The
Grammar
Logs
# 483

QUESTION
Here is the sentence:
"The conductor was late in calling out 'all aboard'."
Here are the questions: in the above sentence, is "late" an adverb? and, what is is "in calling out 'all aboard'"?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE
San Antonio, Texas Wed, Feb 27, 2002
GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE
In that sentence, "late" is an adjective, the predicate adjective. I'd call "in calling out 'all aboard'" a prepositional phrase modifying the verb (saying how or in what manner the conductor was something).

QUESTION
How should this sentence read:
  • There is 10 to 15 degrees of loss. OR
  • There are 10 to 15 degrees of loss.
This is referring to a patient's leg extention.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE
Defiance, Ohio Wed, Feb 27, 2002
GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE
That 10 to 15 degrees of loss sounds like a quantity to me, a sum, a lump. I'd use the singular "is." And I think I'd spell "extension" with an "s."

QUESTION
'One of those works, a collection of my edited lectures, is entitled "Further Along the Road Less Traveled," as is the series of audiotapes from which it was developed.'

The above is the original quote from a book I am reading. I have problems with the clause starting with "as is ..." In particular, what does the "which" refers to? And the "it"?

From the sound of it, "which" should refer to the edited lectures, and "it" the series of audiotapes. However, grammatically, "which" should refer to "the series of audiotapes", and "it" would be left to refer to "Further Along the Road Less Traveled". The latter interpretation results in less clear meaning with the use of "as is". By the way, what is the part of speech of "as is"?

SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Wed, Feb 27, 2002
GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE
The "which" refers to the series of audiotapes, and the "it" refers to "one of those works" (or to its appositive, "a collection of my edited lectures"). "As" functions as a subordinating conjunction in that sentence; for some reason, we have an inversion of subject-verb order after that conjunction. The writer might have been wise to use two separate sentences here.

QUESTION
The West will have well-above-normal temperatures today.

Is it correct to hyphenate well-above-normal in this sentence since these words modify the noun, temperatures? Thanks
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE
State College, Pennsylvania Wed, Feb 27, 2002
GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE
According to the Chicago Manual of Style, we should hyphen compounds with ill, well, better, best, etc., when they appear before the noun they modify. So yes, use hyphens there.

Authority: Chicago Manual of Style 14th ed. U of Chicago P: Chicago. 1993. p. 221.


QUESTION
Is there a rule, and if ss what is it, regarding apostrophes and contractions in names or advertising terms such as:
  • Hot 'n' Spicy
  • In 'n' out
  • Clean 'n' Shine
  • Juice 'n' dog
I've alway been taught that the apostropy should be before and after the "n" (such as rock 'n' roll). Can you help please?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE
Minneapolis, Minnesota Thu, Feb 28, 2002
GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE
We could make up all the rules we want, but the corporate world will do what the corporate world wants to do. Generally, you're right: we use an apostrophe where a letter is omitted. Thus, "rock 'n' roll" makes sense, as does "hot 'n' spicy." Most writing reference texts, however, suggest that we go along with a company's preference in the spelling of its product name. That's why you'll end up with Wash 'n Dri, Shake 'n Bake, Linens N' Things, Light n' Lively, etc.

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. 134.


QUESTION
Neither you nor I is/are/am? good at Maths. Thank you.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE
Singapore Tue, Mar 5, 2002
GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE
When you connect subjects with the correlative conjunctions neither-nor, the verb is determined the subject closer to it. So, in this case, we want "am." If this sounds odd to you, however, you can try to adjust the sentence by putting the other subject closer to the verb: "Neither I nor you are very good at math." (In this case, it's not a huge improvement.)

QUESTION
Is it correct to say: BWSR staff provides overall program guidance, processes affiliated grants, and provides plan review and comments?
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE
St. Paul, Minnesota Tue, Mar 5, 2002
GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE
Wouldn't you put a "the" in front of "BWSR staff"? I would. Does the phrase "plan review and comments" make sense? The problem with it is that "comments" can look like another in your string of other verbs — provides, processes, provides, etc. So I'd try to come up with another word if I were you — like "provides plan analysis." If possible, I would combine the two "provides" parts of what you do.

QUESTION
I am an ESL student and I don't understand something. My grammar book says an indefinite article can never come before a proper noun. However when I read the newspaper I find that this rule is broken many times. For example: An embarrassed Ben Miles was hounded by reporters. OR: an angry Joe yelled at Bob. I have noticed that most of the time when this rule is broken it's usually in the form of an indefinite article then by an adjective and then finally the proper noun. If this a rhetorical device or a literary device please give me the name. There can be more aspects of grammar such as this that I still have not seen. I guess my real problem is finding a grammar book that is comprehensive enough to give me knowledge of this and all other aspects of grammar. If you know of any titles please list them. Thank You so much for taking away from your valuable time to read this and to help me. I will be anxiously awaiting for your response.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE
Flushing, New York Wed, Mar 6, 2002
GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE
I don't know if this particular use of the indefinite articles "a" and "an" has a name. But you're right: they are used this way, when they can be roughly translated as "a certain" or "a person giving his/her name as," as in "A Mr. Johnson came to pay her an unexpected visit." I have recommended several texts in Grammar's Bookshelf. Unfortunately, the book I refer to below is out of print (but you might be able to find it in used book stores).

Authority: A Grammar of Contemporary English by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. Longman Group: London. 1978. p. 137.


QUESTION
Which is of the following examples is correct?
  • I prepared your Form 1099's.
  • I prepared your Form 1099s.
Thank your for your help. There is considerable debate over this in our office!
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE
Tulsa, Oklahoma Wed, Mar 6, 2002
GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE
You don't need the apostrophe to create the plural of numbers like that: "1099s" will do the job nicely.

Authority: The Gregg Reference Manual by William A. Sabin. 9th Edition. McGraw-Hill: New York. 2001. Used with the consent of Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.


QUESTION
What is the past tense of "blow dry", is it "blew dry", "blow dried", or something else. Thanks
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE
Needham, Massachusetts Wed, Mar 6, 2002
GRAMMAR'S RESPONSE
The dictionary calls for a hyphen between "blow" and "dry"; it also says that the past tense is "blow-dried" (which sounds odd to me, but that's what the dictionary calls for).

Authority: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Electronic Edition, Version 1.5. 1996. Used with permission.


Previous Grammar Log

Next Grammar Log

Index of Grammar Logs

Guide to Grammar and Writing