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 on: Today at 09:19:52 AM 
Started by Joe Carillo - Last post by Joe Carillo
In last week’s column, I emphasized the importance of the connectives as tools for helping readers or listeners navigate our thoughts—their linkages, their correlations, their jumps, their permutations, and their digressions. The three types of connectives, namely the coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, and conjunctive adverbs, explicitly signal the logical relations between clauses, between sentences, and between or across sentences and paragraphs.

Precisely what do these connectives do in our writing or speech? In English, as I pointed out last week, they are the primary operators for the interplay of the six basic logical relationships in language, namely (1) the additive relationship, (2) the comparative relationship, (3) the temporal or time relationship, (4) the reason-result relationship, (5) the conditional relationship, and (6) the example relationship. The choice of connective depends mainly on two things: the logical relationship we want to establish, and the structure of the clauses that we want to connect.

We already know that coordinating conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs perform essentially the same function: to logically connect two independent and grammatically coequal clauses. In the following sentence, for instance, the coordinating conjunction “but” serves as the logical connective—a contrasting one—between the two independent clauses: “We achieved our sales targets, but we fell short of our profit expectations.” Likewise, the conjunctive adverb “however” can establish that logical relationship: “We achieved our sales targets; however, we fell short of our profit expectations.”

Although the logic of the two resulting compound sentences above is essentially the same, we can see that the conjunctive adverb “however” provides a more emphatic transition than the coordinating conjunction “that.” This more explicit and forceful transition is, in fact, what typically differentiates the conjunctive adverbs from the coordinating conjunctions. Indeed, we can very well say that the coordinating conjunctions provide a soft transition between two independent ideas, while the conjunctive adverbs provide a strong transition between them.

On the other hand, when we need to connect a subordinate clause to an independent clause, only a subordinating conjunction can do the linking job properly. This type of connective not only provides grammatical linkage but also enables the subordinate clause to draw meaning from the independent clause. Structurally, when a subordinating conjunction links a dependent clause to an independent clause, the result is a complex sentence: “We achieved our sales targets although we fell short of our profit expectations.” Typically, such sentences can also be constructed with the subordinate clause positioned ahead of the independent clause: “Although we fell short of our profit expectations, we achieved our sales targets.”

Since coordinating conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs function in much the same way, we can freely choose between them to establish the desired logical relationship. The choice will strongly determine the language register or tone of our writing or speech. For informal, everyday language, the coordinating conjunctions usually suffice; for formal language, however, we may need the conjunctive adverbs every now and then to create particular nuances for the logical relationship we want to establish.

Let’s now survey the connectives available to us for establishing the various logical relationships between ideas:

For the additive relationship: We can routinely use the coordinating conjunction “and”—the only one of its kind—or, for much stronger emphasis, the conjunctive adverbs “moreover,” “additionally,” “furthermore,” “in addition,” and “besides.”

For contrast or opposition:  To connect two independent, co-equal clauses, we can use the coordinating conjunctions “but” or “yet” or, for more forceful contrast, the conjunctive adverbs “however,” “nevertheless,” “nonetheless,” “conversely,” “in contrast,” “still,” and “otherwise.”

To establish contrast or opposition between subordinate clauses and independent clauses, however, we need the subordinating conjunctions “though,” “although,” “as though,” “even if,” “even though,” “than,” “rather than,” “where,” and “whereas.”

We will conclude this survey of connectives in next week’s column.

(Next: Choosing the right connectives for our ideas - 2)  June 1, 2017

This essay, 1041st of a series, appeared in the weekly column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in the Education Section of The Manila Times, May 25, 2017 issue (print edition only), © 2017 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.

 on: May 23, 2017, 08:12:43 PM 
Started by Joe Carillo - Last post by Joe Carillo
Every language develops modes not just to share information but to convey thoughts and ideas more forcefully. In English, verbs evolved two special forms—the emphatic tenses—to provide emphasis to the actions they describe. The present emphatic emphasizes actions or conditions happening in the present, and the past emphatic emphasizes those that occurred in the past. More commonly, however, the emphatic forms are used in two types of sentence constructions where emphasis is not intended: to work with the adverb “not” in negative sentences, and to form questions or the interrogative mode, in which the normal sentence construction is inverted. We must understand this distinction clearly to avoid mistakes in using the emphatic tenses.

The present emphatic tense of verbs is formed by putting the present-tense verb “do” or “does” ahead of their basic present form. Here are examples of the present emphatic tense used for emphasis: “I do like apples.” “She does think fast.” “They do act slowly.” The intent is to express the action or state more forcefully. In contrast, here are examples when emphasis is not intended: “The group does not agree.” (forming a negative sentence) “Does the jury have a verdict?” (forming a question).

The past emphatic tense of verbs is formed by putting the past-tense “did” ahead of their basic present form. Examples of the past emphatic tense used for emphasis: “I did write that letter.” “She did come as expected.” “They did pay on schedule.” Examples when emphasis is not intended: “He did not deliver as promised.” “Didn’t you finish the work last night?”

Sentences that use the emphatic tense for emphasis are either affirmative or negative responses to an apparently persistent question, whether stated or only implied. See what happens when this question is asked: “Did you really write that letter?” The emphatic answer would either be “I did write that letter” or “No, I didn’t write that letter.” This is the situational context for using the emphatic forms. It conveys the sense of the speaker either explicitly owning or denying an act, or claiming to be correct in his or her belief regarding the action of others.

Another device for emphasis in the English language, one that is often misunderstood and much maligned, is the inverted sentence. This grammatical form, in which the verb comes ahead the subject, does present agreement problems and possible confusion when used too often. Here’s an example from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: “Away from light steals home my heavy son /And private in his chamber pens himself...”

Note that it is the verb “away” that starts the sentence, with the subject “son” far detached from it. The normal-order sentence would go as follows: “My heavy son steals home away from light...” A heightened emotional state can be felt in the first, a dry forthrightness in the second. That difference comes from the change in the form, order, and rhythm of the language itself.

It is, of course, not only in poetry where inverted sentences find excellent use. They can give prose much-welcome variety and punch when used judiciously in a sea of normal-order sentences. Feel the emotional difference between the following normal-order sentences and their corresponding inverted sentences: (1) “Her behavior could be explained in no other way.” “In no other way could her behavior be explained.” (2) “I saw only then the possibilities of the new business.” “Only then did I see the possibilities of the new business.” (3) “She didn’t realize that he had deceived her till she got the letter from a total stranger.” “Not until she got the letter from a total stranger did she realize that he had deceived her.”


When using inverted sentences, however, we must make an extra effort to double-check agreement of the verb with the subject. This subject always follows the number of the verb and not of the nouns or pronouns that come before it: “In the grassy plains lives the last antelope.” It would seem that the singular verb “lives” should be the plural “live” instead to agree with “grassy plains,” but this proves to be not the case; the true subject is not “the grassy plains” but the singular “the last antelope.” See also what happens if the sentence were written another way: “In the grassy plain live the last antelopes.” In this case, the subject “the last antelopes” is plural, so the verb must also take the plural form “live” to agree with it.

Take note, too, that sentences beginning with “there” or “here” are actually in the inverted form: “There is a can of corned beef in the cupboard.” “Here comes the parade.” “There” and “here” are, of course, not the subjects. It is “corned beef” in the first, and “parade” in the second. The two sentences are actually emphatic forms of the normal-order “A can of corned beef is in the cupboard” and “The parade comes.” (circa 2003-2004)

This essay first appeared in the weekly column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in The Manila Times and subsequently appeared as Chapter 33 in the Usage and Style section of his book English Plain and Simple: No-Nonsense Ways to Learn Today’s Global Language, © 2004 by Jose A. Carillo, © 2008 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.

 on: May 23, 2017, 01:14:47 PM 
Started by solid9 - Last post by solid9
Hi guys

Any grammar mistakes in my essay below?


I live in Makati City, Philippines.

I do like living here because it's the business center of the Philipines.
Establishments such as school, drug store, hardware, bank, hospital, gym,
malls are very near and very accessible. Since it's the capital city I can
choose a lot of Internet Service Providers very easily. In addition,
transportation has many options such as tricycle, jeepney, bus, taxi
or train. Airports are also near by. One of the most secure cities in my

I do not like it because it's air polluted, noise polluted, overpopulated
by people. Also, my house near the river and the river is polluted and is
very stinky in summer. The biggest disappointments are there are few
trees left so when summer comes it's very hot and it affects my productivity.
It's the prime city but it has squatters living nearby my house.
Another disadvantage is when war between China and my country will happen
it will be the primary target since it's the capital city.
Almost everywhere you turn around are cemented. One of the most
expensive places to live in my country. Almost everything is expensive here.

Thanks in advance

 on: May 22, 2017, 05:59:12 PM 
Started by Justine Aragones - Last post by Joe Carillo
Sorry, Justine, it must be due to the oppressive heat in my room at mid-morning today (the aircon was just starting up, you see). In Item 2 of my response to you, the statement "Subjunctive using the infinitive phrase 'to demand that...' as direct object of the verb 'wrote'" should have correctly read "Subjunctive using the gerund phrase 'demanding that...' as direct object of the verb 'wrote'." I copy-pasted the statement from Item 1 but overlooked changing "infinitive phrase" to "gerund phrase." My apologies. (I am correcting the post right after this to avoid confusing others.)

Now as to this post that you came across in Facebook: "When everything seems wrong, look and be with nature's perfect GOD creations to make everything feels right." You got the wrong impression that the use of the linking verb "feels" is in the singular form because the sentence is in the subjunctive form. Actually, the verb "feels" is not a linking verb in that construction, and nor is the sentence where it appears in the subjective mood. In fact, "feels" should be corrected to "feel" but not for subject-verb agreement but for an entirely different purpose.

In the corrected verb phrase "to make everything feel right," the verb form "make" is what's known as a causative verb, which is a special kind of verb that carries out an action that causes another action, state, or condition to happen. Specifically in this case, "make" is the causative verb that causes the condition "feel right" to happen.

For a much better understanding of how causative verbs work, check out the two essays that I have posted in the Forum, "Using causative and factitive verbs," and "How the causatives enable intransitive verbs to overcome their intransitivity." I'm sure that those two essays will throw an entirely new light to some strange grammatical constructions that must have intrigued you in your readings.

 on: May 22, 2017, 04:47:01 PM 
Started by Justine Aragones - Last post by Justine Aragones
I just read this post in Facebook: "When everything seems wrong, look and be with nature's perfect GOD creations to make everything feels right." Here, the use of the linking verb "feels" must be in singular form to construct correct subjunctive sentence. Right sir?

Is "demanding that" in second subjunctive sentence presented is infinitive phrase, not gerund phrase?

 on: May 22, 2017, 01:04:06 PM 
Started by solid9 - Last post by solid9
Okay it's referring all about the city.

Thank you very much.

 on: May 22, 2017, 12:12:25 PM 
Started by solid9 - Last post by Joe Carillo
No, solid9, I don't think that the phrase "what you do" was meant to ask you what you do as a person. It's a grammatical glitz created by the repeated but needless use of "what" in that sentence. See how the problem disappears when that extra "what" is knocked off:

"What do you like and don't like about the city?" or "What is it that you like and don't like about the city?"

I hope this helps.

 on: May 22, 2017, 09:41:23 AM 
Started by solid9 - Last post by solid9
Hello someone asked me to make an essay.
Below is his requirement.

To prove that you qualify, please type up an essay of at between 150 and
200 words outlining what you do and what you do not like about your city
(to make sure that you pay attention to details, please mention your city
name once and only once within the essay).

I was confused by the phrase above "What you do and what you do not like"
For "What you do" is he referring to what I do as a person?
Or what I do like about the city?


Thanks in advance.

 on: May 22, 2017, 08:45:20 AM 
Started by Joe Carillo - Last post by Joe Carillo
Let’s face it. People making the transition from academe to the business world usually don’t realize soon enough the need to change from academic to business prose. Many college graduates entering the workforce think that the difference in content, style, and voice is simply cosmetic, one that can eventually be smoothened out by just fully immersing themselves in their jobs. But the unfortunate thing is that most of them never outgrow their academic English. A great many, in fact, do not learn business English at all in their entire careers. Without a clear understanding of the differences between the two writing disciplines, they brew their own heady mix of academic-oriented business prose that befuddles instead of clarifies. Some remain clueless even up to their retirement about what they are doing with their English prose, leaving in their wake so many forms of confused, strange, and often bewildering business communication.

Perhaps it will help those who have not yet made the transition from academic to business writing if we attempted to formally differentiate the two. As most of us had learned with blood, sweat, and tears in college, academic writing is essentially building up an argument about a subject that often does not even matter personally to us, formally expressing a largely arbitrary point of view about it, and marshalling evidence from a wide range of academic sources to support that point of view. As one academic had put it, academic writing is writing done by scholars for other scholars. It showcases the quality of mind of its writer rather than the usefulness of his ideas. This is as it should be, for academic writing seeks not to foster unity of mind and purpose but precisely to foment dissent and intellectual ferment. Its end as well as its means is, in fact, knowledge itself.

Business writing, in contrast, is a much less ambitious but much more pragmatic enterprise in prose. Selfish not from the writer’s personal point of view but from that of the company or institution he or she represents, it is meant to promote unanimity in thinking and unity in action. As such, it shuns and discourages the natural propensity of individuals to seek or engage in arguments. On the contrary, it is primarily designed to minimize if not completely eliminate them so that the organization can move as one towards one set goal: to satisfy the demands, wants, and desires of its customers or constituencies. In sum, business writing is the language of people who have already resolved most of their individual differences in favor of the organization, and who will only be too happy to smoothen out the rest of those differences so they can be as single-minded as possible in pursuing an objective.

Another major difference between academic and business prose is the mental state required of the writer when in the act of doing it. Academic writing is the overt act of an individual in the act of thinking; he wants the world to know precisely what his agenda is and what is going on inside his head in pursuing that agenda. He does not hide the fact that he wants to convince a jury of academic superiors and peers that he is capable of the art of thinking and intellectual judgment. The point of view is therefore unabashedly that of the first person “I,” even if the writer avails himself of all the tricks in grammar to hide that fact. This is the reason why it is common for entry-level marketing staff in a company to write like this: “If it is our avowed goal to be supremely competitive in the AB market sector and to also penetrate the CD sector in the medium term, I believe that Marketing should make a concerted effort to give the appropriate customer-oriented attributes to both the product itself as well as to its packaging.” That is not the language of business at all. Business writing is strongly groupthink, and a company is a place where one has to ruthlessly sublimate one’s personal point of view for the larger organizational good. Given the same writing task, therefore, the experienced business writer will be much more straightforward: “The product must have AB and CD product and packaging attributes to penetrate both market segments in the medium term.”

All of these differences account not only for the great divide between academic and business writing but also for the big difference in their lengths. Since the aim of academic writing is primarily to argue and to prove a point, it not only tolerates but actually encourages overly long sentences, as in this hypothetical academic statement: “In consideration of the fact that the works of the Nobel-Prize-winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez reach us only in the English translations of their Spanish-language originals, notably by Gregory Rabassa who did the masterful translation of Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, I find it not inconceivable at all that the concerns of some Pan-American scholars over the fidelity of these translations to the Hispanic cultural nuances of their originals may not be altogether unwarranted particularly in the context of unfortunate experiences in the literary genre with respect to Pan-American writers of comparable stature to Marquez, including Pablo Neruda and Pablo Coelho.”

The business-oriented writer, on the other hand, conscious of the perils of longwinded writing, would routinely chop up the 102-word semantic giant above into bite-size sentences: “Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel-Prize-winning novelist, wrote in Spanish. His novels thus reach us only in their English translations, notably by Gregory Rabassa who did the masterful translation of Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. For this reason, some Pan-American scholars are concerned that these translations may not be thoroughly faithful to the Hispanic cultural nuances of the original. These concerns may have some basis in fact. There have been unfortunate experiences in the genre with respect to the translations of such Pan-American writers Pablo Neruda and Pablo Coelho, whose statures are comparable to that of Marquez.”

There is a whole world of difference between the two passages. The shift from academic to business prose is therefore often painfully difficult, but it will be worth the time and effort for those who dream of truly making their mark in business.

This essay first appeared in the weekly column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in The Manila Times and subsequently appeared as Chapter 8 in the Afterthoughts section of his book English Plain and Simple: No-Nonsense Ways to Learn Today’s Global Language, © 2004 by Jose A. Carillo, © 2008 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.

 on: May 21, 2017, 09:05:00 AM 
Started by Justine Aragones - Last post by Joe Carillo
Sorry for this relayed reply, Justine. I overlooked this posting of yours.

The first sentence, "Convinced by (the) nun's story, the AMRPS wrote Oliveros demand that he apologize to traumatized nun," doesn't have a subject-disagreement problem. It only seems to have that problem because of a grammatical error in phrasing. It would actually be a correct sentence in the subjunctive mood if phrased in either of these two ways:

1. Subjunctive using the the infinitive phrase "to demand..." as direct object of the verb "wrote":: "Convinced by (the) nun's story, the AMRPS wrote Oliveros to demand that he apologize to traumatized nun."

2. Subjunctive using the the gerund phrase "demanding that..." as direct object of the verb "wrote": "Convinced by (the) nun's story, the AMRPS wrote Oliveros demanding that he apologize to traumatized nun."

As to the second sentence, I find no problem with it nor see any subject-verb disagreement in its structure.

For an exhaustive discussion of the subjunctive mood, including the seemingly wrong usage of the "that he apologize" form instead of "that he apologizes," review my four-part posting on "Some recurrent misuses of the English subjunctive."

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