LABELS: COPY EDITING, GRAMMAR, SUBJECT VERB AGREEMENT
“There are a variety of Medicare supplement plans on the market.”
For an editor, this is not a difficult sentence. We see stuff like this all the time and don’t blink an eye. But sometimes things that shouldn’t trip me up trip me up. Things I’ve known for years — things I’ve researched and confirmed and committed to memory — seem to fall right out of my brain.
And so it was when I found myself staring at that sentence, which appeared in an article I was editing recently, and stopped dead in my tracks. “There are a variety”? “There is a variety”? For some reason, I couldn’t remember despite having researched the matter multiple times in the past.
To get to the answer, there are a couple of issues to consider. One is whether “variety” is singular, which would require the singular verb “is,” or whether it’s plural, requiring the verb “are.”
的可以的提棋牌The second issue is whether “variety” governs the verb at all. Could “plans” be the subject of the verb? If so, there’s no question the verb should be “are,” as in “There are plans on the market.”
的可以的提棋牌Finally, there’s a question of whether “existential there” changes the equation. In , I start with that one.
LABELS: CONJUNCTIVE LIKE, GRAMMAR, LIKE, LIKE AND AS, LIKE AND SUCH AS
的可以的提棋牌The word “like” may not look dangerous. But if you use it in ways offensive to certain sticklers, it’s guaranteed some readers will look down their nose at you.
的可以的提棋牌No, I’m not talking about the verbal tic of saying, “like, you know, like, whatever.” I’m talking about far more common, far more respectable uses, like the one I use in this sentence or the one in the famous old ad “Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should.”
的可以的提棋牌“‘Like’ has long been widely used by the illiterate; lately it has been taken up by the knowing and the well-informed who find it catchy, or liberating, and who use it as though they were slumming.”
的可以的提棋牌Ouch. These rather harsh words from “Elements of Style” authors William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White were published first in 1959 in reference to “conjunctive like” — that is, using “like” as a conjunction.
LABELS: COPY EDITING, GRAMMAR, Possessive with Gerund
A while back, I mentioned a CNN article “about the president making an unannounced stop.”
的可以的提棋牌Two readers emailed with the same question. Here’s Bill in Niskayuna, N.Y.: “I was taught that a noun or pronoun preceding a gerund … should be in the possessive case, as it’s acting as a modifier. Thus, that would result in ‘the president’s making an unannounced stop.’”
This is a common view, but it’s a little off. To understand why, we need a quick refresher.
的可以的提棋牌A gerund is the form of a verb that ends in “ing” and is used as a noun. Compare “Jen is walking” to “Walking is good exercise.” In the first sentence, the subject is the noun Jen and “walking” is a verb. But in the second sentence, the subject — the thing performing the “action” of the verb — is “walking.”
There’s a word for this: Anytime an “ing” form of a verb is functioning as a noun it’s called a gerund.
But “ing” verb forms can do other jobs, as well. They can function as part of the verb, which we saw above in “Jen is walking.” These participles can also act as modifiers — adjectives, really: “We went on a walking tour.”
This is also how we understand participles in sentences like “We saw Jen walking.” Here, the object of the verb is Jen — she’s the one we saw. The word “walking” is technically modifying the noun Jen. So here, too, “walking” is a participial modifier.
But what if the object of the verb isn’t so much the person as the action? For example, “I love Betty’s singing” or “I don’t like Betty’s dancing.” I explore the answer in .
LABELS: COPY EDITING, GRAMMAR, PUNCTUATION
的可以的提棋牌“How do you feel about commas after em dashes?” a writer recently. “For instance: If you want to have a great Sunday — and by ‘great’ I mean emotionally and spiritually satisfying —, then you should consider the one-hour bath.”
的可以的提棋牌The question left me speechless. It’s like asking if you’d put two commas after Washington, D.C., if the name appeared in a list like, “We visited Washington, D.C.,, Chicago and Nashville.”
的可以的提棋牌It’s like asking whether it’s a good idea to put an ellipsis before a colon, as in “Beth made an important observation …: the door was unlocked.”
的可以的提棋牌The answer to all these questions is an emphatic “no.” The reason: Sometimes one punctuation mark can preclude the need for another. Here, laid out in , are some examples.