QUESTION Is it Architecture firm or Architectural firm? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Washington, D.C. Wed, Nov 21, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Unless you have a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary, I don't think you'll find much guidance on this in the dictionaries. It's not like education/educational: if you're on a college campus, you might be directed to the education building (because that's where people study education, and the building itself is not educational). With architecture/architectural, though, the difference doesn't seem so important. When I do a search on the Web pages of the Atlantic, for instance, I will get several hits for "architectural firm," but only one for "architecture firm." In Yahoo!, you'll get many hits (30 pages worth) for "architecture firm," but nearly twice as many (53 pages worth) for "architectural firm." It is surely a mistake to allow statistical evidence to back up your usage in writing, but in this case, that's what I'd go with for no particular reason other than that's what people write and say.
QUESTION I have checked my dictionaries, and the word 'behaviour' is an uncountable noun, so an 's' shouldn't be used to indicate plural form. But I've seen some textbooks and I found 'behaviours.' Please let me know why it's in plural form. Thanks for your advice. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Hong Kong Sun, Nov 25, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The pluralization of uncountable nouns will sometimes happen when they are used in specialized ways. For instance, for most of the world the word wine is uncountable, but my nephew, who is a wine merchant, needs to talk about the wines of Chile, the wines of California, etc. I suppose a furniture expert might even need to speak of the furnitures of the Carolinas, etc. (although that seems more dubious). When knowledge of something becomes more specialized and we need to speak of different kinds of something or different sets of the generic thing, we sometimes pluralize what we had regarded as uncountable. Only a psychologist, though, could love the plural of behavior.
QUESTION Hello. In my textbook, there is a sentence "Every design imaginable was in style." Is this natural and correct?
Is this sentence "Every imaginable design was in style" wrong? When do we use that order of the first sentence?
Please let me know. I really appreciate your kindness.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Seoul, South Korea Sun, Nov 25, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The subject of postmodification is a big one (requiring a complete chapter in Quirk and Greenbaum, for example). Both of those sentences you give us are correct, but the conditions under which postmodification can occur (and can't) are quite complex. A handful of adjectives have to be used post-noun, as in "president elect," "Boston proper," "court martial," "body politic," etc. And indefinite pronouns ending in "-body" or "-one" or "-thing" must be postmodied: "something ugly is about to happen to someone here."
Quirk and Greenbaum note that some postponed adjectives, especially those ending in "-able" or "-ible" (like your "imaginable") "retain the basic meaning they have in attributive position but convey the implication that what they are denoting has only a temporary application. Thus the stars visible refers to stars that are visible at a time specified or implied, while the visible stars refers to a category of stars that can (at appropriate times) be seen. We have a similar distinction between the temporary and the permanent in rivers navigable and navigable rivers, actors suitable and suitable actors."
Authority: A Grammar of Contemporary English by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. Longman Group: London. 1978. p. 248-9.
QUESTION Hello! I am a senior in high school. I am currently writing a novella for my senior project. I was hoping that you could help me find a list of words that can replace the word "said" in dialogue. If you could be any help with this, it would be much appreciated! Thank You! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Sun, Nov 25, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You're not the first writer who felt that too many said's ruin the stew. I would recommend that you pick up an anthology of stories or a novel that uses a lot of dialog and study how those authors find other ways of attributing speech. And, on the other hand, you should realize that your readers don't really see all those said's. They are almost as invisible as commas, mere subliminal conventions. Try reading a story like Hemingway's "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" or those places in Huckleberry Finn in which Twain has Jim and Huck talking to each other in the river darkness and there are no said's to indicate who's talking to whom. It gets really weird after a while and you need a scorecard to figure out who's saying what to whom (except that Jim speaks in his distinct accents). One ends up begging for a quick and simple said to get the record straight. Trying to avoid the authorial intrusion of said sometimes causes more problems than it solves (and no one except the author was noticing anyway). Read a short story by Raymond Carver (like "Fat") to see how the author just piles on the said's, to a rather strange effect.
QUESTION Example sentence:Later, in our preparation for next year's budget, Harry asked Sally and Tim to take into account communications developments for the project in their own budgets.Question: Is this unorthodox ordering of "to take something into account" (i.e., to take into account something) legitimate?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Erding, Bavaria, Germany Sun, Nov 25, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE There's nothing wrong with "to take something into account," but you do want to be careful of a long series of nouns and attributive nouns such as "account communications developments," because your reader will soon have trouble identifying what identifies what. You can remedy the problem easily with a determiner or article and changing an attributive noun into a prepositional phrase: "take into account the developments in communications. . . ."
QUESTION When to use perhaps or maybe, or are they interchangeable? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Weymoth, Dorset, England Mon, Nov 26, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE According to Burchfield, maybe fell into disrepute a hundred years ago and was seldom used for a while on your side of the Atlantic. It has since been rehabilitated and there is no difference in meaning between it and perhaps, although I think that perhaps still has the upper hand in formal settings.
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 "maybe")
QUESTION I am editing an Emergency Operations Plan for my Town. I am getting very confused with capitalization because I am looking in too many places and getting different answers from all. Maybe you can help.
This plan names a lot of departments of the Town that are involved and the titles of people who will be involved. No names are with the titles because of job changes. Below are some examples of my problems.
1. The town of Enfield operates under the council-manager form of government. - I decided to leave town lower case here.
The Town operates under the council-manager...... - but if I just use town I capitalize it. Sound good?
2. A full-time Police Department provides law enforcement services. Should all departments be capitalized? It looks o.k. both ways.
A full-time police department provides law......
what about public works department, fire department......
but what if I have Department of Public Works, etc.
3. and my last question is about the titles:
The Town Engineer, Building Official, Chief of Police, and Fire Marshall all attend the Administrative Review Team meetings. Capitalize all titles?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Enfield, Connecticut Mon, Nov 26, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Go to a Borders or Barnes & Noble or your favorite bookstore and buy the Gregg Reference Manual and check out Section 3, on Capitalization especially since you seem to be a doing a lot of this kind of thing.
The editor, William Sabin, describes the process this way: "Do not capitalize short forms of names of state or local governmental groups [for instance, the police department, as opposed to the Enfield Police Department] except when special circumstances warrant emphasis or distinction. Common terms such as police department, board of education, and county court need not be capitalized (even when referring to a specific body), since they are terms of general classification. However, such terms should be capitalized when the writer intends to refer to the organization in all of its official dignity." And the examples he gives are:
- We are awaiting the release of next year's budget from City Hall. (because the term refers to the seat of municipal power in its full authority)
- The Police Department has announced the promotion of . . . . (because the term is intended to have the full force of the complete name, the Enfield Police Department)
- but The Enfield police department sponsors a youth athletic program. . . . (not capitalized because the writer is referring to the department in general terms and not by its official name).
And it also makes a difference for whom you are writing. In your very official document, you'll probably capitalize the names of departments and offices. On the other hand, if I were writing a press release about your document, I wouldn't capitalize some of those same terms: "Whosis' report outlines the relationship between the board of education and the town's purchasing department."
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. 96.
QUESTION In using a Jr. in a person's name, for example, Martin Luther King, Jr. is a comma put only after the name and not the Jr. if the sentence continues, but is not used as an appositiveMartin Luther King, Jr. was a profound influence to the peaceful resistence movement in America. I would not add a comma after the Jr. in this case, would I? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Greensburg, Kentucky Mon, Nov 26, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Most writing manuals nowadays are saying that we should not insert a comma between the last name and the Jr. or Sr. or roman numeral after a person's name. And if you don't have that first comma, you certainly don't want the second comma (after the Jr., etc.) However, if we know that the individual so named prefers the use of the comma, then we would put the comma there, and in your sentence we would put a comma after the Jr. as well. The Jr., Sr., III, etc., in other words, is treated parenthetically in that case. With the name Martin Luther King Jr., incidentally, most people insert a comma before the "Jr.," but King himself did not (in his signature) and there is no comma on his gravestone (which must indicate his personal preference and the preference of King's family, one would think).
QUESTION Is it acceptable to say "either Barclays, Lloyds TSB or Citigroup"?
Or does the "either ... or" construction restrict one to two alternatives?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE London, UK Mon, Nov 26, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE According to Burchfield, it is advisable "to restrict either to contexts in which there are only two possibilities." But then he points out that in conversation one will frequently hear something like "a narration of events, either past, present, or to come," and adds that "opinions vary widely" about the acceptability of such a construction (in which either-or extends beyond its essential implied duality).
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 "either")
QUESTION Which is the proper format for the word "pabulum?"
- Mix with apple juice to create pabulum.
- Mix with apple juice to create a pabulum.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Somewhere, Oregon Mon, Nov 26, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I haven't heard that word since my little brother (now 45) sat in a high chair and my father was whipping up some horrid concoction called pabulum to feed him. It also refers to something regarded as intellectually vapid and vaporous and, as such, requires no determiner: "'This is academic pabulum,' she said in a huff." In fact, to use a determiner, as in "to create a pabulum," makes the adventure somehow sound more scientific than it was meant to be. I'd leave out the "a," although I don't think it is incorrect to use the "a," either. "A pabulum" can refer to a mixture of solids suspended in a liquid in such a way that they can be absorbed so the scientific sound of "a pabulum" may, at times, be entirely appropriate.
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