QUESTION Analyze the following:Our search must be configured such that the SCI precedes the appendicitis in time. (Table I).So tell me about the use of "such that." This phrase is used throughout the manuscript. This surgeon also uses "words" such as "evaluable" and "generalizable" (which are never questioned and ALWAYS published in the medical journals, incidentally).
Enlighten me. Is there something wrong with me or the highly educated professor?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE St. Louis, Missouri Wed, Sep 13, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I can't imagine why someone would use "such that" instead of "so that" in that sentence. Even "in such a way that" would be in an improvement. I don't know what an SCI is, but the notion of it "preceding the appendicitis in time" seems commendable, however wordy (how else would it precede it?). I'm afraid that your professor is ensnarled in the jargon of the journals. The original Fowler (not Burchfield), said that "such that" constructions "are due either to writers' entire ignorance of idiom or to their finding themselves in a difficulty and not seeing how to get out of it." I don't know what you do about "evaluable" and "generalizable." We can only hope this person continues to prefer the scalpel to the pen.
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 "such")
QUESTION I am debating whether the last word in the sentence should be honor or honors. I am talking about two different people who are not related. Any help you can give me would be appreciated!THE SENTENCE:
Both touched many lives while they worked at ______ High and to thank them for their years of service, the school has established awards in their honor.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Des Moines, Iowa Wed, Sep 13, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The word honors, of course, does work as a plural: "The student won several honors at the June commencement." However, "in their honor" works best, I think, as a "mass noun." The singular honor, in that context (meaning "a showing of respect or public esteem"), is more a quality than a thing. I'd go with the singular form.
QUESTION I have just seen a web site where the price of apples was quoted 'by the each'.
Would it not be better to say 'by the piece'?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Somewhere, California Thu, Sep 14, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE That's new to me. Perhaps it's what people call a "regionalism"? I would think that just "apiece" would work better. "By the piece" could mean just a slice of apple.
QUESTION Can you explain the difference between who and whom when used in questions? For example, do you say who are you kidding? or whom are you kidding? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Astoria, New York Sun, Sep 17, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Who and whom work the same way in questions as they do in statements. We need who when we need a subject and whom when we need an object form. Try turning the question around: we would say "Are you kidding he/him?" Since you would say "him," that means you need an object in that sentence, so you ought to use whom. You might very well be alone in this, but you would be correct.
QUESTION I am a bit confused about the difference between "forwards" and "forward". Is it correct to say, "I look forwards to meeting you"? What about, "the troops marched foward"?
I look forward/s to any clarification.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Singapore Sun, Sep 17, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Please look forward, not forwards. My dictionary behaves as if forwards doesn't even exist anymore except as an obsolete variant spelling of forward. It's not quite that extinct; it is used, for instance, in a phrase such as "backwards and forwards." But you would never want to use it as an adjective, "the forward part of the boat," and as an adverb, according to Burchfield, it is "not commonly used either in Britain or abroad." All of this is to say that the attitude towards forward and forwards is not the same as the attitude towards the words toward and towards. For the latter pair, it doesn't seem to matter; you choose whichever sounds better to you. As an adverb, forwards is not wrong, but it seems to be on its way out.
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 Could you please let us know which of the following sentences is correct?
We have gone through your FAQ section and still disagree over which sentence is the right one.
- Who do you know whose eyes are as blue as yours?
- Whom do you know whose eyes are as blue as yours?
We would appreciate your response. Thank you.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Ann Arbor, Michigan Tue, Sep 19, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE No matter how you reconstruct that sentence, you're looking for the object of "you do know _____." So you want whom. (Incidentally, watch the spelling of whose.)
QUESTION I conducted interviews with seven women to learn about the relationship each woman has with one of her brothers. I am wondering how to word my sentences appropriately. For example, one sentence says, "...the respondents' initial reactions to and their experiences following their brother's disclosure." Another sentence includes the statement "experiences of young adult women who had recently learned that their brother was..." Should brothers be plural or singular? Plural sounds like each woman has several brothers, but singular sounds like all women have the same brother.
What is the right way? It is a lengthy paper, so adjusting sentences to avoid this would be too time-consuming.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Mt. Vernon, Missouri Tue, Sep 19, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Since your study examines the relationship between women and a single brother (in each case), I think you should use the singular brother. In the section on Plurals (bottom of the page), we use the example, "Many sons dislike their father(s)," and we select the singular father because the plural would suggest that the sons have more than one father. If you were less clear about the number of brothers and brother-sister relationships involved in your study sometimes one, sometimes more than one you'd have an even greater problem.
QUESTION I was teaching a TOEIC class when the following question came up:"The police are baffled because the thieves ------------- the museum without being detected despite the excellent burglar alarm system."The choice of answers were
One student was quite adamant that A (could enter) was acceptabe (according to what she learned from an English grammar book written by a native speaker) and seemed skeptical about my explanation that "could" denotes possibility whrereas the thieves had actually entered the museum, so D was the best answer. I think I confused matters further by saying that although "could" was not correct here, "were able to" (denoting possibility and action) would have been acceptable in this situation.
- could enter
- could have entered
- have entered
I would appreciate an explanation from a third party about why the answer should be "entered" and not "could enter."
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Somewhere, Japan Wed, Sep 20, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I think your student has a point. The modal auxiliary could is frequently used to describe ability in the past. "I could always beat you in basketball when we were kids." It's also used, of course, to suggest present possibility: "Couldn't you just eat him up?" Given the intent of the sentence, "entered" is probably the best response, but there's nothing wrong with "could enter."
QUESTION I wrote:An examination of their educational experiences revealed differences between the groups in terms of retention rates, course selection, and grade point averages.Three groups were being examined. Should I have written, "among the groups"?
I'm quite sure I should have. I'm worried about how bad an error I have made (more than once in the same report).
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Burke, Virginia Wed, Sep 20, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE If you were trying to emphasize the distribution of differences, then you would definitely want among. But some people's insistence that we always use among when we're talking about more than two things (as opposed to between) has no basis as a grammatical "rule." You're talking about the relationships between groups, regardless of the number of groups involved.
Authority for this note: WWWebster Dictionary, the World Wide Web edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary, Tenth Edition. Used with permission.
QUESTION I am outlining the advantages of choosing to work with a particular company: Planning Associates, Inc. The title of the piece is The Planning Associates Advantage. Would there be an apostrophe to show possession after the word Associates? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Madison, Wisconsin Wed, Sep 20, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I don't think so. "The Planning Associates" is being used as a modifier here (what kind of advantage). One can imagine "The General Motors Advantage" or "The Pillsbury Advantage." The advantage doesn't really belong to the Planning Associates; it belongs to the people who well, who would take advantage of it.
Previous Grammar Log
Next Grammar Log
Index of Grammar Logs
Guide to Grammar and Writing