Issue For July 11, 2007
Writing Question of the Week
This is usually a question submitted by an OWL user to the OWL Tutors. If you have a question you need answered quickly, ask one of our OWL Tutors or call the Writing Lab's Grammar Hotline at 765-494-3723. And remember, both services are free for everyone!
I've seen constructions like "Rather than have my cake, I want to eat it, too" and "Instead of steal some diamonds, we should get a bank loan." Such sentences drive me crazy. I would say "having" and "stealing" instead of "have" and "steal." I mean, we wouldn't say, "In addition to buy the bread, we should buy some milk," would we?
Part of the reason I'm writing to you is that I don't know what to call this kind of grammatical dilemma and that makes it hard to look it up. So...what do you call this type of grammatical problem; which construction is correct, and why?
Thank you very much,
Thanks for writing. There is not a specific name for this grammatical error. While the first sample sentence you provided is correct, the others are grammatically incorrect.
The first sentence would be correct if you had written either "have," as you did here, or "having" because the sentence begins with "rather than." This phrase leaves the sentence more open. For example: "Rather than drive, I think I'll walk," or "Rather than driving, I think I'll walk." Either sentence would be considered correct; however, the different constructions could be considered idiomatic.
However, the other two sentences you provided contain a prepositional phrase (Instead OF, In addition TO), in which case you would use a gerund (a verb ending in -ing that serves as a noun) following the preposition. This is the only correct construction in this case.
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Should I include an apostrophe when referring to a collection of garments designed for women? Note that "contemporary" modifies "knitwear," not "women." So is it "contemporary women's knitwear" or "contemporary womens knitwear"? My inclination is not to include an apostrophe. In this context, the knitwear does not belong to women; "womens" is an adjective describing a type of knitwear. Thank you. Brian
Should I include an apostrophe when referring to a collection of garments designed for women? Note that "contemporary" modifies "knitwear," not "women." So is it "contemporary women's knitwear" or "contemporary womens knitwear"?
My inclination is not to include an apostrophe. In this context, the knitwear does not belong to women; "womens" is an adjective describing a type of knitwear.
Thanks for writing. Given your example, it seems that your modifiers should be switched: "women's contemporary knitwear." Yes, you do need an apostrophe.
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This week's OWL News was edited by Allen Brizee, OWL Coordinator.