February 2, 2014  •  Warsaw Will

apostrophe with expressions of distance or time

I imagine everyone uses an apostrophe with expressions of distance or time when the number is one: It’s only an hour’s drive from here. They live a mile’s walk away. A stone’s throw away. It follows that an apostrophe should also be used in the plural version, as stipulated by, amongst others, The Guardian and Economist style guides: It’s three hours’ drive from here. They live two miles’ walk away. I notice the apostrophe is often dropped here, so my question is this - do you think the apostrophe: is always optional? is only necessary in formal writing? is always necessary? or that there is some other grammatical explanation that makes the apostrophe unnecessary?

November 22, 2012  •  Dean Hogan

Punctuations for a series of sentences

I saw this sentence in a text: “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Should the comma be replaced with a semicolon because all three elements are independent clauses.   Should the sentence be written, “I came. I saw. I conquered.” or “I came; I saw; I conquered.”? Is the comma acceptable, because the elements are in a simple series?

September 20, 2012  •  Thredder

Abbreviation of “number”

Ok, so the abbreviation is No, but should it have a capital ‘n’ to distinguish if from ‘no’, and is it with a period after it, or not? It is short for numero so, at least in British English, I understand that there should be no period (as the last letter of the abbreviation is the last letter of the word), but in US English there would be (because they don’t care about that sort of thing). And the plural...? Nos. or Nos ... or nos or nos. ? or just leave it as No?

August 2, 2012  •  providencejim

“and” or “but” followed by a comma

In recent years I’ve noticed an increasing use of “and” or “but” followed by a comma, as in this example I saw today in an email: “We don’t believe these updates change our practices but, we want to communicate this information directly to you.” The rationale seems to be that a pause is intended after the conjunction, but clearly this violates the traditional rule about punctuating a compound sentence (as per this sentence). In today’s Providence Journal the lead editorial, ”Tough but vague Romney,” includes this: “Mr. Romney has demanded that Iran stop its program aimed at making nuclear weapons and suggested the [sic] Mr. Obama hasn’t been firm enough. But, the former governor hasn’t said how he would do that other than, perhaps, give more support to the Israelis to attack Iran.” I realize the paper’s evident lack of sufficient proofreading might cloud the issue here, but [not "here but,"] I assure you this is not uncommon in today’s newspaper and other published writing. So does this bother anyone else besides me?

June 5, 2012  •  Belinda Mellor

Terms of endearment - would it be correct/incorrect to use a capital letter?

For example, ‘Hello, dear, how are you?’ or ‘Hello, Dear, how are you?’ (Darling, Sweetheart, etc.) Is either absolutely correct/incorrect. I have tended to favour the capitalised form (though not if using the term ‘my dear’, ‘my love’, or whatever) until now but it has recently been questioned and I cannot fully justify my usage. Thank you all, in anticipation.

April 10, 2012  •  Ramon

I’ve no idea

Is it a correct syntax to say: “I’ve no idea” to shortcut “I have no idea”? I see alot of people doing this and I feel that it is wrong.

November 9, 2011  •  Ophelia

eg, e.g., or eg.

I’ve done some research about the use of “for example” in its shortened form, but have been left more confused than ever. Is it eg, e.g., or eg.? It comes from the Latin “exempli gratia”, so I would have thought it correct to place a period after the e and after the g in place of the missing letters. Yet, in official documents all over the place I see one or two periods, or none at all. I have in front of me an official document from the New South Wales government, The Board of Studies English K-6 Syllabus. Throughout this document each example is preceded by “eg”, no dots at all. Same with other Board of Studies documents, however other Education Department documents do have e.g. Personally I think that e.g. is more correct, but seeing no dots at all in an official document on teaching English to primary school students, had me wondering whether the convention in this case has changed, or whether it might simply be a matter of choice with no one way being either right or wrong. Which is correct, or doesn’t it matter?

August 21, 2011  •  Dyske

LEGOs — Is the Plural form of LEGO incorrect?

On this page (#18), the writer says, rather authoritatively, that “LEGOs” (plural of LEGO) is wrong because “LEGO” is a company name (a proper noun). I disagree. Firstly, there is no grammatical rule that says a proper noun cannot be used to refer to a countable object. “Mac” is a proper noun. It’s a name of a product but it is also used to refer to the individual Macintosh machines, i.e., “Macs”. Think of car companies, like Honda, BMW, and Porsche. When we refer to their cars, we say, “Hondas”, “BMWs”, and “Porsches”. BMW’s own site uses the plural form: “Today’s BMWs are equipped with...” And, Porsche’s own site says, “Barely any two Porsches are identical.” So, I would say “LEGOs” is perfectly fine if you are referring to the pieces of LEGO. It is however wrong to say “LEGOs”, if you are referring to the brand/company.  And, this should be a sparate issue from how the company officially uses the term for their marketing and communication. They could have their own policies but that does not make “LEGOs” grammatically incorrect. The correct use of a word is not determined by the person who coined it. What do you think?

July 25, 2011  •  lainiewhitney

Comma before “respectively”?

When using the word respectively after listing items and corresponding relations do you use a comma before it? Example: The corresponding sewer projections for the monthly and yearly flows are 18 and 200, respectively.

February 15, 2011  •  sigurd

i’s vs “i”s

I’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s.I’ve dotted the “i”s and crossed the “t”s. Which of the foregoing examples is correct?

November 15, 2010  •  Dyske

Does “Who knows” need a question mark?

On the Web, the majority seems to think we need a question mark in the following context: Q: “What is the meaning of life?” A: “Who knows?” I disagree. I consider “who knows” as a phrase or an expression, not a question; not even a rhetorical question. Adding a question mark sort of ruins the response especially in writing because it sets up an expectation (or subtle tension) of further response. A period, I feel, is the right choice because it’s a complete answer. In speech, we would not pronunce “Who knows” as if we are really asking a question; that is, our tone is missing the question mark. What do you think?

October 14, 2010  •  justinforce

Accepted spellings, punctuation, and capitalization of email

We’re arguing in the office. Help us get this straight once and for all. You could boil the question down to this: how would you write this title? “email Is Destroying Our Children” email or e-mail? Do you capitalize the E if it’s at the beginning of a sentence or part of a title? Do you capitalize the M if it’s at the beginning of a sentence or part of a title? If so, do you only do this when it’s hyphenated?

July 20, 2010  •  barnes

Plural of Yes

How do I correctly write YES as a plural. Example: # of Yes’s.

June 28, 2010  •  devind

Oh it’s... “Free”?

While on vacation during the first week of summer, I came across an advertisement for the H1N1 Vaccine on the back of a coach bus. It stated “Get your ‘free’ H1N1 vaccine today!” This begs the question, does putting quotation marks around “Free” (but not as a quotation, of course) serve any function or purpose? Such as: All these hot dogs are “free”.

March 30, 2010  •  sunilkumar

why does english have capital letters?

i wonder why english has capital letters? as a non native english speaker, i could not understand the logic behind it. it also increases key strokes on typewriters, computers, and makes it difficult for non natives. i am sure that if puritans of english would be mild, it could be reduced. similarly i find the use of THE very problematic. why it cant be reduced to a minimum?

December 21, 2009  •  fred

Adding a question mark to ensure a response

I am in media relations and sent a story pitch to an editor telling him I could send him more information if he was interested and added a question mark to ensure some kind of response, e.g., I can send you more information if you are interested? Is this grammatically incorrect? I just like doing this because it’s not as forceful as Are you interested?

October 5, 2009  •  juttin

p. v. pp.

Why is “page” abbreviated “p” while “pages” is “pp”? Of somewhat less interest to me, I also wonder whether “p” or “p.” is the correct notation?

October 1, 2009  •  andy2

Heaven or heaven?

Talking about the concept of the afterlife in Catholicism, would you capitalize Heaven? Moreover, what about Hell?

August 20, 2009  •  Dyske

Is Punctuation Part of “Mechanics”?

According to my research, punctuation is part of “mechanics”. If so, is it redundant to say, “punctuation and mechanics”? I do see many instances of people using “punctuation and mechanics”. For instance, I came across an article written by an English professor entitled “Common Mistakes of English Grammar, Mechanics, and Punctuation”. If punctuation is indeed part of mechanics, then this title itself would be a mistake ironically.

August 19, 2009  •  jenn

Capitalization of dog breeds

When referring to “French” and “English” bulldogs, the geographic part of the breed will always be capitalized. What are the rules about capitalizing the stand alone word “bulldog?” From what I understand, AKC dropped the requirement to use “English” in front of the word “bulldog” (or so I’ve been told....) so I am left with the word “bulldog.” Should I capitalize or not? I referred to the AKC site to see how they were handling the capitalization and they begin by capitalizing the word then use a non-capitalized version throughout their article. Thoughts?

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