QUESTION I am having a disagreement with someone on the Apple motto, "Think Different". Is this proper usage? He claims that in this instance it is a "flat" adverb.
I would very much like this matter settled and you seemed to be the best source.
Thank you very much
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Minneapolis, Minnesota Thu, Apr 5, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I'm not familiar with the term "flat adverb," and I don't find it in my reference materials. I assume it refers to a common usage such as "Take it slow and easy," in which the adverb loses its familiar "-ly" ending. Or perhaps it refers to an adverb that doesn't have an "-ly" ending, as in "He arrived late." I really don't think that's what's happening with Apple's motto. I think they chose to use an incorrect form (instead of "think differently") because the usage jars, however slightly, the mind which, for their purposes, is not a bad thing. I would like to have been in on the discussion when they came up with that slogan. What matters to the advertisers, of course, is effectiveness, not correctness. And if incorrectness serves the purpose of effectiveness, well . . . .
QUESTION My father asked me this question the other day, and I wasn't sure how to respond. He says, " "They're" is the contraction for "they are". It's perfectly acceptable and correct to say "I know who they are"; is it acceptable to say "I know who they're"? In a similar vein, is it ok to say "I know who you're"? It's ok to say "I know who you are". Is there a rule against using a contraction at the end of a sentence?" Having been an English and journalism major for a while in college I am relatively certain you can't use a contraction at the end of a sentence, but I don't think I've ever seen a written rule on that sort of thing. Any help you could offer would be wonderful, thank you! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Thu, Apr 5, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I don't think there is a rule about this matter. A contraction is more often than not used as part of a verb string "You're leaving?" or "He's thinking about it" or "They've left" or some larger structure. That's why, as an answer to "Who's going to the movies with me?" We might say "I am" or "I'm too busy," but we wouldn't hear "I'm." In short (what else?), the contraction is a device for shortening the distance between two points, and since you don't have two points at the end of a sentence, it's not appropriate to use a contraction there.
QUESTION Which of the following is correct:
- "a selection of cigars IS available"
- "a selection of cigars ARE available"
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Somewhere in the UK Thu, Apr 5, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I think it depends on how you're thinking about that selection. Is it one collection of cigars that you're offering, or is it a group of individual cigars? For instance, I think if we modified "selection," as in "a great selection of cigars," we'd go with the singular verb. Although you can argue that you're thinking of these cigars as individually available and that the plural verb is therefore appropriate, I think most readers would think of the selection as one thing. I'd use the singular verb, "is available."
QUESTION This sign is posted in the lobby of my office. It sounds wrong, but I can't put my finger on the problem... Any ideas? How could this be better written?In appreciation of all our valued clients, these refreshments are provided for your enjoyment. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Las Vegas, Nevada Thu, Apr 5, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The sign seems to make a distinction between me, as donut-hungry reader of the sign ("your enjoyment"), and the valued clients. I don't think that's what the sign is meant to suggest. It might read as follows: "These refreshments are provided for [or "in appreciation of"] our valued clients," and that would make me feel happy because I'm valued and I can have a donut. If the sign really wants to suggest that I can't have one of those cream-filled, chocolate-covered donuts because I'm not a valued client, it will have to be more clear to keep me away.
QUESTION My newspaper had a headline that readCouple face child abuse charges.Shouldn't that be "couple faces"? Isn't couple singular? Thank you SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Sheridan, Wyoming Thu, Apr 5, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In the U.S., a collective noun like couple (a singular entity incorporating more than one thing or person) will almost invariably be accompanied by a singular verb. In England, it will be accompanied by either a singular or a plural verb depending on whether or not the noun is being regarded as one thing or a collection of individual things acting separately ("The staff put on their coats"). So "face" is not wrong in that headline, but in the U.S., at least, "faces" would be more common.
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 "agreement")
QUESTION "NATO's victory in Kosovo further strengthened those powerful groups in the U.S. military, and the defense world in general, THAT/WHICH/WHO believe in the supremacy of airpower."We've got folks here arguing for each word choice above. My choice is "who". What's yours?
And thank you for this wonderful service.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Washington, D.C. Thu, Apr 5, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The sentence sort of bogs down in the vagueness of "the defense world in general," especially since we set it apart with commas. With those commas, it appears that the subsequent relative clause, the "which clause," refers only to "the defense world in general," which isn't what you mean. If we have to keep that phrase, we might write it this way, "NATO's victory in Kosovo further strengthened those powerful groups in the U.S. military and the defense world in general that believe in the supremacy of airpower." Something like"NATO's victory in Kosovo further heartened the advocates for airpower throughout the defense world, especially those powerful groups in the U.S. military that already believed in the supremacy of airpower"might be an improvement, but the sentence is getting hung up on the redundancy of "power."
QUESTION Sentence:"The patient reports that his panic attacks are less intense and frequent now."Question: Please let me know if "less" would modify both "intense" and "frequent" in that sentence or if "less" have to be repeated before the word "frequent." Thanks! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Cumberland, Maryland Thu, Apr 5, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Adverbs of gradability seem capable of "carrying over" to more than one word. "He is utterly loathsome and despicable" means that he is utterly despicable as well as being utterly loathsome. I find your sentence readable, yet it wouldn't make any sense if the "less" did not carry over to the word "frequent." If the slight imbalance does bother you, you could write "less intense and not as frequent," and the meaning would be immediately clear to the reader.
QUESTION I love your site! Should I use "dare" or "dares" in the following:
If "dares" is correct, why do we say, "How dare he?" Is there an unstated, elliptical "would" or "does" in the above?
- "Tears swell her head, but she dare not move at all."
- "Tears swell her head, but she dares not move at all."
"Dare" sounds right to me, but I cannot justify it. One of my poems was critiqued and its use is in question, but a friend of mine with a Ph.D. in literature says that "dare" is correct. She says its use has something to do with the conditional, implying that "she" would move if conditions were other than what they are.
Thank you for your help.
I love your site and hope to read it from end to end some day. I have several pages in my file for quick reference.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Buda, Texas Mon, Apr 16, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Without arguing with your friend's analysis, I'll go along with Burchfield's description of "dare" as a "marginal modal." One characteristic feature of these words is that none of these modals has an -s ending in the third-person indicative, present tense: he can, she shall, it may, etc. You will frequently see this (with "dare," I mean) in an interrogative ("How dare he?") or negative construction (as in your example, above). I'm interested in the potentially explosive notion of tears swelling someone's head, but you didn't ask about that.
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 Is there such a word is "ept", as in the opposite of "inept"? We're having a debate about this and are trying to resolve it peacefully! I've consulted a number of online sources, so far unsuccessfully.
Any help you can provide will be most appreciated!
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Cypress, California Wed, Apr 18, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE No, there's no "ept." Inept is based on a negative of "apt" although the opposite of "apt" is not exactly "inept." If you're ever In a decent library, you might check out the Oxford English Dictionary (which I don't happen to own).
QUESTION Which of the following is correct? I have found conflicting responses in style and grammar reference books.
(According to most books, two (2) is correct, but it sounds wordy, and my grammar check always flags it. In one (1), "based on" is a dangling modifier; it is not an absolute participle. Therefore, it is wrong.
- Based on our research, additional testing is not necessary.
- On the basis of our reasearch, additional testing is not necessary.
Which is NOW most acceptable. I really want to use one (1). It just sounds tighter, more concise.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Marlboro, Massachusetts Wed, Apr 18, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In either case, you have a modifier either (1) a participial phrase or (2) a prepositional phrase trying to modify something it can't really modify, "additional testing." Can't we write something like, "On the basis of our research, we feel that additional testing is not necessary"? Or "Our research indicates that additional testing is not necessary"? If that still sounds wordy to you, I vote for your #2, as the dangling modifier in #1 makes it sound as if "additional testing" is "based on our research," which isn't true.
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