Archive for the ‘Prepositions’ Category

How do you put a call INTO a friend? Is that a good idea?

Friday, February 21st, 2014

INTO and IN TO can be confusing. If you are a grammar-savvy reader, it might be enough to explain that INTO is a preposition (as in "into attending her high school reunion"). INTO takes an object (in this case, ATTENDING). IN by itself is an adverb that describes the verb coming before it, and TO is a separate preposition (as in "…he put a call in to a friend…."). IN describes the verb PUT. FRIEND is the object of the preposition TO.

Consider this sentence from an al.com column about tonight's (February 21, 2014) speaker (author Ann Patchett) at the Hoover library Southern Voices conference:

When a recent divorcee gets talked in to attending her high school reunion, she works to overcome her phobia of highway driving to experience the adventure of a lifetime.

Then consider this sentence that appeared recently in an al.com article about a change in police vests:

Hagler recalled seeing Chicago police officers wearing load-bearing vests when he was there for an International Association of Chiefs of Police convention, and he put a call into a friend on the Chicago force.

If you want to be correct but don't care so much about the actual grammar rules, think of this in terms of visual image. You don't want to PUT A CALL INTO your friend. Ouch! (That might require some sort of surgery or mystic spell.) You also don't want to TALK THAT DIVORCEE IN (the way the control tower might talk a plane in during bad weather). The images you want are "put IN a call" and "talked INTO attending."

These sentences should read this way:

When a recent divorcee gets talked into attending her high school reunion, she works to overcome her phobia of highway driving to experience the adventure of a lifetime.

Hagler recalled seeing Chicago police officers wearing load-bearing vests when he was there for an International Association of Chiefs of Police convention, and he put in a call to a friend on the Chicago force."

COMMENT: I'd like to take this opportunity to commend the Hoover Public Library in Hoover, Alabama, for its wonderful Southern Voices conference. Year after year, their great staff bring outstanding well-known authors and new rising stars in a unique format that is loved by readers and authors alike. This year is no exception, beginning this evening with a talk by novelist and non-fiction author Ann Patchett.


Thou shalt not EVER end a sentence with a preposition?

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Bob the BookwormToday's Glitch comes from Bob the Bookworm who spotted this in a  Yahoo celebrity blog:

E has a daughter, H, with whom L shares a close relationship with.

Bob says it reminds him of a priest who always used to say, "…for whom this mass is offered for."

Solution: Writers create this kind of poor usage when they try to follow too literally the rule that says: Thou shalt not end a sentence with a preposition. Winston Churchill made this point quite well when he said something along the lines of, "Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put." Sir_Winston_S_Churchill

It is certainly not good style to write sentences like this:

  Where is that train going to? (Just drop the TO.)
  Do you know where my teacher is at? (Just drop the AT.)

 

 

 

 

 

However, except in extremely formal usage, I don't see a problem with sentences like these:

Ann is the person I spoke with before the tournament.

This is the marathon I have been training for.

Is he the person you spoke to this morning?


I have an excessive number of complaints about this news article–three in one sentence!

Monday, November 12th, 2012

This sentence, from a recent article in The Birmingham News about excessive force complaints to the local police department, may prompt me to file a complaint with the newspaper about excessive examples of poor grammar and usage:

But a Fraternal Order of Police officials and an attorney for the city of Birmingham says the number of excessive force complaints are very low compared to the tens of thousands of arrests….

Where to begin? This sentence, as you can see, is bleeding red with my markings of what should be edited.

Whoops #1: I am not sure what should be the correct subject for this sentence.  We have OFFICIALS (plural), which comes after the article A, which should only be used with something singular. Either it is AN OFFICIAL, or it is OFFICIALS without an article. That is followed by AND, which connects that OFFICIAL or those OFFICIALS to AN ATTORNEY, so no matter how many OFFICIALS are involved, at least one of them plus the ATTORNEY equals two, so I do not understand the use of the singular verb SAYS. The sentence should read one of these two ways:

1. But a Fraternal Order of Police official and an attorney for the city of Birmingham say….

 

2. But Fraternal Order of Police officials and an attorney for the city of Birmingham say….

 

 

Whoops #2: If you put "City of" in front of Birmingham, it should be capitalized.

Whoops #3: The subject of the second part of the sentence is NUMBER, which is a singular noun. The subject is not COMPLAINTS. Therefore, that part of the sentence should take the singular verb IS instead of the plural verb ARE, and it should read as follows:

But Fraternal Order of Police officials and an attorney for the City of Birmingham say the number of excessive force complaints is very low compared to the tens of thousands of arrests….

 

Whoops #4 in this article occurs in another paragraph. It is important to word correctly when using prepositional phrases. Otherwise, the reader has difficulty figuring out what goes with what. Here is an example sentence from this article:

 Between Jan. 1, 2007 through Feb. 1, 2012, Birmingham Police Officers completed 2,449 Use of Force Reports.

The wording should be either BETWEEN…AND or FROM…TO. BETWEEN should not be used with THROUGH. The sentence should read one of these two ways to be correct:

1. Between Jan. 1, 2007 and Feb. 1, 2012, Birmingham Police Officers completed 2,449 Use of Force Reports.

 

2. From Jan. 1, 2007 through Feb. 1, 2012, Birmingham Police Officers completed 2,449 Use of Force Reports.


Oops! Two-letter Preposition Distorts Headline

Friday, June 15th, 2012

A preposition is a useful little word, but if used incorrectly, it can completely change the meaning of a sentence or, in this case, a headline.

The article that follows this headline makes it clear that "Alabama's foreclosure activity fell 20.6 percent in May," NOT TO  20.6 percent, as the headline suggests. That is a big difference in meaning.


Does the FDA clean produce on their website??

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Here is the second Grammar Glitch I promised yesterday.  It has to do with placing prepositional phrases in the proper order to keep meaning clear.  Here is the sentence:

The Federal Drug (sic) Administration has guidelines for properly cleaning produce on their website.

Whoops! The prepositional phrase ON THEIR WEBSITE should be placed next to GUIDELINES.  Otherwise, it sounds as if the FDA has gone into the business of cleaning produce on their website.

A second comment: The FDA is one group, so I would choose the possessive ITS instead of THEIR to refer to the website.

As I pointed out yesterday, FDA stands for FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, not Federal Drug Administration.  An important part of proofreading is verifying sources and proper names.

I would rewrite the sentence this way:

The Food and Drug Administration has guidelines on its website for properly cleaning produce .

Speaking of proofreading, stay tuned for tomorrow's post when I will poke fun at myself for sending an email too early in the morning and committing the grave error of not proofreading properly. I will also post a reminder of the difference between COMPLIMENT and COMPLEMENT.