The Grammar Logs
#606

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Question

I often see the following two types of sentences.

  • I would appreciate *it* if you would send me a refund. (1a)
  • I would appreciate if you would send me a refund. (1b)
  • I would prefer *it* if you kept away from her. (2a)
  • I would prefer if you kept away from her. (2b)

QUESTION:
In these sentences, can "it" be eliminated as in (1b) and (2b)? Is this a kind of "ellipsis" or for some other reason? Some dictionaries do not admit this omission (of "it"). Why are such sentences as (1b )and (2b) — without it — possible?

I would much appreciate it if you would kindly answer this question.

Source of Question, Date of Response
Tokyo, Japan # Fri, May 28, 2004
Grammar's Response

Some writing authorities don't approve the use of "appreciate" in the sense of "being grateful for" at all, but they are in a minority, certainly. None of my resources speak directly to your question about the omission of "it," but some of them do object to a clause directly following as the object of "appreciate" (particularly clauses beginning with "how" or "that" — but I think we should add "if"). Garner, for instance, says that "We appreciate how you've worked for the community" should be replaced by "We are grateful for …" When you omit the "it" in your sentences, you're creating the same problem of "appreciate" being followed by a clause; the sentences work better with "it." In a Google search, incidentally, "appreciate it if" outnumbers similar constructions without the "it" by a 3 to 2 margin. Having said all this, however, you're now left with a wordy and gaseous substitute for the more direct and equally polite "Please send me a refund {for ______}."

From Garner's Modern American Usageby Bryan Garner. Copyright 2003 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

Let me know infinitive can be used in how many ways. And what is but in this sentence grammatically?

we had no choice but to obey.
Source of Question, Date of Response
Peshwar, Pakistan # Sat, May 29, 2004
Grammar's Response

Infinitives and infinitive phrase can serve many functions in a sentence. See our section called The Garden of Phrases. In your sentence, the word "but" is doing something it doesn't do very often; it's acting as a preposition (as it would, say, in "As a basketball player, she is everything but tall"), and the infinitive is the object of that preposition. "But to obey" is a prepositional phrsase modifying the word "choice."


Question

I have seen this written:

What gets monitored, gets done.

I don't think a comma should separate the first part of this sentence from the last. Am I right?

Source of Question, Date of Response
Unknown # Tue, Jun 1, 2004
Grammar's Response

As a general rule, your instincts are right: you don't want a single comma coming between the subject and its predicate. Here, your subjbect is "What gets monitored" and the verb is "gets." My impulse, too, is to omit the comma.

What gets monitored gets done.

Our mutual impulse is confirmed when we do a search on Google.com for this sentence. I was astonished to find that this sentence is regarded as an "old adage," and out of 48 appearances, only one or two contain the superfluous comma. I'm nearly sixty and there are still old adages running around out there that I've never heard of. How sad.


Question

Which is right in this sentence, although or though?

Although/though this department enters the agent data for both group and individual policies, only the agent data for the individual policies is included in the IM08 data interface.
Source of Question, Date of Response
Mason, Ohio # Tue, Jun 1, 2004
Grammar's Response

The only difference between the two is that "although" carries a bit more weight; it is a tad more formal and ought to be used, certainly, where you're looking for an argumentative edge. Save "though" for more conversational, casual situations.


Question
MMMM
Source of Question, Date of Response
Steamboat Springs, Colorado # Wed, Jun 2, 2004
Grammar's Response

A.M. means "ante-meridiem" or before mid-day (noon), and P.M. means "post-meridiem" or after noon, Logically, then, if you were to assign a.m. or p.m. to "midnight," which would it be? It is the close of your day and it has to come after mid-day, so midnight should be 12 p.m. However, how can 12 p.m. be followed by 12:01 a.m.? All of this means that a.m. and p.m. are rather sloppy conventions (when it comes to noon and midnight), and you're much better off using simply "noon" and "midnight." (Our school sometimes uses 12 N to indicate noon.) Furthermore, noon can, technically not be "post" anything (nor can it be before anything). It is what it is, noon. On the other hand, and finally, if you're announcing lunch plans for 12 p.m., it seems doubtful that anyone will show up at midnight.


Question

Which is grammatically correct in the following sentence: outcomes of or outcomes from?

This newsletter is an introduction to the successful outcomes of (from) the School's collaboration and partnership with public sector agencies and other Schools
Source of Question, Date of Response
Baton Rouge, Louisiana # Wed, Jun 2, 2004
Grammar's Response

If we contemplated rewriting the sentence as "the succesful results of" and decide to use "of" because it words with "results," we might just wonder why we don't drop the voguish word "outcomes" and use the perfectly happy "results of" in the first place.


Question

In his letter to Illinois State University alumni, Al Bowman wrote how he felt upon being elected ISU president. He said, "...I was humbled and relieved. But most of all I was appreciative, for it is an honor and privilege to be one of only 17 individuals chosen to hold the presidency of an institution that has a 147-year legacy."

What does he mean when he said, "I was humbled"?

Source of Question, Date of Response
Bangkok, Thailand # Thu, Jun 3, 2004
Grammar's Response

I think I must have been out sick the day the teacher taught us how to use the word "humble" (adjective or verb), because I am always astonished to hear people who, in my estimation, ought to be saying they're proud (the opposite of humble), say that they are humble or humbled. Why in the hell would you be "humbled" to be named a college president? I would think your buttons would be popping and flying off your chest! We're taught from an early age that it is better to be humble than proud, so when we have a perfectly good reason for saying that we're proud, we tend to say the opposite. I'm not sure what he means by "relieved," either. It sort of sounds like he's surprised to discover that the university has, after all, such good sense and taste to choose him to be president. I hope that all 17 of those individuals aren't going to be president at the same time. Having said all this, I guess it's a good thing I don't work at ISU.


Question

The word "because" is a conjuction which links two clauses together. However, we also have got another›expression "this is because". Could you please explain what "because" function here in this expression? Is it a conjunction here too? If so, why?. An if it is not, what does it function here?

Source of Question, Date of Response
Unknown # Mon, Jun 7, 2004
Grammar's Response

Let's finish that sentence: "This is because we're allergic to peppers." The word "because" can only be a conjunction, according to our dictionary, but that doesn't tell us, necessarily, how the clause that "because clause" is going to function within our sentence. In our sentence, the beause clause is the predicate nominative for the subject place-holder, "this" (an expletive construction). That means that the because clause is a kind of noun clause. We might think of this another way, however. If we regard "because" as a kind of shorthand for "on account of the fact that we are allergic to peppers," we could regard it as kind of a preposition (just as "because of" is a prepositional construction in "We left because of the noise). But that's a bit of a stretch, and I prefer to think of "because we are allergic to peppers" as a predicate nominative clause in that sentence.


Question

My friend wrote in her resume, "Department manager with over 16 year's technical knowledge". I think she should have used "16 years of experience" instead. What do you think?

Source of Question, Date of Response
Columbus, Georgia # Mon, Jun 7, 2004
Grammar's Response

I think, as you suggest, we should change "knowledge" to "experience" because it's hard to measure knowledge in years. I think we should change "over" to "more than" because some readers don't like to use "over" use with countable things. And then let's change "year's" to "years"" (with the apostrophe after the "s") because "years" is a plural that you then turn into a possessive. If you persuade her to change it to "16 years of …," that's OK, too, but it's not necessary.


Question

A sentence in a document reads as follows, including quotation marks:

Note that there are provisions in the law which refer specifically to "telecommunication services," which include the services provided by our company.

I think that the words within the quotation marks constitute a singular subject and that the verb should be "includes." What do you think?

Source of Question, Date of Response
Burlington, Ontario, Canada # Mon, Jun 7, 2004
Grammar's Response

The quotation marks, as you suggest, make us understand the enclosed item as a "notion" a "category" a "kind of thing," which calls for a singular verb, "includes." The sentence could have been made less ambiguous:

Note that there are provisions in the law which refer specifically to "telecommunication services," a category that includes all the services provided by our company.


 


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