- Do we say "more than one is/are expected to come"?
- Do we say Please fill in/up the form"?
- Do we say "....in/on this application form"?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Singapore Sat, Jan 13, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Although "more than one" seems to create a subject that is plural, the verb choice is controlled by the "promixity" to the word "one," and we choose a singular verb, "is." We "fill in the form," and we say we "fill in" this application form but we "write on" the application form.
[On the "more than one" question] Authority: A Grammar of Contemporary English by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. Longman Group: London. 1978. p. 364.
QUESTION What is the prepositional phrase "at a loss" describing, and is it an adjective or an adverb?"...Rip was equally at a loss to comprehend the question..." SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Pace, Florida Sat, Jan 13, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE "At a loss" is behaving as a predicate adjective in that sentence (just as "in Boston" would be in "He is in Boston today"). I suppose "equally" is modifying the verb "was."
QUESTION Is the use of first with annual correct, i.e., First annual picnic.
Please let me know. Thanks
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Franklin, Massachusetts Mon, Jan 15, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I have heard some people argue that since "annual" means that something has happened on an annual basis, you can't have a first annual until you've had a second annual; in fact, these people say, your second picnic is actually the first annual event since it's the first one to happen on an annual basis. Personally, I think that's nonsense: in my opinion, all that you need is the intent to hold your picnic every year, and then the first one becomes your first annual. Having said that, I realize that if you name something your first annual anything, you're going to get an argument.
QUESTION Which is correct:
Thanks for your help.
- "Initial response and interest from fans of the band HAS been overwhelming"
- "Initial response and interest from fans of the band HAVE been overwhelming."
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Staten Island, New York Thu, Jan 18, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE It appears to me that "initial response and interest" is really one thing, one wave of "information," as it were. I'd go with the singular "has."
QUESTION In the sentence,"Not one of the students was prepared for the test.",the word "not" was identified as part of the predicate. I have a hard time explaining to my English class WHY it is not part of the complete subject, as the word "not" seems to modify "one" in this sentence, and not "prepared." Please help. "Not" is a negative adverb, but if I change the order to say "One of the students was not prepared for the test.", it changes the meaning of the sentence. Thank you for your time. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Medford, New Jersey Thu, Jan 18, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I agree with you, that "one" is not part of the predicate here. Quirk and Greenbaum call "not" in that position part of a "negative subject," and notes that there is no alternative construction to a sentence such as "No one listens to me" or "Not one bottle was left" (which is very much like your sentence, which as you point out cannot be rewritten). They then add that "Negative subjects can also be formed with the word "not" as a predeterminer, in the combinations not all, not every, not everyone, not much, not many, etc.: Not all economists agree with you.) Here, then, is a good authority calling "Not one bottle" and, by extension, "Not one of the students" a negative subject.
Authority: A Grammar of Contemporary English by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. Longman Group: London. 1978. p. 378.
QUESTION I teach college preparation and GED classes. My students and I got into quite a discussion recently over the question of when to capitalize geographic directions (north, south, etc.). I am, of course, very familiar with the basic rules.
But we argued over the following sentence: "We walked to see Grandmother, who lives in North Longview." (Longview, by the way, is a city of about 80,000 people in Texas.) I contended that we do not need to capitalize the word "north" in this sentence because it is not naming a clearly established region of the world, nation, state, or a city. My students contended, however, that it specifies a particular region of Longview, and this is sufficient reason for capitalization. While I agree that it spe cifies the "northern portion of Longview," I do not know of any map or governmental entity that distinctly labels the northern part of Longview as "North Longview." On the other hand, the city of Dallas, Texas, does have distinct, well-known regions that are always capitalized, such as North Dallas, East Dallas, etc. Just when would one capitalize a term like this and when would one not do so?
I might also add, parenthetically, that I live in the eastern portion of Texas, and it is commonplace here to write that we live in "East Texas." I accept the capitalization of "East" in this case because "East Texas" is generally understood to include certain counties in Texas, thereby making it a specific geographic region.
Please help me to sort out this rather murky situation. Thanks!
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Kilgore, Texas Thu, Jan 18, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Your last example, of living in East Texas, is interesting, because it would seem, to this Connecticut resident, that you live in east Texas. However, you're saying that that area has become a kind of political entity or is loosely understood to be so and thus Texans (or East Texans, anyway) have begun to capitalize it. This isn't going to make a murky situation less murky, because I think you understand the situation about as well as it can be understood. Somewhere along the line, east Texas has become East Texas, at least in East Texas. If enough folks who live in the northern part of Longview come to regard themselves as residents of North Longview, then that part of the world will someday become capitalized. I suspect that north Longview is not yet ready for that status.
QUESTION What part of speech is the word "hang" in the following sentence?Do not let the cord hang over the edge.Thanks SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Plymouth, Minnesota Thu, Jan 18, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE See the section on causative verbs. What you've got there is a causative verb, "let," which is followed, usually, by an object and an infinitive phrase ("to hang") with the particle "to" omitted. In most causative verbs, the infinitive keeps the "to," as in "She allowed her students to skip class."
QUESTION Which is correct:
My choice is the second but thought I would ask!
- I appreciate your keeping in contact with me.
- I appreciate you keeping in contact with me.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Pitttsburgh, Pennsylvania Thu, Jan 18, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE It's the action that you appreciate, not the person. So you want the possessive form, "your." See the section on gerunds.
Authority: Understanding English Grammar by Martha Kolln. 4rth Edition. MacMillan Publishing Company: New York. 1994. p. 108.
QUESTION Sentence: "The Bond does not cover potential income, including but not limited to interest and dividends, not realized by the insured."
Question: in this sentence from an insurance policy, is the phrase "including but not limited to interest and dividends" a participial phrase used as an adjective? Is that how I would describe this phrase?
Thanks! Great site!
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Baton Rouge, Louisiana Fri, Jan 19, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Yes, that's how you would describe that phrase. Of course, it's altered by the "not," but that doesn't change its function. As I understand it, it's modifying the word "income." It's rather unusual to separate a modifier from the thing it modifies by a phrase as lengthy and complex as "including but not limited to interest and dividends," and (it seems to me) the writer runs the risk of causing the reader to think that the phrase modifies "dividends," not "income." But that's why lawyers get paid a lot of money.
QUESTION This person is a friend of my (uncle's, uncle).Which one should we use?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Singapore Fri, Jan 19, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE This construction (with the possessive "uncle's") is called the double possessive. It's also called the "post-genitive" and "of followed by a possessive case or an absolute possessive pronoun." It's been around since the fifteenth century, and is widely accepted. It's extremely helpful, for instance, in distinguishing between "a picture of my father" (in which we see the old man) and "a picture of my father's" (which he owns). Notice how much more natural it is to say "He's a fan of hers" than "he's a fan of her."
Generally, what follows the "of" will be definite and human, not otherwise, so we would say "a friend of my uncle's" but not "a friend of the museum's [museum, instead]." What precedes the "of" is usually indefinite (a friend, not the best friend), unless it's preceded by the demonstratives this or that, as in "this friend of my father's."
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 "double possessive")
Authority: New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage HarperCollins: New York. 1994. Cited with permission.
Previous Grammar Log
Next Grammar Log
Index of Grammar Logs
Guide to Grammar and Writing