Brutus

Grammar's coming round for tea

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I have been asked to start a thread about our use of English grammar, including syntax (sentence structure), spelling, punctuation.   I see some hideous mistakes on case files every day, and I'm not blaming officers for that - if anyone's to blame, it's the education system that failed to teach them the basics.  It was suggested that I begin with a common source of lexical lunacy, there, their and they're.

 

Sometimes "they're", "there" and "their" are used incorrectly.  "They're" is a shortened version of "they are". (The apostrophe replaces the letter "a".)  Only use "they're" if you can substitute it with "they are".

 

e.g. They're not leaving on Saturday at all.

 

Never use contractions like "they're" and "doesn't" in formal documents like statements, summaries, letters etc.  Always expand them to "they are" and "does not".

 

 Their" is used to show possession.  It is just like "my", "your", "his", "her", "its" and "our". 

 

e.g. Take the prisoners back to their cells?

 

The word "there" is similar to the word "here" in that it represents a place.  It has two main uses: it is a specified place (like in the first example below) and an unspecified place (like in the second example).  Also, like in the second and third examples, the word "there" can be used to show that something exists.

 

Example 1. The coppers are over there.

 

Example 2. There are two policemen.

 

Example 3. There are two dogs left in the building.

 

Here endeth the lesson.

 

Brutus

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Now, apart from the obvious first letter, is there any difference between enquiry and inquiry, please?

 

In terms of strict semantic meaning, inquire and enquire are synonymous, but there is a difference in usage in British English.  Enquire is used in the general sense to mean 'ask' something, wheras inquire is used if one is making a formal or far-reaching investigation. 

 

Examples:

 

We didn't know if the bar was open so I told my wife to enquire at Reception.

 

BUT

 

The committee was urged to inquire into the circumstances that led to the accident.

 

Brutus

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I fear I might be leaping in where angels fear to tread and am likely to have something land on me from a great height.  However, the following grates:

(like in the first example below)

Should it be "as in the first example?  Is that better or am I totally wrong?

Sorry Brutus, I don't wish to stop you educating the masses.  :-)

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In terms of strict semantic meaning' date=' inquire and enquire are synonymous, but there is a difference in usage in British English.  Enquire is used in the general sense to mean 'ask' something, wheras inquire is used if one is making a formal or far-reaching investigation. 

 

Examples:

 

We didn't know if the bar was open so I told my wife to enquire at Reception.

 

BUT

 

The committee was urged to inquire into the circumstances that led to the accident.

 

Brutus
[/quote']

Excellent. Thanks, Brutus, I've wondered about that for years.

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OK, M&MBM - here goes.

 

Affect is a verb (a 'doing' word) which means to have an influence on something, e.g. "Did the presence of a speed camera affect the number of accidents on that road?"

 

Effect is usually a noun (a 'thing') which means the result of something upon something else, e.g. 'What effect did speed cameras have on the number of accidents on that road?"

 

Now, just to confuse things, there is another meaning of effect which is also a verb, but it means something entirely different - it means to cause something to happen or to bring something about, e.g. the new chief constable intends to effect many of the policy changes recommended by the Home Secretary.

 

My brain hurts!

 

Brutus

 

 

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Thanks Brutus. If your brain hurts, perhaps we should leave it for the moment. Just now you appear to be preaching to the converted, anyway. Tomorrow perhaps...

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I'm on a roll now!

The use of the word "of" instead of "have"

"He should of arrived by now." is wrong. The correct structure is "He should HAVE arrived by now."

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Or how about "off of" instead of just "off". "Comprising of" instead of just "comprising".

 

Brought and bought. I explained to my kids that it's buy/bought, bring/brought.

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You should just say "comprising", but you would say "consisting of".

 

Another common mistake is to apply the singular to the word data whereas it is a plural.  So:

 

My data is up-to-date = incorrect.

 

My data are up-to-date = correct

 

Aside from academics, people nearly always get that wrong.

 

I'm flying to the Czech Republic at 9am tomorrow, chaps, so if you get any more grammatical conundrums, they'll have to wait until I get back on Sunday.  One of the reasons I'm going there is to link in some research I'm doing into the role of stylistic foregrounding (a technique widely recognised in Modernist and pre-Modernist writing) in modern printed advertising.  Most of the linguistic theory of foregrounding was developed by the "Prague Structuralists" (sometimes viewed as a variation of/development of Russian Formalism), initially by Roman Jakobson and later by Jan Mukarovsky.  Wonderful stuff!

 

I'll also be sampling plenty of Czech beer which, I am assured, is also wonderful stuff!

 

See you when I get back to blighty.  No doubt I'll be totally ramfeezled (!!!) when I get home. 

 

Brutus
Brutus2006-12-05 22:15:03

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Fantastic!!!!

 

Please' date=' please, please, tell all Probationers to read this. I hate seeing bad Grammar.
[/quote']

 

Please also tell all ranks about this, even if they are not a Probationer

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