QUESTION When using the word "clientele," would it be correct to say, "The core clientele of the firm is high net worth individuals" or, "The core clientele of the firm are high net worth individuals" SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Austin, Texas Wed, Jul 25, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE "Clientele" is singular so "is" is appropriate. But it sounds odd (however correct) to connect the singular clientele to the plural individuals. Can we avoid the problem by saying something like "The core clientele of the firm is composed of high net worth individuals." Is "high net worth individuals" supposed to be pleasant way of referring to the filthy well-heeled rich, the obscenely wealthy, people with money up the wazoo, fat cat robber barons, etc.? I'm not sure it succeeds. I would think wealthy or affluent would be less sterile terms.
QUESTION Are both of these forms correct?
I prefer the latter, but many prefer the former. Thank you!
- I doubt if I can go.
- I doubt that I can go.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Mesa, Arizona Fri, Jul 27, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE According to Burchfield, when the main clause is in the affirmative, the construction "I doubt whether ____" would be somewhat more common than "I doubt if _____ ." He then notes that when the main clause is negative, the construction would call for that: "I don't doubt that Johnson will be here on time." There is nothing I can find, though, that says "I doubt that I can go" is wrong.
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 "doubt")
QUESTION What do you think about using the expression "any more" in the positive, as in "I can do this any more"? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE St. Louis, Missouri Fri, Jul 27, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I think you want the compounded form, anymore, which means the same as "any longer." I had never noticed this before, but the word does seem to require a negative construction: "I can't do this anymore." And the positive construction would require, "I can do this no longer."
QUESTION Please tell me if the use of the word "pleasantly" is correct in the following sentence:Our Ambassador Program prides itself in serving your patrons by making their experience at San Antonio International Airport pleasantly memorable. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE San Antonio, Texas Fri, Jul 27, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE It's correct enough, I suppose, although I don't know if the experience ought to be pleasantly memorable or memorably pleasant. There's an interesting confluence of pronouns with "itself," "your," and "their" coming together all at once, and I'm also a bit put off by a prideful program. Can we simplify matters a bit with something likeThe staff of the Ambassadors Program is pleased to serve your patrons at San Antonio International Airport.And maybe follow that up with some specifics? Frankly, the possibility of an airport experience being "pleasantly memorable" seems so utterly remote that the original sentence sounds like the burblings of an overzealous anesthetist. But I shouldn't talk; I've never been to San Antonio.
QUESTION Can I say both "around the world" and "round the world"? What is the difference between "round" and "around"? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Mon, Jul 30, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In almost all situations, the words are interchangeable and you'll have to rely on your ear to come up with the word that sounds better. in British English, there are several idiomatic expressions in which "round" is obligatory, but where "around" would work just fine in the U.S.A.: "winter comes round," "show me round," "he came round to see me." In the U.S., "around" is obligatory when you're using it to convey approximation: "He arrived around 4 p.m.," "Around two-thirds of the faculty will retire next year."
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 "around")
QUESTION Is this sentence punctuated correctly:"Eating did not mean actually partaking of the dinner, it meant reporting oneself at the fixed hours and remaining present thorughout the dinner."The sentence is from Ghandi's autobiography, so I assume it is correct, but I am confused about why no semicolon is needed after the word dinner. Is it because the clauses are so short, or does the flow of the sentence glue the two clauses together suffic iently to omit the semicolon? If the first clause were longer, would I need a semicolon?
Thanks for your help.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Bronx, New York Tue, Jul 31, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You have described the situation (the reason for not having to use a semicolon) better than I could have. You'll see contrasting clauses connected by only a comma this way, especially when they're nicely balanced. And yes, if the first clause had been more elaborate, more complex, longer, you probably would have needed a semicolon.
QUESTION We are having an office debate as to the use of a hyphen in the word thank-you. "Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary" uses the hyphen but some staff say that it is no longer necessary. Spell check gives both versions. What's up? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Loretto, Pennsylvania Tue, Jul 31, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE If you're using this little phrase as a noun or an adjective, use the hyphen:
If you're using "thank you" in any other way, though, use no hyphen:
- The bride sent her thank-you notes by Airborne Express.
- The actor's idea of an appropriate thank-you was to throw a big party.
- I wanted to thank you for all that you've done.
- Thank you very much.
QUESTION Will you please explain to me why Mr. Prufrock's grammar is correct?Let us go then, you and I,This has really been bothering me. The problem, obviously, is with that first line, the "you and I" replacing "us." I know this was a grammar problem that recently got some attention in the news, but I never received a good explanation of why Eliot was correct. When I asked my teacher about it, he said "Yes, it's correct--'we go'" And then some other girl started telling me how it would be easier to understand if I knew Latin, blah blah.
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
Unfortunately I do not know Latin. Help?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Bronx, New York Tue, Jul 31, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In imperative sentences, the subject is usually understood to be "you": "[You] Do your homework now!" We do have this first-person subject, however, in which the object form is understood to be the subject, "Let us. . . . " (as in "Let's go," which means "we are now going" [sort of]). Perhaps there is a Latin parallel to this construction that would make it easier to understand; that I wouldn't know (as Mr. LeBlanc, my ninth-grade Latin teacher could asseverate). Since the pronoun in "let us" is actually understood to be the subject, the appositive in Eliot's sentence, "you and I," is appropriately placed in the nominative or subject form.
QUESTION I'm faced with the dilemma of explaining to people that the over-use of the abbreviated "Ft. Lauderdale" is incorrect in practically any context, but I cannot find any citations anywhere to prove this.
What are the rules of Fort versus Ft.?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Fort Lauderdale, Florida Tue, Jul 31, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In the U.S.A., we will frequently abbreviate "Saint" to "St.," as in St. Louis, St. Petersburg, etc., but that same tendency doesn't extend to "Fort" or "Mount" or "North," etc. It is acceptable to abbreviate "Fort" to "Ft." when, for some reason, space is at a premium. The U.S. Post Office doesn't list "Ft." as an officially recognized abbreviation, and its electronic readers might not read it properly on an envelope address (although those things are amazingly clever).
Authority: Chicago Manual of Style 14th ed. U of Chicago P: Chicago. 1993. p. 466.
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. 364.
QUESTION In the Newbery Award-winning book Shadow of a Bull by Wojciechowska, p. 6, she writes,There have always been five things that people fear: war, disease, flood, hunger, and death. And of these, death has always been feared the most.As my wife and I attempted to analyze the second sentence, we were stumped: what parts of speech are the words FEARED and MOST? . . . And what grammatical functions do they play?
Is FEARED a verb or a participle? . . . Or even a gerund?
And when preceded by the article THE, doesn't MOST have to be a noun or pronoun? If so, how can that be?
Has this sentence undergone some strange transmogrification so that what would normally read THE MOST FEARED has been rearranged as we find it? If so, how can that be? (Also, if so, then it seems FAIRLY "obvious" that FEARED is being used as a gerund/pron oun, but . . . )
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Highlands Ranch, Colorado Tue, Jul 31, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE "Death has been feared. . . " is a passive verb construction, present perfect tense (and the subject, "Death," is also the object of what is feared [by an unnamed agent, by people]). So "feared" is simply part of the verb string in this case. As an intensifier, "most" is functioning as an adverb in this sentence, modifying the verb (telling us how it has been feared).
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