# 428

I read the following headline in local newspaper
"Elephantine Intelligence"
is it right? I feel that it is "Elephant's Intelligence" Am I right?

Please clarify.

Bangalore, Karnataka, India Wed, May 2, 2001
A person could have an elephantine intelligence. I don't think anything can have an "elephant's intelligence" except an elephant. It's probably not the kindest thing you can say about someone's mind, however: the word elephantine suggests something massive in size, of course, but there are also connotations of being slow, ponderous, and a bit clumsy—no offense to elephants intended.

I am an English private tutor. One of my students is learning about temporals - i.e. as soon as, until, by the time, when, before, after. According to all of my books, the verb tense after a temporal, should be in the present simple tense.
  • I will call you as soon as I get home.
  • The plane will not take off until you sit down.
My student was told that if you have a "future/past" sentence containing the word 'would' and containing a temporal, the verb tense after the temporal should be in past simple.
e.g. Mother said that she would kill the spider as soon as she saw it.

This sounds very funny to me. I think it should be 'sees it' at the end. Everywhere I look, it is written to use the present simple after a temporal. Why should the past simple be used after the temporal in these 'past/future' sentences containing the word 'would'.

Please try to help me. I am going crazy looking for information on temporals. Thank you!

Netanya, Israel Wed, May 2, 2001
I could be wrong, but I don't think the use of "saw" is determined by the temporal adverb but by the shift from direct to reported speech ("Mother said"). A back-shift in time takes place whenever reported matter is introduced by a reporting verb. [E-Mail Icon]Thus, "He said, 'I am really tired'" becomes "He said that he was very tired." I think that's why we have "saw" in your sentence. This shift backwards in time does not happen when the thing being reported involves something that is as true now as it was when it was reported, as in "Mother said that the earth revolves around the sun." I'll leave an e-mail icon here in case someone has a better explanation of what's going on here.

Authority: A Grammar of Contemporary English by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. Longman Group: London. 1978. p. 786-7.

Question about a heading for a yearbook:

How should the heading be written (caps for emphasis of what the alternate choices are):

  • FreshmAn BOYS' Basketball (the pictures on the yearbook page are selected shots of their season, so the "basketball" refers to the program or the schedule of the season.)
  • FreshmEn BOYS' Basketball
  • FreshmEn BOYS Basketball
  • FreshmAn BOYS' Basketball
or something else entirely????? AND WHY did you make that choice?

Thank you. Our English department is in disagreement over the answer.

Wyanet, Illinois Thu, May 3, 2001
What about none of the above? "Freshman" is working as a modifier here, so there's no need to pluralize it. And we don't need to show possession with the word "boys"; the boys don't own the basketball. So "Freshman Boys Basketball" would do the trick. I thought schools were getting rid of the term "freshman."

Which is the proper usage for "paced"?
  • He paced on the creaking wooden porch; or
  • He paced the creaking wooden porch.
New York, New York Thu, May 3, 2001
I'm not sure how, but the word "pace" seems to mean "cover at a walk," so the "on" is unnecessary, and your sentence works better without it.. On the other hand, we could say something like "He paced back and forth on the creaking wooden porch." The meaning is just a little different.

Which is more correct to say:
  • I see your license IS expired. (That is, in an expired status.)
  • I see your license HAS expired.
Or is this a matter of tense?

I have been charged with rewriting some of the documentation for our company and the reference is to software license.

San Jose, California Thu, May 3, 2001
In a way, it's a matter of tense. "Has expired" describes an action (or process) that has come to an end, probably in the recent past; "is expired" links the subject to the condition, as you say, of an "expired status." I don't see much difference myself. I don't suppose you can switch to "lapsed"? With "expired," I picture you rushing out to the parking lot to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a dying license.

I have searched the WWW to try to find the answer to this question but can't find the answer anywhere. In a sentence that has a form of "to be" followed by a prepositional phrase, what kind of verb is the form of "to be"?
Example: The coat is in the closet.
The verb can't be linking because "is" doesn't have a complement; therefore, is it simply intransitive?

Thank you for the information.

Unknown Thu, May 3, 2001
With the exception of existential declarations like "I am," a form of "to be" can serve as the main or predicating verb, and it will be followed by an adverbial of time or place or an adjectival or noun phrase. Instead of a simple adjectival (as in "He is lonely"), adverbial information sometimes comes in the form of a simple adverb (as in "He is here") or a prepositional phrase (as in your "The coat is in the closet").

When adjectival information follows the "to be" verb, we say that the verb is followed by a complement; the adjective completes the verb and modifies the subject, as in "This program is ridiculous." A prepositional phrase can also be in the complement position. Kolln gives the following examples:

  • He is out of his mind.
  • She is in a bad mood.
Such phrases (unlike your phrase, "in the closet") do not supply information of time or place, and you can think of an adjectival that could replace the prepositional phrase: "crazy" or "cranky."

Kolln simply defines linking verb as all verbs other than be completed by a subjective complement—"an adjectival or noun phrase that describes, characterizes, or identifies the subject" (33).

Authority: Understanding English Grammar by Martha Kolln. 4rth Edition. MacMillan Publishing Company: New York. 1994. 29-33.

Yesterday a colleague of mine asked the question, "Is ice-cream vendor correct, or should it be ice cream vendor (minus the hyphen)? Your response was that the hyphen isn't needed. We've been passing the question around the office, and everyone seems to have a different answer. Random House lists "ice cream" as two words but places a hyphen in "ice-cream cone." Similarly, Gage uses "ice cream" and "ice-cream parlor." Should "ice cream" be considered a compound adjective when used in front of "cone" or "parlor"? We're quite confused!
Unknown Thu, May 3, 2001
I was wrong — if "ice cream" was being used as a modifier. According to the Chicago Manual of Style, adjectival compounds comprising an adjective or a participle followed by a noun are always hyphenated and precede the noun they modify. The examples they give are "first-floor apartment" and "living-room windows." Go with "ice-cream vendor."

Authority: Chicago Manual of Style 14th ed. U of Chicago P: Chicago. 1993. 221.

Another opinion:
I've changed my mind on this one again. The NYPL Writer's Guide suggests that modifying compounds that use very common phrases can lose their hyphen. Examples they give are "real estate agent," "data processing software," "life insurance sales," "civil rights case," "post office location." When words go together naturally like that and there is no possibility of ambiguity (i.e., the two words are read as one), the hyphen is omitted. The test is ambiguity. If your "old-furniture dealer" can be confused with an "old furniture dealer" (and she's really quite young), use the hyphen. Getting back to "ice cream vendor," then, I think we can safely set aside the hyphen. In the formation of compound noun and adjectival words, the language is as "alive" as any volcano.

Authority: New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage HarperCollins: New York. 1994. Cited with permission. 411-12.

My question is in regards to the prefix pre-.

I was taught in school that the prefix pre- DOES NOT require a hyphen unless the word following it starts with the letter e, or if the word following it is capitalized.

But I continually read newspapers and product literature that hyphenates words like pre-season, pre-moistened, pre-heat, pre-flight, etc...

Has there been a change in the prefix rules?

Specifically, do I need to hyphenate pre-moistened, using the word to describe a product like premoistened towels?

Thanks for your help!

Milwuakee, Wisconsin Thu, May 3, 2001
Generally, you're right. We don't use a hyphen with the prefix "pre-." The only exceptions would be when a word beginning with "pre" is confusing or not immediately recognizable as a prefixed word. I might find that true of "preseason," for example, or even "preheat" — but probably not. (And it's certainly true when the "pre-" is followed by a word beginning with a vowel, as in "pre-existence.") It's a judgment call. I certainly don't think we need a hyphen in premoistened. If you can get hold of a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, review chapter 6.

I often run into this in reports we produce here. We have check lists that contain the following (for example):
"Determine the project to install the standardized check processing software follows applicable standards."
In my opinion, this sentence needs the word "that" after "Determine" to be easily understood. Some people have an aversion to the word "that" and want to delete it wherever they can. In cases like the above, I think it makes the sentence hard to understand. Certain verbs, like determine, ensure, verify, need "that." Can you tell me what the rule is, if there is one, that explains this? I think it has something to do with the nature of the individual verbs themselves, what kind of objects they take.

Thanks in advance if you can answer my question.

Minneapolis, Minnesota Thu, May 3, 2001
The word that definitely helps that sentence — but it's offering a band-aid where bypass surgery is required. Is there some way to break up "standardized check processing software"? Can we "Determine that the installation of software for standardized check processing has conformed to appropriate ('industry'?, 'current'?) standards"?

Hello. I have a question regarding the use of the words "so" and "very". I am not sure which word is actually correct. I have a teacher with eighteen years under his belt, who has written two books, and says that "very" is correct beca use "so" doesn't indicate quantity and because it doesn't modify words. An example of the problem is this: Would you say "That tasted very good", or "That tasted so good"? Recently, a few of my friends have dared to question my grammar ( I try to be perfect in it), saying that their teacher says "so" is better than "very". I figured that I would consult a professor, so here I am. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
Peoria, Illinois Thu, May 3, 2001
Your friend surely overstates the case when he says that "so" doesn't modify words. What else can it be doing in a perfectly acceptable sentence like "It is so hot today"? The point of the matter, however, is that my sentence about this beastly hot month of May (already he's complaining!) assumes a relationship with my listener or reader that might not be appropriate in written text. Burchfield describes it this way:
The speaker has a conviction borne in upon him, and, in stating it, appeals, with his or her so, to general experience as a means of confirmation; it means as you, or as we all, know. This is a natural use, but one more suitable to conversation, where the responsive nod of confirmation can be awaited, than for most kinds of writing. In print, outside dialogue, it has an air of unnecessary emphasis.
It seems, according to Burchfield, that this use of what he calls the "appealing so" ought to be eschewed especially in longer, more complex sentences. In brief sentences in speech or other casual language — in a friendly letter, say — there's absolutely nothing wrong with using so in this manner.

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.

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