QUESTION I have a question about the proper use of/syntax about whether or not it is correct to use the word tuna or tuna fish. For example: " Would you like to eat a tuna sandwich for lunch?" OR " Would you like to eat a tuna fish sandwich for lunch?"I was an English major in college and the use of words correctly is my biggest pet peeve, so this question is driving me crazy! Can you please help me out so that I may enlighten my friends? We had a rather heated dabate about this last night and I told them that saying "tuna fish" is redundant, and that just saying the word "tuna" alone is sufficient. I assume that saying it either way is acceptable, since many people say "tuna fish" so often, but, I am curious to know which usage is the most proper. Can you please help me out with this? Thank you very much. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Barbourville, Kentucky Fri, Dec 7, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I don't think you'll find much about this distinction in the writing reference manuals, but my Merriam-Webster's does say, under their entry for the word "tuna," that the flesh of the tuna is called, also, "tuna fish." I have to admit it's odd: you certainly wouldn't say that you ordered trout fish for dinner. But for some reason, the word "tuna" is often (or at least sometimes) accompanied by the word "fish" and mayonnaise.
QUESTION I saw a question in our local paper on which of the following two is correct:
My many years of English grammar and sentence diagramming (plus five years of Latin, four of French, and three of Greek) tell me that the first is correct. It does sound a bit stilted, however, and should probably be rephrased.
- This is my grandpa and I taking a nap
- This is my grandpa and me taking a nap.
Our local paper gave the other answer, implying that this was really an ellipsis: "This is (a picture of) Grandpa and me taking a nap."
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Sat, Dec 8, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I admire your local paper's ingenuity. I'm afraid it's a bit too easy to explain such constructions by providing a missing "ellipsis." If you were going through this same pile of photographs and you came across a photo of yourself, when you were small, you might ask your mother, "Is this me?" Surely, you would not ask, "Is this I?"! There are moments in speaking and writing when correctness "This is my grandpa and I taking a nap." slips over the line into sheer stuffiness.
QUESTION Is the following sentence grammatically correct?'Even if you clarify that the address is not a place of business, if you have business in any other places which fall within the ambit of the 'place of business' definition, you are still required to deliver documents to us for registration.' SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Hong Kong Sat, Dec 8, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Two "if clauses" like this, one after the other, are bound to be confusing, especially when we don't know if the "even" is supposed to apply to the second one or not. (Also, we are postponing the real business of the sentence [in the independent clause] for a very long time.) Does it disrupt the meaning of the sentence too much to move the second "if clause" to the end of the sentence?Even if you clarify that the address is not a place of business, you are still required to deliver documents to us for registration if you have business in any other places which fall within the ambit of the 'place of business' definition.
QUESTION This is a sentence from a college essay:"It is a place where everyone treats each other with utmost respect and kindness."I am unsure if I am correctly using the word "utmost." Should there be a "the" before the word, should I change the word to something else, or is the sentence just fine the way it is?
I greatly appreciate your help!! Thank you so much for offering this service!
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Sat, Dec 8, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You can use the word "utmost" without the preceding "the." I'd like to suggest, though, that you consider eliminating the word altogether. Being treated "with kindness and respect" will nicely suffice.
QUESTION Sometime I find an expression like Noun after Noun of Noun in a subject position as in (1) below.(1)Rank after rank of tanks passed by roaring.In this kind of sentences, do (auxiliary) verbs have to be in plural form or in singular form?
Which is acceptable, (2a) or (2b)?(2) a. Rank after rank of tanks are passing by roaring. b. Rank after rank of tanks is passing by roaring.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Tokyo, Japan Sat, Dec 8, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE In one bit of grisly Civil War business, we find this description (written by a northern officer):Rank after rank was riddled by shot and shell and bayonet thrusts, and finally sank, a mass of torn and mutilated corpses.However, I think it depends on how we're thinking of whatever we're describing. In the Civil War description, the "rank after rank" is being regarded as a mass of men, a collective entity, and the singular verb seems appropriate. If we wrote that "row after row of soldiers were moving toward the front," we'd be thinking of the soldiers as groups of individuals, and we'd use the plural verb. I think I'd rewrite your sentence as follows (allowing the phrase "rank after rank" to serve as an adverbial modifier):The tanks were passing by, roaring, rank after rank.
QUESTION When do you use Attachments and Enclosures?
I have always been told that you use the Attachments when you are attaching information to a memorandum; and Enclosures with letters.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Austin, Texas Sat, Dec 8, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Because you are more apt to staple or otherwise attach a document to a cover letter (as opposed to simply enclosing the document) with a memorandum, it is probably true that most memos have accompanying attachments (as opposed to enclosures). The same distinction, though, can be made with all correspondence: if it's attached by staple or paper clip, you can call it an attachment.
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. 382.
QUESTION Is the phrase "Believe you me" correct? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Sunrise, Florida Sat, Dec 8, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE It depends on what you mean by "correct." It's certainly an easily recognized colloquialism. Burchfield says it's been around since 1926, and that it's simply an extension of the phrase "Believe me," which has been around for centuries. (Burchfield also calls it "condescending," although I'm not sure how that description fits.)
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.
QUESTION I can't find a rule why it is gramatically correct : "It's high time we send (and not sent) him a registered letter" and "It's about time you spent (and not spend) a little less money."
Thank you for your help.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Somewhere, Czechoslovakia Sun, Dec 9, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE My colleague Professor Farbman explains addresses this question this way:
This is another of those cases of "real" and "unreal" conditionals, which in more rational languages would be regulated by subjunctive standards. The issue is how fully the speaker expects the action to happen. If there's a real intention to send that registered letter now that the reminder has been issued, then the verb is present. If the speaker has some doubt that we'll ever get around to sending the letter after all, then the verb is past:
As for "It's about time," I can't give a grammatical reason why it never sounds right followed by the present. The explanation must be semantic: "about time" seems to move backward more, drawing in shadows of the time that's been spent already, while "high time" seems more neutral, able to be look both ways depending on the speaker's attitude.
- "It's high time we send him a registered letter." = a plan to do something, a "real" condition for a future action.
- "It's high time we sent him a registered letter." = a regret that we haven't done something, more focus on the past non-action, and a wishful thought about the future action that may or may not take placean "unreal" (or unsure) condition for a future action.
QUESTION I'm a bit confused about the following sentence:The various lobster, crab and prawn in our aquarium find their way to the kitchens of our chefs Lee and Chow.Shouldn't it be lobsters, crabs and prawns? "Various prawn" sounds wrong.
And, is it all right to say, 'We have a large selection of lobster, crab and prawn in our aquarium.'?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Mon, Dec 10, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Perhaps this amounts to a confusion with the word "fish," which can serve as both singular and plural? For some reason, though, when we hunt or otherwise procure animals, we often speak of them using the singular even when we mean the plural. Native Americans hunted buffalo, (as opposed to buffalos). And one could even hunt for rabbit, I suppose. Lobsterpeople head to sea to "haul lobster," but would be very disappointed if they caught only one. I think it has something to do with countability. "We have ten lobsters in our aquarium. We keep lobster in our aquarium all winter." (Actually, I can imagine that second sentence working either way; in fact, I can imagine the sentences you give us working with the plural or singular forms of these words. It all depends on whether you're thinking of them as generic kinds of sea-beasts [and use the singular form] or as individual animals [and use the plural].) I'll leave an e-mail icon here in case someone has a better explanation.
QUESTION Should this sentence read:
- Know who to trust.
- Know whom to trust.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Dayton, Ohio Mon, Dec 10, 2001 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You need the object form there, "whom" (which is then modified by the infinitive phrase, "to trust").
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