QUESTION Can a prepositional phrase ever be considered a subject or object complement (adjectival)? In the example "She is like her father," what is the role of the phrase "like her father"? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Somewhere, New Jersey Fri, Jan 25, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Yes, a prepositional phrase can definitely be a subject complement. "Like her father" would be a good example, just like "It is in the closet."
QUESTION The following is an exact quote from the Philadelphia Inquirer:A school bus with 13 children that went missing this morning in Berks County was found near Washington, D.C. this afternoon, where the passengers were reported safe and the armed driver was arrested.We have argued all day about the phrase "that went missing." I can't believe this is grammatically correct. (In a later edition, the sentence was re-written!) SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Fri, Jan 25, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE According to my Merriam-Webster's the verb phrase "go missing" (meaning to disappear) is primarily British (which sort of surprises me). It is not grammatically incorrect, really, but it is certainly casual prose, even for a newspaper.
QUESTION Question: Is the noun "information" always singular? It sounds odd (to me) with a plural verb agreement.
"He used both the local and regional information that WERE available to him." or "He used both the local and regional information that WAS available to him."
"Both regional and local information HAVE been used." or "Both regional and local information HAS been used."
"Site and regional information IS summarized in Appendix A." or "Site and regional information ARE summarized in Appendix A."
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Vancouver, Canada Fri, Jan 25, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE No matter how many piles of information you add together, you've still got a singular entity when you're done and you need a singular verb in all those instances.
QUESTION Sure appreciate your help. Here's the sentence I'm confused about:"Like Don, there may be times that you're impatient for an answer."Can I safely use like in the above sentence? Or is this one of those cases where I should substitute as? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Unknown Sun, Jan 27, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE You can get away with "like" in that sentence, but I would put the modifying phrase much closer to the thing it's supposed to modify:"There may be times that you, like Don, are impatient for an answer."
QUESTION I have a question for you: Which is correct?"All the candidates for student office, including you and her, have filed the necessary papers with the university."Or is it "you and she." Is "including" acting like an appositive or is it a like a verb, thus turning "you" and "her" into direct objects?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Homer, New York Mon, Jan 28, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE A participial phrase includes the participle and its various complements or modifiers. For instance, in "Leading us down the pathway, Joe probed the darkness with his torch," the object of the participle, "us," takes the object form. Even though the phrase refers to the subject of the sentence, "the candidates," the pronouns within the phrase are objects of the participle "including," so "you and her" is correct.
QUESTION Regarding this sentence:The farmers from nearby plantations supplied Savannah with cotton.Is Savannah the direct object? and is "with cotton" the prep phrase answering the question supplied how? If not, what is the direct object? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Lancaster, Massachusetts Mon, Jan 28, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Certain verbs allow for different constructions in terms of object and modifier order. For instance, with "introduce," we usually follow the object with a "to" prepositional phrase: "She introduced John to religion" (but what actually receives the action of the verb remains dubious). Another example: "offer" can be used in either order: "He offered help to Mary" or "He offered Mary some help." Same with "blame": "She blamed the broken frame on John" and "She blamed John for the broken frame."
"Supply" (very much like "provide") works in this manner also. We could have said "The famers supplied cotton to Savannah," but we can choose to focus on the cotton by giving it end position: "[They] supplied Savannah with cotton." Yes, "Savanah" (in your construction) becomes the object and the prepositional phrase, "with cotton," modifies the verb.
Authority: A Grammar of Contemporary English by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. Longman Group: London. 1978. p. 846.
QUESTION Is it possible to use the comparative form 'than' followed by a what-clause like in this sentence which I found in the U.S. newspaper Washington Post:'Yet now, instead of respect, many of those men who generally fall in the bottom half of the income distribution face taking jobs that pay less than what their fathers made.' SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Altenkunstadt, Bavaria, Germany Mon, Jan 28, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I would say that in this sentence, it is not only possible but helpful. If we eliminate the "what," we end up comparing "jobs that pay less than their fathers made." The complete clause, including the "what," allows us to compare, more exactly, like things. I think most readers would have understood what the writer meant without the "what," but the sentence is a bit more clear with it. I will leave an e-mail icon here in case someone else can explain this better than I can.
QUESTION Is "else" necessary in a comparison with "like"? I'm editing a new edition of the Bible. 1 Samuel 26:15 reads, "You're a man, aren't you? Who [else] in Israel is like you?" It seems to me that the word "like" implies a comparison between two things, so "else" is not necessary. I know that it is necessary in the hypothetical ad copy, "No one in Nashville has these prices!" But it may not be necessary in "No one in Nashville has prices like ours!" If, perhaps, I have convinced you it is not necessary, is it permissible? Preferable? SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Nashville, Tennessee Mon, Jan 28, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE Assuming your store is in Nashville, it wouldn't make sense to say that "No one in Nashville has prices like ours." You have to say "no one else has prices like ours" because someone in Nashville does, in fact, have prices like yours: you do. And there is someone in Israel like you: you are like you. So we have to ask, "is there someone else like you in Israel?"
QUESTION My question relates to the subjunctive. Does "assuming" set of the use of the subjunctive "to be," as in the sentence,"The following examples of misconduct would not necessarily result in dismissal, assuming the specific incident of misconduct were neither serious nor recent,"Thank you for your help. SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Sacramento, California Mon, Jan 28, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE I think I must have been out of school, sick with the mumps, when my teacher covered the subjunctive. I find it very difficult to use correctly and even more difficult to explain. In sentences that propose or rely upon a "condition," there is a protasis (the condition) and an apodosis (the rest of the sentence, the consequence). You want the same mood in both parts. Your apodosis comes first (if you can forgive me for saying so) and is in the subjunctive ("would result"); your conditional statement, then, the protasis, should also be subjunctive; thus the "were" is preferred.
Authority: Dos, Don'ts & Maybes of English Usage by Theodore Bernstein. Gramercy Books: New York. 1999. p. 432.
QUESTION If a sentence begins with a year, does the year have to be spelled out or is, "2001 was a good year" correct
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE Oakhurst, New Jersey Mon, Jan 28, 2002 GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE According to the Chicago Manual of Style, you should write out any number "that would ordinarily be set in numerals . . . regardless of any inconsistency this may create," and that manual gives the following example:"Nineteen seventy-six was the year of the nation's bicentennial celebration."I certainly can't claim that I have adhered to this rule with any great consistency.
Authority: Chicago Manual of Style 14th ed. U of Chicago P: Chicago. 1993. p. 297.
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