September 15, 2014

Appositives

TOPICS: ,

 

Some grammar terms aren't important to know. But others can lead you to better use of the language. "Appositive," which means a noun phrase that restates another noun phrase, is one worth learning.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Click player above to listen to the podcast

  • Share

My Favorite E-mail Exchange of Late
Posted by June on September 15, 2014
LABELS: ,

Here's one of the most memorable e-mails I've gotten about my newspaper column, followed by my reply. You don't need to read the column that inspired it, but if you want to, it's here: http://bit.ly/1sYcTcV

Subject: You’re Very Disappointing

Dear Ms. Casagrande:

As a copy editor, you’re an embarrassment. You wrote “A group of university researchers working with some Facebook folks have recently determined that I’m not a dinosaur. Not yet, at least.”

Group is the subject of the sentence. It’s singular not plural. The verb should be “has.”  “Not yet, at least” is a fragment.

Your third paragraph starts with a sentence that begins with a conjunction. Your fourth paragraph ends with a sentence that begins with a conjunction.  Your tenth paragraph begins with a conjunction as does your twelfth. "Scooch" is slang.

You wrote “these memes mutate, but in the process they noticed” where the antecedent of “they” is “memes,” which can’t notice although you intended the antecedent to be researchers. You employed the same confusing word pattern in the last paragraph, which also began with another fragment.

Before you start criticism bad grammar in others, edit yourself.

Sincerely,

Paul S.

My reply:

Paul:

What a delight to open an e-mail with that subject line and see that the writer is wrong on every count. I make quite a few mistakes in my column and often get called on them. So your e-mail, in which you're wrong on every point, was a treat.

One at a time. You wrote:

<<Group is the subject of the sentence. >

Nope. When you have a noun modified by a prepositional phrase, there's no rule that says the head of the noun phrase is the subject of the verb. I explain in this link:
http://www.grammarunderground.com/a-flock-of-birds-flies-or-a-flock-of-birds-fly.html

<<Your third paragraph starts with a sentence that begins with a conjunction. Your fourth paragraph ends with a sentence that begins with a conjunction.  Your tenth paragraph begins with a conjunction as does your twelfth.>>

I'm afraid you've bought into an old superstition. There's no rule against beginning a sentence with a conjunction. Here's a column I did on that.

http://articles.glendalenewspress.com/2010-06-09/news/gnp-aword060910_1_sentence-rule-begin

<<Scooch is slang.>>

You're saying there's something wrong with that? 

<<You wrote “these memes mutate, but in the process they noticed” where the antecedent of “they” is “memes,”>>

After 13 years of fielding e-mails from people who, like you, are victims of grammar superstitions, I thought I'd heard it all. But this appears to be a new one: You seem to be under the impression that only the noun nearest a pronoun can function as its antecedent. That's just silly. I wrote, "The researchers were mainly interested in how these memes mutate, but in the process they noticed." The antecedent of "they" is the researchers.

<<edit yourself>>

Do you not know how publishing works? News media, etc., have editors, who read writers' work with the sole purpose of fixing errors. Had any of these things actually been mistakes, someone else would have fixed them (presumably).

You really should get your facts straight before you fire off e-mails with statements like "You're very disappointing" and "You're an embarrassment."

Best,

June Casagrande

P.S. If you're also under the impression that it's wrong to split an infinitive, end a sentence with a preposition or use "healthy" to mean "healthful" (common misconceptions among people like you), you should look those up, too.

 

 

 

June Casagrande is a writer and journalist whose weekly grammar/humor column, “A Word, Please,” appears in community newspapers in California, Florida, and Texas. more

The Best Punctuation Book, Period

A Comprehensive Guide for Every Writer, Editor, Student, and Businessperson

The most comprehensive punctuation guide ever, “The Best Punctuation Book, Period” doesn’t just cover the basic rules. It delves into gray areas of punctuation left unclear by the other rule books, showing how the rules differ in four different editing styles. There's also an A to Z reference of commonly mispunctuated terms. more

Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies

A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite

What do suicidal pandas, doped-up rock stars, and a naked Pamela Anderson have in common? They’re all a heck of a lot more interesting than reading about predicate nominatives and hyphens. June Casagrande knows this and has invented a whole new twist on the grammar book. more

Mortal Syntax

Mortal Syntax takes on the 101 most frequently attacked usage choices. Dedicating one short chapter to each, Casagrande brings her subject to life, teaching English usage through lively and amusing personal anecdotes. more

It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences

Your story may be brilliant. Your insights may be groundbreaking. Your characters may be so real you can almost touch them. But they're not worth a thing if you can't bring them to life in well-written sentences. more

  • Good Verbs, Lame Verbs: A Look at Three Writers

    June Carina: I doubt it has anything to do with the translator. His books are loaded with passages like "Salander soon discovered that the person who had leaked the information to the media was Ekstrom himself. This was evident from an email in which he answered follow-up questions about both Salander's psychiatric report and the connection between her and Miriam Wu. ... The third significant piece of information was the insight that Bublanski's team did not have a single lead as to where they should look for Salander." Notice how the thoughts are arranged in the sentence: the action is trapped in subordinate clauses. Two of the main clauses are "be" ("this was," "the piece of information was") and the other is a static state-of-mind verb. It seems highly unlikely that the translator is responsible for subordinating all the action.

  • Good Verbs, Lame Verbs: A Look at Three Writers

    Carina Think it has anything to do with the translator? http://carinaruns.blogspot.com

  • Suffixes: How to Know Whether It's Systemwide or System-wide

    June Angel: Sorry I didn't answer your question. I can't seem to find it. What was the question? If you wanted to know whether "wide" itself is a suffix and should therefore be attached without a hyphen, it looks like the two major styles vary. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate (which Chicago style follows) does not have an entry for "wide" as a suffix. So in that style, you couldn't just attach "wide" to the end of another word. You'd need a hyphen: community-wide. Webster's New World College Dictionary (which AP style follows) DOES list "-wide" as a suffix. So in that style you could write it with no hyphen: communitywide. However, if you don't like the way that looks, you're also at liberty to treat "wide" as a regular word and attach it with a hyphen: "community-wide." Please let me know whether this answers your question and, if not, what your original question was!

  • Suffixes: How to Know Whether It's Systemwide or System-wide

    angel So what was the answer or what was the suffix or prefix in wide?? You did not answer my question... http://suffixword

  • Suffixes: How to Know Whether It's Systemwide or System-wide

    angel So what is the suffix of wide?? You did not answer my question... http://suffixword