QUESTION Should the proverb read:
Which is correct?
- Time and tide wait for no man
- Time and tide waits for no man
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Somewhere, Malaysia Fri, Jun 22, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE If you choose to think of these two elements as discrete entities, you'll want the plural, "wait." On the other hand, it is certainly possible to think of "time and tide" as an abstract, singular theme or idea time and the manifestion of time, the tides and then you would want to use the singular, "waits."
QUESTION This is the lead for a company brochure, not written by me, but I was asked to proof it. My problem with it is that a (proper) noun, Headquarters (our building), is used as a verb. Publications have used this phrase for YEARS just wondering if someone else is bothered by it:"Founded in 1961, Basin Electric is a consumer-owned, regional cooperative headquartered in Bismarck, ND." SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Bismarck, North Dakota Fri, Jun 22, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE My Merriam-Webster's allows for this usage, without comment. I suppose the next time you're in a library that owns the Oxford English Dictionary, you can look up the history of this word as verb. In the meantime, you can change the sentence to read "whose headquarters are in Bismarck, North Dakota."
QUESTION We are singing a song in choir that has the words ". . . the United States of America." We can't agree on whether we should sing THEE United States or the (thuh) United States. I think there is some rule that will tell us which is correct, so my question is: "What is the rule about when to say which? Thanks for answering our dilema and putting an end to the debate. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Midland, Texas Fri, Jun 22, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Reading normal text, the vowel sound of the word the sounds like the "a" in "ago" when it (the word "the") precedes a word with an initial consonant; it sounds like the "i" of "sit" when it precedes a word with an initial vowel; and it sounds like the "ee" of "see" when it is stressed. The word "United" actually begins with a consonant sound, "yoo," so the vowel sound of "the" would normally sound like the "a" of "ago" (or "thuh," as you put it). However, if the rhythms or sense of the lyrics demand that you put special stress on the word "the," it's going to take on the "ee" sound. I would further add that there might be special considerations when interpreting song that I'm not aware of and only your choral director should know for sure.
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 "the")
QUESTION Question about past perfect tense. (From Steven King's Gerald's Game, p.23):If he's dead, it's his own damned fault, the no-bullshit voice said. . . .It belonged to her college roommate, Ruth Neary. . . Ruth had always been extremely generous with pieces of her mind, and her advice had often scandalized . . . (followed by about six sentences with past perfect tense.) Ruth, who on general principles went to every student rally and attended every experimental student play.
This paragraph is about something that had happened before a past scene. I understand why the past perfect tense. But why the last sentence used past tense instead of the past perfect tense? Is this paragraph considered as a "small flashback?" If so, why so many sentences with past perfect tense?
Also from the same book (chapter 28 and 38), the author suddenly changes from past tense to present tense throughout both chapters. Why? Is he trying to make the description more vivid?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Boca Raton, Florida Fri, Jun 22, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE An author frequently uses the past perfect tense as a nearly subliminal message to the reader that a shift in place and time is taking place. I recommend that you read through Hemingway's "Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber." The story begins in the simple past tense, and you read that as if you're seeing something going on now, in what we could call the fictional present. Then, when Hemingway wants to shift to an earlier scene, the lion-hunting incident, he uses a couple of sentences in the past perfect tense before he shifts back to the simple past tense again and we find ourselves in a new fictional present, the lion-hunting episode. Hemingway makes four or five such shifts within this story.
What's unusual in the text by King that you cite is the length of time that King spends in that past perfect transition zone. Usually, there's only two or three sentences, at most, to signal a transition to another fictional present, but staying in the past perfect, as King does, never really gets us into a new fictional present. (I'm not criticizing King, of course; just saying that it's different from what Hemingway did.) But you're right: the past perfect is used to manipulate the reader's sense of time and place within the fictional world.
An answer to your last question would require a further analysis of the chapter, which I'm not prepared to get into, especially since I haven't read the book.
QUESTION What is the origin of the phrasal verb "dispose of?" Why doesn't the base verb dispose suffice for use alone without the addition of the preposition? "I disposed the trash" seems acceptable to replace "I disposed of the trash." Please advise.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Seabrook, Texas Fri, Jun 22, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The form of the verb dispose, without the of, does have its uses, as in "Disposing the troops for withdrawal" and to mean "incline to" as in "He was disposed to catch cold easily." I don't know when the "of" got added in the usage that means "to get rid of" or "to transfer to the power of someone else," but the phrasal form of the verb, "dispose of," has indeed taken over, and to use the verb without the of in the sentence you suggest would be a mistake.
QUESTION Help!! There seems to be some confusion in our office.
You, along with another person, visit a company and you write a note thanking them for their time. The boss insists on writing "On behalf of XXX and myself...." I KNOW this is incorrect, but I can't find out how to PROVE it to him.
Please help me.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Springfield, New Jersey Fri, Jun 22, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The question, obviously, is whether one can do something or say something on behalf of oneself. At first, it seems absurd: you can do something on behalf of someone else, but for yourself, you just do it, not on behalf of yourself.
Although I see the sense of the preceding paragraph, the usage "on behalf of myself and _____" seems to be an acceptable part of the language, especially in legal situations. (Try doing a search for "on behalf of myself" in Yahoo [using the quote marks], for instance.) It means that one is acting as an agent for oneself, and there's really nothing wrong with that (although it still seems a bit odd to me). I will leave an e-mail icon here in case someone else cares to add some insight to this bit of phrasing. For now, I'm afraid I can't find any evidence that would stop your boss from using a phrase that you and I find silly.
QUESTION What is the correct way to use abbreviations? For example, when abbreviating United States, should it be abbreviated U. S. with a space between the letters or U.S. with no space between the letters or is it permissible to use US with no periods and no spaces? As another example: Personal Counsel should it be P. C. with a space between the letters or P.C. with no space between the letters or is it permissable to use PC with no periods or spaces? Also, if all forms are acceptable, when typing a legal document, what format should be used? Thanks in advance for all your help SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Orange Beach, Alabama Fri, Jun 22, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Most of my writing manuals say not to use spaces but to use periods in U.S.A. or U.S. (The Chicago Manual of Style says not to use the abbreviation at all in formal writing, and most manuals say it's OK to use U.S. as a modifier U.S. policy but not as a noun He left the U.S. [use U.S.A. or write out "the United States" instead].)
I'm not familiar with the abbreviation PC (my dictionary gives "personal computer" and "politically correct" as definitions), but if it's like CPA, CLU, etc., set it apart from the name with a comma, but use neither periods nor space between the letters.
Authority: The Gregg Reference Manual by William A. Sabin. McGraw-Hill: New York. 2001. p. 140.
QUESTION Question: How can I rewrite the next sentence to include all these different types of individuals? I tried my best but it looks awkwardThe second in no way grants gun ownership to today's private citizens, many of whom are drug dealers, hard-core drug users, insane, emotionally unstable, violent, and convicted felons.Thank You! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Oakland, California Sun, Jun 24, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Your list combines nouns "dealers," "users," and "felons" with adjectives "insane," "unstable," and "violent." And it's difficult to tell what goes with what. It wouldn't hurt to break up the list a bit: "many of whom are drug dealers, hard-core drug dealers, convicted felons, and assorted insane, violent, and emotionally unstable citizens" or ". . . and assorted citizens who are insane, violent, or emotionally unstable." You might also try turning "violent" and "insane" into "classes" of people, as in ". . . hard-core drug users, the insane, the violent, and the emotionally unstable."
QUESTION I have noticed something while reading that's bothered me for years. Sometimes, when an author uses a colon, the word after the colon is capitalized (when it is not a proper noun or other word that deserves capitalization on its own).
Here is an example from a recent book I read:We face a choice: Do we take the cheaper route and build our lives on convenient decisions, or do we make the tough and right choices, at great personal cost?In the above sentence, should "Do" be capitalized? I think it should not, because it is not a new sentence even though it is a complete one. I know it is a question, but I see this done with statements too.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Streamwood, Illinois Mon, Jun 25, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Your question has prompted me to rewrite the material in our section on colons. As you will see there, now, if the introductory phrase preceding the colon is very brief and the clause following the colon represents the real business of the sentence (that is, the function of the first clause is purely to introduce what follows the colonwhich certainly seems true of your sentence), we can begin the clause after the colon with a capital letter. The Chicago Manual of Style would say that we may begin that clause with a capital; the APA Manual would say, unequivocally, that we should. (I have probably not been entirely consistent with this advice in this Web site.)
QUESTION When typing a compound name of an institution, in a text that will be type-set, what type of hyphenation does one use?Example: The TechnionIsrael Institute of Technology.Note that the two names are in apposition to one another. Should they, then, be connected by a regular hyphen, an en dash, or an em dash? I couldn't find any rules about this anywhere, including in the Chicago Manual of Style. My intuition/visual sense says to use an en dash, because this looks "neater" and more logical than the other two options, but what do I know? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Tel Aviv, Israel Mon, Jun 25, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You certainly can't use a hyphen because that will only connect the words "Technion" and "Israel" not what you want. I would use the em dash, myself, because you need a fairly hefty break between those two elements. I notice that Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology has a similar problem, and they solve it with a virgule, a slash. This isn't a bad idea, as the virgule is supposed to suggest that the pieces on either side of it are more or less interchangeable; if you get one, you get the other, sort of. The virgule might do a better job than the dash of describing the appositional relationship between the two names.
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