Last Thoughts on “…serious bodily injury accident…”

When this question was first posted on FB, there was a lot of adjective/adverb conversation about the word “bodily.”

An adjective answers “Which one?” or “What?” about the noun or pronoun it modifies; an adverb answers “When?” “Where?” “Why?” or “How?” — and a few extensions of these questions — about the verb, adjective, or other adverb it modifies.

In this example, “injury” is acting as an adjective to modify the noun “accident.” It answers “What accident?” And though it may seem logical that “bodily” is now an adverb modifying the adjective “injury,” there is no way that “bodily” answers any one of those adverb questions. It is not a “When injury?” et cetera.

In reality, we are looking at a very common English pattern. “Injury” is a noun by nature. Most nouns in English can be used as adjective modifiers. In this case, that is what is happening here. “Injury” is telling us “Which accident?”

However, “bodily” is NOT an adverb. It doesn’t fit the bill as an adverb. It is an adjective modifying the NOUN QUALITY of the word “injury.” “Bodily” is still answering “What injury?” Though “injury” is acting as an adjective, it retains its noun qualities, one of which is to be modified by an adjective.

In “elementary school student,” “elementary” is telling us “Which school?” and is therefore an adjective even though “school” is an adjective that modifies “student.” “Elementary” is modifying the noun quality of the word “school.”

“Reading” is a form that comes from a verb and can be part of the verb.

…She is reading a good book…
…I have been reading about that…

However, “reading” can also be used as a noun (a verbal that is called a “gerund”). As such, the word “reading” has this dual nature. It has verb qualities as well as noun qualities.

In the sentence

…Reading in bed is fun…

“in bed” is an adverb telling “Where?” and modifies the verb qualities of “reading”; “fun” is an adjective telling “What reading?” and modifies the noun qualities of “reading,” which is functioning as the subject of the sentence.

We could go on and on. That words have a “dual nature” is one of the things that makes English so fascinating! 🙂

Happy punctuating!

Margie

Comma Before a Predicate Nominative

A “predicate nominative” is a noun or pronoun that follows a condition verb and renames the subject.

…My mom is an engineer…
…Her name is the same as mine…
…She became a lawyer…

Sometimes the predicate nominative is a whole clause.

…The question is when she decided to quit…
…Rosa is what many call a “natural” at this…
…Her house is where I used to live…

There is no comma after the condition verb before the predicate nominative.

Quotes don’t change this.

…My question is “Do you know that she was there?”
…What he said was “I am not going to put up with this.”

Happy punctuating!

Margie

“Serious bodily injury accident” — Part 1

The punctuation of these words occasioned a rather heated discussion on FB that contained a number of misconceptions about the language in general.

First, a note about the “-ly” issue.

Adverbs that end in “-ly” are formed from an adjective:

…recent, recently…
…new,  newly…
…charming, charmingly…
…heavy, heavily…
…steady, steadily…

When one of these “-ly” words combines with another word to form a modifying unit in front of a noun, the combination is not hyphenated.

…recently built condominiums…
…highly touted methods…
…heavily sedated patients…

Having said that, however, I have to go on with the story.

There are over 100 words that end in “-ly” that are NOT adverbs, not forms that come from adding “-ly” to an adjective.

…friendly…
…lovely…
…lively…
…bodily…

These words are most often adjectives.

…friendly dog…
…lively conversation…
…bodily injury…

So the moral of this story is that “bodily injury” does not fall into the “-ly words are not hyphenated” rule.

More to come on this issue.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

The Word “If”

Sometimes attorneys use a clause that starts with if as if it were a complete sentence.

…If you would turn to the second page…
…If you would take a look at this document…

This is just “bad grammar” creeping into the transcript. I believe these are “alternate” forms of a command form.

…Please turn to the second page…
…Take a look at this document, if you would…

There really is no choice except to put a period after what has now become a sentence.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

Quotation Marks and the Dash

Whether you want the dash inside or outside quotation marks when there is an interruption is really a matter of personal preference.

When the quote is interrupted, you might decide to put the dash inside. If your thinking is that the dash is not part of the original quote, then put the dash outside the quotes.

Just be consistent. If you put it inside when the quote ended, put it inside when/if the quote begins again.

…on the side of the — ” this is exactly what he said ” — roadway as if he…
…on the side of the” — this is exactly what he said —  “roadway as if he…

Happy punctuating!

Margie

Participles

A participle, the –ing or –ed form of the verb that is being used as an adjective, that comes right after the word it modifies is punctuated based on “essential/nonessential.” If the participle is needed to define the word it modifies, there are no commas.

…owned the car involved in the accident…
…know the man sitting near my son…

If a participle adds extra information, it is separated by a comma.

…owned the 2012 VW Beetle, involved in the accident…
…know Don Jones, sitting near my son…

When the participle is down the line in the sentence, it usually takes a comma in front of it.

…submitting this exhibit that was referred to in your deposition, Bates-stamped 15…
…approached the front door of the house, closed and locked…

Happy punctuating!

Margie

That “Extra” Preposition

Just a little grammar this morning.

…dedicated and supported by his parents… 🙁

This construction just does not work. Parents is the object of the preposition by. But the construction assumes that it also goes with dedicated. Since we are not “dedicated by,” we have to insert the correct preposition.

…dedicated to and supported by his parents…

Happy punctuating!

Margie

“Who” or “Whom”?

We continue with this dilemma, sometimes stretching to “look good.” Here is a sentence from an article about the golf tournament over the weekend:

…The fact that so many cheered was confirmation of whom the people thought was the bad guy.

Prior to this sentence in the article, there were a couple of mistakes: a verb left out of a sentence, a misplaced modifier — indicative, I think, of an increasing decline in the way the language is used.

So who or whom? And why?

Because who/whom comes right after the preposition, the author probably thought it should be whom. The fact is the entire clause “whom…guy” is the object of the preposition. It is a noun clause.

So how do you figure out who/whom? You turn the clause around and look at it in normal word order:

…the people thought who/whom was the bad guy…

You see that you are looking for a subject. Put in he/him if that helps you.

Who it is!

Happy punctuating!

Margie

“Old/Olds” in Combination with “Year/Years”

…a five-year-old was…
…knew the 12-year-olds who…

The word old/olds is part of the hyphenated compound noun when the word year is singular. The word old/olds is a combining form, and the combination is hyphenated.

…is five years old…
…knew he was 12 years old…

When the word years is plural, the word old is an adjective. There are no hyphens in the combination.

Happy punctuating!

Margie