Two Verbs Again

Back in February I mentioned this construction, putting two verbs together, especially “is.” Here’s another example:

“What this spring is is a miracle,” said Sean Milanovich, 49, a member of the Agua Caliente band of the Cahuilla tribe, which makes its home in the Old Woman Mountains southeast of the spring.

As I mentioned last time, this looks as if it ought to be wrong somehow, but it’s not!

The first “is” goes with what’s before it, which is a noun clause. That clause functions as the subject of the second “is,” which is the sentence’s main verb.

You could reword the sentnce to make this a little easier to see:

This spring is what is a miracle.

or even:

This spring is a miracle.

Simpler, more concise. I like it.

A Tip When You Write an Introduction

I’m a technical writer. A lot of SMEs have handed me drafts of their documentation to “work my magic” on. If their document has an introduction (usually a paragraph right under the first heading) I frequently have to fix the first sentence. They like to write something like this:

This document is intended to describe/show/give the instructions for operating XYZ software/machine/process.

(the words with slashes are variables)

Folks, things like instructions are tangible. Either they’re in the document or they aren’t.

Get rid of that “intended”! The document either describes/shows/gives the content or it doesn’t!

Today I ran into a document that both uses “intended” and doesn’t use “intended” correctly !

My introduction is intended to provide a motivation for what follows. The first four chapters discuss the most plentiful objects in the night sky—the stars.

See? He intends to motivate you, and actually discusses the topic. Good for him! Go thou and do likewise!

The document deserves a bit more than a line of citation. The University of Chicago Press has a program where they let you download one of their books (of their choosing) for free every month. I downloaded this book, How We See the Sky: A Naked-Eye Tour of Day and Night by Thomas Hockey in March of 2019. Here’s a link to their program. If you like to read serious books online, take a look.

PS—He could have used the active instead of passive (“intends to provide” instead of “is intended to provide”), but hey, it’s academic. They always use the passive, don’t they?

Abbreviations are Words!

Thought I’d share sometning that I noticed the other day. We treat abbreviations as if they were words separate from the phrase they represent. Here’s the sentence that I noticed:

Coincidentally, I used a clip from “Stalag 17” yesterday, and, in the movie version, Peter Graves plays a rat who is collaborating with government forces to betray Allied POWs.

What’s the plural of “prisoner of war”? It’s “prisoners of war.” But what’s the plural of “POW”? Yup, it’s “POWs.”—That certainly doesn’t mean “prisoner of wars.”

The plurals of “attorney general” and “court martial” both put the “s” on the first word, but after the abbreviation. Well, I’ve seen “AG” used for “attorney general.” I haven’t actually run into “CM,” though I suppose it could happen.

Not much of a lesson, but I thought I’d share. Can you think of any other examples? Put them in the comments.

A Gentle Correction

Middle panel:

Why is it “we” and not “us”? Isn’t this like the slogan “Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch”? (That should date you if you remember that one.)

Well, “[x] students are behaving” is a subordinate clause (It’s a noun clause acting as the direct object of “observe”) and clauses have subjects. The subject is “x students.”

Why two words for the subject? It’s called an appositive. Examples: Blacksmith Bob, Farmer Jones, Bill the salesman. You could remove either word from the phrase and you’d have essentially the same meaning.

“We” is for subjects, and “us” is for objects, so there you have it.

And get rid of those Tareytons.

Getting “If” and “Whether” Correct

The rules:

  • When you refer to a condition, use “if.”
  • When you refer to a choice, use “whether.”

Rule of thumb: “whether” implies that you have something equivalent to “or not” at the end.

This guy gets “whether” correct:

Shoe - 02/21/2019

Don’t End a Sentence with This Preposition

I’ve mentioned so-called “prepositions” at the end of sentences before, that they are okay because they are part of separable verbs. (A famous example: it’s okay to say “not put up with” rather than “up with which I will not put.”)

Here’s one that’s an actual preposition. Last sentence in the last panel:

Take It From The Tinkersons - 02/21/2019

The problem here is not just that it’s a preposition, but that it’s redundant. The sentence already mentions location with the word “where.”

So all you need to say is “Do you know where the crushed red pepper flakes are?”

When you’re talking about location, don’t end your sentence with “at.”

How To Hire The Right Mortgage Company

If you are planning to buy a property, commercial or domestic, it always makes sense to hire the services of a good mortgage company. This is because most of the buyers are inexperienced in this area and therefore they could end up making the wrong choice. When you look around Oklahoma City, you certainly will come across dozens of such mortgage broker companies and individuals. In such a situation, making the right choice often could be a tough and demanding task. Hence, for the purpose of clarity and for easy selection of the right professionals, we are happy to list down some of the most important points that should be kept in mind when it comes to hiring these professionals. This will make your task of identifying the right property quite easy and stress-free.

 Are They Responsive

 Good and professional mortgage companies should be responsive to your needs and requirements. They should not delay getting in touch with you and responding to your queries. Prompt responses go a long way in proving that the mortgage agents are aware of your needs and they are ready to help in the best possible manner. It also helps customers to build trust with these professionals. You will have reasons to believe that you are dealing with somebody who you can believe and trust.

 Experience And Expertise

 The next important task is to always look for brokers who carry with them at least 10 to 15 years of experience. Experienced mortgage brokers will be in a much better position to identify the right properties keeping in mind the specific requirements of their clients. They also will be much better networked and connected and therefore will be in a position to offer you much better choices when compared to others.

 Are They Knowledgeable

 Good mortgage companies help you in more ways than one. They are able to do this because of their thorough knowledge of the entire market. Hence you must always look for those who are capable of advising you about the most suitable loan products. They will be also in a position to connect you with the right real estate sellers and promoters. Most importantly, they will be willing to talk to you and answer all your queries satisfactorily based on your specific objectives.

 Honest And Diligent

 When discussing with a mortgage broker, you must make sure that they are honest, truthful and diligent. You must be sure that they are transparent when it comes to handling various important points to your complete satisfaction. They should be willing to discuss with you regarding the fees that they charge for their services. You must, as a customer be upfront about it and should not hesitate in asking for other such things that involve money.

 Well Behaved And Personable

 The first impression is the best impression and therefore you must be sure that the mortgage brokers are well dressed, presentable in their appearances and they must be professional in their approach and dealings with their customers. They must always be well behaved and have a smiling and pleasing disposition.

Contact US:

Focus Federal Credit Union

Address:420 NE 10th St, Oklahoma City, OK
Phone: (405) 230-1328

How to Write a Definition

A definition, as you no doubt know, is the explanation of the meaning of a word. When you define a word, you should follow a few rules. Here are two:

  • a definition may be a sentence fragment
  • a definition should not contain the word you’re defining.

Here’s a good example of breaking that second rule:

Excellent Summary

I preach conciseness as an important feature of good expository writing. This comic’s punchline is about her timing, but her summary of the whole Valentine legend is excellent:

She did it in five sentences. When I find an article on this topic, it’s usually several pages.

Be like her, but watch your timing, too.

Why Split Infinitives are Okay

Stuffy English teachers are famous for promulgating the idea that we shouldn’t put anything between the “to” and the verb when you use an infinitive. A guy name or Robert Lowth was the origin of this, by the way. (cf the post for March 14)

Anyway, the meaning is subtly different between splitting and not splitting that infinitive.

Charlie stuck his head through the dive shop door. Karen appeared to be waiting on someone in the military, so he slipped in quietly, to not interrupt.

Charlie stuck his head through the dive shop door. Karen appeared to be waiting on someone in the military, so he slipped in quietly, not to interrupt.

The first selection says he doesn’t want to do something, period. That second one, though, implies that you have an alternative verb in mind, such as

Charlie stuck his head through the dive shop door. Karen appeared to be waiting on someone in the military, so he slipped in quietly, not to interrupt, but to be sneaky.

See? It matters. So write what you mean, and forget about Robert Lowth.