March 2, 2015

Three Types of Verbs


Understanding verb types is more than memorizing labels like "transitive" and "linking." It helps you understand why it's "I feel bad" and not "I feel badly" and whether you can "graduate college" instead of "graduate from college." Here's a quick look at three major verb categories.

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

A Sign of 'The Times'
Posted by June on March 2, 2015

Sometimes it seems like a good chunk of my day is spent lowercasing the T in the word “The.”

In Las Vegas articles and marketing pieces, I lowercase it in “the Strip.” In articles about shopping centers I might lowercase it in “the Forum Shops.” Whenever there’s mention of “the New Yorker,” “the New Republic” or “the Atlantic,” down it goes.

Why? Because that’s the style at the Los Angeles Times. Specifically, the style rule is this: Whenever a proper noun that begins with the word “The” appears in running text, lowercase the t for aesthetic reasons.  And when you spend some time looking at the alternatives, you can see the logic in this. In uppercase, all those Ts would look self-conscious and obtrusive. They really do interrupt the visual flow of the text.

The companies being mentioned, of course, don’t like this one bit. We’re “The” Cosmopolitan or “The” Forum Shops, they'd insist. They’re all about brands and trademarks and property, after all. But they can’t dictate how other people capitalize their names, so newspapers like the Los Angeles Times are free to make decisions that they believe put readers first, lowercasing “the” in order to make the passage more visually palatable.

I’m all for that, barring one little bit of irony. The newspaper does make an exception: There’s one name that does, in Times style, always use a capital T in "The." And that name is ... you guessed it: The Times. Not the New York Times, mind you. In the Los Angeles Times, the East Coast paper would be “the Times” (though because that would be confusing their whole name is usually spelled out). Only when it’s a reference to the Los Angeles Times does The Times start with a capital T.

So in running text, it's the Forum Shops, the Standard, the Anythingyoucanthinkof, but The Times.

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

  • A Reminder About "John and I" vs. "John and Me"

    June Laura: The choice between "I" and "me" depends on the sentence structure, and your example isn't a sentence. It's just some nouns. So either "Marsha, John, and I" or "Marsha, John, and Me" could be correct. It's when a verb is present -- or even implied -- that the rules kick in. If the photo caption is an implied way of saying, "Marsha, John, and I visited the Eiffel Tower," then you need a subject for the verb "visited." And because "I" is the subject form, it would be correct in this context. In "The Eiffel Tower dwarfs Marsha, John, and me," the object pronoun "me" is correct because it's the object of the verb. But there's a twist here: A truncated photo caption like this might be understood to mean "HERE ARE Marsha, John, and I/me," and that structure is a weird one. Think about "Here we are" then flip it into "Here are we." That's kind of what a photo caption might mean. And note that, while this works with "we" (a subject), it doesn't work with "us" (an object). Here we are. not here us are. So subject pronouns like "we" and "I" make more grammatical sense here. However, to follow this rule to the letter would be a bit like saying, "Laura is taller than I" in casual conversation. Grammatical, sure. Natural, not really. So grammatically, if the caption is a truncated way of saying "Here are Marsha, John, and I/me," you can choose either. "I" would make a bit more syntactical sense, but "me" would probably be more natural. And that's the form I'd use in almost every casual situation: Marsha, John, and Me.

  • A Reminder About "John and I" vs. "John and Me"

    laura Which is correct in a situation such as a caption to a photo labeled "Marsha, John, and I"? It looks odd to me, and I think "I" should perhaps be "me," but I can't find any proof. If I turn it into a sentence it should be me?[This photo shows] Marsha, John, and me. What do you think?

  • What to Capitalize in a Headline

    June Jim: That was my summary of how I see it done and some in-house policies I've known about. I don't see it cited in the AP guide, either.

  • 'Born Of' or 'Borne Of'

    Ken That's why copy editors would do well to actually read classic literature and not limit their efforts to "two passes of a text". What you speak of is a palpable distinction familiar to anyone who is not a stranger to the great works of literature. Unfortunately, this has become a minority group, as the bite-sized culture takes firm hold.

  • 'Born Of' or 'Borne Of'

    burp Your test relies on the correctness of Helen Reddy's spelling. I found 373M hits on Google for "man born of woman", and only 25M hits for "man borne of woman", but one of those 25M hits is Job 14:1 (1611 King James Bible): "Man that is borne of a woman, is of few dayes, and full of trouble."