January 20, 2020

Adverbs and Adverbials

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An adverb can function as an adverbial, but an adverbial isn't always an adverb. The first term refers to a word class, while the second term refers to a job being performed in a sentence by a word or even a whole phrase. Here's the full story.

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'Fraught' Instead of 'Fraught With'?
Posted by June on January 20, 2020


Reader Janice has noticed a trend involving the word “fraught.”

“Things used to be fraught with something (danger, enmity, etc.),” she wrote. “But now they are just fraught.”

To Janice, the result is both grating and a bit confusing: “Leaves me wondering just what is being conveyed.”

I haven’t noticed the same trend, and, using a few language research tools, I can’t tell whether Janice is observing change in the works or whether it’s just her own experience. A Google search shows that “fraught with” was about four times as common as “fraught” alone over the past five years.

In the five years prior, “fraught with” beat out lone “fraught” by just two to one. So to whatever extent we can rely on my Google search abilities, the trend is in the direction opposite the one Janice has noticed.

Google Ngram viewer, which searches books, does show a slight uptick in “fraught” without “with” in the years leading up to 2008 (the most recent year this tool searched).

So we’re left with no clear picture of whether people are dropping the “with” after “fraught” more than they used to. And, more important, whether it's okay to do so. Here's my recent column on the subject. Spoiler alert: It is okay.

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

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  • 'Whom' vs. 'Who' at the Beginning of a Sentence

    June A.S.: Everything you said is right, but I'm not sure which comment you're directing it at. Are you getting confused by passive voice as it comes into play in these sentences? "I called him" uses the object pronoun "him" because, as you said, is an object. When you invert that sentence to say "He was called," it's not the same sentence structure. In passive voice, the object of the action (so to speak) is made the grammatical subject of the sentence. So "He was called" does, as you said, required the subject pronoun "he." I don't believe anyone said anything to the contrary.

  • 'Whom' vs. 'Who' at the Beginning of a Sentence

    A.S. WRONG! If "Whom was called into the office" is a question then it's the equivalent of asking "Him was called into the office?" which is obviously wrong. If it's a statement it's still wrong. Look, it's not difficult: Me, him, her, them and whom are objects. I, he, she, they and who are subjects. If the person in the sample sentence is the object (as indicated by "whom") then the office must be the subject but there's no verb for the subject, so the person must be the subject and is therefore who. Understand?

  • E-mail vs. Email

    June Punctuation rules for American English are indeed "always" put the period or comma before the closing quote mark. British style is as you described (that is, it follows a certain logic). But American rules are rooted in a printing convention that originated from aesthetics concerns. I'm quite confident that this American convention will go the way of the dinosaur. Wikipedia is proof: Their style is situational in the way you described. But for now, it's the rule: The comma always goes "inside," as does a "period."

  • A Not-So-Thrilling Typo

    June Oops. Fixing now. (Better late than never.)

  • A Not-So-Thrilling Typo

    JR "An" Not-So-Thrilling Typo?