QUESTION What is wrong with this sentence:Any mean teacher is not welcome by students. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Hawalli, Kuwait Mon, Aug 6, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE We could easily substitute "a" for "any." And I would change "welcome" to "welcomed." Since we have an agent in this sentence ("students"), we can use the passive verb form, "welcomed," instead of the predicate adjective "welcome."
QUESTION ".... to watch the minute hand inch its way to five o'clock"I've found the above, very vivid expression in the last issue of the Psychology Today [August 2001] But, I can't figure out why the verb "inch" hasn't got "es" at the end, as there is only one minute hand in every clock. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Warsaw, Poland Mon, Aug 6, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE After the verb "watch" we use either a gerund, "We watched the minute hand inching its way toward five o'clock" or we use what is called a "bare infinitive" (an infinitive without the particle "to":
- We watched him [
to] climb the ladder.
- She watched her mother [
to] fix supper.
QUESTION How do you analyze the words IT SEEMED THAT in "It seemed that the Lisu people had reached out and grabbed a piece of her heart" (from Nothing Daunted by Repp, p. 4)?
This isn't quite a cleft sentence (according to your definition). Seemed is certainly not a necessary verb to the primary meaning of the sentence; yet it does seem to soften the primary sense of the sentence. I can't figure out how to express the same sentiments of mild doubt without the phrase. . . . Therefore, I am reluctant to call it an expletive phrase.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Highlands Ranch, Colorado Mon, Aug 6, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The verb seemed is a linking verb in that sentence, as in "It seemed fine." It is linking the pronoun "it" (referring, I suppose, to the situation being described in context) to the noun clause that follows (that the Lisu people. . . .). It is true that the main business of the sentence is in the noun clause that follows the linking verb, so your impulse to put this construction in the same category as an expletive construction is quite understandable.
QUESTION When forming nouns like risk-taking, is it hyphenated? is it risk-taking or risk taking ... is there a rule for this?
Webster's fourth edition college dictionary doesn't list it.
would it be like decision-making, which is usually hyphenated but also not listed in dictionary?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Chico, California Mon, Aug 6, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE As a general rule, if you can't find what you suppose to be a compounded word in a good, recent dictionary, it means those two words should be treated as separate words. If writing the compound as separate words results in an ambiguous reading, however, you must feel free to hyphenate the words. "He was adept at decision making" reads OK to me, but when I use "decision making" as a modifier, I want a hyphen, as in "His decision-making skills could use some improvement."
QUESTION Is it correct to say, "Please speak louder," or "Please speak more loudly?" SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Yardley, Pennsylvania Mon, Aug 6, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE With a handful of words, you have a choice between using the adverb form ("loudly") and using the adjective form as an adverb:
In your sentence, we're simply extending the notion to the comparative degree: "Please speak more loudly/louder." Personally, I'd use the comparative adjective form, "louder," in that sentence, but many people would prefer the adverb.
- Drive slow/slowly.
- We bought our clothes cheap/cheaply.
- Speak loud/loudly and clear/clearly.
Authority: A Grammar of Contemporary English by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. Longman Group: London. 1978. p. 237.
QUESTION Is "Guess who's coming to dinner" a question?
I don't think that is it a question; but I can't figure out where to look in the English books for a definitive answer. Please help!
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE West Hollywood, California Wed, Aug 8, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I guess I don't know where to look in the English book for an answer either. I can't find anything in my resource manuals that suggests that we ought to put a question mark at the end of a sentence that tells us to guess something. And yet it is a common convention to do so, apparently. The title of that famous movie of the 60s, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?, ended in a question mark, and if we said "Guess what?," we'd probably end that sentence with a question mark, wouldn't we? There is an interrogative sense to questions with guess in them. We expect someone to respond to such a sentence in the same way that we expect them to answer a question. I'm afraid I can't give you a definitive answer based on a printed authority, but I'll leave an e-mail icon here in case someone else can. In the meantime, I would use a question mark at the of the movie's title and in "guess sentences" that have an interrogative ring to them.
Hoping you can settle a dispute here in my office (a newsroom, as it happens). I've checked all over this site and can't definitively answer the question. We're divided over two grammatical points in the following sentence:"The man was stabbed four times with what staff believe were scissors."Two things:
Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated!
- Is 'staff' in this case considered singular or plural?
- Should it be "was" scissors or "were" scissors?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE New Westminster, BC, Canada Wed, Aug 8, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE "Staff" feels funny, to me, without a determinerlike our staff. "Staff" can be either singular or plural, depending on how the word is being used. Here, it sounds like your staff is functioning as a unit, as one thing (as is usually the case), and I would use the singular "believes" with it. The subject of the verb in question, "were," is actually a noun clause, "what our staff believes," and it wants to be singular, "was." But it sounds odd because the word "scissors," the predicate, is always plural ("the scissors were broken"). Can't you avoid the problem by using "a pair of scissors," instead? Then the singular will sound OK: "with what our staff believes was a pair of scissors."
QUESTION Which is correct?
(Is it "has" or "have"?)
- Your support of our company and our quality brand products "has" made this experience possible.
- Your support of our company and our quality brand products "have" made this experience possible.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Jacksonville, Florida Wed, Aug 8, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE "Your support" is the subject, and "your support" is singular. Go with the singular "has."
QUESTION Is the following sentence punctuated correctly?If 7:00 A.M. is not convenient for you, please e-mail me and we will reschedule the appointment.Is "please e-mail me" an independent clause, thereby making a comma necessary before the "and"?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Pierre, South Dakota Thu, Aug 9, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You can put a comma there precisely because you are connecting two independent clauses; however, the comma is not really necessary because those two independent clauses are quite brief, closely related, and nicely balanced. I'd leave it out.
QUESTION What part of speech is i.e. (and "that is" when used like i.e.), or what grammatical function does it perform? Its usage seems to be idiomatic, not literal. That is, I wouldn't say "I'm leaving, and i.e. that!"
Thanks for your help, and for a delightful Web site.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Largo, Florida Thu, Aug 9, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Like most words and phrases that signal a transition from one idea to another (or a relationship between ideas), i.e. and e.g. must be conjunctions adverbial conjunctions to be a bit more precise. It's probably a good idea to use these abbreviations only in a parenthetical manner and to substitute their English equivalents whenever possible.
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