The Grammar Logs
#579

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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 there a distinction between using US and U.S. I always thought US was used when referring to the United States as a noun -- and that U.S. when beng used as an adjective -- such as "U.S. Customs" or "U.S. citizen" or "U.S. sanction". But "I was born in the US" or "I like to vacation in the US."

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

I would recommend NOT using the abbreviation of the United States without the periods. It creates too many difficulties: it looks like an acronym for other things so it confuses people and it's just not that recognizable without those periods. The consensus among my usage manuals is that you can use the abbreviation "U.S." when it's working as a modifer (in text that is not formal) — U.S. policy, U.S. Air Force, etc. — but when it's used as a noun, don't abbreviate the United States (i.e., write "I live in the United States," not "I live in the U.S.").


Question

Is it now considered appropriate to begin a sentence with "Additionally" rather than "In addition"

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

I was never aware of any prejudice against "additionally," but my Merriam-Webster's usage manual says that some authorities dislike it and call it "clumsy." Indeed it is, and it probably ought to be avoided wherever "and" or "also" or even "in addition to" will do the job. But there are certainly no rules against using it, and if it serves your purpose, use it.

By permission, From Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage © 1994 by Merriam-Webster, Inc. (www.Merriam-Webster.com).


Question
When do i use "due to" versus "owing to". For example "due to the inclemency of the weather, the concert was postponed." Or "the concert was postponed owing to the inclemency of the weather"
Source of Question, Date of Response
Bridgetown, Barbados W.I. # Tue, Aug 5, 2003
Grammar's Response

I was unaware of the agelessness of the controversy over "due to" until now. Historically, commentators have objected to "due to" unless it was preceded by a linking verb, as in "It must be due to my lack of polish." Lately, though, most commentators have decided that there's nothing wrong with it. According to E. Ward Gilman, "due to is as impeccable grammatically as owing to, which is frequently recommended as a substitute for it. There never has been a grammatical ground for objection. … There is no solid reason to avoid using due to."

By permission, From Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage © 1994 by Merriam-Webster, Inc. (www.Merriam-Webster.com).


Question

I will be very grateful if you would tell me which of the following expressions you consider correct:

  1. Statistically significantly high failure rates
  2. Statistically significant high failure rates

I believe 'statistically significantly high' is correct, but I am unable to find any guidance in texts on usage.

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

I believe that you're talking about high failure rates that are statistically significant. I'd stick with the adjective form, "significant."


Question

Today one of the leading newspapers in India has reported as follows:

" MUSIC LEGEND JOHNNY CASH DIES AT 71 "

My doubt is about the use of "DIES" actually at what context it is being used and why not it be "DIED" since the person is no more, and whether it won't be a past tense viz. "DIED"

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

Headlines frequently use the present tense. If the President signed something yesterday, the headline will announce: "President signs [present tense] bill … ." I guess that gives the news a kind of immediaacy it wouldn't have in the past tense. That logic carries over to a verb like "dies," also, so what you see is commonplace, even though, yes, it is a little strange. Chalk it up to journalistic conventions.


Question

I have a capitalization question. If I am referring to an organization mid-sentence, and the organization's name includes a "The" at the beginning, do I capitalize "the"?

On behalf of the staff here at The Carnegie Mellon Foundation, we'd like to thank you.

It looks funny.

Source of Question, Date of Response
Washington, D.C. # Tue, Aug 5, 2003
Grammar's Response

Unless it's important for some legal or technical reason to give the full name of the organization, leave the "the" in lower case. "Here at the Carnegie Mellon Foundation … " is perfectly acceptable.

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. 96.


Question

I need help identifying the parts of speech in this sentence:

My mother lined me up against the wall.

I am having trouble with the up against the wall part... Thank you

Source of Question, Date of Response
Hudson, New Hampshire # Tue, Aug 5, 2003
Grammar's Response

We should call the "lined up" a phrasal verb and "me" the direct object of the sentence. "Against the wall," then, becomes a prepositional phrase behaving like an adverb (telling us where she lined me up).


Question

My daughter writes a paper every Friday. This paper must include 10 of her vocabulary words, and they must be used in the correct form. One of the sentences she wrote was " my dog pierced a hole in the waterbed. The teacher marked it wrong, and said " you cannot pierce a hole". I cannot believe this is right. The definition of pierce is to put a hole in. Please advise.

Source of Question, Date of Response
Newnan, Georgia # Tue, Aug 5, 2003
Grammar's Response

You probably don't want to use the definition of "pierce" as part of your argument. If to pierce something is to put a hole in it, then how (as your daughter's teacher asks) can you pierce a hole? However, I think we can argue that "piercing a hole" is different from "making a hole." When you pierce a hole, you use a particular kind of sharp implement — a needle, a nail, something sharp and pointy. If you do a search on Google.com for "pierce a hole" (with the quote marks), you'll come up with more than 1500 uses of the phrase. Now that, in itself, proves nothing — just that people do use the phrase that way. If you read some of the sentences that come up, you see they're describing that action of making a hole with a pointed sharp implement. If I were your daughter's teacher, I might have asked, "Can you pierce a hole?" And the answer is no, you can't, but maybe you can pierce a hole in something. I'd've let your daughter's sentence stand, myself.


Question

Is it grammatically correct to use much in affirmative sentences ?

ex. There is much money in my account.

What is the difference between much and a lot of ?

  • ex. There is not a lot of meant left.
  • There is not much meant left.
Source of Question, Date of Response
Santo Andre, SP, Brazil # Tue, Aug 5, 2003
Grammar's Response

There isn't much difference, if any, between "a lot of" and "much." As for using the word much in an affirmative sentence, it doesn't work that way as an adjective. As an adverb, much will appear in affirmative sentences when it precedes the verb: "We much prefer this arrangement" and "We much admire the way he did this." It is probably more frequently used with the intensifier "very" in this situation: "We very much regret the damages caused to your company."

Authority: A University Grammar of English by Randolph Quirk and Sidney Greenbaum. Longman Group: Essex, England. 1993. Used with permission. p. 449.

Question

All of a sudden, I am frequently seeing usages of capitalization after a colon, such as the following quoted from CNN:

"One clear sign of this: Top Clark aide George Bruno, an attorney and Clinton-Gore '92 operative ..."

Since when is it appropriate to capitalize "Top"? Is this a proper usage? Thanks so much.

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

In newspapers and magazines, you will frequently find the capitalized first word of a full sentence following a colon. Whether or not this is a good idea is a matter of debate among authorities and editors of usage manuals. Usually a colon comes at the end of a clause that can stand by itself, which isn't the case in your sentence (although one could argue that "There is" can be understood at the beginning of that sentence). That, I suppose, could make a difference in one's impulse to begin the real business of the sentence with a capital letter. Beginning a full sentence with an initial capital after a colon is normally unnecessary except when what follows the colon is a formal quotation: "My father liked to quote Shakespeare in situations like this: "This above all, to thine own self be true."


 


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