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General grammar questions

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 5,095 Fuaranach


    Surprisingly, I can't find a sticky with loads of grammar questions so if there is such a thread you can throw this minor question into it.

    When writing 'masters' as in a degree, I know it's "master's degree". However, if I want to say "he did a masters" do I still put in the apostrophe as it's implicit that a 'master's degree' is being discussed? Although "He did a master's" doesn't look right here when there's no word following.

    What's the exact rule here?


Comments



  • I think we now have one :D

    As to your question, I don't see why you wouldn't say 'master's' - I suspect it is more the fact that it is an incomplete sentence that makes it look odd, rather than the apostrophe. I doubt there is an exact rule for something that is not exact in itself.




  • looksee wrote: »
    I think we now have one :D

    As to your question, I don't see why you wouldn't say 'master's' - I suspect it is more the fact that it is an incomplete sentence that makes it look odd, rather than the apostrophe. I doubt there is an exact rule for something that is not exact in itself.

    I'm just sort of nervous about writing "He did a master's." - full stop - without the following word, although it is more common in spoken language to say "He did a master's." rather than "he did a master's degree.".




  • I would leave the apostrophe in, either way. Whether you leave off the last word depends on the formality of what you are writing.




  • You could get around it by specifying the type of master's, and by just using the acronym/abbreviation (e.g. MA, M.Ed., etc). I know it's cheating, but...




  • Extract from today's Irish Times: "Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) has filed High Court action against a Fermanagh farmer whom it alleges circulated defamatory material about the company and its top executives."

    Should this be "who"? Following the test below, the question posed would be "Who did it?" He did it or him did it? He did it, therefore who is the correct word? Whereas "whom did you tell" is correct because the answer is "I told him" not "I told he". Or am I asking the wrong question?

    The Difference Between Who and Whom
    How can you tell when your pronoun is the object of a verb or preposition? Try substituting “he” or “she” and “him” or “her.” If “he” or “she” fits, you should use who. If “him” or “her” fits, you should use whom. Keep in mind that you may have to temporarily rearrange the sentence a bit while you test it.

    Who/whom ate my sandwich?
    Try substituting “she” and “her”: She ate my sandwich. Her ate my sandwich. “She” works and “her” doesn’t. That means the word you want is who.

    Whom ate my sandwich?
    Who ate my sandwich? (The Difference between 'who' and 'whom')


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  • I think I agree with who. If you change the sentence around, you'd get "QIH alleges a farmer (he) did something". It's indirect speech, i.e. "QIH says a farmer (he) did something".




  • Scroll down towards the end of this to see a similar example, under 'avoid this mistaken use of whom', explaining why it is 'who'.

    https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/usage/who-or-whom




  • "They were told to bring their bags". Now, if everybody has a single bag, how should this sentence be written most concisely? Can "They" be used at all?


    "Everybody/each person was told to bring his bag"?
    "They were told to bring their respective bag"?




  • Maybe "they were told to each bring their bag"?




  • My understanding is, when reading the original sentence, (i.e. "they" were told; "their bags"), that there wasn't just one bag in the party, but that there'd be more than one, and that each person would have to carry his/her own (with perhaps some people not having any bags at all, and others perhaps having more than one).


    Alternatively, you could say:

    They were asked/told to bring/carry their own bag(s)
    or
    Everyone was asked/told to bring/carry his/her own bag.


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  • The group was told to bring their bag - the group only had one bag?
    The people were told to bring their bag - same
    The people were told to bring their bags - that sounds better.




  • Fuaranach wrote: »
    "They were told to bring their bags". Now, if everybody has a single bag, how should this sentence be written most concisely? Can "They" be used at all?


    "Everybody/each person was told to bring his bag"?
    "They were told to bring their respective bag"?

    I'd rewrite the sentence in the active voice.

    The teacher told the students to bring their bags.

    There's also a distinction between bring and take. You bring something here but take it there.




  • I'd rewrite the sentence in the active voice.

    The teacher told the students to bring their bags.

    There's also a distinction between bring and take. You bring something here but take it there.

    I can't see that that clarifies the situation at all?




  • I'm teaching an ESL group about relative clauses. I've shown them that the relative pronoun used for places is usually "where":
    • This is the college where I studied.
    • In Dublin, where I live, it rains a lot.
    However, sometimes when you mention a specific place, we use "which":
    • In Dublin, which is the capital of Ireland, it rains a lot.
    • Cork, which has no tram system, is difficult to get around.

    I've explained it as best I can but I can't any particular rule. I imagine that we use "which" when a particular place is the subject and "where" when someone/something else is the subject but I don't know for sure. Does anyone know how this can be explained?




  • "Where", in this case, is used to replace "in which".




  • New Home wrote: »
    "Where", in this case, is used to replace "in which".
    Thanks, it seems that "where" isn't really a relative pronoun, but they treat it as one in the ESL textbooks. Does that sound right?




  • Yep.

    "That", "which", "who", "whom" and "whose" are relative pronouns, "where" is an adverb that is more or less informally used as a relative pronoun.

    It's a bit like "their" is used instead of "his"/"her"/"one's" when the gender of the person isn't stated, e.g. "The person who phoned didn't leave their number"




  • A professional journalist of 20-odd years' standing, Dearbhail McDonald, just said the following on RTÉ: "Fewer children and more pensioners mean less people of working age"

    I would always say 'fewer'. Is there any justification for 'less' here? If in doubt, I would say 'a smaller percentage' if I were alluding to the proportion of the population rather than the number of people.




  • Both "people" and "children" are countable nouns, so fewer should have been used in both cases. The only justification/excuse would be usage. Literally. :p




  • Just as I thought. It's shocking the number of professional writers who take no pride in learning basic stuff like this. The day Matt Cooper says "number of people/things/events" instead of "amount" will be a joy to behold.

    Perhaps the NUJ (Irish Branch) could run a course for journalists on basic grammar? They all desperately need a big one. Fintan O'Toole is the only journalist I learn new words from - 'scatological' being a nice one a few years ago, and then the concept of a 'Potemkin village' (he described the IFSC as one in a great article once).


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  • Potemkin village, that's one I have never heard before!




  • Up to now, I'd only heard of the film/battleship. :pac:




  • I'm not sure what the correct terminology for this is, but I think my examples will clear it up.

    Which is more correct?

    We need to take the curtains down.
    We need to take down the curtains.

    I took that job up to earn some extra income.
    I took up that job to earn some extra income.

    I'm 99% sure it's the first example in both cases, but I wonder if there's a solid rule around this.




  • CPTM wrote: »
    I'm not sure what the correct terminology for this is, but I think my examples will clear it up.

    Which is more correct?

    We need to take the curtains down.
    We need to take down the curtains.

    I took that job up to earn some extra income.
    I took up that job to earn some extra income.

    I'm 99% sure it's the first example in both cases, but I wonder if there's a solid rule around this.

    "Take up" and "take down" are phrasal verbs. In both of your examples, both sentences are correct because the object of each sentence is a noun.

    If the object were a pronoun, it would have to come between the verb and the proposition, not after them:

    "I took it up" and not "I took up it".
    "Let's take them down" and not "Let's take down them".




  • One from me: in informal speech, the use of "one" has almost entirely be replaced it by "you", e.g. "If you drive too fast you run the risk of killing someone", as opposed to "If one drives too fast, one risks etc". Would I be right in my assertion?




  • New Home wrote: »
    One from me: in informal speech, the use of "one" has almost entirely be replaced it by "you", e.g. "If you drive too fast you run the risk of killing someone", as opposed to "If one drives too fast, one risks etc". Would I be right in my assertion?
    Yeah, I think that's generally true. I've had to learn not to use the impersonal "you" with speakers of other languages. Instead I have to say "if someone drives too fast, they can..."


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