Q & A

Precise Edit contributes to Yahoo! Answers. Many of Precise Edit’s answers have been selected as Best Answers. Some are below.

What is the difference between : and ; ?

; - semicolon

: - is what, and when to use?

Our Answer

Use a semicolon to join two independent clauses without a conjunction.
Example: I ate; she farted.

Use a colon to end an independent clause and join something to it.
Example 1: I ate: she farted. [Here, the colon is used the same way as a semicolon.]
Example 2: I feasted on the following foods: pizza, chips, cookies.

An independent clause has a subject and predicate and can serve as a complete sentence.

I know declarative questions must end in a period. However, could this be considered a declarative statement?

The big bad wolf really took a liking to her grandma – and how!

Our Answer

The expression “and how!” is being used as an interjection to communicate a reaction to the prior statement, not as a question.

What is the difference between the two sentences given below?

When was he born?
When did he born?

Also, what is the difference between “was” and “did”?

It would be great if you could explain me with examples.

Thanks in advance.

Our Answer

“Did” is the past tense of the verb “do.” When combined with another verb, “did” indicates that an action occured in the past, as in the following examples.
ex: He did read.
ex: He did eat the pizza.

“Was” is the past tense of the verb “to be.” (In the present tense, the verb “to be” is “is.”). “Was” is the linking verb that connects a subject with some type of description.

Now, your sentences.

When was he born? – This correctly uses “was” to link “he” to the description “born,” as in “he was born.” This sentence is grammatically correct.

When did he born? – This tries to add “did” to a verb, as in “he did born.” However, “born” is not a verb; it’s an adjective here. This sentence is grammatically incorrect.

It’s been a while since we’ve posted on of these. “Need help with grammar check.”

Is it “The committee of cousins cordially invite you” or “The committee of cousins cordially invites you?”

Our Answer

You’re asking whether the verb is singular or plural. Here’s what you need to remember: “S” for “singular.”

Now, to determine whether to use “invite” or “invites,” you need to find the subject of the verb. Here, the subject is “committee.” This is singular. A committee is ONE group of people. Regardless of how many people are in the group or the type of group, it is still ONE group.

The subject is not “cousins.” The prepositional phrase “of cousins” tells what type of committee, and, as we have seen, the subject is committee.

Now that we know that the subject of the verb is singular, we also know that the verb needs to be singular. Thus, “invites” is the correct verb here.

Your correct sentence is this:
“The committee of cousins cordially invites you.”

Asker’s Comment:
That’s a pretty informative answer :P

Help with finding the subject and verb?

There’s only a tiny margin for error on that narrow fairway of that golf course.

Can someone help me identify the subject and verb, and if possible explain on that sentence above?

Our Answer

You are asking a really great, and complicated, question with this sentence.

First, grammar: The words in the subject’s and verb’s places are “There” and “is,” respectively. “There” is the subject; we call this the grammatical subject because it is the word in the subject postion. Also, “is” is the main verb.

Now, why is this a great question?

This is a crappy sentence. Although the word “there” is in the subject’s place, the sentence is not about “there.” It is about the fairway. Because the sentence is about the fairway, we call “fairway” the rhetorical subject.

To make this a better sentence, we use the rhetorical subject, “fairway,” as the grammatical subject and get this: “The fairway of that golf course has only a tiny margin of error.”

When Should Punctuation Go Inside the Quotation Marks, and When Should It Stay Outside?

I was always told that punctuation should stay inside the quotation marks. But there are times when it seems like the punctuation belongs outside the quotation marks.

For example, if you have a title with quotes around it (because we can’t always italicize), and the title is at the end of a sentence, does it seem wrong to put the period inside the quotes? The period isn’t part of the title, correct?

And yet the lone punctuation mark doesn’t look right outside the quotation marks, either.

Is there an authoritative list when it comes to punctuation and quotes? (Not just for titles?)

Our Answer

In U.S. English conventions, question marks and colons that are NOT part of the quotation go outside the final quotation mark. Otherwise, they go inside.

Example 1: Did the boss say, “Everyone gets a bonus”? [Question mark IS NOT part of the sentence being quoted]

Example 2: The boss said, “Where is everyone?” [Question mark IS part of the sentence being quoted]

Are these sentences in the passive voice?? help :)?

‘It is settled’

‘he had lain hidden in the feathers’

Our Answer

The second one is not passive. The first one might or might not be passive depending on how it is used.

“It is settled by both people.” – Passive

“Do you see the soil in the bottle? It is settled to the bottom of the glass.” – Active

Here’s how you tell the difference.

1. Find the action (“settled” “lain hidden”).

2. Find the subject of the verb (“It” “he”).

3. Ask whether or not the subject is doing the action.

If the subject does the action, the sentence is active.

If the subject is not doing the action, or if the action is done to the subject, the sentence is passive.

Look at the two options for “It is settled.”

In the first one, the action is “is settled.” The subject “It” did not do the action. “two people” did the action to “it.” Because the subject did not do the action and because the action was done to the subject, the sentence is passive.

In the second one, the action, again, is “is settled.” Did “It” (the soil”) do the action (“is settled”)? Yes. The subject did the action of settling to the bottom of the glass. Because the subject did the action, the sentence is active.

In your other sentence (“He had lain hidden in the feathers”), what is the action and subject? The action is “had lain.” The subject is “he.” Did the subject (“he”) do the action (“had lain”)? Yes. The subject did the action, so this sentence is active.

Here’s one more active/passive sentence pair:

“The robber stole the money” – active. The subject (“robber”) did the action (“stole”).

“The money was stolen” – passive. The subject did not do the action; the action was done to the subject.

Are these real sentences or fragments?

All of which you would be by not finishing school

One-third of all high school students fail to graduate

That’s what life really is; a game.

You either win or you lose

You win by staying in school and lose by, of course, dropping out.

This may sound dumb but I am just making sure they arent fragments

Our Answer

It’s good that you asked. One of these IS a fragment, and 3 others are incorrect grammatically.

1. “All of which you would be by not finishing school”

This one is the fragment. The way you have it here, starting with “all of which” means that it is a description of something else. It has no subject or predicate. You will need to combine this with a complete sentence. For example, you might write “Drop-outs are poor, prone to drug and alcohol abuse, and unlikely to get career advancements, all of which you would be by not finishing school.”

2. “One-third of all high school students fail to graduate”

This one would be fine if you add a period at the end. (You might also want to check the statistics on this. Social researchers have different methods for determining non-graduation. Some methods only study students who drop-out of school and then do not return to the same school within a year. The method that looks at people who drop-out and later return to any school to finish finds a result far lower than 1/3.)

3. “That’s what life really is; a game.”

Change the semicolon to a colon, and this one will be fine, as well.

4. “You either win or you lose”

First, add a period. However, this will still be wrong. When you use “either,” you establish 2 equal options. However, look that the options you have here: 1) win, 2) you lose. This doesn’t make sense. The two parts need to be the same types of things. Now we have two choices for how to fix this sentence. We can say “either you win or you lose” or “you either win or lose.”

5. You win by staying in school and lose by, of course, dropping out.

This sentence is perfect.

I want to know the basics of (,) or the advanced level of it. I know you can use it after FANBOYS as in (For, And, Norm But, Or , Yet, So). However, when are other places you can use a comma? please give an example of a sentence with explanation.

Our Answer

First, you don’t use a comma after FANBOYS–you use them BEFORE those coordinating conjunctions when you are joining two complete sentences (called “independent clauses”).

For example: “The man was a slob [comma here] but his wife was worse.”

Second, the conjunction for “N” is not “norm” but “nor.”

For example: I will not not leave, nor will I be quiet.

Third, commas are used in many ways, too many to list here, but here are some examples.

a. After an introductory adverbial phrase: When the boy was gone [comma here] his sister cleaned his room.

b. Between items in a list or series: I love to eat pickles [comma] peanut butter [comma] and pretzels.

c. Around appositives: Steel [comma] a metal alloy [comma] is used to make bridges.

d. Around the name of the person you are addressing: Please take this [comma] John [comma] as a gift.

Two last notes:

1. The so-called rule about putting a comma where you take a breath or pause is wrong. Although this might work in some cases, it doesn’t work in all cases. For example, in example C above, you might not pause after “a metal alloy.” If you follow this mistaken rule, you would not put a comma there. However, you need that comma to match the one after “steel.”

2. Yes, you can put a comma before “and.” For example: “I am tired [comma] and I want to leave.” This comma is required before “and” because you are joining two complete sentences with the conjunction “and.”