QUESTION I am writing a dissertation. There is discussion among us about which of the following is correct:Implicitly, teachers may be choosing whether or not they wish to assist students in their moral development.orImplicitly, teachers may be choosing whether they wish to assist students in their moral development.Someone who is an English major said that we no longer use the "or not." Please advise. Thanks so much! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE San Francisco, California Mon, Jul 31, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Burchfield says that allowing the alternative (the "or not" or a clearly expressed alternative) to be understood is "legitimate" in a "limited range of circumstances," but then he doesn't describe the limited range. He also says it's much less common than providing the alternative expression (the "or not," etc.). That's not a big help, but it does say that it's possible to leave out the "or not" and be acceptable. I'd use "or not" in that sentence to make the notion that teachers are making a choice (implicitly or not) more evident.
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. (under whether)
QUESTION Which of the two sounds more correct?
- However, if at any time during an exercise, the sentry is in doubt, the individual may be requested to remove their mask for positive identification.
- However, if the sentry is in doubt at any time during an exercise, the individual may be requested to remove their mask for positive identification.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Valdosta, Georgia Tue, Aug 1, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The second version allows the "if clause" to begin with its subject, "the sentry," instead of inserting those two prepositional phrases. Both sentences create an odd sense of ambiguity: "in doubt" about what? Without clearing up that ambiguity, the "individual" and "the sentry" could be the same person (quite unlikely, but the structure of the sentence allows for that). Also, we don't want an individual removing their mask: better his or her mask (unless we know the individuals will be one gender or the other).
QUESTION Please provide some guidelines for the proper use of the word "requested". For example, I often see people write "...the client requested us to begin this project." It seems more correct to say "...the client requested that we begin t he project." However, I can't find any hard-and-fast rule to back me up. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Austin, Texas Tue, Aug 1, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE We can use the word "ask" in that context: "The client asked us to to begin this project," but the verb "request" cannot be used in that manner (i.e., it cannot be by a personal pronoun and then by the real object of the request).
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. (under request).
QUESTION YOUR QUESTION WAS: Which is correct, a) or b):
is there an -ly on important? is specially trained hyphenated in this case?
- More important, our nurses are specially trained in neonatal care.
- More importantly, our nurses are specially-trained in neonatal care.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Tulsa, Oklahoma Tue, Aug 1, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The adverbial construction "more importantly" is trying to modify a verb within the main part of the sentence, which isn't appropriate. "More important" will suffice or consider leaving it out altogether. (For the same reason, when enumerating causes, say, we'd write "third" instead of "thirdly.") You don't want a hyphen for "specially trained," but I'm not sure that "well trained" wouldn't do just as well.
QUESTION A friend and I got into a conversation one day and tried to determine the proper grammatical sentencing for two Lexus'. Now for quite some time it has been boggling my mind. I thought that if anyone should know, it would be you. Would you say you have two Lexus' or two Lexie, or even either could be wrong? Please inform me on you're opinion as to how to imply two Lexus' in a proper grammatical form.
Have a great day!
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Abbotsford, BC - Canada Tue, Aug 1, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Once that word passed into general English usage (which happened as soon as the advertising agency got hold of it or dreamed it up), its plural would be formed just like any other word: Lexuses. I have to admit it sounds dumb, though, so I'm glad I don't own two of them.
QUESTION More friendly should be friendlier. So is more user-friendly correct or should it be user-friendlier? Everyone I ask tells me more user-friendly but know one knows why.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Chicago, Illinois Mon, Aug 28, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE As a general rule, the longer an adjective (in terms of syllables), the more likely it will need a "more" to make it comparative. With only two syllables, "friendly" can become "friendlier" (although I think it would be a mistake to say that "more friendly" has to be "friendlier").
QUESTION Hi. I'm very confused about comma usage in the following sentence:"An entity is an organization, either a company, a division, or a department."Is the comma after 'organization' necessary? What about this next sentence:The agenda enables you to organize activities, such as internal activities, activities related to contacts, and personal activities.Should there be a comma after the first 'activities?' SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Lisbon, Portugal Mon, Aug 28, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You need something in that first sentence; a dash might serve even better than a comma.An entity is an organization a company, a division, or a department.(I'd get rid of the "either," myself.) And I would use a comma after the first "activities" in your second sentence to set off the list that follows. When a "such as" example ends a sentence, it nearly always requires a sentence.
QUESTION I need the correct construction of a "not only" sentence. Is the following example grammatically correct, or is it missing a part of the sentence?I truly believe that if I am chosen to undertake the enormous responsibility of chairing a position in THIMUN, my participation will not only allow me to achieve more experience, knowledge, and skills. Most importantly, it will enable me.... SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Somewhere, Panama Wed, Aug 30, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE That doesn't work very well. The "not only" assumes the existence of a "but also." So your participation will not only allow you to do something, it will also enable you to do something else. And those two things ought to be in the same sentence.
QUESTION In the sentence 'I used to work', which of the following negative forms would you consider acceptable?
- I didn't use to work
- I didn't used to work
- I used not to work
- I usedn't to work
- I used to not work
- I never used to work
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Ushiku City, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan Wed, Aug 30, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE "Usedn't" (with or without the "d") is a peculiar option (in my opinion), found sometimes in speech and colloquial writing, according to Burchfield, and some people think it's better than "didn't used to" or "didn't use to." Apparently, though, any of the others would be regarded as acceptable. I prefer the final option over all of them.
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. (under "used")
QUESTION Is it 10,000-men or 10,000-man march? two-men or two-man tag team? All-boys or all-boy school? I have a hard time figuring out if compounded modifiers like the samples above should have singular or plural noun. What is the rule on compounded-word (or word s) modifiers?
Thanks for your help.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Taipei, Taiwan Wed, Aug 30, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Generally, we go with the singular when we create a compound modifier like that: "a six-inch ruler, a ten-foot pole." I don't think that applies to "all-boys," though, because "all-boy" would imply something else, about masculinity (as opposed to the gender of the population).
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