Thursday October 6, 2011
Usage of 'marry'
Mind Our English
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED by FADZILAH AMIN
PLEASE educate me on the usage of “marry”. Scenario: A married B in August 2011. Question: When A wants to tell someone about his marital status, which sentences below are correct? Maybe you have other suggestions. (1) I married B in August 2011. (2) I got married to B in August 2011. (3) I am married. (4) I was married. (5) I have married. – YT Chin
A can use sentences 1, 2 and 3, which are all correct. But since it is still 2011 now, it would be better to replace 2011 with “this year”.
Sentence 4 implies that A was married in the past, but is no longer married.
Sentence 5 has an ambiguous meaning. A says “I have married.” But it is not clear if he is still married.
The simplest way to tell someone about one’s marital status is to use sentence 3, i.e. “I am married.” This does not of course give details, such as the date of the marriage or the person one is married to. There is also at least one other way of expressing sentences 1 and 2, and that is: “B and I were married in August this year.”
Is or are?
PLEASE tell me which of the following is correct:
a) There are a caterpillar and two butterflies in the picture.
b) There is a caterpillar and two butterflies in the picture.
What is the reason for the choice?
Could you also recommend the most comprehensive English usage reference books available in Malaysian book stores or some free online enquiry websites? – Hopeful Girl
Your second sentence is correct, i.e. “There is a caterpillar and two butterflies in the picture.”
My view is based on what Collins Cobuild English Grammar (2nd ed. 2005) says about whether to use “is” or “are” in sentences using “there” as its subject. It says that you use “a singular form of ‘be’ (which is “is”) when you are giving a list of items and the first noun in the list is singular or uncountable.” (p.416, 10.50)
However, we say “There are two butterflies and a caterpillar in the picture.”, using the general rule “that the verb form matches the item(s) that it is adjacent to ...” (Roger Woodham, BBC World Service – Learning English)
You should, however, never use “is” before a plural noun or noun phrase, e.g. “There’s mangoes on the tree.” or “There’s five apples on the table.” “Are” should always be used in these kinds of sentences.
There is a very useful reference book on current English usage available in Malaysian book stores – Michael Swan’s Practical English Usage. Make sure you buy the latest edition. The BBC link above leads to a reliable, free online enquiry website.
BELOW is a cloze passage. Which is the best answer?
The infrastructure development projects proposed in Budget 2011 are welcomed in the Klang Valley as they would certainly improve the quality of life. However, industry experts commented that both widespread planning and follow-up action must be in place to ensure that funds allocated for the projects are used effectively.
One of the projects proposed is the 100-storey Warisan Merdeka which has become the hottest topic. Many people have expressed concern over adding a mega structure to the congested city. They want more information on the purpose of the RM5 billion skyscraper. The Malaysian Institute of Planners’ honorary secretary Lee iLh Shyan, said the government should provide more details on the purpose of Warisan Merdeka.
With buildings soaring higher, roads are also to _____ under the budget with six new highways such as the Ampang-Cheras-Pandan Elevated Highway, Guthrie-Damansara-PJ Highways and Pantai Barat-Banting-Taiping Highway. The traffic planning consultant, Goh Bok Yen believes that these highways will serve the purpose of dispersing traffic and easing bottleneck jams.
Personally, I feel the answer should be “develop” because the definition given in Merriam-Webster is “to come into being gradually” and “to expand by the process of growth”. “Expand” would be more suitable if the existing roads are widened or lenghtened. – Cheah Tiong Chap
First, whichever verb you choose, you will have to use its passive form. “Buildings” can be said to “soar” because “soar” can mean “to be very high or tall” (OALD), but roads can’t just expand/develop/increase/improve on their own. If the verb form cannot be changed in a cloze passage question, then I think none of the answers is correct.
The sentence containing the blank space talks about the prospective building of six new highways. Let me quote the paragraph it comes from here:
“With buildings soaring higher, roads are also to _____ under the budget with six new highways ...”
So, it looks like new and better roads (highways) are going to be built. This rules out “expand”, “increase” and “improve”. I agree with your choice of “develop”, since this incorporates the ideas of “increase” and “improve”, but it should be used in the passive: “With buildings soaring higher, roads are also to be developed ...”
However, if we forget about the cloze passage question, it would be neater and clearer to write this part of the sentence thus: “With buildings soaring higher, new and better roads are also to be built ...”