in the first sentence) does make the sentence somewhat more readable by making the ideas slightly more discrete. This is more true of the first sentence because you have already used an and in your first "idea." If I were writing these sentences, I think I'd use a comma in the first sentence but not in the second.
QUESTION Does this sentence I made make perfect sense?Does the barber shave himself or have someone else do it? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Seoul, Korea Tue, Jul 4, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Well, one knows what you mean by it, but no, it doesn't really make sense. "Have someone else" do what? Shave himself? How can he have someone else shave himself? If he does, the barber still didn't get a shave! There's a name for this logical mess, but I don't remember what it is. Maybe this is why so many barbers look kind of scruffy.
QUESTION Question concerning noun verb agreement:
Does the position of the singular or plural nouns determine if the verb is singular or plural? This is argued by a number of individuals.
- My hat and scarves are new.(correct)
- My hats and scarf is new. ( I thought the verb should be, are.)
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Northampton, Massachusetts Thu, Jul 6, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Unless "my hats and scarf" can be said to constitute a kind of ensemble, making up a singular entity, you'll want a plural verb ("are") in this sentence, regardless of the order of the parts.
QUESTION In usage, is the word 'little' equivalent to 'nothing'
What is the difference between 'a little' and 'little'
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Bangalore,KAR, India Thu, Jul 6, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE If we say "He understood little," that means that he understood almost nothing. "He understood a little [of what was said, for instance]," on the other hand, is more positive. He did understand a little bit, at least, and that is quite a bit more than "He understood little." I'm sorry that this is so confusing. Something similar happens with "few" and "a few." If "he has few friends," that means he has practically no friends. If "he has a few friends," that, again, is more positive: at least they're countable.
QUESTION As technical writers, we often use the imperative mood. I'll give an example, then define the problem."Click the object and drag it to the desired location."As an editor, would you place a comma after "object"? With the implied "you" as a subject, how do you know whether to treat this as a compound predicate or a compound sentence? When you write it (and read it) with the implied subject, it sounds a little s tilted."[You] click the object, and [you] drag it to the desired location."The second "you" seems unnecessary. So would you assume a compound predicate was intended in this case? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Norcross, Georgia Sat, Jul 8, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You will, sometimes, find an imperative sentence that is complex enough so that you ought to assume that the understood subject, "you," is repeated and the two clauses should thus be separated by a comma. In your sentence, though, we can easily assume that the understood "you" has two verbs, "click" and "drag," and no comma is necessary. You describe the situation very well.
QUESTION I'm curious about the use of the "suspense". Is it proper?When a crew member returns from leave of absence, the application shall remove the Pay Adjustment PCN from suspense and notify the crew member's manager that the Pay Adjustment PCN processing will continue. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Wayne, Pennsylvania Sat, Jul 8, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE It sounds odd, but the word "suspense" is used that way in bookkeeping as in a description of funds that are kept in escrow until actual allocation and that seems to apply here.
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 My cousin and I disagree about the case of the pronoun in the following sentence:He says: "John ordered Chardonnay for we who wanted wine with the meal." [Claims "for" is acting as as conjunction]I say: "John ordered Chardonnay for us who wanted wine with the meal." [ Isn't "us" simply the object of the preposition "for," and thus in objective case?]
Thanks for your help!
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Falls Church, Virginia Sat, Jul 8, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You're right. And the "who" then refers to the object of the preposition. If we said "for those of us who. . . ," the role of object of the preposition is even more obvious (but it isn't necessary to do so).
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