QUESTION The problem posed is when one is writing out a date on a paper. My colleague says that the month and date must always appear on the same line in a paper. Example November 8, 1991. November 8, must be on one line but it is ok for the year to be on the next line. What's your opinion here? Personally I have never seen this before so I would appreciate your looking at it. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Tue, Nov 13, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE That's exactly what Bill Sabin recommends in the Gregg Reference Manual. You can break the date between the date and the year and but not between the month and the date. And you'd want to break the date only if necessary. I suppose it's an aesthetic consideration more than anything. (The Chicago Manual of Style doesn't seem to have anything to say about this, which is odd because it seems to have something to say about all such issues.)
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. 229.
QUESTION In what way and by what rationale do you diagram the the marked words in these sentences?
- I arrived early "every day."
- I visit the museum "all the time."
- A pitcher catches the ball "many times" in a game.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Convoy, Ohio Wed, Nov 14, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE These phrases are temporal adjuncts and take the form of a noun phrase instead of a prepositional phrase. They often begin with what are called deictic (or "pointing") words such as last, next, this, and that (next Thursday, last week, this weekend, etc.). I don't have an authority that shows how to diagram such a phrase, but I think I'd treat it like an adverbial prepositional phrase without a preposition on the diagonal line (connected to whatever it is that it's modifying, usually the verb). The deictic word would modify the object of the phrase, as would a determiner such as "many" or "every" (and would thus be placed on a diagonal line under that word). I hope this helps.
Authority: A Grammar of Contemporary English by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. Longman Group: London. 1978.
QUESTION I was wondering which of the two sentences is more grammatically sound: a) I pondered it. b) I pondered on it.Thank you very much! Your site is very informative. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Wed, Nov 14, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I think your sentence will be improved if you substitute a real noun for the pronoun I pondered the situation. but I don't find any evidence that the preposition "on" is useful in this construction. I'd get rid of it.
QUESTION My question relates to subject-verb agreement when a sentence contains a parenthetical phrase in the subject. If the subject absent the parenthetical phrase is singular, but with the parenthetical noun would be plural, should the verb be singular or plural? For example, should it be "My voicemail box (and 70,000 other boxes in Austin) are down until tomorrow" or "My voicemail box (and 70,000 other boxes in Austin) is down until tomorrow"? I am pretty sure it is the latter but would like to hear it from an expert. Thank you. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Austin, Texas Wed, Nov 14, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Disregard the information within the parentheses when determining the number of the verb to agree with the subject. If the sentence sounds too odd, you might have to put your parenthetical element into another clause or sentence.
QUESTION Can you tell me which is correct:
- net worth is comprised of Ben Miller and Eugene Mayer's ownership
- net worth is comprised of Ben Miller's and Eugene Mayer's ownership
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Wed, Nov 14, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE There are two quite separate problems. Many readers are going to object to this use of "comprise." Technically, it can't be combined with "of" the way that "composed" can be. "Comprise" means "contain" (in a sense), so we can't say "it contains of." We'd be better off saying "The net worth comprises/is composed of . . . ." Then, the problem of possession. If the "ownership" belongs to these two individuals separately, then you want to show possession on each name (second option); if the ownership belongs to them in a joint manner, then your first option is correct. (Do they own (whatever it is they own) together or separately?)
QUESTION Where should I put the phrase "consciously or otherwise" in the following sentence?Everyone is privy to, consciously or otherwise, a moment in life that distills the staggering magnificence of the natural world.The above is how I wrote it. But should "consciously or otherwise" possibly go between "privy" and "to" rather than after "privy to?"
By the way, I read your site's informative info on the structures of verbs that always have accompanying prepositions. It was very instructive, but I'm still not sure about the above issue. Any help you can provide would be most welcome.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Berkeley, California Wed, Nov 14, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I would avoid the problem and start the sentence with "Consciously or otherwise, everyone is privy to a moment in life that distills. . . ." I have to say, though, that I'm not sure what it means, to be "privy to a moment that distills the staggering magnificence of the natural world," whether it happens consciously or otherwise.
QUESTION When do I use circle/cycle? Is it a vicious circle or cycle? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Rock Springs, Wyoming Wed, Nov 14, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The cliché you probably have in mind is "a vicious circle" unless you're talking about the neighbor's motorcycle that keeps wiping out your front lawn.
QUESTION I have an agreement question: In the following sentence, would the words "meet" and "pray" be singular or plural: "meets" and "prays."The Parents in Prayer group that meet weekly pray for the school and we are asking your prayers as well. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Rowlett, Texas Wed, Nov 14, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Actually, "meets" and "prays" would be singular, and that's what you want because the subject of those verbs is "group," a singular, collective noun. As written, however, the sentence suggests that there are Parents in Prayer groups that meet other than weekly. We need a comma after "group" and a comma after "weekly" to make it clear that there is only one group. Also, it's not clear how "we" got into this sentence or to whom "we" refers. You're probably better off putting that sentiment into a separate sentence and spelling it out a bit (that the group is asking for other people's prayers, right?).
QUESTION Could you please comment on the plural form of the noun "email?" In my opinion this should follow the same rules that apply to the noun "mail" therefore, the plural of "email" is "email." Do you agree? Is there a current usage dictionary that addresses this issue? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Richmond, Virginia Wed, Nov 14, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE First, I would insist on a hyphen between the "e" and the word "mail." Second, when we think of "e-mail" we're much more apt to think of the notion of "messages" than when we use the word "mail." "Mail," to be sure, does not admit to being pluralized, but "e-mail" does, and it means, simply, more than one e-mail message. I'd spell it "e-mails." You can try doing a search through the online pages of a well established magazine such as The Atlantic Monthly, and you'll find "e-mails" all over the place. (And, incidentally, you'll find eight uses of "email" and over a thousand for "e-mail.")
QUESTION What is the difference between an essential appositive and a non-essential appositive? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Chesapeake, Virginia Thu, Nov 15, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I'm not familiar with that terminology, but I would suppose that a non-essential appositive can be removed from a sentence without changing the essential meaning of the sentence:Nissan's contribution to the SUV genre, the Pathfinder, has a good reputation.And an essential appositive can't be removed:Professor of English Charles Darling has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.(If you remove the person's name, an appositive here, you're left wondering which Professor of English was nominated.)
Previous Grammar Log
Next Grammar Log
Index of Grammar Logs
Guide to Grammar and Writing