The Grammar Logs
#575

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THE DATES ON THESE ENTRIES READS 'Tue, AUGUST 5, 2003' INSTEAD OF THE ACTUAL DATE OF ENTRY. THAT ERROR WILL BE CORRECTED AS OF DECEMBER 11th. WE APOLOGIZE FOR ANY CONFUSION.
Question

Is it grammatically correct to say, "I want a good-paying job?" Or should it be "well-paying job?"

Source of Question, Date of Response
Lowell, Massachusetts # Fri, Aug 1, 2003
Grammar's Response

Although both phrases are common enough, "well-paying" is much more common (on the Internet, anyway). If we regard "paying" as an adjectival (present participle) modifier of "jobs," for instance, it makes sense to use the adverb "well" to intensify that adjective (however slightly).


Question

Is it correct to say "he outlined the outcomes of the meeting" rather than "he outlined the outcome of the meeting"? I think that a (singular) meeting can have only one outcome but that it can make several recommendations. Is this correct?

Source of Question, Date of Response
Somewhere, England # Fri, Aug 1, 2003
Grammar's Response

I agree with your analysis of the situation and your use of the singular outcome. To say that the meeting had more than one outcome is to suggest that people cannot agree on what happened at that meeting — which, come to think of it, is how most meetings end in the academic world. The outcome of any meeting can be complex, though (as you suggest), manifesting itself in several resolutions, recommendations, etc.


Question

Is the term "Enclosed, please find" proper grammar? Example: Enclosed please find my invoice in the amount of $23.50.

I was taught this was incorrect as it implies the item may be lost inside the envelope, etc.

Source of Question, Date of Response
Conway, South Carolina # Tue, Aug 5, 2003
Grammar's Response

Grammatically, the phrase is OK, and I'm sure that most people know what it means, but it is generally regarded as frilly and as "archaic deadwood" (as Garner calls it). It would be much simpler to say "Enclosed is my check for … ."

From The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Styleby Bryan Garner. Copyright 1995 by Bryan A. Garner. Published by Oxford University Press, Inc., www.oup-usa.org, and used with the gracious consent of Oxford University Press.


Question

When using a P.O. Box and a street address in the inside address, which comes first?

Source of Question, Date of Response
Jefferson City, Missouri # Tue, Aug 5, 2003
Grammar's Response

According to the Gregg Reference Manual, you should probably use just one — either PO Box or street address — on the envelope: the PO Box when you're using the regular mail and the street address when you're using an express service. If you use both, the postal service will use whichever comes immediately before the city-state-zip code line. On the inside, on the letter itself, it doesn't matter a great deal as it does not affect delivery, but generally, the PO Box would come first.

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. 363.


Question

I sometimes can't tell when "with" or "by" should be used in a prepositional phrase.

  • Example: Mars was populated only BY Martians vs.
  • Mars was populated only WITH Martians.
Source of Question, Date of Response
Portland, Oregon # Tue, Aug 5, 2003
Grammar's Response

I'd go with the "by" Martians. The "by" tells us that only Martians live there. The "with" could suggest that some other folks populated Mars, but they used Martians for the purpose — as in "The ranchers stocked their tanks with sunfish."


Question

(1) "He is an unusual student(,) unlike his classmates." — Is this comma necessary?

(2) Could an article be omitted in a chapter's title? e.g. in "A Mother's Love," "A Thief's Confession," and "The Victorial Reunion." Please analyze each case.

Source of Question, Date of Response
Somewhere, Florida # Tue, Aug 5, 2003
Grammar's Response

Yes, that comma is necessary. The sentence, however, remains oddly ambiguous. Either that or it's redundant. If he is unusual, then he is obviously unlike his classmates. Or we're put in the peculiar situation of wondering what his classmates, all those "usual students," are really like. We might try intensifying that word "unlike": "He is an unusual student, quite unlike his classmates." But something more specific would be helpful.

I take it that the question about omitting the article in a title is about using those titles in a review or article about those works of art. If so, it would be commonplace to drop the article in your discussion. Let's say writer's title is "A Thief's Confession"; you would surely begin your critical essay about that story (or whatever it is) by using the full title. In a subsequent reference, however, you could very well say something like "The use of dialog in ''Thief's Confession' runs counter to what we find in _____'s other murder mysteries."

If you're talking about simply omitting the article in the title itself, and if it's your title, you can do whatever you wish. If there's a difference in meaning, I don't know what it is.


Question

A question about "felt like." Lately I've been hearing folks say "felt like" when it seems to me that "felt" would be sufficient. For example, the winning football coach says, "We felt like we could run the ball on them pretty good." I "feel like" the "like" is excess bagage. Is it wrong, or am I just being overly-sensitive on this?

Source of Question, Date of Response
Madison, Wisconsin # Tue, Aug 5, 2003
Grammar's Response

The "like" is necessary only when a comparison is being made: "I felt like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs." When a clause is being introduced the "like" is, indeed, excess and inappropriate baggage. Usually, "that" or nothing at all would be an improvement. "We felt that we/ We felt we could run the ball on them pretty good." Of course, the "pretty good" suggests that we're being extremely casual anyway, and the "felt like" might be an effort to reproduce the way that some people talk (although one has to wonder why).


Question

I have a grammatical dispute with a person I was proofreading. Please let me know correct sentence structure. I am questioning whether to use has or have. I know the punctuation can be improved.

They who are an internet provider (has/have) an account established for them.
Source of Question, Date of Response
Unknown # Tue, Aug 5, 2003
Grammar's Response

The subject is "they," so you have to use "have." The sentence has no problems with punctuation, but surely there is a way to avoid that "they who are" construction. What about something like "Internet providers will have an account … " or start with the idea of the account, as in "Accounts will be established for all Internet providers," or avoid the passive construction altogether and tell us who is going to establish accounts for the Internet providers.


Question

Is it correct to say "anyone else but" in the sentence "It could not have been done by anyone else but John himself."? Or should it be "anyone else than"? Is there a general rule whether "else" is followed by "but" or by "than"? My feeling is that "but" should be used in the sentence that I gave as an example ("It could not have been done by anyone else but John himself."), but that is equally correct to say "There is nothing else than sand in that country."

Source of Question, Date of Response
Amsterdam, Netherlands # Tue, Aug 5, 2003
Grammar's Response

"Anyone else but me" has been a common idiom ever since "Don't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me." But I date myself with that little lyric. A more formal construction would be "It could not have been done by anyone other than John himself." The sentence "There is nothing else than sand … " just doesn't work at all; we would need "There is nothing but sand in that country" (and drop the "else" altogether).


Question

Please provide a reference and an example of the proper use of capitalizing hyphenated words in a title. For example, if the title of a paper were

The Definition of Health-Related Deaths

would the word "related" be capitalized, or should the title be

The Definition of Health-related Deaths
Source of Question, Date of Response
Washington, D.C. # Tue, Aug 5, 2003
Grammar's Response

At the beginning of a sentence, you'd capitalize just the first part of your compound, as in "President-elect Jones… ." But in a title or heading you'd capitalize both parts: "Self-Confidence among Sailors."

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. 108.


 


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