QUESTION What is wrong with this sentence other than wordiness.The initiator problem caused the programmers to not be able to log on to their remote PCs to troubleshoot abending programs. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Richmond, Virginia Wed, Jun 13, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I have no idea what some of these words mean, but someone is probably objecting to the split infinitive "to not be able." Surely a larger problem is that string of little words, "to not be able to log on to . . . ." What if you reversed the whole idea and said something likeBecause of the initator problem, the programmers were not able to log on to their remote PCs to troubleshoot abending programs.David Eason suggests this rewrite:
The initiator problem prevented the programmers from logging on to their remote PCs to troubleshoot abending programs.The main reason is that the sentence is presented as a positive statement (which is one of the principles behind technical writing) rather than as a negative, thereby eliminating excess words and the split infinitive dilemma.
Abend is short for abnormal endingin computerese, it is almost, but not quite, a synonym for abort.
QUESTION What are the first two phrases of the following sentence called?A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Wed, Jun 13, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE By today's tastes, the Bill of Rights is rather heavily peppered with commas. The comma after "militia" breaks in two pieces an absolute phrase (consisting of a noun, a participle ["being"] and attendant modifiers). The original has a comma after "arms," which we would also eliminate. I assume that's what you mean by the first two phrases: it's actually one phrase broken in two by a comma. The subject follows, "the right of the people" (which is then modified by the infinitive phrase "to keep and bear arms") followed by the verb, "shall [not] be infringed."
QUESTION What do you think is happening to the auxiliary verb have in these sentences?
- She would of told us.
- He would of driven if we asked?
What often happens to "of" in the sentence " A special kind of treat"?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Grand Island, Nebraska Wed, Jun 13, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I think what happens is that people use a contraction even when they read the sentence without the contraction: "She would have" becomes "She would've told us" and "he would have" becomes "he would've driven. . . ." The word "of" is, unfortunately, a pretty good transliteration of the contraction "'ve," and thus it creeps in where it's unwanted.
I'm not sure what you're referring to in the "treat" sentence, but some people will say (and even write) "a special kinda treat." The "of" just sorta disappears.
QUESTION I'd like to know the rules for using "already" and "yet". I've seen "already" being used in questions, is this grammatically correct? (As in "have you been there already?") SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil Mon, Jun 18, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE These can be tricky words. "Already" would be OK in that sentence: it can mean "previously" or it can mean "prior to a specified past, present or future time." "Yet" would also work in that sentence: it can mean "at this or that time" or "so soon as now" (which is the meaning you would be using). "Yet" can also mean other things: "besides" (as in "yet another reason"); "eventually" ("he may yet see the light"); "up to now" ("he hasn't written to her yet"); "one more time" ("he's done it yet again"); and "even" ("this trail is yet more difficult"). I hope this information doesn't just confuse you!
Authority for this note: WWWebster Dictionary, the World Wide Web edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary, Tenth Edition. Used with permission.
QUESTION Which is correct:
Is the preposition "of" always necessary?
- "all of our clients" or "all our clients?"
- "all of the consultative service needs" or "all the consultative service needs?"
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Berkeley, California Tue, Jun 19, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE According to Burchfield, the "all of" construction is relatively new and seems to have been created as a parallel to "some of the. . . " and "few of the . . . ," etc. The "of," he says, can be dispensed with in most cases, and he gives examples, such as "We sold all our stock" and "all those years ago" and "all the time." Where the "of" seems most useful, though, is in phrases such as your "all of our clients" in which the business of the phrase is to emphasize the collective nature of the parts (other examples: "all of that piece of meat"; "he will have to be all of these things"; "all of us visitors were greeted. . . .").
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 "all")
QUESTION "Given the mid-air collision of the United States and China aircraft in March, and a state department announcement on China in April, the first lesson learned was about diplomacy."In regards to this sentence, should it read "Given the mid-air collision of the United States and "China," or "Chinese?"
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Chicago, Illinois Tue, Jun 19, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE "China" is correct in that construction. (Note that "aircraft" looks singular but is a plural word, as opposed to "airplanes." It might have been different had we written about "American and Chinese airplanes.") It would have been inappropriate to switch from the name of a country ("the United States") to an adjective based on the nation's name ("Chinese").
QUESTION I need to explain to my students how to use So do I, Nor did I etc. If possible give me examples. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Somewhere, Chile Tue, Jun 19, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE "So do I" would be used after a positive statement:I want some ice cream.
So do I!
"Nor do I," on the other hand, is (obviously) a negative statement. If it follows an earlier negative statement in a non-correlative statement, either "neither" or "nor" can be used (i.e., neither and nor are virtually interchangeable).I don't want coffee ice cream.
Nor/Neither do I.
"Nor" is occasionally used to introduce a sentence when there is no real or implied negative statement before it. "I believe the tobacco statement knew the truth all along. Nor do I trust the reports in the media, when all is said and done." But that use of "nor" is unusual and a bit formal.
QUESTION I know it's common nowadays to use the term (or abbreviation) "Esq." after attorneys' names when addressing them in letters, etc. (although, I think it's extremely archaic and should be totally abolished), but all definitions of esquire in every dictionary I've consulted refer to men only; i.e., esquire being a title for landed gentry, a candidate for knighthood, a gentleman escorting a woman, etc. Some people in this law firm are using "Esq." after women attorneys' names when addressing letters to them and I think this is improper. Is it true or not does "esquire" refer only to men or has modern (ill-educated) usage made it proper to use with women? Thank you for your assistance. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Grand Junction, Colorado Wed, Jun 20, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The short answer to your question is yes. Burchfield says this about the usage:It should be emphasized that except in one circumstance Esq. is hardly used outside Britain. The main exception is that in the US the term is often used by lawyers when referring to or addressing one another in writing. Curiously, in America, Esq. is often appended to the names of women lawyers as well as to men.
I think it would be wonderful to abolish this bit of folderol. But it's probably up to women lawyers to accomplish this feat. I notice that Sabin's description of the use of Esq. (in The Gregg Reference Manual) uses a woman's name.
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.
Authority: The Gregg Reference Manual by William A. Sabin. McGraw-Hill: New York. 2001.
QUESTION The following appeared in a newspaper article about a tornado. I told the writer he used the wrong form of lie (twice). He told me I have no idea what I'm talking about. Please help clear this up. Thanks."At the Curtis home, Christmas lights had been rudely tossed into trees across the street. Inside the house, a stew of plaster, insulation and ruined carpet lie exposed to the sky, the home's roof torn away. Only his son's bedroom went untouched. On the floor of the computer room, a wooden sign reading, "I believe in Santa" lie on the floor." SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Wilton, Iowa Wed, Jun 20, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In both cases, the writer should have used the past tense of "to lie," which is "lay." The sign lay on the floor and the "stew of plaster, etc." lay on the floor. See "lie/lay" among the Notorious Confusables. Perhaps our newspaper writer should seek out a more dynamic verb, one that wouldn't give him so much trouble.
Authority: New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage HarperCollins: New York. 1994. Cited with permission. p. 147.
QUESTION Is it correct to use "going to go" in a sentenceI am going to go to the beach tomorrow.I was told you are either going, or not,and it is not correct to say going to go! Maybe it's a bit like saying "I do, do that." Can you give me an answer? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Somewhere, Australia Fri, Jun 22, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE There's nothing wrong with "I am going to go to the beach tomorrow." It just sounds a bit weird because of the repetition of the "go" verb, and you can just say "I am going to the beach tomorrow" (but the sentence will lose a bit of its sense of determination).
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