QUESTION I'm having difficulty in convincing a friend that "to supply a gap" or "supplies the gap" is correct. I was born and raised in South Africa, where it was common enough to use this expression. Is this strictly British usage (and the colonies)? I have found it in a 1975 legal document in the Philippines (see 1 below), which is not a former British colony, and where the influences can be assumed to be American rather than English.
What can you tell me about this expression, and whether it's used at all in the US?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Seattle, Washington Tue, Nov 27, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE The next time you're in a library rich enough to contain the Oxford English Dictionary, you should probably check out this phrase (by looking up "gap," I suppose). One can find a couple of instances of it on the Internet by looking up the phrase in Yahoo! But it certainly seems to be rare. (A search of 500,000 documents in the New York Times archives yields no instances.) I think most Americans, at least, would say "fill the gap." There is nothing incorrect about the phrase, but it's so rare that most readers would probably not understand what you mean by it.
In the above sentences, which is the guiding factor for agreement? It is "it" or "you"? Which of the sentence is correct?
- It is you who has not grown up.
- It is you who have not grown up.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Singapore Tue, Nov 27, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In a cleft sentence like this, the "who" refers to the "you," so we want "have." You might avoid the problem by saying, instead, "You're the one who hasn't grown up." (You've got exactly the same grammatical issue here, but somehow the "one who hasn't" sounds more natural.)
QUESTION One would normally say "I am faster than you are." But why is the word order in similar sentences sometimes inverted? For example, in the sentence below, which I copied from a book, the writer says "...than were their neighbors." instead of "...than their neighbors were." Is there a rule for picking the right word order in such sentences?"Navajo were more receptive to new technologies than were their neighbors."Thanks! SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Germantown, Maryland Tue, Nov 27, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I can't find any rules about this, probably because either word order would be correct. I can say, though, that such an inversion will place greater emphasis (end focus) on the phrase "their neighbors" by postponing it to the end of the sentence. The same thing can happen in a simple sentence when we postpone the subject to the end of the sentence: "Approaching the microphone right now is the heavyweight chamption of the world." There might be something I'm missing here, and I'll leave an e-mail icon in case someone can explain this issue better than I have.
QUESTION Is the following usage of disrespect correct: "Don't disrespect me." or "Anyone disrespects me and they're fired." "Don't be disrespecting me." SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Grand Rapids, Michigan Wed, Nov 28, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Merriam Webster's Dictionary says that "disrespect" has been used as a verb since 1614. I would certainly not use the word as a verb in formal or academic text, however, and I would avoid that "Don't be disrespecting me" construction (in favor of the more direct, "Don't disrespect me"). I think most careful writers would prefer the use of the noun, as in "Don't show disrespect for the flag," etc.
QUESTION Is the word hispanic always capitalized when used to refer to hispanic food? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Tyler, Texas Wed, Nov 28, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Yes, the word Hispanic is always capitalized. It is used, still, to refer to things or people of Cuban, Mexican, or Puerto Rican origin.
QUESTION I'm having a disagreement with an English professor in relation to the use of the connector "such...that" in result clauses. The disagreement is over the following sentence:"The river raged with such fury that it destroyed many homes."The professor says that the correct way to say that sentence is:"The river raged with such a fury that it destroyed many homes."Which version is correct? It just doesn't sound right with the article in front of fury. And how about in this following sentence:"These observations will reveal such important information that scientists will be studying the results for years."How can one distinguish when to use the article and when not to use it? Thank you for your help. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Caracas, Miranda, Venezuela Wed, Nov 28, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I don't get your professor's point in making this correction. I don't think his/her sentence is incorrect, but I don't think your version is incorrect either. Burchfield has this sentenceOur hands are quite unsuited to such fragility.which he cites as an example of "incontestably legitimate usage." Your second sentence might be improved so that the "such" more immediately modifies the notion of importance, as inThese observations will reveal information of such importance [or "so important"] that scientists will be studying the results for years.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 "such")
QUESTION I am having trouble writing the paragraph below. I've rewritten it at least a dozen times. It still looks and sounds wrong. Could you help?The man is gone: Where he was sitting, suspended in the air, is his hat, pennant, and dog. The dog yelps and then he and the items drop to the chair. The hat lands on the dog's head. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Iowa City, Iowa Wed, Nov 28, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I don't think you want a colon there, after "gone." I'd use a period. And in the next sentence, you want "are" instead of "is" because the subject of that verb is "his hat, pennant, and dog." It's rather unclear how the hat lands on the dog's head if it has already dropped to the chair.
QUESTION Sentence:The water pipe suspected belonged to the Gas Station.
- - Please give your comment whether the above sentence is grammatically correct.
- - Since the above sentence cotained two verbs : 'suspected' & 'belonged'
- - So whether the above sentence is grammatically correct or not?
- - If not, pl. tell me what kind of grammtical error and what should I do to prevent/try to learn from the above error
- - Also, I would be grateful if you can amend the above sentence so that the above sentence will look much better.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Hong Kong Wed, Nov 28, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE There's nothing really wrong with the sentenceexcept, as you've noted, the two verb forms, one after the other, might be a bit confusing. Actually, "suspected" is not a real verb; it's a participle, a modifier for "water pipe." We might, therefore, relieve some of the problem by moving the participle in front of the thing modified:The suspected water pipe belonged to the gas station.Would "questionable" or "suspicious" be better than "suspected"?
QUESTION How does one refer to the decade of 2000; for example, when referring to the 1900s one can say the 1990s. Does one say the 2000s?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Washington, D.C. Wed, Nov 28, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE James Fallows, in the Atlantic, uses it that way:I see its struggles in the 2000s as directly connected to its allegiance to a "different" model of capitalism.I see a problem there, of people confusing the decade with the millennium, but I can't think of a better way of writing it. It doesn't help that "the 2000s" is rather hard to say! Maybe we're just not used to it yet.
The following sentence has got me confused:Violence can take what IS often regarded as nonviolent forms -- shunning, ostracism and cliques.Is the verb correct, or should it be "are"?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Somewhere, California Wed, Nov 28, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Our English faculty has tossed this sentence around like a hot potato and has come to the following conclusions:
One colleague puts the choice this way:
- That the sentence should surely be rewritten into something simpler and more comfortable, such as "Violence can take apparently nonviolent forms: shunning, ostracism, and cliques" (this is an act of wisdom or cowardice or both);
- That if you were speaking this sentencesaying it (God knows how!) in conversationyou would probably say "what is," and you would not be incorrect; however,
- That in writing such a sentence, the "what" is regarded as singular until you become aware that it is referring, actually, to something pluralin this case, "forms" and then you change the verb to the plural"are"to reflect this fact.But the knowledge factor makes the choice a question of timing. If, when you start the sentence, you really don't know and you only decide after you get to the noun, then the first verb can stay singular before the revelation: "What needs to be bought for the party are pumpkins and a pinata." But in the case of the nonviolent forms, the knowledge of the noun's singular/plurality precedes the first verb.
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