QUESTION One of my high school students came up with an excellent question while writing an in-depth literary essay. This is her example:"What was the evidence of her [Mayella's] offense?"Should the student leave the original pronoun and include the bracketed name? Or does the bracketed name in a sense replace the need for the pronoun?
Thank you for your timely response.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Anchorage, Alaska Fri, Jan 19, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The Chicago Manual of Style seems to suggest that your editorial interpolation, enclosed within brackets, should not change the rest of your sentence. However, the Chicago book then adds, "When an interpolated word takes the place of a word in the original, ellipsis points are omitted." I think, though, that they're referring to instances when the interpolation replaces a foreign word or English translation that doesn't convey the exact meaning. In other words, I think your student should keep her in the sentence you give us.
Authority: Chicago Manual of Style 14th ed. U of Chicago P: Chicago. 1993. p. 377.
QUESTION I remember in high school English that we were told not to use the phrase "more quickly." Now I hear it everyday and read it all the time. I have talked with some English teacher friends of mine and they tell me I am right. Which is correct "more quickly" or "quicker"? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Columbus, Ohio Sun, Jan 21, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I have to admit that's a new one for me. If a basketball player can move quickly, can't she move more quickly than another player? Yes, that means she's quicker, but I don't see why "more quickly" can't function as a useful comparative adverb. I'll leave an e-mail icon here in case someone else cares to contribute a note on this. (I can't find anything in my books on English usage, but I don't have the Oxford English Dictionary.)
QUESTION This is probably as arcane as it comes, but so be it. I am a lawyer who drafts estate plans. We have an industry-common phrase we use when naming/appointing more than one person to serve as a trustee or executor. The phrase (and my question) looks like this:"I hereby appoint X and Y, or such of them as is/are?? willing and able to serve, as my executor ..."My question has to do with the is/are issue. Most of my peers and superiors have adopted the habit of writing "such of them as are able ...". My ear -- and my knowledge of the treatment of indefinite pronouns generally -- leads me to believe it would be more correct to say "such of them as is able ...". But I'd like some kind of documentation or other support before I go to the mat on this one.
If you happen to have any ideas of a more graceful phrasing to use, I would welcome those, too!
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Minneapolis, Minnesota Sun, Jan 21, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I wouldn't go to the mat in any case on legal language. As I understand it, you would appoint two people, but if only one of them is willing, you'd be happy with that. If that's a true translation, we might have written "whichever of them is willing. . . ." because the "whichever" is clearly singular. But probably the phrase "such of them" comes about because it's useful, say, if you would appoint four or five, and two or three might be able to serve. Then the singular "whichever" would be inappropriate. Thus the "such of them as are able."
I have a feeling, though, that the collective "such of them" has taken on a life of its own in legal language and will always take a plural verb. If I were you, I'd go with the flow and use the plural. As far as a more graceful phrasing is concerned, I suppose you could try "whichever of them" when you're referring to a singular subject (one of two or one of however how many); otherwise, you'll probably have to have a separate sentence: "If only one of these is able and willing to serve, . . . "
QUESTION What is the plural of Major General? Is it Major Generals or Majors General? Does the same answer apply to Lord Chancellor and Lord Lieutenant?
Look forward to hearing from you.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Ahston-under-Lyne, Lancashire, UK Sun, Jan 21, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The Chicago Manual of Style says that "hyphenated and open compounds are regularly made plural by the addition of the plural inflection to the element that is subject to the change in number" and gives as examples "fathers-in-law," "sergeants-in-arms," "doctors of philosophy," "and courts-martial." The NYPL Writer's Guide puts it this way: "the most significant word generally the noun takes the plural form. The significant word may be at the beginning, middle, or end of the term." And then we get examples such as "attorneys at law," "bills of fare," chiefs of staff," notaries public," assistant attorneys general," "higher-ups," "also-rans," and "go-betweens."
If I read this correctly, "General" is being modified by "Major," so I'd go with "Major Generals" as the plural. I'm not familiar with those other terms (the idea of all those lords makes Americans queasy), but I think the same idea applies: I'd go with "Lord Chancellors" and "Lord Lieutenants."
Authority: Chicago Manual of Style 14th ed. U of Chicago P: Chicago. 1993. p. 196.
Authority: New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage HarperCollins: New York. 1994. Cited with permission. p. 396.
QUESTION I use the phrase "I like him really well" often and recently a friend has told me it is grammatically incorrect. Is my friend right? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Blue Bell, Pennsylvania Tue, Jan 23, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Although we often say that someone is "well liked," it's probably not a good idea to modify how you like someone with an adverb; it suggests, in fact, that you're doing a good job of liking this person. Another idiomatic expression I like him a lot (or a simple, "I like him very much") would be an improvement.
QUESTION When using the phrase "on behalf of" is it proper to say:"On behalf of Sue, Jane and myself, I sincerely thank you for your continued support."or should the "myself" be left out?
I seems to me that using the "myself" is redundant since "I" am saying it, but I hear and see the phrase used fairly often.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE St. Petersburg, Florida Wed, Jan 24, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I agree that it sounds kind of silly. Technically, I don't think it's wrong. One does speak, after all, on behalf of one's self. If you throw in Sue and Jane, that's all right, too. But I think you're right: leave "myself" out of it: "On behalf of Sue and Jane, I sincerely thank you for your continued support" says exactly what you mean.
But Gerald Smyth of Ushiku City, Japan, writes . . . .
It seems to me that if one speaks on behalf of someone, one speaks for that person and that person only. So 'On behalf of Sue and Jane, I sincerely thank you' (1) would not include the speaker's thanks. He speaks in the interest of, or as a representative of, Sue and Jane. If we include 'myself', we understand 'On behalf of myself I sincerely thank you', which as you say is technically correct but sounds silly though it may sound better if phrased 'On my own behalf I sincerely thank you' (2). Combining (1) and (2), we get, effectively, 'On behalf of Sue and Jane, and on my own behalf too, I sincerely thank you'. I think that would make me want to rephrase the sentence without using that construction, for example by writing 'Sue, Jane and I sincerely thank you', or 'Sue and Jane join me in sincerely thanking you'.
QUESTION In the following sentence:Augie took him and her fishing.The pronouns are direct objects. What part of speech is "fishing"? In other words, how is "fishing" used in this sentence. Thank you. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Springfield, Illinois Wed, Jan 24, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE "Fishing" in that sentence is a gerund functioning as an object complement. It modifies or completes the objects (those pronouns) in this case and is similar to the final adjective in a sentence such as "We painted the garage purple" or the final noun in a sentence such as "Who died and made you king?"
QUESTION In your opinion, is the sentence "What this is, is a travesty", a proper one? I'm referring to the use of double "is".
There is a mention of this in the alt.usage.english FAQ at http://www.faqs.org/faqs/alt-usage-english-faq/ that says:Double "is", as in "The reason is, is that..." is a recent U.S. development, much decried. According to MEU3, it was first noticed in 1971 and had spread to the U.K. by 1987. Of course, "What this is is..." is undisputedly correct.Do you agree? What about the word "undisputedly"?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Thu, Jan 25, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Even though a comma is not grammatically necessary in "What this is, is a travesty," most writers would use one there because the sentence becomes momentarily confusing to read without it. This happens a lot when two identical words are used back to back: "Let us march in, in two's" or "Whatever is, is good." (The duplication of the words "that" or "had," however, seldom necessitates a comma.)
"Indisputedly" means that the issue has not been argued; "indisputably" means that it's not capable of being argued. Since neither is the case, the correctness of the assertion is just that: an assertion.
Authority for "is, is" question: Chicago Manual of Style 14th ed. U of Chicago P: Chicago. 1993. p. 175.
QUESTION Is it correct to ask "aren't I" If not, what can you say? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Somerville, Massachusetts Fri, Jan 26, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In the interrogative form, as in "I am beautiful, aren't I?" this construction is widely regarded as acceptable in British English, and many people will use it in the U.S. You could say, instead, "Am I not?" The use of a contraction for "am not" is complicated, especially in declarative sentences, but the substandard status of "ain't," which seems to be a reasonable enough contraction for "am not," has never been widely regarded as acceptable probably because too many people use it for every other contraction as well.
Authority: A Grammar of Contemporary English by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. Longman Group: London. 1978. p. 81.
QUESTION We're trying to identify the sentence type for the following sentence:We sat silently wishing we had more time.We believe this is a complex sentence. 'We sat silently' is an independent clause. We are struggling with how best to explain the remaining clause. Is 'wishing' a gerund that introduces an adverbial clause? Please help! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Farmington Hill, Michigan Sat, Jan 27, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I think what you've got there is a noun clause with a missing "that," and the whole thing is embedded within a participial phrase: "wishing [that] we had more time." That participial phrase then modifies the subject of the sentence, "we." I'm not sure this qualifies your sentence as a complex sentence, but it does contain both an independent and a dependent clause, so I guess it must. I'll leave an e-mail icon here in case someone has a different opinion or can clarify the structure.
Previous Grammar Log
Next Grammar Log
Index of Grammar Logs
Guide to Grammar and Writing