Special Sub-Topic: The Nitty-Gritty of Grammar
|Which of these singular/plural pairs is incorrect?|
halo/hali. The plural form of the word "halo" is "haloes". "Celli" is one of the acceptable plural forms of "cello"; the other acceptable version is "cellos".
This irregular pluralization rule stems from Italian grammar. Nouns that are masculine change their ending from -o to -i. Other examples of this change include panino/panini, cannolo/cannoli, paparazzo/paparazzi, and spaghetto/spaghetti.
|"______ Evan has worked hard at the office for almost 30 years with an extremely low wage, it's only fair that he now deserves some sort of raise." Which adverb or conjunction best fits in the blank?|
Inasmuch as. Though not one of the most common adverbs, the phrase "inasmuch as" is synonymous with the word "since". Similarly, the phrase "insofar as" is defined as "to the extent that". "Whilst" is simply another word for "while".
|"To be a well-educated successful doctor nowadays is more valuable than one may realize." What needs to be changed to make the preceding sentence (if it isn't already) grammatically correct?|
Add a comma after "well-educated".. Though it does sound awkward to most people, sentences can have "to be" phrases as their subjects. In this case, a comma does need to be put in-between "well-educated" and "successful", because the adjectives are of equal importance to the noun they're modifying, which is "doctor" in this sentence.
As a compound adjective, "well-educated" is hyphenated. And though "being" works and may even sound better than using "to be" in this sentence, the usage of "to be" is still grammatically correct.
|Which of the following sentences is grammatically correct?|
"If Marc were rich, he would probably blow all of his money at the craps tables that are in Las Vegas." ("If Marc was rich, he would probably blow all of his money at the craps tables that are in Las Vegas.", "If Marc was rich, he would probably blow all of his money at the craps tables, which are in Las Vegas.", "If Marc were rich, he would probably blow all of his money at the craps tables, which are in Las Vegas."). As a rule of subjunctive, hypotheticals such as this one always use "were" rather than "was". That's not to say that it's never grammatically correct to use "if I was". One could say something along the lines of: "He asked if I was working this weekend."
The difference between "that" and "which" is an entirely different argument. "That" narrows its subject down, while "which" implies that in all cases its subject follows what is specified. In this example, "that" is grammatically correct, because not all craps tables are in Las Vegas.
|"A number of my friends ______ planning on joining the military, and each of them ______ excited to begin training." Ah, the world of subject-verb agreement. What forms of "to be" correctly fill in the blanks?|
are/is. Although "number" is singular, it's treated as plural in this case. One would use singular only when the number itself is the subject. For example: "The number of my friends joining the military is quite large." That "number" as treated as singular, because the sentence is describing "the number" being large, not the speaker's "friends". But, in the case used in the question itself, "friends" is the subject, not "number". This means the subject is treated as a plural.
When using the phrase "each of", the verb acts as though the subject is singular.
|"______ wants to go the most will be the person ______ I will take with me to the concert." Finally, a "who versus whom" question! Which words should go into the two blanks above?|
Whoever/whom. The way that I use to figure out whether "who" or "whom" is used is by rearranging the sentence. For example, refer to the following sentence: "James, who plans on being a successful doctor, currently studies at the University of Michigan." If one plugs in "who" in this phrase, he or she would get this: "he plans on being a successful doctor". If when rephrased, the person in question becomes a subject, "who" is used.
But, say it's phrased this way: "James is an aspiring doctor whom I go to the University of Michigan with." If one rephrases this one, it comes out like this: "I go to the University of Michigan with him." If when rephrased, the noun in question becomes an object (direct object, indirect object, object of a preposition, etc.), "whom" is used instead.
"Whoever" and "whomever" follow basically the same rules. Don't be perplexed by the suffix "ever".
|"The ______ of rebels weren't ______ about their exasperation; they openly set the town hall on fire in broad daylight." Don't be fooled by homophones! Which words should be used?|
horde/discreet. A "horde" is a negative word for a group of people, while a "hoard" in noun form is a storage of information, money, or any other valuable objects.
Something that's "discreet" is something that's cautious or careful, maybe kept on the down low. On the contrary, "discrete" is defined as something that's completely separate. Both words are adjectives.
|Of the following choices, which sentence is most correctly phrased?|
Lily waited in line for two hours to see the new "Harry Potter" movie, a wait which bored her.. One of the possible choices is a fragment: "Waiting for two hours, which made Lily bored, to see the new "Harry Potter" film."
And the following choice has a tense problem: "Lily will be seeing the new "Harry Potter" movie tomorrow night; although, she found the two-hour wait to get in boring." Its inconsistent usage of future tense and past tense keeps the sentence from making any sense.
The third wrong answer has an ambiguous "which". "Lily waited in line for two hours to see the new "Harry Potter" film, which she found boring." What did Lily find boring? Waiting in line for two hours or the new "Harry Potter" film?
The correct answer is "Lily waited in line for two hours to see the new "Harry Potter" movie, a wait which bored her." This sentence clears up what the "which" is referring to, while being grammatically correct otherwise.
|A woman named Sarah picks up her phone to find that it's an old friend of hers asking "if she could speak to Sarah". What is the grammatically correct response that Sarah should give her old friend?|
This is she.. Though many people commonly use other phrases such as "it is me", it should be noted that just because the phrase is commonly used doesn't mean that the particular phrase is necessarily being used correctly.
In this question's case, try reversing the sentence to see if it makes sense. Would "her is this" make sense? No. What about "me is that"? That doesn't work either. "I is this"? Once again, the sentence doesn't make sense. But, "she is this" is a grammatically correct sentence. So, unless Sarah doesn't want to speak to her old friend, she should respond, "This is she."
|"I suggest that Jeremy ______ the doctor as soon as possible." What word or phrase correctly fits in the blank?|
see. This sentence follows the rules of subjunctive. Subjunctive is used when the action being described is a hypothetical. Actions which indicate an emotion, a possibility/doubt, an opinion, a wish, or some form of influence, as seen in Question 10, should be used in a subjunctive tense. Let's look at a couple other examples before referring to the question:
"If George were to shower, people would enjoy his presence more." In this sentence, the subordinate clause uses the subjunctive, because the sentence is discussing George showering as a hypothetical situation.
"I would rather my grandmother not attend the party." The phrase at the beginning "I would rather" provides a wish or preference, which must also be followed by a form of the subjunctive.
Now, here again is the sentence used in Question 10: "I suggest that Jeremy ______ the doctor as soon as possible." Phrases that supply influence such as "I suggest that" or "I demand that" should use subjunctive rather than indicative. Also, note how it isn't inferred from the sentence that Jeremy isn't necessarily going to see the doctor. The action is still technically hypothetical and indicated by the opinion of the speaker, or "I".
The subjunctive is a seemingly difficult concept of grammar, but most native English speakers tend to use it correctly without even realizing it. I for one didn't formally learn about the laws of subjunctive until taking a fourth year of Spanish in high school, since foreign languages tend to have more of an emphasis on it than English (the conjugations of the subjunctive forms of verbs in Spanish and several other languages are completely different from those of indicative verb tenses).
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