QUESTION Is there such a word as "NORMALCY?" I use the word "normality" meaning the ordinary, familiar, routine, regular. Everyone on TV is talking a "sense of normalcy' all the time. I am confused!
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Marlboro, Massachusetts Sun, Sep 16, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE After September 11, 2001, there may never be either normalcy or normality again, but the dictionary seems to provide a distinction. It appears to me that normalcy applies to "the ordinary, familiar, routine, etc." (what we would all so dearly love to get back to, if that were only possible!) and the word normality is used in more scientific or measurable situations where "the normal" is being referred to.
Authority: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Electronic Edition, Version 1.5. 1996. Used with permission.
QUESTION When abbreviating the word pounds, do we need a period or an 's' at the end? Example: The man weighed 165 lbs lb lbs. ?? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Portland, Oregon Mon, Sep 17, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE For that particular sentence, you wouldn't want to use the abbreviation anyway, but that's not your question. The answer is that we don't add an "s" to the abbreviation to express the plural of a measurement. We could write something like "A 235 lb beam is heavier than a 175 lb beam. Abbreviations of such measurements are also written without periods (with the possible exception of "in," when it could be confused with the preposition "in").
QUESTION I always thought that the word "moot" is an adjective, meaning "unresolved" or "irrelevant," as in "a moot point." But some writers seem to think it is a verb, as in the following exerpt from a news report today. Does "to moot" mean anything? Or is it another example of poor writing?
US Secretary of State Colin Powell has even mooted teaming up with Syria and Iran, both considered pro-terrorist states by Washington, so that a hoped-for broad coalition against terrorism does not seem to be targetting Islam.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Dallas, Texas Mon, Sep 17, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE My dictionaries and books on usage say that there is a verb, "to moot," but it doesn't mean "to make something moot, or irrelevant, or debatable." It is a rather archaic verb that means to raise a debatable point. I don't know what the reporter had in mind: that Powell had made the issue moot by saying it was no longer debatable or even being considered? If there are other meanings for moot in the Oxford English Dictionary, they are obscure enough that they probably shouldn't be used in political or diplomatic parlance.
QUESTION We have been fussing back and forth between us about the following sentence. Should it be "are" or "is" following "There"? There are an increasing number of teens driving to school." We had "is," then we looked it up and changed it to "are," and now it doesn't sound right that way either. We're a little slow at times......
Thanks so much if you can help.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Greenville, South Carolina Mon, Sep 17, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE When confronted by such a dilemma, always run the other way. Get rid of the "there" and write "An increasing number of teens are driving to school" or "The number of teens driving to school is steadily increasing."
If you really must keep the "there," however, try turning the sentence around to see what the verb ought to be: "An increasing number of teens driving to school are there. . . . " I vote for the plural are. On the other hand, in informal writing and speech, the verb will become singular, as in "There's a man and a woman in that room."
QUESTION Is war an abstract noun? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Birmingham, Alabama Wed, Sep 19, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE No. It's quite possible all too easy, really to pluralize it, for one thing. Oddly enough, peace is an abstract noun. I'm not sure what that means.
QUESTION For this sentence:A server is two or more interconnected networks that (create? creates?) a solution for integrating resources.What do you think? Thanks! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Raleigh, North Carolina Wed, Sep 19, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The clause that begins with "that" will tend to modify the thing it's closest to, "networks," which means means that you want a plural verb, "create." If your intent is to say that the server creates a solution for integrating resources, then you need to get that modifying phrase closer to the word you want it to modify or get rid of that linking verb:"A server comprises two or more networks and creates a solution for integrating resources."Actually, I don't know if "creates a solution for _____ " says what you want to say, but I'll have to leave that up to you.
QUESTION Have you ever heard of something called the "retained object"--something like a passive version of a direct object? If so, could you please explain it, including how common (or rare) a grammar term it is. Thanks! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Louisville, Kentucky Thu, Sep 20, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Let's say we have a sentence in this pattern: "Grandma gave Mary all that money." And we shift the sentence into the passive, leaving out Grandma but retaining the position of the original object, "money": "Mary was given all that money." The object, "money," is now what traditional grammarians would call a "retained object." It might be an unusual term, but it is certainly not an unusual phenomenon.
Authority: Understanding English Grammar by Martha Kolln. 4rth Edition. MacMillan Publishing Company: New York. 1994. p. 82.
QUESTION A simple question: I cannot remember what we call the "it" in "It is raining." False subject? Impersonal subject? Provisional subject?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE San Diego, California Tue, Oct 2, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE There are probably many names for that particular use of "it." Quirk and Greenbaum call it an "empty subject" and make a distinction between this use and the "anticipatory it" in a sentence such as "It was a surprise to see her do so well." In expressions of time and weather, the "it" of "It's eight o'clock" and "It's snowing outside" is virtually void of meaning. Another term for this "it" is the "prop it" (Burchfield).
Authority: A Grammar of Contemporary English by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. Longman Group: London. 1978. p. 354.
QUESTION Hello, Can I use a gerund after the phrase "as well as"? Specifically, I'm wrestling with sentences of the following nature:
If I can't use a gerund, does this mean that "as well as" is a conjunction not a preposition? And if so, why isn't "in addition to" also a conjunction instead of a preposition?
- She paid for their tickets as well as treated/treating them to lunch.
- She pays for their tickets as well as treats/treating them to lunch.
- She will pay for their tickets as well as treat/treating them to lunch.
I could avoid the problem by using "in addition to" instead of "as well as," I suppose, but I'd rather not limit myself in that way. Thank you very much for your help.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Boston, Massachusetts Tue, Oct 2, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Burchfield spends quite a bit of time addressing this issue (believe it or not). He notes that "In most circumstances as well as may be idiomatically accompanied by a gerund, as in "The protagonists are mercilessly guyed by the author, as well as being clobbered by the 'system.'" Then Burchfield notes that in 1926, Fowler had argued that in certain circumstances the gerund is better replaced by another part of the verb in order to match the part of the verb used in the introductory clause. One example he gives, then, is "His death leaves a gap as well as creating a by-election in Ross and Cromarty," in which "creates" would be substituted for "creating" as a parallel to "leaves." Burchfield concludes by saying that "there is room for disagreement in sentences containing as well as followed by a gerund. Each case must be judged on its merits." Personally, I don't find that particularly helpful, but I would leave you with the counsel that you are not alone in your dilemma and with the advice that there's nothing wrong with the little conjunction and.
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 "well")
QUESTION I would like to know the best way to word the following sentence. My point is to say that these people clearly cannot pay their debt because of how much is owed and the amount of income they have.XYZ (company name) asserts that with other creditors owed by the Debtors under the Chapter 13 Plan, there is an apparent inability to pay this mortgage. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Charleston, South Carolina Wed, Oct 3, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The explanation of your point comes much closer to the truth than the statement it tries to explain. There is no clear connection between "with other creditors owed by the Debtors" and the "apparent inability to pay the mortgage." Maybe something like "XYZ asserts that with their current responsibilities (?) to other creditors owed under the Chapter 13 plan, these debtors cannot possibly pay this mortgage" or "XYZ asserts that with the current level of Chapter 13 debts owed to other creditors, these debtors will not be able to pay this mortgage."
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