QUESTION Which sentence is correct, and why?
- Listen to the speaker carefully to understand better.
- To better understand, listen carefully to the speaker.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Pompano Beach, Florida Tue, Sep 26, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE There's not a whole lot to choose from here, but the second sentence is better, in my opinion, because the modifier "carefully" is sitting right next to the verb, "listen," that it modifies.
QUESTION What is the term for brand names identified with specific products (e.g. Kleenex, Jell-o, and Band-aid)? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Denver, Colorado Wed, Sep 27, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The APA Manual calls them trade names. If you have in mind a word that we use to refer to such trade names that enter the common vocabulary like kleenex, band-aid, jeans, plexiglas, ping-pong, xerox, etc. I don't know what they're called, but I'll leave an e-mail icon here in case someone else might know. It seems to me that I've been given the answer to this before, but it's dropped into one of the many oubliettes in my brain.
QUESTION Is "sensitivity" in this sentence used correctly?"In concluding the value estimate, sensitivity is given to the subject's available development density and future development timing." SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Wed, Sep 27, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE It seems to me that "consideration" would do nicely there; I don't know what "sensitivity" is supposed to mean in that context. Of course, I don't know what "available development density" means, either. Wherever this language comes from, I don't want to go there.
QUESTION If I were to write the sentence, "Per yours and Tom's request, I have prepared the document", should it be written that way? Or should it be written, "Per your and Tom's request, I have prepared the document?" Note that the conflict resides in whether there should be an 's' on 'your' or not. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Walnut Creek, California Wed, Sep 27, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In a compound possessive like this, you have to be careful of parallel form, too. You would say "Per your request," right? Throwing Tom in there doesn't change anything. You want "your." Do we have to use "per"? I suppose it's acceptable in business or legal writing, but in normal text, the word "at" will do nicely.
QUESTION The words used in a question, "How come?" It does not make sense, but I hear it all the time. I could find no reference to it. Is it grammatically correct and permisable to use the term in any situation? When I hear the term used, it seems wrong and I find the use of "Why?" more appropriate.
Thanks for your help.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Phoenix, Arizona Fri, Sep 29, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE According to Burchfield, this is strictly a North American word, a shortened version of "How does it come to pass that. . . ." It's not the kind of thing you'd want to use in formal language, but it's perfectly acceptable in casual speech or writing.
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 "how")
QUESTION I was told that "thrice" is no longer used in American English. Is this so? Why?
It is shorter than saying "three times", isn't it?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan Fri, Sep 29, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE It's a neat old word, and it's time to bring it back into currency! It's widely regarded as archaic or poetic nowadays, so anyone using it is apt to be regarded as an old fuddy-duddy for a while, but let's go with it. And bring back "for the nonce" and "alack!" while we're at it!
QUESTION Please provide an answer to a question about the correct use of adjective and adverb! My daughter's English test included the following exercise:"Adjective or adverb? Fill in the correct form.My daughter's answer (as well as mine and that of several native English speakers I asked) was: "They were flying incredibly quick and their movement was unusual."
(text was about UFOs) They were flying incredible quick and their movement was unusual."
The English teacher (who is not a native speaker) marked it as wrong, saying it should be: "They were flying incredibly quickly ...."
So the question is: is "incredibly quickly" correct, or "incredibly quick"? (Actually, in this particular sentence, I personally would favor "incredibly fast", but that is another issue...).
Several of the students in my daughter's 10th grade class are eagerly awaiting the correct answer!
Thank you for your time and effort, and thank you for a wonderfully informative website!
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Kaiserslautern, Germany Fri, Sep 29, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE First, unusual is correct because the linking verb was calls for a predicate adjective in that clause and the adverb unusually would be inappropriate. If you got rid of the incredibly, what would you say? Probably that they "flew quickly," right? Because you need an adverb there to modify flew, to tell us how they flew. And how quickly did they fly? incredibly quickly. Now that we've modified the adverb quickly, we still keep its adverbial form. If you used "fast" not a bad idea, really you avoid the problem because the adjective form of that word and the adverbial form are the same. The idea of upsetting a tenth-grade class gives me the willies, but as long as it's in Germany, I think I'm OK.
QUESTION I am working on a Web site for teachers.
We have sections called the "Teachers Lounge" and the "Counselors Office" I am struggling with the possessive rules on this. Because it is several teachers, I chose: teachers' lounge; however I felt you have only one counselor at a time in "a counselor's office," so I chose to make it a singular possessive.
Or should they be possessive at all?? I hope to hear from you soon! Thanks!
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Houston, Texas Fri, Sep 29, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You're probably right about the teachers. The lounge belongs to them, and they're certainly plural, so I'd go with "Teachers' Lounge." If your counseling office contains only one counselor, then I suppose "counselor's office" is appropriate. At our college, though, there are several counselors in the counseling office (they have separate offices within the larger office), and we're apt to refer to it as the "counselors' office." If this office is a space (virtual or otherwise) where one goes for one-on-one counsel, then the singular possessive would be a good bet.
QUESTION Do you ever use a comma before the phrase "such as" when introducing a series of elements? Example 1: "The menu offers several options such as edit, delete, and undo." Example 2: "Menu functions such as edit, delete, and undo, can be selected by the user." SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Nashville, Tennessee Fri, Sep 29, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE There are no hard and fast rules about this because it's going to depend on the rhythms of your sentence. In a sentence like your first, I would use a comma. In a sentence like your second example or "Writers such as Shakespeare, Dante, Milton, and Cervantes enjoy . . . ." I wouldn't. It depends on how your list is linked to the rest of the sentence. If there is any sense in which the list is the least bit parenthetical or an afterthought, the comma seems necessary. If the element being introduced by "such as" is absolutely essential to our understanding of the sentence (like that list of writers, above), we don't use a comma. That sounds fairly simple, but I doubt if it's really that simple.
QUESTION Is any additional punctuation needed in the following sentence?The product is currently used in over fifty different application areas, from detailed survey and mapping of pipeline corridors to public safety and law enforcement data collection to endangered species habitat characterization. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Sonora, California Fri, Sep 29, 2000 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Aren't we missing a from in that sentence? A similar phrasing might be "from Shakespeare to Steve Martin, from Eeyore to William Butler Yeats." For every "from" in the first structure, we need another "from" in the second; for every "to" in the first structure, we need another "to" in the second. So maybe this could readThe product is currently used in over fifty different application areas, from detailed survey and mapping of pipeline corridors to public safety, from law enforcement data collection to endangered species habitat characterization.Even good parallel form, however, won't help a hazardous pileup of words like "endangered species habitat characterization."
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