QUESTION The word premises is described in my dictionary as being a plural noun meaning a building and the land upon which it sits. If you own a shopping center and someone wishes to lease one of the stores in the center, you would prepare a lease. In this lease, you would refer to the individual store by its separate address, i.e., 1234 Main Street, New York, NY hereinafter "premises." Question: when you subsequently refer to "premises" in the lease, would you use a plural verb with it? Would you say the premises ARE 2,400 square feet or would you say the premises IS 2,400 square feet? My coworkers maintain that since premises is referring to only a part of the whole premises, a singular verb would be correct.
I know that there are some plural nouns that take a singular verb as follows:
Some nouns have a plural form and take a plural verb, for example:
- The news IS on at 5:00 p.m.
- Linguistics IS the study of language.
Which form would premises take? Thank you very much for your help.
- Her jeans ARE black.
- The stairs ARE steep.
- The tropics ARE hot.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Las Mesa, California Fri, Jun 29, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The word premises is always plural, whether you're referring to the whole of the land and the buildings upon it or just part of the mall (or whatever). So you want are, always.
Authority: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Electronic Edition, Version 1.5. 1996. Used with permission.
QUESTION Which is correct:
- The audience was on their feet.
- The audience was on its feet.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Fri, Jun 29, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Collective nouns (such as audience, jury, committee, team) are always regarded as plural in Britain, and Brits would have used the plural verb "were" (along with the plural form of the pronoun, "their feet"). Americans, on the other shore, usually use singular verbs with collective nouns and normally would choose "was," as in "The audience was enjoying the clown." However, there are times (as in your sentence) when something else in the sentence dictates the use of the plural verb. Because it's silly to imagine all these people on one pair of feet, we want to use "their feet," and if we're going to use "their feet," we (even we Americans) need the plural verb: "The audience were on their feet."
Authority: A Grammar of Contemporary English by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. Longman Group: London. 1978. p. 361.
QUESTION When writing headlines in English, you sometimes make some of the first letters in words uppercase (such as "You Sometimes Make Some of the Words Uppercase.").
Do you know, what decides which words to begin with uppercase and which not? I often find myself wandering blindly on the moor of doubt.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Copenhagen, Denmark Fri, Jun 29, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE At least you'll bump into plenty of company out there on the moor. You always capitalize the first and the last words of a title, regardless of what they are. And you capitalize all the important words, and there's the rub (to be Danish and princely about it). "Important words," generally, do not include coordinating conjunctions, or prepositions with fewer than five letters (so you probably would capitalize "through" and "between" and "betwixt"), or the "to" of an infinitive, or determiners (especially the articles a, an, and the). There are surely exceptions, and some of that depends on aestheticson book jackets, say but those are the basic guidelines. (Different languages, incidentally, have different practices in this regard, and the APA Publication Manual (who knows why) wants us to capitalize the first word of a title and no other.)
QUESTION Is it correct to use "have had " in the following sentence?It was certainly a pleasure for Perry Green and me to have had the opportunity to meet with you and Rudy yesterday afternoon. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Lilburn, Georgia Fri, Jun 29, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Yes, that would be correct. Can you cut down on things a bit, as inIt was certainly a pleasure for Perry Green and me to meet with you and Rudy yesterday afternoon.orPerry Green and I enjoyed meeting with you and Rudy yesterday afternoon.
But the "have had" is correct.
QUESTION Should I use "was" or "were" in the following two sentences?
- There was (were) heavy dust and mold-smell everywhere.
- Jean was informed that open parks and swales, and little valleys nestling among the foothills, wherever there was (were) water and grass, had been settled by ranchers.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Boca Raton, Florida Fri, Jun 29, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Ah, nothing like a swale on a hot summer day! These two sentences are good examples of situations in which the subject of the sentence comes after the verb and appears to be plural in fact, is plural but will take a singular verb because the compounded subjects coalesce into I would call a singular theme or idea or notion. I take "heavy dust and mold-smell" to be one thing, one idea; and the same goes for "water and grass": they combine to form one idea, one theme. If you used the plural "were," I don't think I would say the sentences were wrong (you were simply regarding these subjects as discrete entities), but the singular verb works just fine.
QUESTION In the sentence beginning, "fits all size fingers," should it be:
- all size fingers?
- all-size fingers?
- all sized fingers?
- all-sized fingers?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Barrington, Illinois Fri, Jun 29, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I would avoid the problem and say "fingers of all sizes," but if you really want this construction I think "all-size fingers" is the best option. Merriam-Webster prefers the construction king-size (to king-sized), so I'd stick with the "size" (especially since the finger is not really sized, although it has a size). What I'm suggesting here is that you can have rings to fit medium-size fingers, pint-size fingers, king-size fingers, and all-size fingers. Besides, if we wrote "all size fingers," someone might ask "What's a size finger?" (You can probably tell that I have no authoritative back-up for this answer and that I'm guessing, but it sounds good to me.)
QUESTION I asked one on this topic a couple of weeks ago: How should we treat the construction "going to ________"?
I suggested we need to recognize a distinction between someone who is explaining WHY she is going somewhere: "I am going to clean [i.e., for the purpose of cleaning]" and someone who is telling you what she plans to accomplish in the future: "I am going to clean [i.e., I have intentions of cleaning]."
You said that in either case, we should view TO CLEAN as an infinitive.
I'm curious what we ought to view as the main verb in the sentence? In both cases, I take it, you would say that GOING is the primary verb? Infinitives are supposed to be nouns, adjectives, or adverbs. Therefore, I take it, in both sample sentences above, TO CLEAN operates as an adverb that modifies GOING . . . and the only way we can figure out the true sense of the sentence is from context?
Is that the way I should parse this sentence from HENRY REED, INC. (pg. 44):"What kind of research are you going to do?"I take it:
Is this correct?
- ARE is NOT a linking verb and GOING is NOT a participle.
- The primary verb is GOING (modified by the helping verb ARE);
- TO DO is an infinitive; therefore, it must be acting as an adverb that modifies GOING. . . .
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Highlands Ranch, Colorado Tue, Jul 3, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE It's probably a mistake to try to break down this future construction in this manner. You have a form of the verb "to be" "are," in this case followed by "going," followed by an infinitive. The "be going to" construction always indicates a combination of future and intention, in one of two ways. Used with personal subjects (your example), you would have the "future of present intention." The other "future of present cause" is used with both personal subjects and non-personal subjects, as in "It's going to rain" and "She's going to have a baby." Both these suggest that the event is already "on the way."
Authority: A Grammar of Contemporary English by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. Longman Group: London. 1978. p. 87-88.
You could say that "are going" is a main verb modified adverbially by the infinitive "to _____," but it's not the same thing that we see in a sentence likeYou are going too fast
in which "are" is the auxiliary verb for "going" and "too fast" is an adverbial construction modifying "going." The infinitive is too much a part of the construction to be separated in this manner. If I were to diagram a sentence that uses "be going to _____," I would put the entire verb construction on the verb line (and not try to show the infinitive as an adverbial modifier).
QUESTION I'm curious about the answer you gave to the question below. To me it appears to be a simple case of subject-verb agreement. The subject of the question being any. Any is singular. Meaning anyone. Therefore it should read. Any of you is welcome to attend.
Unless I'm missing something.Which example is correct?
- Any of you is welcome to attend.
- Any of you are welcome to attend.
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?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Tue, Jul 3, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE "Any" is usually singular, but sometimes it's plural, depending on how it's used. My response was supposed to suggest that the sentence was not particularly good because we don't know what the any is referring to something countable or not. For instance, in a sentence like "Any of these answers are acceptable," the subject, "any," is plural. I think the sentence the user asked about is referring to something countable, as in "Any of you people are welcome." With a "one" thrown in there, the verb would definitely become singular (as you suggest): "Any one of you is welcome."
QUESTION Is this following sentence clear in meaning?Government is the only entity capable of shaking up Hollywood and preventing its criminal distribution of garbage to children.or is it better this way:Government is the only entity capable of shaking up Hollywood and preventing Hollywood's criminal distribution of garbage to children.If yes: Is there another way off expressing the previous sentence without repeating Hollywood twice?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Oakland, California Tue, Jul 3, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Your instincts are right: we can't allow "its" to refer, ambiguously, to either Hollywood or government (because, in this case, the garbage belongs to Hollywood, not the government). So you will need either to repeat Hollywood or to find another noun that can stand for Hollywood. Can we improve the sentence by getting rid of that "entity" business?Only the federal government is capable of getting [can get?] Hollywood's attention and forcing the film industry to cease the distribution of garbage (another word?) to children.
QUESTION What is the collective noun for adult pigs? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Hampshire, UK Wed, Jul 4, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I think herd would probably do the trick, but when I look up "collective nouns" on Yahoo!, I find "drift of swine" and "sounder of swine" on several pages. Some of those collective nouns are rather capricious and fanciful, but they are fun, and "drift of pigs" has a nice ring to it. My swineherd friends are all out of town.
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