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message 1: by Ken (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
A "Dear Abby" on grammar questions. Just remember your grain of salt and the old adage -- doctors bury their mistakes.

message 2: by Prabha (new)

Prabha | 70 comments This is not a grammar question, but it pertains to the learning of English, and what better place to bring this to than Dr Grammar?

I coordinate a programme for raising the standards of English in rural primary schools in Malaysia. It's actually an in-service teacher training programme, but we're currently embarking on research to determine the extent to which the programme impacts the students.

Could someone point me in the direction of standardized language tests for young ESL learners? Something that's not culturally biased i.e. not so Euro-centric, perhaps? I know of the Cambridge Young Learner English Tests, any opinions on these?


message 3: by Ken (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
Does TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) offer such things? I'm assuming you know about TESOL, but for lack of a better response (or until someone else pipes in...).

message 4: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (Sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6379 comments Mod
In my humble Antipodean opinion, shouldn't that be 'pipes up' or 'pips in'?

message 5: by Ken (last edited Feb 16, 2008 01:57AM) (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
I'm a great one for mixing metaphors (or, while we're in the M's, making malapropisms).

You're right! "Pipe up" means "speak up," I think. "Pipe in" is something you do with music and plumbing (of all varieties... ahem).

P.S. Thank you for using the seldom seen (in these parts) word "Antipodean." As my Aunt Mae used to say, "You're either Antipodean or Pro." So what is it that Kiwis have against podeans, anyway?

message 6: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (Sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6379 comments Mod risque!
"Antipodes - a group of small, uninhabited islands southeast of, and belonging to, New Zealand". Can also mean (the antipodes) Australia and New Zealand collectively. From ancient Greek for diametrically opposed I believe. As Kiwis have nothing against podeans, but plenty against Aussie cricketers I guess it is apt!

message 7: by Ken (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
Antipodes derives from the ancient Greek for "diametrically opposed"? How contrarian (a mood I'm frequently in... perhaps I am an Antipodean gone astray and landed in New England?).

"Podean" (is it even a word?) reminds me of FEET, but that's because of the root PED, not POD, though there is the word "podium," a place on which you stand (or take a stand, or make a stand -- if you've hammer and nails).

message 8: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (Sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6379 comments Mod
ped (L) pod (G) foot
centipede, tripod, podiatry, antipodes

Means the same but one is from the Latin and one from the Greek! Fancy the Greeks saying 'on the other foot' instead of 'on the other hand'! I am guessing that as one translation of antipodes.

message 9: by Ken (last edited Feb 16, 2008 03:56PM) (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
The "It's all Greek to Me" Award goes to YOU, Debbie! I did a little research and confirmed that "ped" in Latin is "foot," but "ped" in Greek is "child." As I have two children and two feet, is it any wonder I'm confused?

Final score:

PED (Latin) = foot
PED (Greek) = child
POD (Greek) = foot

Thank goodness, eh? Else we would have been taking our children to a FOOT doctor (pediatrician) all these years...

message 10: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (Sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6379 comments Mod
That was what I said....pod is Greek for foot (see above - I quote you - "Podean" (is it even a word?) reminds me of FEET, but that's because of the root PED, not POD, though there is the word "podium," a place on which you stand (or take a stand, or make a stand -- if you've hammer and nails)".
I was making the point that POD is a root word for foot in Greek!!!
Interesting that 'ped' has different meanings depending on whether the root is Latin or Greek. Could a pedophile be someone with a foot fetish then????

message 11: by Ken (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
Yes, I was acknowledging what you said (I thought). Kudos to you-dos! I knight you Dr. Grammette (my trusted -- OK, necessary -- assistant).

As for a pediatrician being a foot doctor, maybe it makes sense after all, when you consider how many parents need to start putting their FOOT down with the spoiled and entitled rugrats!

message 12: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (Sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6379 comments Mod
Hear hear!!! Over-entitled in many cases, and did no-one ever think to tell parents and children that for each right, there is an equal and usually corresponding responsibility!!

message 13: by Ken (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
Suddenly Dr. Grammar and Grammette are sounding like Dr. Spock and Spockette. No, wait. Dr. Spock is part of the PROBLEM, not the solution.

Anyway, next grammar question? (He says, as we wait for a question from our VAST audience -- 12 -- and watch our lovely assistant, Frida, move among the "crowd" with her microphone at the ready).

message 14: by Grumpus (last edited Feb 23, 2008 12:24PM) (new)

Grumpus I have a question that I've posted at two other groups and it has yet to be touched. So now I climb this mountain seeking the wisdom of Dr. Grammar.

Which is correct "audiobook" or "audio book"? Or are they both correct? If so, how is each to be properly used? Show me the light so that I may come down from the mountain with the tablets and that I may spread the "word". ;-) Thanks!

message 15: by Ken (last edited Feb 23, 2008 01:34PM) (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
Mmm. Quisp. Sends me back. And I have to tell you, my house was a Quisp house, not a Quake house. These are the key questions in life (like Ginger or Mary Ann; mayo or Miracle Whip; TP roll over or under).

Uh, where was I? Oh yeah. Audiobook vs. Audio Book (kind of like King Kong vs. Godzilla). Dr. Grammar might pass this hot potato to Dr. Grammette (who's lounging in New Zealand, eating grapes dangled above her mouth by some cabana boy or other). The spell check on Goodreads screams foul when you type it as one word, yet the "expert" at Wiki (oxymoronic, mayhaps?) says this:

"An audiobook is a recording that is primarily of the spoken word as opposed to music. While it is often based on a recording of commercially available printed material, this is not always the case; nor is this required to fit the definition of an audiobook, which is why "audiobook" is one word rather than two. It was not intended to be descriptive of the word "book" but is rather a recorded spoken program in its own right and not necessarily an audio version of a book."

Alas, my not-so-handy New York Times Manual of Style and Usage does not include an entry for this because the book predates the word (moral of the story: never buy a usage guide in a rapidly-changing word... er, world).

I'm going to come squarely down in the middle and say either is fine, though I'd love to check out the various guides on it (requiring a visit to the bookstore... or is it book store?). If they disagree, then it's officially a jump ball.

Oh. And by the way, WELCOME GRUMPUS! We like grumps here. Or curmudgeons, anyway. Are they synonymous?

message 16: by Symbol (new)

Symbol | 51 comments There are just a few common errors that grate on my nerves. Probably the worst of which is the infamous 'good insead of well'.
"How did you do on the English test, John?"
"I did good!"
No! You did not do 'good' on the test. You did 'well'!
I've tried to explain this to various people. At best I get a vacant stare. Usually I get something to the effect of: "Good and well are the same! Duh!"
I don't even bother illustrating the difference between adjectives and adverbs anymore. It's just not worth it.

This brings me to my question...

Has it become acceptable to commit such grevious grammatical goofs as to present phrases containing adjectives where the adverbs should be?

message 17: by Ken (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
Symbol, you write good. (Heh heh.) I don't have any answers. I watch little TV, but when I do, it's a sports show. Athletes are notorious for saying, "I played good" or "He pitched good" and stuff like that. Should we blame them? They're an easy mark. Plus they're richer than us. Lots.

message 18: by Ken (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
Grumpus -- Over on the Reference Book thread, Symbol gives another vote for one-word audiobook (her mom says so!). Far be it from me to question the power of Momdom (uh, not a word... but that didn't stop Shakespeare, who just acted like he owned the joint and made up words stage left and right).

message 19: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (Sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6379 comments Mod
I always thought they were....synonyms I mean. Curmudgeonly people add spice to life...(cinnamon perhaps?). Is that nearly worthy of you Mr England sir?
I have always seen it written as 'audiobook' but as I live at the bottom end of the globe where we get everything at least 2 years behind everyone else it may be that we just haven't received that pearl of wisdom yet.
As for lounging and being fed grapes by a cabana boy........yeah right! I wish!! Perhaps someone would like to apply for the position!

message 20: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz Dr Grammar can you give me a hard and fast rule about when to you use "I" and when to use "me" in sentences like these:

My sister and I went to the store.
Who did it? My sister and I/me?

Of course I can't think of the really confusing examples but I'm sure you see what I mean :)

message 21: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 14517 comments Mod
May I poke in? Here's how I figure out this stuff.
Separate it into two sentences.

My sister went to the store. That works fine.

Me went to the store. Arrrrrrrrrrgh!
I went to the store. Great, what'd you buy?


message 22: by Ken (last edited Feb 29, 2008 02:06PM) (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
Ruth's strategy is a good idea. It's that and compound subject that often throws people.

East, if you find some confusing examples, come back and confuse us (as if you need proof of how easily we're confused!).

The sentences: "Who did it? My sister and I/me?" doesn't make sense to me. Why would you have to ask whether you yourself DID something? Unless, of course, you're in an alternate state (like New Jersey) of mind.

message 23: by Ken (last edited Feb 29, 2008 04:51PM) (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
Good pregunta, Richard. I know that both underlining and italics are acceptable, but I always italicize if it's in print and only underline if it's handwritten. I think some people use bold print and caps just to distinguish that it's a title; it's not due to any convention. As for MLA, well... they have their own silly rules (and Lord knows we ALL love them).

In academic circles, italicizing is the way to go for book titles; in journalism circles, however, they use quotation marks. This is mad confusing because academics reserve quotation marks for shorter works like short stories and poems. So, just when you teach kids to italicize (or underline) that book title, they bring in a book review from the newspaper showing it in quotation marks.

I think we need a book title summit or something.

message 24: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (Sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6379 comments Mod
Here's my 2 cents worth. When I was typing my mother's manuscripts for publication, any book titles referred to had to be italicised in the MS...ditto for the magazine articles she wrote. Maybe we are back to front in NZ?! Hey...Eastofoz!! Anywhere near me?

message 25: by Ken (last edited Mar 01, 2008 03:23AM) (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
When in doubt, use the "Little Big Man" rule: "Little" gets quotation marks; "Big" gets italics (or part gets quotation marks, and whole gets italicized).


Van Morrison's version of the song "Shenandoah" is on the Chieftain's Tears of Stone CD.

The episode "Eye of the Beholder" was aired on the old TV series The Twilight Zone.

The article "President Begins To Look Like Lame Duck" appears in the newspaper The New York Times.

The chapter "In Which I Am Born" is the first one in Chuck Dickens' David Copperfield.

message 26: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz Debbie we're neighbours (lol)! I'm lost in teeny tiny New Caledonia :) I visited Auckland a few years back when they were hosting The America's Cup--very cool place!

NewEngland: (person A asks) "Who did it?" (person be replies) "My sister and me/I". Which would it be "me or I" and why?

I'll have to post when I come across the confusing ones :)

Ruth: with your suggestion could you say "My sister and I did it" as if you were to complete the sentence (instead of using a short answer) and then make a rule that "I" is always followed by a verb but "me" isn't? This doesn't work all the time though :( --and these are the examples I can't remember!!!

message 27: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz New question Dr Grammar :)

When can't you use "will" after "when"? Most of the time you don't use "will" after "when" but in some cases you do. Can you say if it's an interrogative pronoun you can use will (When will you leave?) but if it's a relative pronoun you can't (I'll do it when I have time.)?????

message 28: by Ken (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
East -- I'll get back to you on this. I have to head to the mines for a day of work here, but later I'll have a chance to consult with Uncle and Aunt Pronouns (relative pronoun humor... sorry) and then I can act (accent on) like I know what I'm talking about. When will I learn?

message 29: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 14517 comments Mod
My sister and I did it. (If I had a sister.) I never thought about the verb thing, but at first blush it seems right to me.

Me sleep? Me type? Me work in the yard?



message 30: by Ken (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
There's a song ("When will I see you again... when will we share precious moments..." etc. ad nauseum).

As for the relative pronouns (who, whom, whose, which or that), they act like subordinating conjunctions and create dependent clauses.

When is one of the subordinating conjunctions.

Example (dependent clause underlined):

When I go fishing, I bring rod and tackle.

But I feel like I'm not answering your question, East, because I've never heard of any special rules pertaining to WILL after WHEN. I'll keep listening, though...

message 31: by Ken (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
I'll talk hyphens later. Right now I have to dash off (and we all know a dash is just a long-winded hyphen).

Hey, I used a hyphen. Rule: hyphens are used to connect two words serving as a single adjective before a noun.

message 32: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 14517 comments Mod
One of my poetry teachers used to say that a good test for whether you need a hyphen is to use each modifying word separately. If it doesn't work with each word, it needs a hyphen.

My love is like a blood red rose.
My love is like a red rose.
My love is like a blood rose.
My love is like a blood-red rose.

message 33: by Ken (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
Good one. And you've bloodied Burns, I see...

message 34: by rivka (new)

rivka That's very clever, Ruth. Thanks!

message 35: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (Sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6379 comments Mod
Are you a detective in the real world???

message 36: by Ken (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
Great detective work, Monsieur Ricard (I think that's French for "Richard"). And it all makes sense. Keep this up and you'll wind up in med school to become a Doctor Grammar yourself. Richard Grammar, MD. Has a nice ring to it, no? And why do words "ring," I wonder? And rering sometimes. Only that's not a word (according to the GR spell check). Re-ring. It takes that. Did I create confusion yet? I'm not even sure. (I'm less like the famous Belgian detective and more like the famous Belgian waffler in that sense.)

message 37: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz Back to the "when" problem Newengland: when you're a non-native English speaker you're taught never to put "will" after "when" --of course no one tells you why (!). Then when you get to a proficiency level they change all that and say you can put will after when but again no one tells you why. So there is a reason---somewhere!

message 38: by Ken (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
So, when will we learn the reason?

And a lot of grammar rules are garbage anyway -- dreamed up by some language curmudgeon or other in the 18th, 19th, or even 20th century.

For instance, it's OK to start a sentence with "And" or "But."

It's also OK to end a sentence with a preposition.

Those two come to mind most readily, anyway.

message 39: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 14517 comments Mod
This is the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put, sayeth Winston.


message 40: by rivka (new)

rivka Splitting infinitives is also permitted.

Take that, Bishop Lowth! ;)

message 41: by Ken (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
THAT'S the other biggie I was looking for. To freakin' split infinitives! It's allowed. So you can come out now, Munchkins...

message 42: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz Ruth, Rivka and Newengland can you tell me what reference book you found your lovely grammar tidbits from please so I can tell anyone who asks that yes it's all ok to do those things :)

message 43: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 14517 comments Mod
I've known the Winston Churchill quote for years, Oz. Don't remember where I read it first.

But EB White gave an example of a sentence that works perfectly well, even though it ends in 5 prepositions!

White went upstairs to tuck his small son into bed and read him a bedtime story, only to have his son greet him by saying, "What did you bring the book that I don't want to be read to out of up for?"

message 44: by Ken (new)

Ken | 17052 comments Mod
Good job on recalling the Churchill, Ruth. I'd forgotten that the bulldog was on our side on this (declaring D-Day on unnecessary language rules).

East -- I've seen the good news more in language and word columns in the newspaper than in any book. I'll try to search a few down for you.

message 45: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (Sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6379 comments Mod
Ruth, are you sure Winnie wasn't just inebriated and stumbling over his words?!

message 46: by mara (new)

mara | 6 comments That prepositions rule really separates the the Wheaties from the Chafers. The chafers dole out corrections without any idea as to why the rule is what it is. "Wheaties" have some substance behind their rule-following

The prepositions "rule" is a referance to the fact that prepositions need objects. The trouble occurs when a preposition has no object or when the object is lost in the sentence. If the object is clear, we have no problem. So sentences like "Where are they at?" are wrong because the "at" is redundant. Whereas "Whom can I send this to" is just fine because whom is clearly the object of "to."

message 47: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 09, 2008 10:23PM) (new)

thanks mara
that's a great clarification
like newengland i was taught that starting a sentence with, and, but, and however was just fine

when in doubt i just strive for clarity

altho some may suggest i push that envelope

message 48: by Dick (new)

Dick What about this?

How do you feel?

Good or well

message 49: by Prabha (new)

Prabha | 70 comments My grammar's pathetic, a lot of my English is intuitive, so bear with me, please...!

Variation of Dick's question: How are you? I'm good? I'm well? I think it's supposed to be 'I'm well.' but I find so many people using the 'I'm good' response in text messages and casual conversation.

message 50: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 13, 2008 10:57PM) (new)

i mentioned my gramma in another post
she instilled this one in me when i was a little girl

I am well, thank you very much.

and prabha your english is wonderful

goodnight all time for me to sleep

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