QUESTION How do you use "above" as a noun? How do you use "above" as an adjective? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Athens, Ohio Mon, May 14, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE As a noun, "The correct answer is 'none of the above'"; as an adjective, "The above paragraph should be deleted."
QUESTION I have doubts about the second sentence of the following fragment:`Luxembourg shares borders with the industrial regions of Germany, France and Belgium and has the highest per capita income in Europe. Making up part of the plateau of the Ardennes, its countryside is undulating and forested.'Is it correct to combine a participle with a possessive pronoun referring back to the previous sentence? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Bielsko, Poland Mon, May 14, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Your instincts are right. Although your reader can certainly fathom the meaning of your second sentence, the word "it" could, technically, refer to Luxembourg, Germany, France, Belgium, or Europe. We know that the "it" refers to the countryside of Luxembourg, but it would be better, by far, to say it that way: "Making up part of the plateau of the Ardennes, the countryside of Luxembourg is undulating and forested" (or ". . . the undulant countryside of Luxembourg remains highly forested").
QUESTION Which sentence is correct?
Can't decide if legal is the subject/object or fees and costs are. Please help.
- Our legal fees and costs are as follows: blah blah blah
- Our legal fees and costs are as follow: blah blah blah
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Newton, Massachusetts Mon, May 14, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Whatever follows or precedes "as follows" can be either singular or plural, but the phrase is always "as follows" (and never "as follow"). According to Burchfield, that's because the phrase is essentially an impersonal construction meaning something like "as it follows."
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 it your feeling that "well then" is an irreducible unit? "Well then, what are you doing tonight?" No comma after "well"? Thanks. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Wed, May 16, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Quirk and Greenbaum have a neat term for the word "Well" when it appears at the beginning of a sentence; they call it an "initiator." Noting that initiators (including "oh," "ah," and "well") can serve in speech as a response utterance and as the initiator of conversation, they add that such words (used this way) appear only in the sentence initial position and are seldom used in formal written prose. Although Quirk and Greenbaum don't speak to "Well then" in the same manner, I have a feeling that's how this phrase is being used in your sentence, and I would use it without a comma after "then." In formal text, however, when the "then" is more apt to have a real, discrete purpose in the logic of the sentence, I think you're going to want the comma (although the whole thing is probably going to disappear in formal text anyway): "Well, then, the French will have to raise taxes to pay for the tunnel" as opposed to a casual, "Well then, let's get on with it."
Authority: A Grammar of Contemporary English by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. Longman Group: London. 1978. p. 274.
QUESTION I think that sentence 5 in the 'Quiz on Uses of the Subjunctive' can't be correct. Or does a form like 'Oh, would she were here with us.' really exist? I would say the correct version is 'Oh, were she here with us.' or 'Oh, would she be here with us.' Can you help me, please. I'm an English teacher from Germany and my students found the sentence on your Web-site. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Somewhere, Germany Wed, May 16, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I must admit that the sentence is rather literary, if not archaic. But it's correct enough. "Would" is sometimes used this way, without a subject and in a past or conditional construction and, more often than not, along with "that," as in "Would that I had listened to my father" or "He's just not tall enough to play center. Oh, would that he were three inches taller!" The quiz sentence would probably be better with "that" inserted. And, of course, we could always change it to "if only": "Oh, if only she were with us now."
Thank you for writing, and thank your students for being so observant.
"Ask Grammar" is taking a few days off to deal with an enormous pile of final exams and papers, and then to attend a three-day writing assessment workshop. We will return on Thursday, May 24.
QUESTION In the following sentence:She was, of course, surely justified in her request for a security guard in the parking.Is the word JUSTIFIED an adjective following the linking verb WAS with the adverb surely modifying justified? Your assistance with this is appreciated.
P.S. Is there the possiblity that JUSTIFIED is part of the verb with a prepositional phrase being used as a direct object?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Thu, May 24, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I've seen the participle in that position described in both ways, as a predicate adjective and as part of a passive verb string. It doesn't really matter. In a sentence like "He was amazed," it's quite easy to regard "amazed" as a simple predicate adjective; in your sentence, though, I tend to think of "justified" as the participle part of a passive verb string, "was justified." (I have a feeling I have not been completely consistent in this viewpoint in these Grammarlogs.)
It wouldn't be appropriate to regard "in her request" as a direct object. First of all, I don't think a prepositional phrase can be a direct object; second, in a passive construction, the object of the action is the subject ("she," in this sentence). The prepositional phrase is behaving adverbially in this sentence, telling us in what regard she was justified (i.e., modifying the verb).
Authority for calling "justified" part of the verb: Understanding English Grammar by Martha Kolln. 4rth Edition. MacMillan Publishing Company: New York. 1994. p. 188.
QUESTION Is it correct to say: "I hope you haven't forgot about me." or "I hope you haven't forgotten about me." I think "forgotten" is correct, but both almost sound right. Thanks. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Thu, May 24, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE My dictionary lists "forgot" as preferred over "forgotten," but either is quite acceptable. The next time you're in a library that has a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary, you might look up the history of this word's usage.
QUESTION Which example is correct?
- Any of you is welcome to attend.
- Any of you are welcome to attend.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Thousand Oaks, California Thu, May 24, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In that context, I'm sure the intent of the sentence is to make "any" plural, countable, so we want "are welcome." It's still not a very happy sentence, though. Can we say, "You're all quite welcome to attend," instead?
QUESTION This is a question involving plurals in a corporation made up of three companies with three Board of Directors that each have a Chairman. Each Chairman prepares a Summary. How do you word this collectively in the following examples?
"Chairman Summaries or Chairmen Summaries or Chairman's Summaries" "Board Chairman Summaries or Board Chairmen Summaries or Board Chairmen's Summaries"
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Tucker, Georgia Thu, May 24, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE How about avoiding the problem by saying "Summaries of the Board Chairs (or Chairmen)"? If that won't do, I'd go with "Board Chairman Summaries": that tells you that there's more than one and tells you who wrote them.
QUESTION Please help. I'm editing a friend's manuscript, and I keep coming across sentences that seem to share the same problem, but I don't know what to call it. Here are a few examples."Before his grandfather could issue a warning, the boy found himself soaking wet and scrambling to get back into the half-swamped boat having been pulled head-over-heels into the black water by the gator."I'm trying to stick to punctuation corrections (rather than suggesting rewrites). It seems to me that there should be a comma after "boat" in the first example, after "shallows" in the second example, and after "bone-tired" in the third (I would also sug gest "scrambled" over "scrambling" in the first). If these commas are needed, why are they needed?
"The boy splashed and played in the shallows enjoying the water as much as the creatures in their dance among the lily pads."
"Dee was bone-tired having worked a full day at the diner."
By the way, this is a GREAT site. I'm glad I found it. Thanks very much for your help.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Seattle, Washington Thu, May 24, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I certainly have to agree that those sentence have problems, and they also have something in common a tendency to carry a bit too much weight. A comma will help after "bone-tired" and "shallows," as you have suggested, but no punctuation will help that first sentence. We can't have the "shallows" enjoying anything, and "having worked a full day at the diner" needs to be set off as a parenthetical element; frankly, the idea would be better off in its own clause. And that is especially true of the first sentence, in which it appears that the boat, not the boy, has been pulled into the water by the gator. (Incidentally, if a gator had just dragged me into the water, I don't think getting soaked would strike me as a matter of particular interest.) Your friend has a habit of trying to pack too many modifying phrases into a sentence, and sometimes it's not instantly clear what can be modifying what. It's not that the sentences are too long, necessarily, just that the structure is feeble. Sometimes a more cautious use of commas will be enough to get you back in the boat with Grandpa; sometimes it won't.
Previous Grammar Log
Next Grammar Log
Index of Grammar Logs
Guide to Grammar and Writing