Thursday June 9, 2011
When to close the door
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED By FADZILAH AMIN
I FOUND the signage in the picture interesting, but is it correct? Should it be “Please close this door when entering” or “Please close this door after entering”? Is there another way to say it? – Rozaimi Abu Samah
It is physically impossible to close a door when we are entering a room or some other space to which the door is the entrance. A better notice would be your suggestion, i.e.
“Please close this door after entering”
or “Please close this door after you enter”
Below are some instructions I found on the Internet using similar words:
If the door is closed before you enter the classroom, please close the door after you enter.
(from Classroom Procedures on teacherweb.com/MS/SouthPanolaHighSchool/GreggBS/h0.aspx)
All residents and visitors, please close the door after entering or leaving the building.
(from a set of rules at the Broad & Bailey Tenant’s Center in New York on broadnbailey.com/tenants.html)
Revisiting ‘along with’
This is a passage from a review of the book by D.B.C Pierre entitled Lights Out In Wonderland (“Love It or Hate It”, StarTwo, May 13):
“After all, D.B.C. Pierre did win the 2003 Main Booker Price for his first novel, Vernon God Little. This novel, along with Vernon God Little and his second book, Ludmila’s Broken English, are supposed to form a loose trilogy of sorts.”
Since the subject “novel” preceding “along with” is in singular form, shouldn’t the verb used be in singular too? Hence, it should be “is” not “are”, correct? – Kee
You are correct. My answer on a related subject appeared in MOE on May 5. Let me quote the relevant part, which includes a reference to “along with”:
In the sentence “The farmer as well as the labourers is hard at work.”, the phrase “as well as” joins two noun phrases, i.e. “the farmer” and “the labourers”. But the two are not of equal importance in the sentence. “The farmer” is more important and is the subject of the sentence. The noun phrase that comes after “as well as” is considered an addition and not one of the subjects. This is also true of noun phrases that come after along with, in addition to, together with, and some other phrases.
Since “the farmer” in the sentence is singular, the singular verb “is” is used.
If the subject is plural, a plural verb is used: “The farmers as well as the labourer are hard at work.”
When do you use “disappointed with”, “disappointed in”, and “disappointed at/about”? Is there anything wrong with the following sentence?
I am disappointed with my brother who prefers sleeping than going for walks.
It is taken from a workbook grammar exercise that asks students to pick the error from the four words underlined. I thought there was nothing wrong with the sentence and the only possible error I could think of was “with”. – Confused
We usually use “disappointed with/in” people and “disappointed at/about” things.
Yes, there is something wrong with the sentence, but not with the preposition after “disappointed”. The first clause, “I am disappointed with my brother” is all right, but in the other clause “to” should be used instead of “than”. The sentence should read:
“I am disappointed with my brother who prefers sleeping to going for walks.”
You could, however, write:
“I am disappointed with my brother who prefers to sleep rather than go for walks.” or
“I am disappointed with my brother who would rather sleep than go for walks.”
Here are some examples of the last two structures, from the Internet:
“They prefer to observe rather than take the lead.”
(a description of a type of students known as “reflectors” – from a course module of Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland on www2.rgu.ac.uk/celt/pgcerttlt/how/how5c.htm)
“Superstars including George Clooney and Sir Tom Jones may take it in their stride – but there are some who would rather dye than admit to going grey.”
(From Bradford Telegraph and Argus, March 2, 2009 on thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/4165114.A_good_hair_day___grey_for_the_chop_/)
Is couple singular or plural?
In the caption to a picture on the Sports page of The Star (May 25), it was stated that, “... Giggs is married to Stacey Cooke and the couple have two children.”
1. Shouldn’t it be “... the couple has two children.”?
2. Who is responsible for his grammar error? – Jene Fun
In British English, “couple” may be treated as a singular or plural noun, although in practice, “a plural verb is usually used” (online Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary). This can be seen in the use of this word in online editions of three leading British newspapers. (So, there is no error in the caption, since The Star uses British English.) Let me provide some examples.
In the guardian.co.uk report of Al Gore’s separation from his wife, posted by Richard Adams on June 1, 2010, the caption under their 2007 photograph reads: “Al Gore and Tipper Gore, in 2007. The couple have announced their separation.” Further down in the story, we have this statement: “The couple have four children.” (guardian.co.uk/world/richard-adams-blog/2010/jun/01/al-tipper-gore-separation-marriage)
In an article about Boris Becker, the retired tennis star, in telegraph.co.uk of Nov 5, 2008, we find these sentences: “The star divorced his first wife, Barbara Feltus, seven years ago. The couple have two children.” (telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/3385736/Boris-Becker-calls-off-engagement.html)
In a report in independent.co.uk on June 2, 2009, about David Duchovny’s renewal of his wedding vows, there is the following sentence about him and his wife: “The couple have two children, Madeline, 10, and Kyd, six.” (independent.co.uk/news/people/news/david-duchovny-renews-wedding-vows-1695177.html)
In contrast, American English uses a plural verb more often after “the couple”. Here are some examples from online editions of leading US newspapers:
“Since Al Gore’s loss in the 2000 presidential race, the couple has lived in Tennessee, his home state.” (photo caption in Washington Post, Nov 20, 2002 on washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2010/06/01/GA2010060102854.html)
“A physicist and his wife who are accused of trying to help Venezuela develop a nuclear weapon pleaded not guilty on Monday. The judge said a financial statement showed the couple has $3,800 in monthly income ...” (New York Times, Sept 20, 2010, report by The Associated Press on nytimes.com/2010/09/21/us/21scientist.html)