December 28, 2009  •  helenhi

me vs. myself

In the following sentence, would “me” or “myself” be correct and why? Serious gardeners like my wife and me/myself always use organic fertilizer. Since the person talking is also a gardener and has referred to himself once already in the sentence as being in the group serious gardeners (”we gardeners”), it seems as if he should use “myself” in the reflexive. Yet this sounds wrong. Please help! The horrid trend of using “myself” in place of “me” is starting to wear me down and confuse me.

December 15, 2009  •  damienveatch

decapitalize vs. uncapitalize

I’m stuck on the correct use of “un-” (as in “reverse action”) and “de-”. Specifically, I want to write that a student should change an incorrectly capitalized word to the lower case. Should he “uncapitalize” it or “decapitalize” it? It’s true that the word should be uncapitalized, but since he incorrectly capitalized it in the first place, must he now decapitalize it?

December 3, 2009  •  josh2

A perfectly acceptable construction

“It has a great construction” sets my teeth on edge every time a writer I work with uses the phrase in written English. Is this correct/standard usage? It sounds so wrong to me, but I can’t point to the rule it violates. Am I simply biased against... A perfectly acceptable construction? These sound/seem so wrong:. My t-shirt has a durable cotton construction. That house has a great construction. With a construction of 100% cotton, her dress... I think you omit the indefinite article.

December 3, 2009  •  lainiewhitney

Prohibits...to be or from being?

When using the word prohibits... which is correct? ...which prohibits fences 4 ft in height from being erected ... or ...which prohibits fences 4 ft in height to be erected ...which prohibits any fence from being constructed... or ...which prohibits any fence to be constructed

October 30, 2009  •  yd

Table of Content vs Table of Contents

Apart from the fact that convention is clearly “Table of Contents”, is there a grammatical reasoning for “Table of Content” vs “Table of Contents”? I guess it comes down to whether the noun “content” is one that can be counted, i.e. several contents, or not. My instinct is that in fact, content is not an enumerable noun, i.e. it should be Table of Content. But does that mean that MS Word, LaTeX and all other Desktop Publishers out there are just wrong? YD

July 31, 2009  •  franka

46 year old heated Caribbean debate

Good Day All, I live in Trinidad and Tobago and for the last 46 years there’s been an argument about a point of grammar in our National Anthem. The last line is (what we learn in kindergarden): “Here every creed and race FIND an equal place” Some say this is grammatically correct. Others argue that it should be, “Here every creed and race FINDS an equal place”. Thousands of Letters to the Editor have been written arguing about this issue. Anyone care to help us solve this dilemma?

July 16, 2009  •  lisabedell

“The next stop will be...”

On the DC Metro, we are told: “The next stop will be X”. When will the next stop be x? I’m pretty sure the next stop *is* X!

June 10, 2009  •  chris2

Plural proper nouns ending in consonant-y

What about proper nouns as in team mascots? Our school mascot is a Grizzly. Would students be Grizzlies or Grizzlys? Since it’s a school’s mascot I’d like for it to be correct, but for the last 20 years it’s been spelled Grizzlies. I believe that spelling to be incorrect. Academic input please:o)

June 9, 2009  •  egkg

Plural of “insurance”?

I heard an ad on the radio recently for a company that performs medical procedures. At the end they said “We accept all major insurances.” That didn’t sound quite right to me, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard the plural of the word “insurance”. If it were me, I would’ve said “We accept all major insurance plans.” Am I right that there is no plural form of the word? On a related note, I’ve heard, mostly on TV news shows, “damages” a lot. I know that the word exists, meaning a monetary judgement awarded by a court, but they used it when they meant “damage”. For example, “Due to the ice storm, many damages were done to homes,” or “The car suffered severe damages from the accident.” This is improper usage, correct?

May 26, 2009  •  richie

“independence from” or “independence to”?

I have a feeling I’ll look at this again in a while and find the answer screamingly obvious. Do these parallel the form of “independent” exactly? As “independence of” seems really wrong, though “independent of” seems ok. I’m confused.

May 23, 2009  •  karlb

My mother wishes my child be like me.

I heard this sentence on radio or TV and while it seems correct grammatically, I believe the verb be is in the subjunctive mode, somehow it did not feel colloquial. Any comments?

May 21, 2009  •  tomolonight

Infinitive without “to”

What is an infinitive without “to”? He need not wait. or He needs not wait. Can you explain more about this?

May 14, 2009  •  Dyske

One of the most...

In one of the discussions here, Brian W. tells me that the following sentence is wrong: “This is one of the most common errors people make…” He says it should be: “One of the more common…” He explains: Proper use of ‘most’ requires the size of the set in which the subject is a member: “one of the 10 most.” Without a numeric qualifier, all but the last are potentially included in the set “one of the most.” That (unfortunately) makes it as meaningful as “up to 10… or more!” Now, is this a grammatical issue or stylistic issue? I see “one of the most” being used quite often. As a side note, in Japanese, “one of the most” would be an oxymoron because the concept of “most” implies that it is at the top of the list, that is, there is only one thing that could be “most” or “best”. I remember feeling awkward about the phrase “one of the most” when I was first learning English.

May 4, 2009  •  drmc

Verb, the process of being

What is it called when a verb is no longer the process of doing, but the process of being something? Is it still simply just a verb? Sorry for the lack of example, it was troubling me late last night, if i still remembered the word, i probably wouldn’t be asking this question.

April 27, 2009  •  Dyske

Effect vs. Affect

This is one of the most common errors people make, and I frequently come across people arguing about it. The explanations of how to use them properly are easy to find, but the conceptual difference between the two does not seem to stick in people’s mind. The confusion comes from the fact that “effect” can be used as a verb, although it’s rare. If it didn’t, there wouldn’t be any confusion (i.e. “effect” = noun and “affect” = verb). To make it worse, “effect” used as a verb is pretty close in meaning to “affect”. And, if that’s not confusing enough, “affect” can also be used as a noun, and it’s also similar in meaning to “effect” as a noun. So, the only way to get the hang of using them properly is to see actual examples. While I was arguing about this with a friend of mine, I came across this quiz that tests your ability to use “effect” and “affect” properly. I’m curious how well or badly everyone does on this quiz.

April 11, 2009  •  phil

Teams — is or are?

So I frequently write headlines such as “Manchester United are in the quarter-finals” but I always wonder if it should actually be “Manchester United is in the quarter-finals”. I think I actually use them interchangeably depending on what mood I’m in. I guess the question is whether a soccer team is a group of players (”are”) or if it’s an entity (”is”). Which is it?

February 25, 2009  •  mel

Sleep / Asleep

I cannot stand when people say “sleep” instead of “asleep”. For example I’ve heard, “When I got home, he was sleep on the couch”. What is this laziness of not saying ASLEEP?? I have lived in the North all of my life, and most recently moved to the south. This must be some sort of “southern dialect”, annoying to say the least....Has anyone else encountered this?

February 22, 2009  •  greenspark

There is/are progress and improvements.

Which would be correct? There ARE progress and improvements. There IS progress and improvements.

February 7, 2009  •  victoria

“it” after the word “known”

This is what I’d like to have engraved on a memorial brick, but the last line doesn’t look correct with the word “it” after “known”. I’m glad mostfolks let me knowthey’re religious.By their actions,I wouldn’t haveever known it.

January 30, 2009  •  richardg

I didn’t sleep last night AND the night before

My wife is a non-native speaker and came up with the phrase above. Rightly or wrongly - I gently suggested that I’d use OR instead of AND ie “I didn’t sleep last night AND the night before”. --> “I didn’t sleep last night OR the night before”. That’s based on the sound of it (I’m no expert). The second sentence sounds better to me, but makes no sense really. Why is it “OR”. In fact I’d probably use a slightly difference sentence in written English (after multiple hacks), and don’t really care re verbal use. But that’s not my my question. I’ve been wondering about the use of ‘AND’ and ‘OR’ in similar contexts. For example: “I don’t like chocolate OR ice-cream” “I don’t like chocolate AND ice-cream” “I don’t like chocolate OR vanilla ice-cream” “I don’t like chocolate AND vanilla ice-cream”. I think there’s two issues here... the grouping of words, and the way in which OR somehow acts like AND. The AND vs. OR bit particularly bothers me... Can somebody explain this? In math/logic they are opposite terms.

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