QUESTION In the sentence, "Bob held the yo-yo so hard that his hand turned purple," is the word "purple" an adverb? Thank you. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Lyme, Connecticut Tue, Jul 10, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE No, it's an adjective. The verb "to turn," in this case, is what we call a resulting copula. It's similar to "become" (she became older), "come" (it came true), "go" (it has gone sour), "run" (the dogs ran wild), and a handful of others. So the verb "turned" links the subject ("hand") to the predicate adjective "purple."
Authority: A Grammar of Contemporary English by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. Longman Group: London. 1978. p. 821.
QUESTION I am writing a professional document intended as instruction for telephone agents to use while helping customers. In the document, I have to specify exactly what the agent needs to type in the database when finishing a callso far I have
My colleagues want to say "Your actions taken" and "Your expectations set with the customer," but I think it's wrong to use second person in a professional document. I would never use it in the academic setting, and I refuse to "dumb down" the document I'm writing. I know it's wrong to use second person, but I can't remember why... can you help and settle our argument?
- Call center ID
- Military time
- Actions taken
- Expectations set
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Denver, Colorado Tue, Jul 10, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The NYPL Writer's Guide notes that "Other writers, usually nonfiction and business writers, use the second person to address the reader directly. Self-help books, user manuals, and training materials are often written in second person because advice, steps, and directions are naturally expressed in this way."
Authority: New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage HarperCollins: New York. 1994. Cited with permission. p. 127.
To attain a more objective tone, however, professional writers (note that I'm using writers instead of addressing you) will steer clear of the second person and use third person exclusively. Generally, you want to avoid mixing third- and second-person narratives, although it is sometimes possible to slip, ever so subtly, an occasional bit of second-person cajoling into third-person text. In other words, it's up to the writer: how objective does he want to appear? In other words, it's up to you: how objective do you want to appear? (Third person also gets the writer/you into that gender problem.)
QUESTION How to use a measurement such as "up to a maximum of 750 degrees F" in a sentence? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Mobile, Alabama Tue, Jul 10, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You'd write "up to a maximum of 750°F."
Authority: The Gregg Reference Manual by William A. Sabin. 9th Edition. McGraw-Hill: New York. 2001. Used with the consent of Glencoe/McGraw-Hill. p. 122.
QUESTION In Chapter 3 (Subjects) of Sentence Sense, Application 1 (Test 3:2), question 8 reads "If they are ever puzzled, they never show it." The verb identified in the first part of the sentence is "are." My question is, why wouldn't the verb be "are puzzled"? I assume that putting a helping verb like "is" in front of "puzzled" would create the past participle form of puzzled "is puzzled" which would be a legitimate verb. At first, I thought the word "ever," separating "puzzled" from "is," might in some way keep puzzled from being part of the verb. However, on second thought, I don't see how "ever" differs from "never," "not," "still," etc., which can be in the middle of the verb without being part of the verb. If you could please let me know why "puzzled" is not part of the verb in that particular sentence, I would greatly appreciate it. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Rupert, Idaho Tue, Jul 10, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Whether "puzzled" is a part of a passive verb construction or a predicate adjective is a nice distinction and by that I mean to suggest that it might be a distinction hardly worth making. But it is interesting nonetheless. I'll rely entirely on Burchfield for this explanation.True passive constructions form part of the systematic world of finite verbs. Most of them have a direct active counterpart. Semi-passives (or false passives) occur when an apparent past participle is used immediately after a copular verb (e.g. to be, to get, to seem): Phoebe was astonished; he was mistrusted in the village; I must get changed; he seems transformed. Since in each case the past participle is formally interchangeable with an adjective (happy, unpopular, ready, different), such constructions are better regarded as consisting of a copular verb followed by an adjectival complement. There are other intermediate types. . . between true passives and semi-passives: e.g. I am prepared to take my oath; Fred was tired of the taste of hospital food. . . are passively based constructions but hardly true passives, in that they cannot be straightforwardly converted into active equivalents.
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 "passive")
We can also observe that in "If they are ever puzzled, they never show it," there is no agent for the verb (i.e., it's not the same as "I was temporarily puzzled by the magician's trickery.")
QUESTION I just came across this headline in the Los Angeles Times."Blame Anybody Except SHE Who Did It"I think it ought to be:Blame Anybody Except HER Who Did It"Her is the object of the preposition "except" and as such, should be in the objective case. It does sound awkward though.
Thank you for your help
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Wed, Jul 11, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I agree with you. They would have been much better off with "Blame Anyone Except the One Who Did It."
QUESTION Is this sentence correct, or should "you" be "your?"From your letter, I understand that you and Dianne's travel was negatively impacted. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Winston-Salem, North Carolina Wed, Jul 11, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE "Your" is correct, but it remains a clumsy construction. Can we try something like "I gather from your letter that you and Diane did not have an enjoyable experience on your recent trip to ______ ."
QUESTION Which of these two sentences is correct?
Thanks very much
- I have three types of pen.
- I have three types of pens.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Los Alamos, New Mexico Wed, Jul 11, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE When you use "types of," "kinds of," and "sorts of," the noun that follows should be singular when you're referring to something abstract or non-countable:There are four kinds of Japanese film.When you are referring to something specific (like pens, bottlecaps, golf clubs), though, use the plural.
There are three types of sealing wax.
There are five classes of Greek drama.
QUESTION This gym in surburban Washington is a way station for dreams as bruised as the faces of those who cling to them.The 'to them' logically refers to 'dreams' here in this sentence. But doesn't it grammatically refer to 'the faces' as the nearest plural antecedent? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE New York City, New York Wed, Jul 11, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Pronouns will generally refer to the nearest plural antecedent, but it doesn't take much thought or perseverance to make perfect sense of this sentence, and it's worth it. (Perhaps it's only because the notion of clinging to dreams is so much more common than clinging to faces, but the mind very quickly makes the proper connections here.)
QUESTION Is the following sentence correct?Both children became sick, one of whom had contracted the measles.The "of whom" throws me, because it seems like it should be "who had contracted the measles." SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Torrance, California Wed, Jul 11, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The "whom" is correct because you're looking for the object of the preposition "of" in this case. ("One" is the subject of "had contracted.") However, I'd recommend breaking up these two thoughts: "Both children became sick. One of them had contracted the measles."
QUESTION Should the sentence be:
- It will be beneficial for both he and the organization
- It will be beneficial for both him and the organization
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE New York, New York Wed, Jul 11, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You would write, "It will be beneficial for him and the organization." Adding the "both" doesn't change the fact that you're looking for an object of the preposition: "him."
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