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1  The Latest Buzz! / Site Announcements / Playlist Update (Dec. 9 - 15, 2017) for the Forum Gateway on Facebook on: Today at 03:06:08 PM
For quick access to the Forum’s featured English grammar refreshers and general interest stories, simply click their indicated web links below:

PLAYLIST UPDATE (Dec. 9 - 15, 2017) FOR THE FORUM GATEWAY ON FACEBOOK
(22 new postings):

1. An Essays by Joe Carillo Retrospective: “A figure of speech that’s often used to subvert reason and logic” (December 15, 2017)




2. Have Lots of Fun with Some Oldies But Goodies: “70 English idiomatic expressions sometimes bungled by Pinoys” (December 15, 2017)




3. Dealing With Annoying English Grammar Errors (12th in a series of 14): “Usage of nouns or pronouns in the wrong case (2)”




4. A Forum Lounge Retrospective: “A little bit of history about ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’” (December 14, 2017)




5. A Reading on Language Retrospective: “So what do we do now with all those tired, time-worn clichés?” (December 14, 2017)




6. Language Humor At Its Finest: “Gobbledygooked Christmas song titles quiz” (December 13, 2017)




7. Getting To Know English Better: “The seven uses of noun clauses – 1” (December 14, 2017)




8. A You Asked Me This Question Follow-Through: “The modern English sentence averages 20 words or fewer” (December 13, 2017)




9. You Asked Me This Question: “The differences in sense when ‘will’ or ‘would’ is used” (December 13, 2017)




10. Meditation on Our Digitized World: “The Tree of Life” (December 12 , 2017)




11. Especially For (But Not Just For) Boys and Girls Only: “A kid's view of the Christmas story” (December 12, 2017)




12. A Readings in Language Retrospective: “The pursuit of gossip gets fair hearing in noted writer’s book” (December 12, 2017)




13. Worldly-Wise Advice to Headstrong Kids: “Things My Mother Taught Me” (December 12, 2017)




14. Dealing With Annoying English Grammar Errors (11th in a series of 14): “7 – Usage of nouns or pronouns in the wrong case (1)” (December 11, 2017)




15. A Readings in Language Retrospective: “Thinking in numbers as effective, pleasant antidote for numerophobia” (December 11, 2017)




16. Advice and Dissent Retrospective: “So now as it was then, this is the world in 854 words” (December 11, 2017)




17. Language Humor At Its Finest Retrospective: “40 choice paraprosdokians to make sense of our lives” (December 10, 2017)




18. An Intriguing Grammar Question: “An English-language conundrum” (December 10, 2017)




19. A Job-Hunting Advice Retrospective: “Is ‘Hi!’ proper to begin a job application letter?” (December 10, 2017)




20. An English Grammar Retrospective: “Deconstructing and understanding those puzzling elliptical sentences” (December 10, 2017)




21. You Asked Me This Question: “How literal adverbial phrases differ from idiomatic ones” (December 9, 2017)




22. Language Humor At Its Finest: “A 38-item Christmas Q&A for language buffs” (December 8, 2017)


 

********************************************************************

GRAMMAR AND MANY EYE-OPENING FEATURES BESIDES!
You thought Jose Carillo’s English Forum is all about grammar? Well, get a delightful
surprise by clicking this link to its Facebook Gateway from July 2017 to date!



*******************************************************************


CLASSIC FORUM POSTINGS (8 postings):

1. Two magnificent performances of “The Prayer,” spaced 10 years apart
     (Originally posted January 22, 2017)



2. “The Lovely Clichés Worth Keeping”
     (Originally posted circa 2002   Reposted December 16, 2016)

   

3. Conversations (4): “The real score about Valentine’s Day”
    (Originally posted February 10, 2010   Reposted February 1, 2014)



4. “Did Rizal ever speak and write in English?”
    (Originally posted January 28, 2010, latest update December 30, 2016)



5. “Conversations (2): A serious bad-grammar syndrome”
   (Reposted January 18, 2017)



6. “Anatomy of media stories that Filipina women have the world’s smallest breasts”
    (Posted July 11, 2016)

Playlist Update (Dec. 9 - 15, 2017) for the Forum Gateway on Facebook




7. “Lost in Translation” - 1 and 2
    (Posted December 30, 2016)



8. “Indignities in American minor”
    (Posted October 27, 2016)




Click this link to earlier Playdate features!

Visit the Jose Carillo Forum Homepage!
2  The Latest Buzz! / Site Announcements / Playlist Update (Dec. 9 - 15, 2017) for the Forum Gateway on Facebook on: Today at 02:07:49 PM
For quick access to the Forum’s featured English grammar refreshers and general interest stories, simply click their indicated web links below:

PLAYLIST UPDATE (Dec. 9 - 15, 2017) FOR THE FORUM GATEWAY ON FACEBOOK
(22 new postings):

1. An Essays by Joe Carillo Retrospective: “A figure of speech that’s often used to subvert reason and logic” (December 15, 2017)



2. Have Lots of Fun with Some Oldies But Goodies: “70 English idiomatic expressions sometimes bungled by Pinoys” (December 15, 2017)



3. Dealing With Annoying English Grammar Errors (12th in a series of 14): “Usage of nouns or pronouns in the wrong case (2)”



4. A Forum Lounge Retrospective: “A little bit of history about ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’” (December 14, 2017)



5. A Reading on Language Retrospective: “So what do we do now with all those tired, time-worn clichés?” (December 14, 2017)



6. Language Humor At Its Finest: “Gobbledygooked Christmas song titles quiz” (December 13, 2017)



7. Getting To Know English Better: “The seven uses of noun clauses – 1” (December 14, 2017)



8. A You Asked Me This Question Follow-Through: “The modern English sentence averages 20 words or fewer” (December 13, 2017)



9. You Asked Me This Question: “The differences in sense when ‘will’ or ‘would’ is used” (December 13, 2017)



10. Meditation on Our Digitized World: “The Tree of Life” (December 12 , 2017)



11. Especially For (But Not Just For) Boys and Girls Only: “A kid's view of the Christmas story” (December 12, 2017)



12. A Readings in Language Retrospective: “The pursuit of gossip gets fair hearing in noted writer’s book” (December 12, 2017)



13. Worldly-Wise Advice to Headstrong Kids: “Things My Mother Taught Me” (December 12, 2017)



14. Dealing With Annoying English Grammar Errors (11th in a series of 14): “7 – Usage of nouns or pronouns in the wrong case (1)” (December 11, 2017)



15. A Readings in Language Retrospective: “Thinking in numbers as effective, pleasant antidote for numerophobia” (December 11, 2017)



16. Advice and Dissent Retrospective: “So now as it was then, this is the world in 854 words” (December 11, 2017)



17. Language Humor At Its Finest Retrospective: “40 choice paraprosdokians to make sense of our lives” (December 10, 2017)



18. An Intriguing Grammar Question: “An English-language conundrum” (December 10, 2017)



19. A Job-Hunting Advice Retrospective: “Is ‘Hi!’ proper to begin a job application letter?” (December 10, 2017)



20. An English Grammar Retrospective: “Deconstructing and understanding those puzzling elliptical sentences” (December 10, 2017)



21. You Asked Me This Question: “How literal adverbial phrases differ from idiomatic ones” (December 9, 2017)



22. Language Humor At Its Finest: “A 38-item Christmas Q&A for language buffs” (December 8, 2017)


 

********************************************************************

GRAMMAR AND MANY EYE-OPENING FEATURES BESIDES!
You thought Jose Carillo’s English Forum is all about grammar? Well, get a delightful
surprise by clicking this link to its Facebook Gateway from July 2017 to date!



*******************************************************************


CLASSIC FORUM POSTINGS (8 postings):

1. Two magnificent performances of “The Prayer,” spaced 10 years apart
     (Originally posted January 22, 2017)



2. “The Lovely Clichés Worth Keeping”
     (Originally posted circa 2002   Reposted December 16, 2016)

   

3. Conversations (4): “The real score about Valentine’s Day”
    (Originally posted February 10, 2010   Reposted February 1, 2014)



4. “Did Rizal ever speak and write in English?”
    (Originally posted January 28, 2010, latest update December 30, 2016)



5. “Conversations (2): A serious bad-grammar syndrome”
   (Reposted January 18, 2017)



6. “Anatomy of media stories that Filipina women have the world’s smallest breasts”
    (Posted July 11, 2016)

Playlist Update (Dec. 9 - 15, 2017) for the Forum Gateway on Facebook




7. “Lost in Translation” - 1 and 2
    (Posted December 30, 2016)



8. “Indignities in American minor”
    (Posted October 27, 2016)




Click this link to earlier Playdate features!

Visit the Jose Carillo Forum Homepage!
3  English Grammar and Usage Problems / Use and Misuse / Dealing with annoying English grammar errors (12th in a series of 14) on: Today at 12:23:03 AM
This is the 12th in a series of 14 essays on what I consider as the most annoying English grammar errors. It is running consecutively here in the Forum from November 7, 2017 every Tuesday and Friday until December 22.

7 – Usage of nouns or pronouns in the wrong case (2)

In the preceding part of this series, I invited readers to figure out if the case usage of the following sentence from a housekeeping magazine article is grammatically and semantically correct: “After a couple of months, their newly acquired digital camera had gone missing from Mary Ann and her husband’s bedroom.”


   IMAGE CREDITS: WWW.SLIDESHARE.NET


A reader, Ronald Galura, observed that the sentence is inconsistent in case usage and suggested that the noun “Mary Ann” should also be in the possessive case. Another reader, Jaye Riggs, saw the sentence in an altogether different light. Finding it “too fancy,” she observed: “It even ‘animates’ the object camera by suggesting that it had gone missing. I can almost imagine the camera having two feet and sneaking away from Mary Ann’s and her husband's room.”

Ronald’s observation about the sentence was right on the dot, and I will now discuss precisely what’s wrong with that sentence from a case standpoint. As I pointed out last time, the applicable general rule here is this: For a combination of a noun and pronoun to properly perform the action of a verb or receive its action, or for them to act as the compound subject of a sentence, they should both be in the same case. In other words, nouns and pronouns in different cases should never be mixed. They should all be nominative, objective, or possessive when performing the same grammatical function.

The problem with the sentence lies in the prepositional phrase “from Mary Ann and her husband’s bedroom.” The object of the preposition “from” is the noun “bedroom,” but this noun is being wrongly modified by a noun and pronoun pair in different cases. The noun “Mary Ann” is in the objective case but the pronoun “her husband’s” is in the possessive. This gives the cockeyed impression that there are two objects of the preposition in the phrase—“Mary Ann” and “her husband’s room.”

As Ronald suggested, the case mixing here can be fixed by putting the noun “Mary Ann” in the possessive form in the same way as the pronoun “her husband’s.” The sentence will then read correctly as follows: “After a couple of months, their newly acquired digital camera had gone missing from Mary Ann’s and her husband’s bedroom.”

Now let’s go back to Jaye’s interesting observation about the original sentence. To fix its problem, she said, “I think simplifying it is the key.” Indeed, she suggested the following revisions: (1) “After a couple of months, Mary Ann and her husband lost their newly acquired camera from their room.” (2) “After a couple of months, Mary Ann’s newly acquired camera went missing from her husband’s room. (“Not my favorite,” Jaye said, “since I keep picturing the camera going AWOL.”)

The virtue of Jaye’s first sentence revision is that it not only sidesteps the problematic case mixing but also makes the original sentence simpler and more straightforward. Of course, another way to simplify that sentence and still make use of the compound possessive form is this construction: “After a couple of months, Mary Ann’s and her husband’s newly acquired digital camera had gone missing from their bedroom.”

The semantics of the sentence above is faithful to the original; in contrast, Jaye’s second version unduly changes the semantics by attributing the camera’s ownership only to Mary Ann and the room’s ownership only to her husband.

(Note to Jaye: It isn’t advisable to provoke marital conflict over property ownership just to achieve grammatical simplicity!)

(Next: Wrong pronoun usage for compound subjects)     December 19, 2017)

This essay, 12th in a series of 14, first appeared in the column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in the October 13, 2007 issue of The Manila Times. It subsequently formed part of the book The 10 Most Annoying English Grammar Errors, ©2008 by the author, © 2009 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.
4  Joe Carillo's Desk / Getting to Know English / The seven uses of noun clauses - 1 on: December 14, 2017, 08:56:49 AM
In last week’s installment of this series, we saw how noun clauses can be formed by simply using any of the question words to introduce a statement, then making sure that the statement becomes a noun form working as a subordinate clause. For instance, in response to the question “How did it happen?”, we can say “How it happened is still a mystery to me” or “It’s still a mystery to me how it happened.” In both sentences, we have formed the noun clause “how it happened” to become the subject in the first sentence and the predicate noun (or subject complement) in the second. That, in a nutshell, is the basic noun clause construction.


It can be argued though that real-life questions need not always be answered with noun clauses as suggested above. True enough, “How did it happen?” can be answered with a simple, forthright “It’s still a mystery to me” or a plain “I don’t know.” But then again, these answers are obviously not as emphatic and forceful as these two answers provided earlier using the noun clause “how it happened”: “How it happened is still a mystery to me.” “It’s still a mystery to me how it happened.”

One virtue of noun clauses in written language, in fact, is that they tacitly but clearly acknowledge the existence of someone other than the writer in the communication situation. We need noun clauses because we are communicating with people other than ourselves; we are talking to an audience. This isn’t a trivial matter. As many of us must have already discovered, expositions that don’t use noun clauses at all rarely make for interesting reading. All too often they sound so bare and insubstantial and hollow as to be a terrible aggravation to read. This is why good writers and good speakers make liberal use of noun clauses to keep their prose engaging and compelling from start to finish.

Noun clauses not only can make our ideas clearer and richer in texture but also can infuse them with a greater sense of immediacy. In speaking situations, in particular, a noun clause in our response—known as the predicate nominative—serves to reiterate or paraphrase the statement or question we are responding to, thus establishing the context of our response clearly for both the speaker and ourselves. For instance, a response like “I understood perfectly what you said about good English being important in getting a good job” is much more communicative than a laconic “I understood perfectly”—especially if the statement from which it draws its context came much, much earlier in the interaction.


In written prose, on the other hand, the noun clause can make our exposition clearer and more coherent by serving as a summary, transitional, or linking device to prior statements in our composition, as in these examples: “This chapter will take up what happened after Lapu-Lapu slew Magellan in Mactan in 1521.”  “Which of the five alternatives we analyzed earlier is superior should be obvious by now.” “Why we decided to abandon the search has already been explained in sufficient detail.” Without any doubt, noun clauses can be a very powerful tool for communicating our ideas precisely and forcefully.

We can appreciate the semantic value of noun clauses much better by looking deeper into their seven uses from a grammar standpoint. Recall now that the noun clause is basically a subordinate clause working as a noun in a complex sentence. By functioning as nouns, therefore, noun clauses can very well do any of the roles that nouns can do, namely as subject, direct object, indirect object, predicate noun, object of a preposition, object complement, and appositive to a subject or object.

We’ll look more closely into these seven functions of noun clauses next week.



This essay, 1070th in the series, appeared in the column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in the Campus Section of the December 14, 2017 issue (print edition only) of The Manila Times, © 2017 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.

(Next: The seven uses of noun clauses - 2)        December 21, 2017
5  Joe Carillo's Desk / You Asked Me This Question / The differences in sense when “will” or “would” is used on: December 13, 2017, 01:49:17 AM
This very interesting grammar question was asked by Forum member English Maiden sometime ago:

“I have a grammar question about this line from the lyrics of a popular rock-ballad song by a popular American rock band in the ’90s: ‘I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.’ It got me wondering why the modal verbs in it are not the same. Why is ‘would’ used in the first half of that compound sentence and ‘will’ in the second half? What really is the difference between saying ‘You would do something’ and saying ‘You will do something’?”

Here’s my reply to English Maiden:

As taught to us early in English grammar, the auxiliary verb “will” expresses these two major senses: (1) the simple futurity of a particular action, as in “She will get married tomorrow morning,” and (2) one’s determination, insistence, persistence, or willfulness at present to do something, as in “I will follow you no matter where you go.” In both senses, “will” inflects to the past-tense “would” in complex sentence constructions like “She said (that) she would get married tomorrow morning” and “He said (that) he would follow me no matter where I go.”


What complicates matters, however, is that the auxiliary “would” doesn’t only serve as the past tense of “will” but also works with verbs to evoke several other senses. I’ll cite only a few of those senses that are directly related to your question, namely: (3) to express an intent, wish, or desire, in “Those who would testify against us will be expelled”; (4) to express choice or consent, as in “The court would terminate the proceedings if it could”; (5) to express possibility or contingency, as in “If she had gone to medical school, she would be a surgeon by now”; and (6) to express custom or habitual action, as in “We would go to our farmhouse during weekends.”

Now let’s take a close look at that line from the song lyrics you cited: “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.” Here, the first clause “I would do anything for love” expresses the sense of the speaker’s intent to do something. This, of course, is what’s contemplated in Sense 3 as described above, with “would” serving as an auxiliary to the main verb “do” to express an intent, wish, or desire. It’s a timeless declaration of the speaker’s strong determination to do something.

But why, you ask, does the second clause of that compound sentence, “I won’t do that,” use the verb “will” instead? Of course, that sentence actually doesn’t use “will” in the negative sense but “won’t,” the American English colloquial contraction for “will not.” Whether in the form of “will not” or “won’t,” however, the auxiliary “will” works with the verb “do” here according to Sense 2 as described above, which is to evoke not simple futurity but the speaker’s strong determination, insistence, persistence, or willfulness at present—now—to do something. It would therefore be incorrect here to use the past-tense “would not” or “wouldn’t.”

As to your last question: What’s the difference between saying “You would do something” and saying “You will do something”? The difference is in the degree of modality or strength of the speaker’s expectation or affirmation of the give action. Remember that “will” and “would” are modals, with “will” expressing a speaker’s comparatively stronger expectation or affirmation than “would.”

So, when someone tells you “You will do something for me,” he or she is practically certain that you’ll do what’s being asked; you are just short of being ordered or commanded to do it. In contrast, when someone tells you “You would do something for me,” the speaker’s expectation isn’t as strong and just amounts to a request.  

This essay, 783rd in the series, first appeared in the column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in the March 17, 2012 issue of The Manila Times, © 2012 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.
6  English Grammar and Usage Problems / Use and Misuse / Dealing with annoying English grammar errors (11th in a series of 14) on: December 11, 2017, 10:25:20 PM
This is the 11th in a series of 14 essays on what I consider as the most annoying English grammar errors. It is running consecutively here in the Forum from November 7, 2017 every Tuesday and Friday until December 22.

7 – Usage of nouns or pronouns in the wrong case (1)

The use of nouns or pronouns in the wrong case is the seventh major source of annoying grammar errors in English. For a meaningful discussion of grammar errors of this type, however, let’s first make a quick review of what case is and the three forms it takes in an English sentence.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines case as “a distinct form of a noun, pronoun, or modifier that is used to express one or more particular syntactic relationships to other words in a sentence.” Since that definition may sound Greek to you (as it still does to me), and other dictionaries I consulted weren’t of much help either, I would like to offer this plainer and simpler definition of case: It is any of the three forms that a noun, pronoun, or modifier takes to indicate its functional role in a sentence, whether nominative (or subjective), objective, or possessive.

THREE CASES IN ENGLISH FOR NOUNS AND PRONOUNS

Now we will remember from our English grammar that nominative or subjective pronouns are those that perform the verb’s action or act as the subject of a sentence:  “I,” “he,” “she,” “it,” “they,” “we,” “you” (singular), “you” (plural), and “one.” Examples: “I write.” “Gina is lovely but she is snobbish.” “Public office may look desirable but it can be a thankless job.” “The bidders fought viciously but they both lost the juicy contract in the end.” “We enjoyed the meal.” “You [singular or plural] don’t make sense sometimes.” “One wonders if the inquisitors meant well.”


The objective pronouns are those that receive the verb’s action or act as the object of a sentence: “me,” “him,” “her,” “it,” “them,” “us,” “you” (singular), “you” (plural), and “one.” Examples: “The company hired me.” “Regarding Bob and Alice, the company suspended him but not her.” “The cellular phone was very expensive but Mina bought it anyway.” “How come the Reyeses invited them but not us and you?”

And then the possessive pronouns are those that indicate who or what possesses or owns something: “mine,” “his,” “hers,” “its,” “ours,” “theirs,” “yours” (singular), “yours” (plural), and “one’s.” Examples: “This laptop is mine, this one is hers, and that one is his.” “The syndicate wants to develop all of the property together, not only theirs but ours and yours as well.” “One’s character is one’s fate.”

Now, a general rule in English grammar is that for a combination of a noun and pronoun to properly perform the action of a verb or receive its action, or for them to jointly act as the compound subject of a sentence, they should both be in the same case. Put more simply, we shouldn’t mix nouns and pronouns in different cases to do a particular grammatical function; they should all be nominative, objective, or possessive when doing a specific function.

SIMPLE TECHNIQUE FOR FIGURING OUT THE CASE FORM
OF THE PRONOUN IN A COMPOUND SUBJECT


Here are some quick examples to clarify this rule. A sentence that correctly combines two nouns in the nominative case: “Helen and George fell in love.” (That’s a no-brainer, of course.) One that correctly combines a noun and pronoun in the nominative case: “Helen and I fell in love.” (We don’t say “Helen and me fell in love” because it improperly mixes the nominative-case noun “Helen” with the objective-case pronoun “me.”) And one that correctly combines two pronouns in the nominative case: “You and I fell in love.” (We don’t say “You and me fell in love” because it improperly mixes the nominative-case noun “you” with the objective-case pronoun “me.”)

It seems then that applying the case rule is simplicity itself. But now let’s go to a real-world example of case usage, one that I picked up verbatim from a recent housekeeping magazine article: “After a couple of months, their newly acquired digital camera had gone missing from Mary Ann and her husband’s bedroom.”

I am inviting readers to figure out and tell me if the case usage of that sentence is grammatically and semantically aboveboard.

(Next: Usage of nouns or pronouns in the wrong case - 2)   December 15, 2017

This essay, 11th in a series of 14, first appeared in the column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in the October 6, 2007 issue of The Manila Times. It subsequently formed part of the book The 10 Most Annoying English Grammar Errors, ©2008 by the author, © 2009 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.
7  General Category / Lounge / Re: Perhaps “The Devil is in the details” in this recent Balikbayan experience on: December 10, 2017, 11:08:40 PM
Ms. Aurora Riel's rejoinder to my reply yesterday (December 10, 2017):

I thank you for prompt reply.  I believe it is called, "The Stewardship Prayer"--may be from the Diocese of Imus.  I'll try to find a copy of the Prayer to send you.

It sounds like a prayer to be generous--to give or act without having to wait for the others (sic).

I think it is the article "the" that grabbed me the wrong way.  This is the first time I have seen /heard "the others" used in this manner.  I found it awkward.  The composer could mean, "other people's lead" or "others to lead"?  "To wait for others to give" could mean "to relegate to others the stewardship responsibility." 

Anyway, I'll send you a copy the moment I find the clerk in charge of the computer and church monitors.
8  General Category / Lounge / Perhaps “The Devil is in the details” in this recent Balikbayan experience on: December 10, 2017, 10:40:50 AM
Letter from a pioneer Forum follower, United States-based Aurora Riel (December 9, 2017):

Visiting the Philippines, I ask myself—what’s wrong with me?  I am in church praying and I look at the monitor showing an intended community prayer, so I join until the devil tried to get my attention—“Don’t wait for ‘the others’?”

What’s wrong with this? Why is it annoying? I actually decided to stop participating at this time for a community prayer. I know I need to hear your take on this.
  
At my age, I have to let you know that for years I have been enjoying your Forum and I have been always looking forward to learning elegant expressions that I could share with others (I wouldn’t say with “the others”).

P.S. Sir, no direct reply is needed—any reply as part of the Forum for the Holiday Season is good.

My reply to Aurora:

I’m delighted to hear from you again after a very long while, Aurora, this time while you’re a Balikbayan on a Christmas visit! It’s great that you are up and about and still able to make an 12,000-km or so trip from the U.S. to the Homeland without unbearable complications. I do hope you’re enjoying your stay and that you won’t encounter any more aggravations like that one that annoyed you in church during the community prayer.

May I ask precisely what got your goat about this remark: “Don’t wait for ‘the others’”? Please help me establish the context of its utterance. And who said it, the lector or the priest or whoever? As they say, “The Devil is in the details” and I want to make sure that I’m not tempted to commit a wrong opinion or judgment in this regard.

Do let me hear from you soonest about this so I can say something more concrete about your concern over what looks like bad English from your reckoning, if I’m not mistaken.

Enjoy the Holiday vacation to the utmost!
9  Joe Carillo's Desk / You Asked Me This Question / How literal adverbial phrases differ from idiomatic ones on: December 09, 2017, 12:45:40 AM
Here’s an intriguing grammar question asked sometime ago by Forum member English Maiden:

“I have just a very simple question here. Are both of the following sentences correct? ‘We are all unique in our own way/right.’ ‘We are all unique in our own ways/rights.’

“I realize that the first construction, which uses ‘in our own way/right,’ is more common, but I was wondering if the second sentence, which uses ‘in our own ways/rights,’ might also be just as correct and acceptable. Personally, I would use the second construction because the subject of the sentence is the plural ‘we,’ so it makes perfect sense to put the words ‘way’ and ‘right’ in the  plural, too. Please tell me if my presumption is correct or wrong. Also, what do you call the word ‘way(s)/right(s)’ in the sentences I presented? What’s its function?”

Here’s my reply to English Maiden:

Your grammar question looks deceivingly simple indeed, but I must tell you that it’s much easier asked than answered! I therefore had to give it a lot of thought before coming up with an answer.


                  IMAGE CREDIT: READING EGGSPRESS GRAMMAR TOOLKIT

First, let’s make the distinctions clearer between the four constructions by writing them down as complete sentences:

(1a) “We are all unique in our own way.” (1b) “We are all unique in our own ways.”
(2a) “We are all unique in our own right.” (2b) “We are all unique in our own rights.”

Offhand we can see that the first three constructions—1a, 1b, and 2a—are undoubtedly correct grammatically and semantically. Only 2b, “We are all unique in our own rights,” looks and sounds suspect, and about this I’ll have something more to say later.

The next thing we will discover is that the adverbial phrase “in our own way” is used in Sentences 1a and 1b in the literal sense of “in our own personal manner as an individual.” One grammatical consequence of this literalness is that the noun “way” in that adverbial phrase can take either its singular or plural form depending on whether the subject of the sentence is singular or plural, as in these constructions: “I am unique in my own way.” “She is unique in her own way.” “They are unique in their own ways.” “We are all unique in our own ways.” (Of course, if the speaker means to use “way” collectively for the entire group, this latter construction should use “way” in the collective singular form and knock off the adverb “all”:  “We are unique in our own way.”)


FIVE OF THE SIX ADVERBIAL-PHRASE-USING SENTENCES LISTED ABOVE
ARE LITERAL; THE EXCEPTION IS “CHARLIE WAS ANNOYED
BEYOND BELIEF,” WHICH USES THE FIGURATIVE
ADVERBIAL PHRASE “BEYOND BELIEF”


Now, in sharp contrast to this literal character of “in our own way,” we will find that the adverbial phrase “in our own right” is actually an idiomatic expression in the sense of “by virtue of one’s own qualifications or properties.”  Recall now that one major feature of an idiom is that its key or operative word isn’t substitutable or modifiable, so that changing the way the words of an idiom are put together or inflected alters its meaning. In the case of “in our own right,” the figurative meaning of the idiom is lost when the noun “right” is made plural; indeed, “rights” has the different sense of “the interest that one has in a piece of property,” as in “We own the mineral rights to that piece of land”). This is why the sentence “We are all unique in our own rights” is defective both grammatically and semantically.  

As to your last question on what to call the word “way(s)” and “right(s)” in the sentences you presented and what their function is, I really can’t figure out how to answer that. All I can say is that “way” and “right” are nouns integral to the adverbial phrases in question, and as such have no independent grammatical function of their own.

This essay, 781st in the series, first appeared in the column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in the March 3, 2012 issue of The Manila Times, © 2012 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.
10  The Latest Buzz! / Site Announcements / Playlist Update (Dec. 2 - 8, 2017) for the Forum Gateway on Facebook on: December 08, 2017, 09:58:44 AM
For quick access to the Forum’s featured English grammar refreshers and general interest stories, simply click their indicated web links below:

PLAYLIST UPDATE (Dec. 2 - 8, 2017) FOR THE FORUM GATEWAY ON FACEBOOK
(19 new postings):

1. Dealing With Annoying English Grammar Errors (10th in a series of 14): “6 – The problem with wrong pronoun usage” (December 8, 2017)




2. A Media English Watch Retrospective: “A recurrent glaring grammar error on cable news TV” (December 8, 2017)




3. You Asked Me This Question: “Can an intransitive verb be made transitive by using an adverb?” (December 7, 2017)


 

4. Advice and Dissent Retrospective: “Research shows responsibility resides in how people interact, not in the brain” (December 7, 2017)




5. A Media English Retrospective: “Extreme liberties in the use of the word ‘presumptive’” (December 7, 2017)


 

6. Getting to Know English Better: “How noun clauses behave in a sentence” (December 7, 2017)


  

7. A Forum Lounge Retrospective: “Once again, let’s celebrate the Holiday Season with an element of surprise” (December 6, 2017)




8. You Asked Me This Question: “How noun clauses, adjective clauses, and adverb clauses differ” (December 6, 2017)


 

9. A Science Reading You Might Have Missed: “A sixth mass extinction in our planet is now unfolding right before our eyes” (December 5, 2017)


 

10. Dealing With Annoying English Grammar Errors (9th in a series of 14): “The problematic verb-pair ‘sit’ and ‘seat’” (December 5, 2017)


 

11. You Asked Me This Question: “The proper use of the tenses in conditional sentences” (December 4, 2017)


 

12. A Media English Grammar Retrospective: “Drawing the line against misplaced modifiers in sports writing” (December 4, 2017)


 

13. A Media English Watch Retrospective: “Highly politicized physics and faulty news reporting” (December 4, 2017)




14. A Reading You Might Have Missed: “3 U.S. nonfiction bestsellers flawed and faulty like some PHL textbooks” (December 3, 3017)


 

15. A You Asked Me This Question Retrospective: “Why there’s really no such thing as a complex-complex sentence” (December 3, 2017)


  
 
16. Language Humor at its Finest Retrospective: “78 fabulous advice from famous people” (December 3, 2017)




17. You Asked Me This Question: “The uses of the ‘is to + verb’/‘are to + verb’ structure” (December 2, 2017)



 
18. A Time Out from English Grammar Retrospective: “The disconcerting flux in scientific knowledge and how to cope with it” (December 2, 2017)


 

19. A Media English Watch Retrospective: “No, not everything that pertains to the president is ‘presidential’” (December 2, 2017)




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GRAMMAR AND MANY EYE-OPENING FEATURES BESIDES!
You thought Jose Carillo’s English Forum is all about grammar? Well, get a delightful
surprise by clicking this link to its Facebook Gateway from July 2017 to date!



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CLASSIC FORUM POSTINGS (8 postings):

1. Two magnificent performances of “The Prayer,” spaced 10 years apart
     (Originally posted January 22, 2017)



2. “The Lovely Clichés Worth Keeping”
     (Originally posted circa 2002   Reposted December 16, 2016)

   

3. Conversations (4): “The real score about Valentine’s Day”
    (Originally posted February 10, 2010   Reposted February 1, 2014)



4. “Did Rizal ever speak and write in English?”
    (Originally posted January 28, 2010, latest update December 30, 2016)



5. “Conversations (2): A serious bad-grammar syndrome”
   (Reposted January 18, 2017)



6. “Anatomy of media stories that Filipina women have the world’s smallest breasts”
    (Posted July 11, 2016)



7. “Lost in Translation” - 1 and 2
    (Posted December 30, 2016)



8. “Indignities in American minor”
    (Posted October 27, 2016)




Click this link to earlier Playdate features!

Visit the Jose Carillo Forum Homepage!
11  English Grammar and Usage Problems / Use and Misuse / Dealing with annoying English grammar errors (10th in a series of 14) on: December 07, 2017, 08:15:25 PM
This is the 10th in a series of 14 essays on what I consider as the most annoying English grammar errors. It is running consecutively here in the Forum from November 7, 2017 every Tuesday and Friday until December 22.

6 – The problem with wrong pronoun usage

We now turn our attention to the sixth type of grammar error that I find most annoying: wrong pronoun usage. What gets thrashed in such errors is, of course, the basic grammar rule that a pronoun should agree with its antecedent noun in: (1) gender, whether masculine, feminine, or neuter; (2) number, whether singular or plural; and (3) case, whether objective, nominative, or possessive.

THE PROFUSION OF PRONOUNS IN ENGLISH IS SO VAST THAT THEY NEED THOROUGH
STUDY TO AVOID DISAGREEMENTS WITH ANTECEDENT NOUNS

When the gender of an antecedent noun is unmistakable, there’s obviously little danger of its pronoun disagreeing with it: “The wife showed no remorse over her infidelity to her husband.” But for some reason, and in some cases it’s not simply proofreading or typographical error, some writers flub their grammar when the antecedent noun is neither masculine nor feminine.

Consider the following lead sentence of a recent kitchen range ad in a housekeeping magazine (all italicizations mine): “Italian dishes are simple yet it burst with a world of flavors.”  It’s really hard to imagine how and why this peculiar double-barreled grammar error could happen, but there it is: the singular, neuter pronoun “it” standing for the plural, neuter antecedent noun “dishes,” and the singular, neuter pronoun “it” disagreeing with the number of the plural present-tense verb “burst.” Here’s the correct construction: “Italian dishes are simple yet they burst with a world of flavors.” Plural antecedent noun, plural pronoun—it’s really that simple.

But lest we become smug with the thought that we couldn’t possibly be that clueless or careless with our pronoun usage, let’s now take a look at this less glaring but likewise annoying pronoun misuse from a recent newspaper social club advertorial: “I’m sure everyone has their own favorite but as usual your guess is as good as mine.”

THE PERSONAL PRONOUNS NEED TO BE COMMITTED TO MEMORY TO AVOID USAGE MISHAPS

As we all know, “everyone” is an indefinite pronoun that may be plural in sense but is always considered grammatically singular. The plural possessive pronoun “their” therefore couldn’t possibly stand for it. But then—and I’m sure most of us have been confronted by this question ourselves—if we can’t use the plural “their,” would it be grammatically correct to use “his,” “her,” or “his or her” instead?

Of course, the masculine possessive pronoun “his” has traditionally been the default usage when “everyone” is the antecedent pronoun, as in “Everyone has his favorite.” Today, however, “his” is now largely seen as gender-biased toward males, so most writers studiously avoid using it in such constructions. They use “his or her” as a politically correct, non-sexist compromise, as in “Everyone has his or her favorite.” Obviously, though, using “his or her” so many times in a row in this manner can get annoyingly tiresome.

This is why astute writers would rather turn to the so-called zero pronoun option. See how well this option works for the original sentence in question: “I’m sure everyone has a favorite but as usual your guess is a good as mine.” Here, the article “a” took the place of the problematic form “their” (and “own” was simply dropped), making the sentence read and sound much better than the original.

The zero pronoun option doesn’t always work, however. Consider this sentence: “A parent who does not raise ____ own child properly is headed for a lifetime of disappointment.” Here, neither the article “a” nor “the” will work, so “his or her” looks like the only remaining semantically correct option: “A parent who does not raise his or her own child properly is headed for a lifetime of disappointment.”

Not so. We can actually avoid the “his or her” form by simply pluralizing the subject of the sentence: “Parents who do not raise their own child properly are headed for a lifetime of disappointment.” I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a much better, more elegant construction.

Next, we’ll take a look at how using pronouns in the wrong case can similarly thrash our grammar.

(Next: Usage of nouns or pronouns in the wrong case)   December 12, 2017

This essay, 10th in a series of 14, first appeared in the column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in the September 29, 2007 issue of The Manila Times. It subsequently formed part of the book The 10 Most Annoying English Grammar Errors, ©2008 by the author, © 2009 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.
12  Joe Carillo's Desk / You Asked Me This Question / Can an intransitive verb be made transitive by using an adverb? on: December 07, 2017, 11:32:11 AM
Question posted by Jitendra Yadav on my Forum Facebook Gateway, (December 6, 2017):

Sir can we make an intransitive verb a transitive one by using an adverb?

My reply to Jitendra:

That’s a very tough question that needs a lot of discussion to answer satisfactorily.

Recall that English has three types of verbs: transitive verbs, intransitive verbs, and linking verbs. A verb is transitive when it has the ability to pass on its action to an object or something that can receive that action; intransitive when it can’t pass on its action to anything in the sentence and simply dissipates that action in itself; and linking when it just connects a subject to a complement and makes the sentence flow properly.


Certain verbs, though, can be transitive or intransitive depending on their sense and usage in a sentence. For example, the verb “breaks” is transitive in “She often breaks the rule” because it needs a direct object—“rule”—in this case—for the sentence to make sense. On the other hand, the verb “breaks” is intransitive in “When dropped on a hard surface, glass breaks” because it needs no direct object for the sentence to make sense.

A number of verbs can also be intransitive or linking depending on their sense and usage in a sentence. For instance, the verb “appear” is intransitive in the sentence “The witness will appear in the Senate sometime next week to testify on the dengvaxia furor” but a linking verb in the sentence “The witness appears flustered as she testifies in court."

And then there are the so-called causative verbs such as “make,” “get,” “have,” and “let” that enable intransitive verbs to surmount their handicap of being unable to act on an object. Look at these three sentences: “She made the dog jump.” “She got the dog to jump.” “She had the dog jump.” “She let the dog jump.” It’s clear that the “dog” is the object of the verbs “made,” “got,” and “had,” “she” is the agent causing the action, and the action of the intransitive “jump” is what this agent causes the object to perform.

Now we are in a position to address your tough question: “Can we make an intransitive verb a transitive one by using an adverb?”

My answer is a categorical “No.” I don’t think we can make an intransitive verb a transitive one by using an adverb, but we can routinely modify an intransitive verb with an adverb, as in “She looked sleepily at me,” in much the same way that we can routinely modify an intransitive verb with an adjective, as in “She looked sleepy in class this morning.”

What all of these considerations are telling us is that a particular modification of a verb does not or can make it intransitive (or intransitive for that matter). The sense and nature of the verb remain the same regardless of the valid or grammatically allowable modifications that can be done to it.

RELATED READINGS:
Why some intransitive verbs appear to take an object
How the causatives enable intransitive verbs to overcome their intransitivity

13  Joe Carillo's Desk / Getting to Know English / How noun clauses behave in a sentence on: December 07, 2017, 12:35:43 AM
A noun clause is a subordinate clause working as a noun in a sentence, and as such has the obligatory noun and verb that all clauses have. Unlike the typical clause, however, the noun clause can only function as a noun, never as a complete sentence. In this particular aspect the noun clause is similar to the noun phrase, whose distinguishing feature is that it can’t stand alone as a sentence.


        IMAGE CREDIT: ENGLISH-GRAMMAR-REVOLUTION.COM                             IMAGE CREDIT: SLIDEPLAYER.COM


The reason why a noun clause can’t work as a complete sentence by itself is that it’s always preceded by a marker that transforms it functionally from a clause into a noun form. These markers are the question words “what,” “who”/“whom”/“whoever,” “which,” “whose,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how”; the alternative function words “whether” and “if”; and the function word “that.”

For instance, in the sentence “What we agreed upon last year is no longer applicable today,” the clause “we agreed upon last year” has been transformed by the question word “what” into a noun form to make it work as the subject of the sentence. The noun clause is therefore bound by precisely the same subject-verb agreement rule that applies to all noun forms.

Indeed, answering any direct question, stating alternative outcomes, or simply declaring something yields a noun clause—a unique noun form that can do most of the jobs that a regular noun can do in a sentence.

“What” question – Q: “What did you learn from the sales seminar?” A: “What I learned from the sales seminar is the importance of patience in closing a sale.” (The noun clause “what I learned from the sales seminar” is the subject of the sentence.)

“Who” question – Q: “Who bought the gold necklace?” A: “It was our last customer last night who bought it.” (The noun clause “who bought it” works as a predicate noun.)
 
“Whose” question – Q:  “Whose responsibility is the marketing plan?” A: “Whose responsibility it is is something not settled yet.” (The noun clause “whose responsibility it is” is the subject of the sentence.)

“Which” question – Q:  “Which car did he drive today?” A: “I don’t know which car he drove today.” (The noun clause “which car he drove today” is the direct object of the verb “know.”)

“When” question – Q: “When do you intend to break up with your unfaithful girlfriend?” A: “When I intend to do so is none of your business.” (The noun clause “when I intend to do so” is the subject of the sentence.)

“Where” question – Q: “Where did she find the information leak?” A: “Where she found it is something she won’t tell us.” (The noun clause “where she found it” is the subject of the sentence.)

“Why” question – Q: “Why are you here when it’s a holiday?” A: “To meet my deadline tomorrow is why I’m working today.” (The noun clause “why I’m working today” is the predicate noun.)

                         IMAGE CREDIT: SLIDESHARE.NET

Noun clauses can also be formed by introducing clauses with the words “whether” or “if”: “Whether the bank will reconsider your loan application is anybody’s guess.” (The noun phrase “whether the bank will reconsider your loan application” is the subject of the sentence.) “The charter change proponents wonder if there’s still time to amend the constitution.” (The noun phrase “if there’s still time to amend the constitution” works as a predicate noun.)

Using the function word “that,” of course, is also a common way of forming noun clauses: “That she will get well soon is something I pray for every day.” (The noun clause “that she will get well soon” is the subject of the sentence.) “My theory is that the documents could incriminate him in the corporate irregularities.” (The noun clause “that the documents could incriminate him in the corporate irregularities” works as a predicate noun.)



This essay, 1069th in the series, appeared in the column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in the Campus Section of the December 7, 2017 issue (print edition only) of The Manila Times, © 2017 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.

(Next: The seven uses of noun clauses - 1)       December 14, 2017
14  Joe Carillo's Desk / You Asked Me This Question / Re: "Philippines" as an adjective on: December 06, 2017, 03:00:55 PM
The Oxford Advanced American Dictionary lists the word “Philippine” as a pertaining adjective that means “from or connected with the Philippines.” None of the other leading dictionaries that I consulted explains why the letter “s” is dropped from the place-name “Philippines” to form the pertaining adjective, but I would think it’s for the sake of euphony and ease of expression or articulation. Saying “the Philippines capital of Manila” does sound awkward as compared to saying it as “the Philippine capital of Manila,” which comes much easier to the tongue and looks simpler grammatically.
15  Joe Carillo's Desk / You Asked Me This Question / How noun clauses, adjective clauses, and adverb clauses differ on: December 06, 2017, 01:11:01 AM
How do we distinguish between noun clauses, adjective clauses, and adverb clauses?

This interesting question about how relative clauses work was raised sometime ago by Forum member Pipes, who posted:

“I would just like to consult you with regard to this sentence: ‘It is believed that computers will make a tremendous impact in today’s education.’

“Am I right that ‘that computers will make a tremendous impact in today’s education’ is a noun clause? And if so, how do you distinguish a noun clause from an adjective clause and from an adverb clause?”

Here’s my reply to Pipes:

Yes, in that sentence you presented, the construction “that computers will make a tremendous impact in today’s education” is a noun clause. It serves as the direct object of the verb “believed,” meaning that it receives the action of that verb.

      IMAGE CREDITS: WWW.ENGLISH-GRAMMAR-REVOLUTION.COM


Recall that by definition, a clause is a group of words containing a subject and a predicate that functions as a member of a complex or compound sentence. It works as a relative clause when it is introduced by the relative pronouns “that” or “who” or by the interrogative word “why,” “where,” or “when.” It can then serve in the sentence in any of these three ways: as a noun clause, as an adjective clause, and as an adverb clause.

                                            IMAGE CREDIT: PEDIAA.COM


A relative clause functions as noun clause when it serves as the subject or as the direct object of the sentence, as in the following examples:

1. Noun clause as subject of the sentence:That the accused will be vindicated in the trial is not a certainty.” (The noun clause is “that the accused will be vindicated in the trial.”)

2. Noun clause as direct object in the sentence: “The woman claims that she is being harassed by her former employer.” (The noun clause is “that she is being harassed by her former employer.”)

Note that the sentence you presented, “It is believed that computers will make a tremendous impact in today’s education,” follows the same construction pattern as Example #2 above, with the noun clause “that computers will make a tremendous impact in today’s education” serving as direct object of the verb “claims.”

On the other hand, a relative clause functions as an adjective clause if it serves to modify a noun or pronoun—meaning that it identifies or gives additional information about the subject or the object receiving the action in a sentence. As such, it works either as a dependent or subordinate clause, linking itself to the main clause by making use of the relative pronouns “that,” which,” “who,” “whom,” or “whose” or of the pronoun “when” or “where.”

The adjective clause can then function in any of these three ways:

1. As an adjective clause modifying the subject in the main clause: “People who have extensively traveled abroad usually have a broad world view.” (Here, the adjective clause “who have extensively traveled abroad” modifies the subject “people.”)

2. As an adjective clause modifying the object of the verb: “The lawyers couldn’t agree on several terms that will be used in their legal brief.” (Here, the adjective clause “that will be used in their legal brief” modifies the direct object “terms.”)

3. As an adjective clause serving as object of the preposition: “The letter was delivered to whom it was addressed.” (Here, the adjective clause “whom it was addressed” is the object of the preposition “to.”)

              IMAGE CREDIT: WWW.TALK.EDU

Finally, a relative clause functions as an adverb clause when it modifies the operative verb, an adjective, or another adverb in the sentence, as in the following example:

“The expedition failed to land where they intended to make the scientific study.” (Here, the adverb clause “where they intended to make the scientific study” modifies the verb “land.”)

This essay, 777th in the series, first appeared in the column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in the February 4, 2012 issue of The Manila Times, © 2012 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.
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