QUESTION The reason is that we need to give the Server room to process the transaction logs. Basically if this runs out, Mail shuts down.I'm not sure if I need a comma after "Basically." I remember reading a rule not to use it before "if", being this is a linking conjunction. Am I right? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Portsmouth, Virginia Tue, Jul 31, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You might set off "basically" because it's an introductory modifier. Frankly, I think you're better off without the word entirely. Many people have a serious prejudice against the word "basically," and it can often be omitted and the sentence won't miss a beat.
There is nothing inherently wrong with "The reason is that," but it can often be eliminated to good effect by connecting the clause to the sentence before it with "because." The problem with your "basically" sentence is that it's not very clear what "this" means, at least not out of context. You might be wise to say what "this" refers to, as in "If _______ runs out, Mail shuts down."
QUESTION It seems that you can always begin a sentence with an adverb of time or purpose, especially if you want to stress this element. Can you always do the same with an adverb of place? I come across sentences like "In London, they decided to sell the car," but is it correct to say e.g. "Near the castle, the actors perform on Tuesdays" if I want to stress where the venue is?
Is it possible to put two or even more adverbs OF DIFFERENT KIND at the beginning ("On Tuesday, in London, they decided to sell the car")?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Bielsko, Poland Tue, Jul 31, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I've been looking for a resource that would spell out the rules of position for adverbs of place, but I can't find anything. In Quirk and Greenbaum, there are innumerable examples of sentences with adverbs of place, and none of them (the adverbs, that is) are located at the beginning of a sentence. The example you give doesn't work very well. We would have to say, "On Tuesdays, the actors perform near the castle" and give the place adverb end focus. Or you could write "The actors perform on Tuesdays near the castle," although that doesn't work so well; you're better off splitting up your adverb phrases. Putting two adverbs of different kind at the beginning of a sentence is possible, and it gives special emphasis to those modifiers, but it nearly drags the sentence to a halt before you even get to the main business of the sentence. I'll leave an e-mail icon here in case someone else can offer some good advice on this issue.
QUESTION Here is a sentence from an award write-up and the dispute is to use "were" or to use "was." Which is it?Commander Bland's superb performance of duty, tactical and strategic planning, exceptional leadership, and innovative initiative were directly responsible for the successful daily management of the squadron. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Norfolk, Virginia Tue, Jul 31, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The problem is that the first "thing" he did well, "superb performance of duty," contains a prepositional phrase and that prepositional phrase tries to contain the other three things in the list. That's why you're even tempted with "was." You can either modify the other three things, as in "Commander Bland's superb performance of duty, his tactical and strategic planning, etc. . . . were responsible. . . . " Or rearrange the items. With credentials like this, Commander Bland needs a new last name. What's worse, though, is that the list of things he's good at makes him sound like the chap who orchestrated the Pacific Fleet during World War II; "The successful daily management of the squadron" is an awful letdown! Perhaps you could give better focus to the things Bland was good at by putting them at the end of the sentence: "Commander Bland's management of the squadron has been characterized by exceptional leadership, innovative initiatives, tactical and strategic planning, and superb performance of duty." (It seems to me that "superb performance of duty" ought to be enough!)
QUESTION I would like to know what is the correct verb form (singular or plural) for a relative clause in a sentence. See example below:We recommend that the student perform (or performs) the services.I think that the singular verb "performs" should be used to agree with the singular "student." But everyone I ask thinks that perform sounds better, as in " We recommend that the student perform the service.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE New Hyde Park, New York Wed, Aug 1, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE "We recommend that the student perform the service" sounds better because it is better! That would be an appropriate use of the subjunctive mood, so it really has nothing to do with agreeing with the singular "student." So your instincts are quite right.
QUESTION When my mother was in high school she had a teacher that would would give her an F on a paper if she used "is because," for instance, "It is because of the sun that there is light on the earth." I have no idea why it is wrong or even if it is wrong, but every time I say "is because" in my mother's presence she corrects me.
I have tried to do some research on the Web to find the answer but have had no luck. The only thing that I could find was something that said "the reason is because" is wrong because it is redundant and should be changed to "the reason is that." This still doesn't answer my question because i am concerned about why my mother thinks the word "is" followed by the word "because" is incorrect in any circumstance. Your help is appreciated.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Thu, Aug 2, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE This is the first I've heard of this objection. Burchfield speaks directly to this issue: "It is also in order to use because after an introductory it is, it's that's, this is." And then he gives several examples from "reputable sources." The fact that Burchfield brings this up, however, suggests that there must be some writers who object to the construction. Perhaps they're objecting to a clause that explains why coming after a linking verb? Or perhaps, as you suggest, it's a carry-over from a quite reasonable objection to the redundant "the reason is because." In any case, Burchfield says that "That's because . . . " or "it's because . . . " is acceptable in both speech and writing.
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 "because")
QUESTION What part of speech is "please"? Some people say it's an adverb because it comes from the adverbial phrase "If you please." However, in that context the word means "if you don't mind." When we say "please" we are usually slightly begging, "Please, don't do that." I say that "please" used in this way (which is how we most often use it), is not an adverb, but is best thought of as an interjection, showing emotion rather than a word modifying the verb. What do you think? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Naju, South Korea Thu, Aug 2, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Merriam-Webster's says "please" (when it's not being a verb, as in "He has pleased his new boss"), is always an adverb, but then it calls the word "please" a function word used to express polite affirmation or to request something politely. Quirk and Greenbaum call please a formulaic adjunct (meaning it's a special kind of adverb), and note that it can appear almost anywhere in the sentence. In a sentence like "Please, John, fold the towels," I don't see anything wrong with calling it an interjection.
Authority: A Grammar of Contemporary English by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. Longman Group: London. 1978. p. 470.
QUESTION Your notes on capitalization are very useful, but I must admit I'm still feeling confused as to my problem, which I'm not sure was really covered. See, I'm writing a story involving a duke. When I use the term "duke" in place of the du ke's name, should I capitalize it? For instance: "The Duke laughed." or "The duke laughed." Are there instances in which royal/noble titles should be capitalized in this manner? Eh, I hope my question makes sense. (And I hope I'm not just missing part of the site on this subject.) Thank you for your time and consideration. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Roanoke, Virginia Thu, Aug 2, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The Gregg Reference Manual says that we would capitalize the titles of high-ranking dignaitaries and officials when they follow or replace a specific personal name. I'm not sure if this extends all the way down to Duke (the examples include the Queen of England, the King, the Prime Minister). Sabin (editor of GRM) also notes that many authorities now recommend that even these titles not be capitalized. I guess this means it's pretty much up to you, especially since you're writing fiction. You might base your decision on what other fiction writers are doing nowadays (but you should probably choose an American model, as opposed to a British one). Mark Twain doesn't capitalize the title, except when it's an actual name, as in Duke of Bridgewater, and that's good enough for me.
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. 92.
QUESTION I'm dealing with a very complex sentence from The Beduin's Gazelle by Temple (p. 82):That the knowledge and wisdom of our forebears could be preserved and passed on to all generations, and the wisdom of each generation challenged and broadened and made usefulthis was the purpose to which these great men dedicated their lives.
I would like to suggest that the initial noun phrase is an appositive for the demonstrative pronoun THIS, . . . but . . .
You and every other reference I've seen (except one) suggest that appositives can only come AFTER the nouns or pronouns they modify.
Based on a cryptic comment you make at http://ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/phrases.htm#appositive, it sounds as if you mean to suggest that when the renaming or amplification comes BEFORE the noun/pronoun, then it is an OPPositive. (On the other hand, the dictionary makes no reference to such a meaning for OPPOSITIVE.)
What's the deal? And/or how would you analyze that huge noun clause followed by the demonstrative? THANKS!
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Highlands Ranch, Colorado Thu, Aug 2, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Quirk and Greenbaum nicely describe the rhetorical device you're referring to:Reinforcement is a feature of colloquial style whereby some item is repeated (either in toto or by pronoun substitution) for purposes of emphasis, focus, or thematic arrangement. Its simplest form is merely the reiteration of a word or phrase for emphasis or clarity:It's far, far too expensive.A reinforcing or recapitulatory pronoun is sometimes inserted, in informal speech, within a clause where it stands "proxy" for an initial noun phrase:This man I was telling you about he used to live next door to me.
That's a good term, then, for the pronoun you're referring to, a recapitulatory pronoun. It amounts to a fresh start for your sentence. (Incidentally, I don't think the use of this device is quite as colloquial as Quirk and Greenbaum's description would suggest.)
Authority: A Grammar of Contemporary English by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. Longman Group: London. 1978. p. 970.
QUESTION How do you make the following sentence grammatically correct?'My sister, Maggie's, dress is ruined.'Where exactly do I place the apostrophe? Is it right after "Maggie" or after "sister"? Thank you. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Mission Viejo, California Thu, Aug 2, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Even though Maggie might be your only sister, it's probably a good idea to skip the commas in this construction. Put the apostrophe on the appositive (her name, in this case), as inMy sister Maggie's dress is ruined.
You're often better off by avoiding the problem by using an "of" phrase, but in this particular case, it doesn't work very well: "The dress of my sister Maggie is ruined."
QUESTION In giving the dimensions of, say, a rug, would a person write, "The 9- by 12-foot rug..." or "The 9-by-12-foot rug..."? I say the latter. It looks like an instance where suspensive hyphenation would be used, but we're not talking about "the 9-foot rug by 12-foot rug." It's one rug that measures 9 feet by 12 feet. It doesn't vary in size. We could say 9- and 12-foot ladders, meaning 9-foot ladders and 12-foot ladders, or 9- to 12-foot ladders, meaning all ladders from 9 feet to 12 feet. What works with "and," "or" and "to" doesn't fly with "by," at least by my way of thinking. Any thoughts? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Elgin, Illinois Sat, Aug 4, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In general usage, you would write either "a 9- by 12-foot rug" or "a rug 9 by 12 feet." In technical text, you'd write either "a 9- x 12-ft rug" or "a 9 x 12 ft rug." In technical text, you could also use the non-curly apostrophe to substitute for "foot," as in "a 9' x 12' rug." Use the lower-case "x" by "by."
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.
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