168. Ways of Arguing 2

 

Arguments may support an opinion by questioning the truth or the strength of opposing evidence

CHARACTERISTICS OF WRITTEN ARGUMENT

An argument may be defined as an opinion with some supporting evidence. Academic writers frequently need to argue, for example in answering “analytic” essay questions (see 94. Essay Instruction Words), or in deriving conclusions from research findings. Written arguments are common in a business context too, for such purposes as defining company policy or requesting funding for a project.

Each of the two parts of an argument is associated with a variety of characteristic words and structures, no particular one of which is essential. Language that can be used for stating opinions is considered in depth elsewhere within these pages in the post 107. The Language of Opinions. Here it is the language of supporting information that I wish to concentrate on.

There are at least three main types of support for an opinion: simple evidence, complex evidence, and criticism of opposing evidence. Language associated with the first two are the topic of the post before this (167. Ways of Arguing 1). The following sections present and discuss two major ways to criticise evidence supporting an opinion opposite to your own.

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LANGUAGE FOR CRITICISING OPPOSING EVIDENCE

Exposing a problem in the evidence for an opposing opinion can be a very persuasive way of arguing. Two common ways of criticising evidence are as follows:

1. Factuality-Questioning

In this approach, doubt is expressed about the factuality of a supporting statement. By itself this is not proof that one’s own opinion is correct, but it strongly implies that it is. Here is an example of an argument involving this kind of criticism. The evidence under attack is underlined.

(a) Critics of modern soccer often argue that players are paid too much. Salaries, they say, are not proportionate to the game’s role in society. Yet much of this concern is misplaced. The high player salaries are no more unjustified than the earnings of other well-paid sports personalities such as tennis players. There is, moreover, no proof that providing enjoyment to millions of people is any less a contribution to society than performing more obviously worthy services such as running a government.

The writer is here arguing that soccer players’ high salaries are justified. S/he does not agree that they are too high for soccer’s role in society. The reasons are that other sports stars earn similarly high salaries, and that the level of soccer’s importance in society is a matter of opinion.

This kind of argument has some characteristic language. First, the opinion that is being disagreed with must be linked with other people than the writer. In (e) this is done with critics. For other possibilities, see 22. Multiple Speakers in a Text. Next, after the opinion and introducing the questioning there must be a word – normally a conjunction or connector – meaning “but” (but, yet, however, nevertheless, even so etc.). Finally, there is normally a criticism expression like misplaced. For more examples, see 13. Hidden Negatives and 152. Agreeing and Disagreeing in Formal Contexts.

Here is another example of this kind of argument. Readers are invited to identify the above-described key elements:

(b) Various research findings have been cited in support of a link between high-cholesterol foods and heart attacks. However, this link is questionable. There have been other research projects that have not confirmed a connection between diet and heart disease.

The first sentence here contains the opinion being criticised and, before it, simple evidence on which it is based (various research findings). All of this is attributed to other people by the passive form of the reporting verb have been cited. The criticism begins with however. The criticism word is questionable. The problem with the factuality of the evidence is said to be the suggestion that all research supports the same conclusion when in fact only some does.

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2. Counterbalancing

In this kind of argument, evidence against the writer’s own opinion is accepted as factual, but is shown to be weaker than evidence for it. There are two different ways of indicating such weakness. In one, a numerical imbalance is highlighted: more points in support than against.

Arguments of this kind are often needed in academic essays, particularly those instructing the writer to discuss (see 94. Essay Instruction Words). A common approach is to list the two opposing sets of points separately, before providing an opinion based on whichever one is larger or “heavier”. The typical language will hence be that of listing different items in different sentences (see 122. Signpost Words in Multi-Sentence Lists). There will usually be a sentence introducing the list (ending in a full stop, not a colon) plus a need for a suitable link word at the start of each new point.

There are various possible ways of writing the introductory sentence, e.g.:

(c) Train travel has advantages and disadvantages.

(d) A case can be made both for and against train travel.

(e) There are arguments both for and against train travel.

Sentence (e) contains a “presentational” there and also illustrates the common use of arguments to mean “supporting points” (see 167. Ways of Arguing 1).

The first evidence statement will usually need a signpost adverb like firstly or adjective like first. For some synonyms, see the above-mentioned post on multi-sentence listing. A particularly useful one for starting the points in favour of your own opinion is to begin with: it suggests that the list is long and strong.

Statements of subsequent evidence are typically introduced with “addition” connectors like moreover, furthermore and in addition, or adjectives like another. A change from supporting to opposing points or vice versa can be shown with however or on the other hand.

At the end, when the conclusion indicated by the mentioned evidence needs to be stated, it is possible to begin with a phrase like in conclusion, it can be concluded that, to sum up, in view of the above arguments or on the basis of the above. There should also be a statement of how/why the points support the opinion.

The other main way of making opposing evidence seem weaker than your own is by questioning its relative importance. The language for doing this is extensively analysed in the Guinlist post 51. Making Concessions with “May”. Here are two examples:

(f) Coal may be a cheap fuel but it harms the environment.

(g) Train travel should be preferred to driving whenever possible. It may be tiring, but it is kinder to the environment.

No opinion is actually stated in (f), but one is easily inferred: the writer thinks coal should not be used as a fuel. Both (f) and (g) signal the opposing point (underlined) with may and the writer’s own point with but. The very meaning of but suggests that what follows is a more important point, but a writer ought to back this up with some subsequent detail.

May and but are not the only words that can do what they do: the above-mentioned post lists numerous alternatives. Most imply that the inconvenient point has been made by other people, rather than having been thought of by the writer. They are hence agreement-showing – formal equivalents of the conversational You have a point, but … (see 152. Agreeing and Disagreeing in Formal Contexts). To avoid the suggestion of other people, one can replace both may and but with although (a conjunction that rarely allows a following but – see 64. Double Conjunctions).

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167. Ways of Arguing 1

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Arguments may support an opinion with “simple” or “complex” evidence, using slightly different language in each case

CHARACTERISTICS OF WRITTEN ARGUMENT

Argument is common in professional writing. It has two essential components: a “main” point whose truth is debatable – i.e. an opinion –and at least one fairly factual supporting observation to give the opinion some credibility. If the second of these is absent, leaving just the opinion, there is no argument, and a likelihood in serious writing of losing the reader’s interest and respect.

Supporting observations are sometimes found with facts rather than opinions, but then they are probably helping to make an explanation rather than an argument.

Each of the two parts of an argument has a variety of characteristic words and structures, no particular one of which is essential. Language associated with the opinion part is considered in depth elsewhere within these pages in the post 107. The Language of Opinions. Hence it is language involved in making supporting observations that is the primary focus here.

There are at least three main types of support for an opinion: simple evidence, complex evidence, and criticism of opposing evidence. The first two are the topic of the present post, while the last is considered separately in the next (168. Ways of Arguing 2).

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SIMPLE EVIDENCE

This term is my own for a kind of evidence that can be as little as a single factual statement but can also comprise more than one, each forming a separate supporting point. The opinion may be placed either before or after. Here is an example of simple evidence that comprises two separate supporting points (underlined) and is placed after an opinion:

(a) The Government should invest in solar energy. It is not harmful to the environment. It is relatively cheap to produce.

Most of the special language needed with simple evidence seems to be link words: conjunctions, connectors and synonyms of connectors. Conjunctions enable the number of separate sentences to be reduced. Connectors keep the different statements separate, but express their logical relationships very precisely (see 40. Conjunctions versus Connectors).

When the opinion is first, as above, any link words must follow it. Words linking it to the evidence must come at the start of the first evidence sentence, and must express the idea of “reason”. Possible conjunctions (replacing the first full stop) include since, because and given that. Since suggests a more logical reason-consequence relationship (see 61. “Since” versus “Because”). Connectors that could be used instead include this is because and the reason is that. They follow rather than replace the first full stop.

When there are multiple supporting points after an opinion, as in (a), link words can also be placed between them. A conjunction possibility is and, while possible connectors include moreover, furthermore and in addition. Note that when a reason-showing link word is used earlier, one of these other link words must also be present. If it is not, only the first support-showing statement will be understood as the evidence.

When simple evidence goes before rather than after an opinion, a slightly different set of optional link words exists. Consider this:

(b) Solar energy is not harmful to the environment. It is relatively cheap to produce. The Government should invest in it.

Once again, the evidence can be marked as a reason for the opinion by means of reason-showing words. The conjunctions since, because and given that remain possible at the start of the evidence – now at the very beginning of the argument (see 25. Conjunction Positioning). Another possibility here, suggesting there is uncertainty about the truth of the evidence, is if, meaning “if it is true that” (see the end of  61. “Since” versus “Because”). Whichever conjunction you start with, you must add and (not a connector) later on, between the two supporting points. As a result, the whole argument will occupy a single sentence.

Alternatively, instead of a starting since conjunction, so can be added later on, after the two supporting points, again with and between them so that everything becomes a single sentence. So suggests the same logicality as since (see 32. Expressing Consequences).

No connector can be used at the very start in place of the since conjunctions. This is because connectors link back to earlier statements, not forward to later ones. However, since conjunctions can be replaced by a later connector which means the same as so and goes in the same place – at the start of the opinion. Connectors of this kind include consequently, hence, therefore and thus. All, of course, need a full stop before them.

Using these connectors instead of a conjunction allows a choice of link words between the supporting points (after environment in the example). As well as the conjunction and, the connectors moreover, furthermore and in addition are all possible without being necessary.

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COMPLEX EVIDENCE

This is my own term for a kind of supporting information that comprises more than one factual statement but only one supporting point. Again, it may go before or after the opinion. Here is an example of it placed after:

(c) Coal should not be used as an energy source. It produces carbon dioxide. This gas contributes to global warming.

As this shows, the second sentence of complex evidence, rather than giving a new reason for the validity of the opinion, helps to explain the old one.

As with simple evidence, much of the special language associated with complex evidence seems to be link words. With the opinion at the start, the conjunctions since, because and given that are again options between it and following evidence, as are the connectors this is because and the reason is that. However, with all of these the second evidence statement, unlike with simple evidence, can always remain a separate sentence, as it is in (c) – there is a free choice about whether or not to add and. This is a consequence of the second evidence sentence not being a new supporting point.

An occasional alternative way of combining the two sentences of complex evidence into one when the opinion comes first seems to be with the relative pronoun which (with a preceding comma): in (c) this can usefully replace the repetitious this gas. On the other hand, no connectors seem possible. Moreover and its synonyms signal a new supporting point, not a continuation of an old one.

If complex evidence is placed before an opinion, the argument might look like this:

(d) Coal produces carbon dioxide. This gas contributes to global warming. Other energy sources should be used.

The conjunction options for linking the evidence with the opinion here are similar to those when simple evidence precedes an opinion. There can be a since conjunction at the very start or so before the opinion. The former again needs and (or which) between the two evidence statements (otherwise the second evidence sentence will be understood as the opinion!), so that everything is in a single sentence. However, the use of so makes an earlier and optional: there can be one or two sentences overall.

If is not normally possible at the start of arguments like (d). The reason is that the second evidence sentence (This gas …) – necessarily linked to if by and – will usually express a fact rather than the uncertain point that if suggests.

Connector alternatives to the possible conjunctions are again consequence ones in the final (opinion) sentence: consequently, hence, therefore and thus. These are the only connector options in arguments like (d): the two evidence sentences, like those in (c), cannot have a connector between them.

The third type of support for an opinion is criticism of opposing evidence. This is different from simple and complex evidence in that it brings in points made by other people which go against the writer’s own opinion. It is considered in detail in the next post.

166. Appropriacy in Professional English

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Grammar and vocabulary in professional contexts must meet requirements of style and tone

THE NATURE OF APPROPRIACY

The grammar and vocabulary that enable a particular thing to be said correctly in English is generally quite variable (see 80. How to Paraphrase). However, some choices fit particular situations more suitably than others. For example, it is suitable in everyday conversation to speak of lions, but in technical zoological writing to speak of Felis leo. And in a letter demanding payment of unpaid money it may be more suitable to speak of an outstanding sum, in order not to upset the addressee. It is choices like these that are commonly called “appropriacy”.

The first of the above examples illustrates a type of appropriacy known as “style”. There is some discussion of it elsewhere in this blog in the posts 46. How to Avoid “I”, “We” and “You” and 108. Formal and Informal Words. The second example is more one of “tone”. In this post I wish to explore these two different types of appropriacy in more depth. In the process, I hope to present and illustrate a wide range of potentially useful vocabulary and grammar.

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STYLISTIC APPROPRIACY

Wording that is stylistically appropriate is typical of the style (or type, or “register”) of writing where it is located (see 16. Ways of Distinguishing Similar Words, #1). Styles are defined by such features as their subject matter, purpose and medium of communication. In the other parts of this blog where style features, the focus is mainly on the particular kind known as “academic”. Most of the language that is mentioned as appropriate to this style is vocabulary, such as obtain (rather than get), large (for big), numerous (for a lot of) and encounter (for come across).

Academic writing also makes stylistically appropriate grammatical choices. Some verb forms, such as the passive voice, enable unwanted pronouns like we to be avoided (but see 27. How to Avoid Passive Verbs). Indirect questions are generally preferred to direct ones for introducing a topic (see 57. Indirect Questions in Formal Writing).

Other styles of writing include literary, legal, journalistic, advisory and marketing. One characteristic of literary writing is its freedom to report historical speech in direct rather than indirect form (see 127. When to Use Indirect Speech). Another is a greater likelihood of poetic words like host (= crowd), mortals (= humans) and smite (= hit).

Legal writing has numerous specialized words, such as persons (= people), parties (= people who have made an agreement) and offence/felony (= crime). Journalistic writing likes short words like pay (= wages), mar (= spoil), ban (= prohibit) and woo (= try to persuade with promises). A grammatical feature is dropped the before people-describing nouns (e.g. … singer Bob Marley – see 77. Apposition).

Advisory writing is commonly found in government leaflets and product instructions. You and your are common, as are imperative verbs and modals like should (see 128 Imperative Verbs in Formal Writing). There are often headings with a question word and infinitive verb, e.g. What to Do Next (see 105. Questions with a “to” Verb).

Marketing texts, which seek to promote a good image, present products and services in the most positive possible way. As a result, positive-sounding words are much more common than negative-sounding ones. The messages cannot usually be called untruthful, but sometimes they are so close to it that they can mislead.

Examples of typical but possibly dubious marketing language include new describing products that have merely been changed (often for the worse), and price changes or adjustments instead of the more precise increases. On the London transport system notices refer to a good service when they mean normal and to track improvement instead of maintenance. A problem with this last is ambiguity: it is easily understood as improvement of the nature of the track when in fact it might only mean restoration of its optimum condition.

Marketing language of a less controversial kind includes imperative verbs that highlight an advantage of a product (Travel free of charge), and positive-sounding adjectives in restaurant menus (a delicious combination of exotic flavours).

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TONAL APPROPRIACY

While style is a consequence of the type of writing that one is engaged in, merely distinguishing one type from another, tone is a consequence of a writer thinking about emotions that need to be aroused or avoided in the reader. A particular point may be makable with different tones within a single style, though some tones may help a particular style to be identified. Tonal choices may reflect the culture of the speakers of the language (just like some words – see 137. Words that Reflect English Culture).

The following tone types are important:

1. Polite

Polite language seeks to prevent the reader being offended. Various ways of communicating politely are mentioned elsewhere within these pages. In spoken interactions, questions aimed at gaining information – which run the risk of irritating the addressee – will sound politer if asked indirectly rather than directly. The following, for example, are politer equivalents of What is your name? and Where is the library?:

(a) Could you tell me (what) your name (is)?

(b) I would like to know where the library is.

For more about this kind of question, see 57. Indirect Questions in Formal Writing.

In professional writing, a common situation where polite language is likely to be necessary is discussion of controversial ideas, for example within academic literature reviews. What especially requires politeness here is expressing disagreement with another writer’s opinion – an obvious potential cause of hurt feelings. The Guinlist post 152. Agreeing and Disagreeing in Formal Contexts suggests that it is more polite to disagree with words than with people. Thus, instead of writing that Jones (2016) is simplistic or unconvincing, one can say that the argument or opinion are.

A further suggestion in this area is to avoid strongly negative wording. Unconvincing sounds politer than simplistic because it is vaguer about the reason for rejection. Similarly useful are debatable and questionable. For more examples of negative words, see 13. Hidden Negatives and 146. Some Important Prefix Types.

A further strategy, often mentioned in Business English coursebooks, is to put not very before the positive equivalent of a negative word. Thus, instead of unhelpful, it sounds politer to say not very helpful, and difficult can become not very easy.

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2. Friendly

Sounding friendly is a particular goal of marketing language. One of the most ubiquitous means of achieving it is “personal” words like my and your. Most computer users will be familiar with the name My Computer that Microsoft used to give to its file-exploring program (along with folder names like My Music).

Your is very commonly linked with consumer products. Who has not encountered phrases like your new phone or your smart TV, even when these have been purchased for somebody else? Your is also increasingly popular with information documents like bank statements and bills. Even in academic writing, there are some advocates of using you more than is traditional – for example in laboratory instructions – in order to sound friendlier.

One problem with such words is that they do not always ring true. My computer assumes that the user of the computer is always its owner. The much more neutral this, which I personally always used to overwrite my with, leaves the ownership open. Thankfully, Microsoft too now seem to have stopped using my. However, expressions like your bill continue to proliferate. I find this particular one irksome because I see the bill as the sender’s not mine!

The problem is further illustrated by an experience I had some years ago, when I sent a short piece about a degree course I was involved in to my university’s marketing department. I wrote that students would do various things, but when the piece was published, this word had become you. I phoned to complain that you referred to the reader, who might be a parent or teacher of students rather than the students themselves, but was told that using you was “corporate policy”. Sounding friendly, it seemed, was more important than being accurate.

Not all ways of sounding friendly, however, are problematic. For example, much marketing literature these days uses direct questions as topic headings instead of noun phrases – e.g. Who should I contact? instead of Contacts – in order to reflect the reader’s point of view rather than the writer’s. In most cases the questions are not isolated but located within lists of so-called “FAQs” (frequently asked questions).

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3. Status-Influenced

Language changes according to whether it is addressed to somebody in a superior, equal or inferior position. For example, if you are seeking to have an action performed by a superior, you are likely to use a request, whereas one needing to be performed by an inferior is likely to result in a command. Consider these words uttered by a student to a lecturer:

(c) Would you mind looking again at what I have written?

A lecturer wanting a student to do the same thing could easily begin I want you to look or please look (please seems to be becoming more associated in English with commands than requests!). A student speaking to another student, on the other hand, might prefer a suggestion (why don’t you look).

Status-influenced variation is also seen with accusations and complaints. Superiors can generally be more negative in their language than inferiors. Consider these words uttered by an employer to an employee:

(d) You are failing to act in the right way.

An employee making the same point to their employer would need to avoid the negative failing, a possible solution being:

(e) We wonder whether a different approach might be possible.

165. Confusions of Similar Structures 2

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Beware of combining two similar grammatical structures into a single incorrect one

HOW SIMILAR STRUCTURES CAN BE CONFUSED

This is a second post about grammar mistakes resulting from a confusion of two structures possessing similar form (spelling and pronunciation) or meaning or both (see also 133. Confusions of Similar Structures 1). Mistakes of this kind will have features of both structures, but will be an “impossible combination” (see 100. What is a Grammar Error?). As an example, in spite of and despite are spelt similarly and mean the same, but are confusing in that one needs of and the other does not. The mistake that many learners of English make is putting of in the wrong place, creating the incorrect combination*despite of.

The confusions in question here are of grammar, not meaning. Confusions of meaning are considered elsewhere within this blog in numerous posts, most notably those with the title Tricky Word Contrasts. Grammar confusions with other causes than the one considered here feature in the Guinlist posts 10/140. Words with Unexpected Grammar 1/2142 Reasons for Passive Verb Errors and 144. Words that are Often Heard Wrongly.

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LIST OF COMMON CONFUSIONS

1. “1900” versus “the 1900s”

Any date with nought at the end can have the and -s added to it in the way shown. The common confusion is to have -s without the (e.g. *in 1970s), leaving it unclear which of the two correct forms is meant.

The meaning difference between the two correct forms is, of course, that the “bare” one (1900) refers to a single year, the first one of a decade or century, while the one with the … -s refers to all of the decade or century. Perhaps the smallness of the -s is a factor in the error: it might easily cause the visible difference between the two expressions to be perceived as simply the presence or absence of the.

For more about problems that dates can cause in English, see 67. Numbers in Spoken English.

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2. “worth it to do” versus “worth doing”

The common error of using a verb with to directly after worth (*worth to do) instead of one with -ing is also considered within this blog in the post 83. Active Verbs with Non-Active Meanings 2. There it is observed that worth seems to be the only near-synonym of the adjective useful that needs -ing instead of to (cp. useful to do, profitable to do), so that these near-synonyms might be a reason for the incorrect use of worth (for more on errors caused by synonyms, see 10. Words with Unexpected Grammar 1).

However, like many well-known errors, the one with worth may have multiple causes. The relevant one here involves the fact that worth, unlike most other adjectives, can also be used like a preposition with a following noun, as in this example:

(a) It is worth the effort to check word meanings in a dictionary.

Here, worth is like a preposition and not an adjective because of its position before the rather than after (see 84. Seven Things to Know about Prepositions). It will be seen that the following verb to check has to, not -ing. This is possible because the verb CHECK is not the partner word of worth, as it is when -ing is necessary, but instead follows another word that is the partner (the effort). Also notable is the fact that the effort is often replaced by the much less noticeable pronoun it.

The two alternative expressions worth doing and worth it to do provide a typical basis for a combination error. The parts of each that probably comprise it are underlined.

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3. “GO for (NOUN)” versus “GO (VERB)ing”

The first of these is illustrated by go for a meal, the second by go fishing. The common confusion is to combine for with an -ing verb, e.g. *go for fishing, *go for eating. This is not such an illogical thing to do, given the frequent ability of nouns in English to be replaced by -ing verbs (see 70. Gerunds).

The reason why a noun after go for cannot be replaced by an -ing verb is that for in this position means “in order to obtain” (see 60. Purpose Sentences with “for”), and -ing verbs do not normally represent things (or people) that can be obtained – they represent actions instead.

The temptation to use for with -ing will perhaps be strongest before spellings that can be either a noun or a verb, such as SWIM. As verbs, these need -ing (go swimming), as nouns for a (go for a swim). You still cannot say *go for swimming. Most words of this kind represent leisure activities. Other examples are cruising/a cruise, drinking/a drink, driving/a drive, running/a run, touring/a tour, visiting/a visit and walking/a walk.

Note that not all leisure verbs can be made into a noun of similar spelling like this. Unchangeable ones after go include boating, fishing, hunting, sailing, shopping, sightseeing, and travelling. Note also that noun/verb spellings not representing leisure activities, such as PRAY and SLEEP, usually have to be in the noun form with for (go for prayers/a sleep).

One case where for + -ing is actually possible is go for shopping. This is because shopping is a rare example of an -ing word with a non-action meaning as well as an action one – “purchased items” as well as “purchasing”. As a result, go for shopping means “go to collect purchased items”, rather than “go to purchase things”, the meaning of go shopping.

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4. “from … to/through” versus “between … and”

Both of these name the start and end points of a range. The main difference seems to be that from … to (from … through in American English) says the action or state of the verb exists across all of the range, whereas between … and is vaguer – leaving open the possibility that only some of the range is involved. Consider this:

(b) The situation was stable … January … April.

From … to here would show that stability lasted throughout the indicated period, whereas between … and would leave it open whether the stability occupied all or some of the period. Sometimes such vagueness is necessary because the writer is unsure (see 96. Hedging 2: Lists & Predictions). The same contrast exists when single actions rather than states are being mentioned:

(c) Prices jumped … 10.00 a.m. … 11.00 a.m.

Here, from … to would say that the jumping lasted the whole of the mentioned hour, taking the form of either numerous small jumps or a single extended one. Between … and, on the other hand, would leave it open whether the jumping was like this or just a single brief event somewhere within the hour. However, given the general nature of price “jumps”, the latter meaning would be implied.

One other difference is illustrated by the following sentence:

(d) Numerous journeys are made … Paris … Berlin.

Here, from … to means that every journey starts in Paris and ends in Berlin, while between … and covers journeys in the opposite direction too.

The common confusion of these two combinations, even among mother-tongue English speakers, is *between … to. The opposite incorrect pairing *from … and does not seem to occur.

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5. “from… to” versus “START … END”

This confusion again involves ranges. It results from the fact that the verbs START and END (and synonyms like BEGIN/COMMENCE and FINISH/STOP) are a third option besides from … to and between … and in sentences like (b). Here is (b) paraphrased to include them:

(e) The situation was stable starting in January and ending in April.

The confusion error in sentences like this is combining START with from … to instead of with END, e.g. * … starting from January to April. The problem is one of logic rather than grammar: START accompanied by from … to shows only an elongated start, not the start and end of a period.

I suspect that in many cases combining START with from is a result not just of from and START being alternatives in English, but also of the possibility in some other languages of saying START from. To avoid the error, readers are advised to avoid using START verbs altogether, since even their correct use in English makes sentences rather clumsy.

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6. “one way” versus “one of the ways”

Basic grammar says a countable noun like way must be in the singular form after one (one way). Less obvious, however, is the fact that if you wish to add the (or a similar word like their or those) to the noun, the plural form becomes necessary, along with of: we have to say one of the ways (see 160. Uses of “of”). This use with a plural can be illustrated as follows:

(f) One of the ways of keeping fit is by regular walking.

One way indicates that knowledge of other ways is absent or unimportant. It seems especially likely to be used for suggestions. One of the ways, by contrast, suggests that the speaker is making a careful selection from a fixed group of previously-known ways, and might be describing more than suggesting.

The common confusion is putting a singular noun after one of the. There is an obvious reason why this should happen: the influence of one. The reason why it is incorrect is that one goes not with ways but with an unmentioned word way: the phrase is actually one (way) of the ways, with way omitted to avoid repetition (see 138. Test your Command of Grammar, #24).

164. Fixed Preposition Phrases

English prepositions make some very familiar phrases with certain partner words

TYPES OF PREPOSITION PHRASE

Prepositions combine with a noun or equivalent, the two together being known as a preposition phrase (see 84. Seven Things to Know about Prepositions). In many cases, but not all, the choice of the preposition depends on a particular preposition meaning that needs to be expressed. It might, for example, be showing the following noun to be the cause of an action (by), or the name of an “instrument” (with), or a location (in), or an origin (from). Many of the phrases listed in the Guinlist post 85. Preposition Phrases and Corresponding Adverbs have a preposition of this kind.

Other preposition choices, however, are less variable: they may still depend to some extent on a need to express a particular preposition meaning, but one preposition will tend to be more typical than the others, either because it takes over some of the meanings normally expressed by other prepositions, or because some of the other meanings are simply not logical.

The first of these two situations occurs, for example, with the noun a map, which requires the preposition on to express not just the normal meaning of “attached to the surface of”, but also the positional meaning that before other nouns might be expressed by in (see 111. Words with their Own Preposition). At the same time, however, on is not the only preposition found with a map: it can be replaced by a range of other “locative” prepositions such as above, under, next to, around and across.

When two or more words are felt to have a typical or frequent co-occurrence they are technically said to form a “collocation” (see 16. Ways of Distinguishing Similar Words). The collocation made by on and a map is a fairly weak one. Some prepositions, however, make stronger collocations: their noun allows few alternative prepositions or even, in phrases like on the whole, none at all. It is phrases of this more restricted kind that I am here calling “fixed”. I wish in this post to show how numerous they are in English, and to present a wide variety of examples that could be used in formal writing.

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LIST OF FIXED PREPOSITION PHRASES

The following list is not exhaustive: I cannot say how many other phrases of the same kind exist. There is also an element of subjectivity about the fixedness of the phrases: some might disagree. However, it is knowing the phrases rather than their fixedness that is ultimately what matters. For some less-fixed similar phrases, see 111. Words with their Own Preposition.

GROUP 1: above all (else/others), above ground, above oneself, above the law, above suspicion

GROUP 2: as a consequence, as a reminder, as a result, as a rule, as a whole, as usual

GROUP 3: at a guess, at any rate, at best, at ease, at every opportunity, at first, at first sight, at hand, at intervals, at last, at least, at odds, at present, at the first attempt, at the moment, at the most, at the start, at will, at worst

GROUP 4: beyond assistance, beyond belief, beyond comparison, beyond dispute, beyond doubt, beyond expectation(s), beyond hope, beyond recall, beyond recognition, beyond reproach, beyond the call of duty, beyond one’s wildest dreams

GROUP 5: by all accounts, by all means, by birth, by candlelight, by comparison, by contrast, by custom, by degrees, by design, by far, by force, by law, by name, by (their) nature, by profession, by reference to …, by reputation, by repute, by -self, by way of …, by word of mouth

GROUP 6: for good, for good reason, for now, for once in a while, for sure, for the record, for the time being, for what it is worth

GROUP 7: from a … perspective, from day one, from day to day, from the horse’s mouth, from time to time, from side to side, from top to bottom

GROUP 8: in a … capacity, in a rage, in a … way, in all, in all sincerity, in a mess, in answer, in a sense, in a similar vein, in charge, in circulation, in conclusion, in common parlance, in contrast, in danger, in difficulty, in disgrace, in dispute, in favour, in fits and starts, in full, in full flow, in general, in line, in no time, in principle, in the process, in question, in sum(mary), in … terms, in the end, in the eyes of …, in (the) first place, in the main, in time, in total, in transit, in turn, in truth

GROUP 9: of a kind, of … kinds, of concern, of importance, of interest, of necessity, of … own accord, of sorts, of substance

GROUP 10: on a … basis, on all sides, on average, on closer analysis/examination, on end, on occasion, on purpose, on reflection, on the evidence of … , on the face of it, on the go, on the make, on the mend, on the other hand, on the surface, on the understanding that …, on the whole, on top

GROUP 11: out of action, out of all proportion, out of bounds, out of circulation, out of contract, out of date, out of fashion, out of favour, out of phase, out of sorts, out of step, out of the norm, out of the ordinary, out of the question, out of time

GROUP 12: to all intents and purposes, to a degree, to an extent, to no avail, to the naked eye, to the uninitiated

GROUP 13: under attack, under consideration, under construction, under control, under licence, under no illusions, under oath, under observation, under the ownership of, under pressure, under review, under supervision, under surveillance, under the auspices of …, under the influence of …

GROUP 14: with concern, with difficulty, with dignity, with dismay, with hindsight, with pleasure, with relish, with regard to, with respect to, with satisfaction

GROUP 15: within one’s capacity, within limits, within living memory, within minutes, within range, within (easy) reach, within reason, within sight, within touching distance, within view

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OBSERVATIONS

1. Grammatical Function

Ordinary preposition phrases (i.e. not “fixed” in the sense described above) tend to have various alternative uses in a sentence. The same phrase may act like an adjective (adding information about a previous noun) or like an adverb (adding information about a verb or whole sentence). The following examples are an expansion of ones in the Guinlist post 56. Comparing with “Like” and “Unlike”, the preposition being like:

(a) An illness like influenza was produced by the virus. (ADJECTIVE USE 1)

(b) The illness produced by the virus was like influenza. (ADJECTIVE USE 2)

(c) The illness acted like influenza. (ADVERB USE 1)

(d) Like influenza, the virus caused a fever. (ADVERB USE 2)

The like phrase here resembles an adjective in (a) and (b) in that it adds information about a noun (illness). In (a) it occupies one of the two typical positions of adjective-like preposition phrases – directly after the noun – while in (b) it occupies the other – later with a link verb (was) in between (see 109. Placing an Adjective after its Noun).

In (c) and (d), on the other hand, the like phrase resembles an adverb because it adds information to the same parts of a sentence that adverbs do. In (c), it adds to the verb acted, while in (d) it adds to the sentence as a whole. For more on these adverb uses, see 120. Six Things to Know about Adverbs.

All of these uses can involve a fixed preposition phrase, but quite often a particular fixed phrase will have a more limited use. For example, as a whole, which means “considered altogether”, seems to have only adjective use 1 – directly following a noun, which must express a collective idea, as in Asia as a whole. This is very different from on the whole (= “typically”), which is slightly less restricted in having not only adjective use 1 but also adverb use 2 (as a “sentence” adverb – see 121. Sentence-Spanning Adverbs).

On the whole, however, fixed preposition phrases with an exclusively adjective use seem quite rare. Phrases beginning with of seem the most likely to be of this kind (see 160. Uses of “of”). A notable exception, though, is of necessity, a sentence adverb.

Phrases with a slightly less exclusive adjective use also tend to be in particular groups. Take those with beyond. Only beyond doubt could also start a sentence as a sentence adverb, like this:

(e) Beyond doubt, some professional athletes use illegal drugs.

The others (except the last two) seem to be usable as adverbs only after particular verbs like PLACE or ACT. The situation is similar with above phrases (except the sentence adverb above all), many in phrases (notable exceptions being in contrast, in general and in time), out of, under and within (excepting within limits/living memory).

Among phrases with a predominantly adverbial use, in time deserves a special mention since it changes its meaning according to whether or not it is a sentence adverb. In the first case (In time, …), it means “when some time has passed”; in the second, “not late” (… arrived in time).

Fixed phrases with with tend to be adverbial, perhaps because with is the most typical preposition for converting an adverb into a corresponding preposition phrase (see 85. Preposition Phrases & Corresponding Adverbs). From and on also tend to create adverbial phrases, though adjectival on end is an exception. Finally, as phrases excepting as a whole seem always to be adverbial.

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2. Constituent “Noun” Forms

In the vast majority of cases, the noun after the preposition lacks the. However, the exceptions have mostly normal explanations, such as other descriptive words following the noun (beyond the call of duty, on the understanding that …), the noun representing something solitary (at the first attempt, out of the norm), the noun replaced by a lone adjective (to the uninitiated, out of the ordinary– see 6./102. Adjectives with no Noun 1/2), or the noun referring to a part of the body (to the naked eye – see 89. Using “the” with General Meaning).

The only examples where the does not seem to have a standard explanation involve “nouns” that are normally verbs (on the go, on the make), which are reminiscent of expressions like have a go in 116. Rarer Uses of HAVE.

Also notable is the fairly frequent breaking of the rule that singular countable nouns need an article (see 110. Nouns without “the” or “a”). This happens, for example, in above ground, at hand, at will, by law (and many other by phrases), for good reason, from side to side, in line, in principle, in question, in total, in turn, on average, on end, on purpose, out of date (and many other out of phrases), within range and within reason. Most seem predominantly adjectival (exceptions are underlined).

Finally, there are some superlative and other adjectives used alone without the, e.g. at best, at last, at least, at worst, by far, for good, for sure, in full and in general.

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3. “Action” Noun Involvement

Action nouns are made from verbs and express verb-like meanings (see 131. Uses of “Action” Nouns). Some of the prepositions listed above seem more likely than others to be followed by an action noun. Particularly noticeable are beyond, (followed by nouns like belief and recognition) and under (consideration, review). Using under gives passive meaning to the action noun, but seems usable only with a very few such nouns.

163. Ways of Naming Properties

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Properties of things can be named in a variety of ways

PROPERTY-NAMING IN PROFESSIONAL WRITING

It is easy to believe that property-naming is only important in science and technology writing, for the obvious reason that those areas have a particular interest in identifying and analysing properties. However, most types of professional writing will sometimes need to highlight a property of something, whether of demand curves or exchange rates in economics, sentences in linguistics, or poetry in literary analysis.

Properties are permanent distinguishing characteristics of things. They may be permanently observable, like the colour of gold, or a potential that is always reached under suitable circumstances, such as the boiling point of water or the top speed of a racing car. To name a property, it is very common to indicate both the general type of property in question (e.g. colour) and its detail in the thing possessing it (e.g. green).

The language for naming properties is quite varied in English, and can be confusing as a result. Many coursebooks simply present it as a list. Here I wish to examine the possibilities in more depth, illustrating their surprising range and variety and suggesting some reasons for choosing one rather than another. Readers seeking more Guinlist posts about simple description are referred to 115. Surveying Numerical Data,  119. BE before a “to” Verb (on functions),  149. Saying how Things are Similar and 151. Ways of Using Compass Words.

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PROPERTY-NAMING WITH have

It would be surprising if HAVE was not usable for naming a property, given that properties are usually thought of as “belonging to” things, an idea that is centrally associated with HAVE (see 116. Rarer Uses of HAVE). The most common way in which HAVE seems to be used is as follows:

(a) The Earth has a diameter of 12,742 km.

Here, the property type diameter is written (with a) directly after has, and the detail 12,742 km is added next with of. Very many property types can be fitted into this structure, including acceleration, acidity (pH), angle, area, breadth, capacity, circumference, density, depth, fluctuation, force, frequency, gradient, height, length, mass, radius, rhythm, span, specific gravity, speed, thickness, value, velocity, volume, weight and width.

However, there are some properties that do not fit into this kind of sentence, but need to be expressed slightly differently with HAVE:

(b) Nitrogen dioxide has an acrid smell.

Here the property type smell is again the object of has, but the detail acrid is an adjective rather than a preposition phrase. There is a clear reason why: acrid is non-mathematical, expressing a quality rather than a quantity. Smells cannot be described in any other way. Other property kinds with the same limitation include appearance, colour, shape, taste and texture.

There is a slight problem, however, in naming shapes. The reason is that some shape adjectives are made by adding the suffix -shaped onto a noun, e.g. crescent-shaped, disc-shaped, egg-shaped, kidney-shaped, pear-shaped, star-shaped and wedge-shaped. Obviously, it would be unduly repetitive to say has a …-shaped shape with any of these. Instead one can use BE instead of HAVE (see below). However HAVE is perfectly acceptable with shape adjectives of other kinds, such as the so-called “geometrical” ones like circular, conical, cylindrical, spherical, square and triangular.

Properties that can be named in a mathematical way can often also be named in the way shown by (b) – though with less precision. For example, we can say that something has a steep gradient, a high frequency, sharp acceleration or a rapid rhythm. This kind of expression is particularly useful in interpretations of numerical data, where we might need to clarify for the reader whether a particular quantity is large or small (see 115. Surveying Numerical Data). Note the variability of the adjectives – they are often specific to the nouns (i.e. they form “collocations” – see 16. Ways of Distinguishing Similar Words, #2).

Sometimes, when an adjective is needed, it can be hard to think of one. In such cases, a preposition phrase is normally possible instead:

(c) The Spanish “j” has a sound like the English /h/.

(d) Sirius almost has the brightness of a planet.

The typical prepositions seem to be of and like. Note that the noun before of needs the rather than a.

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PROPERTY-NAMING WITH be

Most properties seem able to be named with BE. The easiest way is by starting the sentence with the property type, like this:

(e) The diameter of the Earth is 12,742 km.

(f) The colour of chlorophyll is mostly green.

It will be observed that the idea of possession, previously expressed by HAVE, is now in the preposition of. It can also be expressed by means of an apostrophe ending – The Earth’s diameter in (e) (see 58. Optional Apostrophe Endings).

Using BE in this way is an alternative to using HAVE, but not a complete equivalent. This is because the changed word order – illustrated by the difference between (e) and (a) – gives different importance to the different parts. For more on this link between word order and information importance in a sentence, see 27. How to Avoid Passive Verbs and 156. Mentioning What the Reader Knows Already.

BE is also possible sometimes if you begin with the owner of a property, as is done with HAVE. In most cases, the property will be non-mathematical:

(g) Chlorophyll is generally green in colour.

Here, the property detail (green) is again an adjective after the verb, but the property type needs to follow in at the end. This pattern is usable for all non-mathematical properties except those involving a -shaped adjective, which for obvious reasons drop the final in phrase. The other adjectives may also drop it if it seems to be stating the obvious.

Adjectives that can have a following in phrase like green above can also replace it with a suffix that looks similar to -shaped but is in fact slightly different. Thus, green in colour can become green-coloured. The difference is that -shaped is added to nouns, while suffixes like -coloured are added to adjectives. Other examples are double-edged, flat-topped, many-sided, open-ended, regular-patterned, rough-textured, smooth-surfaced and soft-centred.

This use of -ed meaning “having” on nouns after adjectives is not confined to property-naming; it is also common in everyday English to describe both temporary and permanent characteristics of living things, as in long-haired, quick-witted and thick-skinned.

There are also some combinations of an adjective with an -ing word rather than an -ed one, such as rough-feeling, sour-tasting, yellow-looking and difficult-seeming. I would suggest that the need for -ing rather than -ed arises when a verb is involved (feel, taste etc.) rather than a noun. For more about participle suffixes, see 106. Word-Like Suffixes.

Even mathematical properties can be named with BE and a hyphenated word, though only in a non-precise, interpretational way, and mostly with the adjectives low/high. The -ed suffix also tends to be absent. Examples are low-strength, high-resistance, high-density and fast-travelling.

Some mathematical properties can also be named in a sentence like (g), where there is an in phrase at the end:

(h) Mount Kilimanjaro is roughly 5890 metres in height.

This kind of naming is possible with all of the dimension properties (breadth, depth, diameter, height, length, span, thickness and width), and also with circumference, mass, volume and weight.

In addition, dimensions can be named with an adjective instead of the in phrase – high instead of in height in (h). The adjectives corresponding to the dimensions listed above are broad, deep, across, high, long, across (again), thick and wide.

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PROPERTY-NAMING WITH OTHER VERBS

When HAVE and BE are used, the property type has to be an accompanying noun or adjective. However, many property types can also be expressed with a verb, like this:

(h) A litre of water weighs 1 kg.

The verb here identifies the property type as “weight”, and the object of the verb (1 kg.) expresses the property’s detail. Other verbs like WEIGH include ACCELERATE, BOIL, COVER, EXTEND, FEEL, FREEZE, HOLD, LAST, LOOK, MEASURE, MELT, OCCUPY, STRETCH, TASTE and TRAVEL.

The grammar of these verbs is quite variable. Those that have the detail of the property as their object like WEIGH include only COVER (area), HOLD (capacity), MEASURE (dimensions) and OCCUPY (volume). Although these verbs are “transitive”, their property-naming use is not normally possible in the passive voice (see 113. Verbs that cannot be Passive).

By contrast, FEEL, LOOK and TASTE need a complement rather than an object, normally in adjective form (e.g. feels smooth, tastes bitter). The other verbs normally take an adverb or adverb phrase. EXTEND and STRETCH are likely to be followed by a distance expression like 10 m, with or without for. ACCELERATE, BOIL, FREEZE and TRAVEL typically need at.

162. The Language of Classification

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English has a wide variety of ways of naming general categories and their members

NATURE & IMPORTANCE OF CLASSIFICFATION

To classify is to group on the basis of similarities. It is a central tool for thinking and analysis, and is hence important in professional writing, on a par with exemplifying, listing, giving reasons and arguing.

Like these other topics, classification in English is associated with a wide range of vocabulary and grammatical structures. Some of these feature within this blog under other headings. However, bringing a more complete list of possibilities together in one place seems useful to do to facilitate comparison and highlight some interesting subtleties.

Classification language can be divided into two main kinds: that for naming category members after first mentioning the category, and that for naming a category to which previously-mentioned members belong. Each of these is dealt with in turn below.

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NAMING CATEGORY MEMBERS

The language for this kind of naming varies according to whether it names all of the category members or just some of them. Compare:

(a) (NAMING SOME) Countries with a cool temperate climate include New Zealand (and Canada).

(b) (NAMING ALL) Animals comprise vertebrates and invertebrates.

The meanings of “all” and “some” are expressed by the underlined verbs. Note the absence of of after COMPRISE (see 42. Unnecessary Prepositions). The verb subjects (before them) are category names, the objects (after) are category members.

After INCLUDE, one or more category members may be mentioned, but not all of them. This means nouns after INCLUDE are usually examples (see 1. Simple Example-Giving). After COMPRISE, all of the category members must be named, creating what I have elsewhere called a “sentence list” (see 55. Sentence Lists 2: Main-Message).

The above verbs are not the only language for naming category members. Alternatives are as follows.

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1. Alternatives to INCLUDE

It is possible to use BE if you begin with a number word like one before the category name. However, there is a difference depending on the kind of category member being named. Compare:

(c) One country with a cool temperate climate is New Zealand.

(d) One (sub)group of animals is vertebrates.

In (c), the category member New Zealand is an individual – there is only one. In (d), however, the category member vertebrates is itself a category containing numerous members. As a result of this difference (c) has one by itself before the category name, whereas (d) has one (sub)group of (i.e. not *one animal). An alternative to one in both cases is a (for the difference, see 67. Numbers in Spoken English).

Instead of one in (c), you can also say one example of a. In (d) there are various substitutes for (sub)group, such as branch, category, class, division, group, kind, sort and type. The underlined ones can similarly have the prefix sub-.

Other number words become necessary if more than one category member is being named. For example, to mention Canada in (c) alongside New Zealand, you would start with two. You could also say some.

 

2. Alternatives to COMPRISE

A very common way of naming a full list of category members is by starting with there are and a number word:

(e) There are three primary colours: red, yellow and blue.

(f) There are two (sub)groups of animals: vertebrates and invertebrates.

Sentences like this are not at all informal (see 161. Presenting Information with “There”). If you are not sure about the accuracy of the number word, you can add a word meaning main after it (see 96. Hedging 2: Lists & Predictions). Note the need for a colon before the list of category members (see 55. Sentence Lists 2).

Once again, the wording after the number word depends on whether the category members are individuals or subgroups. Individuals usually require the class name to be mentioned immediately (primary colours in [e]), whereas subgroups need the extra words subgroups of (or similar), as in in (f).

An alternative to there are at the start of the sentence is the name of the category. This is when the verb can be COMPRISE, as in (b) above. However, other verbs are possible too. Before category members that are individuals you can simply say are:

(g) The (three) primary colours are red, yellow and blue.

For more on this way of using BE, see 117. Saying More Precisely What is Meant.

Before category members that are themselves categories, COMPRISE can be replaced by the passive form of verbs like BREAK, CATEGORISE, CLASSIFY, DIVIDE, GROUP, ORGANISE, SEPARATE, SPLIT and SORT. They usually need into after them – not in or to, which are common errors of writers not brought up speaking English. Here is sentence (b) rephrased with one such verb:

(h) Animals are divided into (two groups:) vertebrates and invertebrates.

The part in brackets illustrates another feature of sentences like (b) and (h), where the category members are themselves categories: you can add a number expression like two groups, plus a colon. Neither of these can stand alone: they must be both present or both absent. The reason why dropping two subgroups removes the need for the colon is that the preceding words then cease to be a possible complete sentence, thus failing to meet the conditions for a colon (see 17. Colons versus Semi-Colons).

When a number expression and colon are present before a subcategory, some active verb alternatives to COMPRISE also become possible. You can use fall into with classes, groups or divisions after the number word, and are of with types, sorts or kinds (e.g. animals are of two types).

There are some special benefits in using a passive classification verb in the way shown in (h). One is that writers can show whether or not the classification is their own. This is done by choosing between can be and are in front: can be says that the classification is the writer’s, while are shows it to be somebody else’s just being reported. For more on using can to show a personal perception, see 107. The Language of Opinions.

Another benefit of passive classification verbs is that they allow the writer to say how subcategories differ from each other. Consider this:

(i) Words were traditionally classified according to their meanings into eight “parts of speech”.

This says that meanings used to be how parts of speech were distinguished from each other – they were the “criterion” for the classification. According to is one common way of signalling a criterion; depending on, on the basis of or in terms of are also possible. All are examples of “multi-word” prepositions (see 84. Seven Things to Know about Prepositions).

The preposition nature of these phrases means that they have to be followed by a noun or equivalent (meanings above). Statements containing a verb can be converted into noun equivalents for this purpose, but not by the normal means of adding the fact that before them (see 153. Conjunction Uses of “that”). Instead, they need a question word (whether, how, where etc.) so that they become indirect questions (see 57. Indirect Questions in Formal Writing), e.g.:

(j) Words can be divided into various “word classes” according to how they are used.

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NAMING THE CATEGORY OF A GIVEN ITEM

The simplest way to name the category to which something belongs is with BE:

(k) Red is a primary colour.

(l) Mammals are vertebrates.

This is a different kind of BE from that in (g) above: it means “belong to” rather than “equate to”. Indeed, BELONG TO is a possible alternative, with or without a phrase like the class of. There is also a passive equivalent: BE INCLUDED IN. In both cases the subsequent category name must be plural (primary colours in [k]).

Another possibility is the passive form of CATEGORISE or CLASSIFY, which once again allows the special choice between are and can be. This meaning of these verbs rather than the earlier-described one after a category name – as in (j) – is signalled by a change of following preposition from into to as. Thus, instead of are in (l) we could say can be (or are) classified as. The same verbs could also be used in the active form (Scientists classify … as …), in which case the category name after as is an “object complement” (see 92. Complement-Showing “As”).

The idea of “belonging” can also be expressed with nouns. After single category members, one can say is/are a member/example of (+ plural). Example of can also be followed by a singular noun, like this:

(m) Red is an example of a primary colour (primary colours).

Despite the use of example in such sentences, I would say that they are not true exemplification. For that to exist, the category member that they are talking about (red) must be newly-introduced information – the focus of the sentence – not a further mention of a previous idea (see 1. Simple Example-Giving).

If starting with a category member that is itself a category (e.g. mammals), use are a subgroup of (+ plural), or similar with a synonym of subgroup, or say are members of the class of. Note that kind of, sort of and type of can go before singular as well as plural nouns, but without a (… a type of vertebrate) – a rare case of a singular countable noun used without an article or equivalent in front (see 110. Nouns without “the” or “a”).

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PRACTICE EXERCISE: CLASSIFICATION LANGUAGE

To assist understanding and memorization of the vocabulary in this post, below are some sentences with blank spaces. Each of the spaces represents one of the words discussed above. The task is to identify the words, using the diagram to help you, and put them into the appropriate grammatical form (singular, plural, etc.). Alternative possibilities may sometimes exist. Suggested answers are given afterwards.

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1. Cold-blooded vertebrates ….. reptiles and fish.

2. Mammals ….. to the ….. of warm-blooded vertebrates.

3. Crocodiles are a …… …… amphibian.

4. Warm-blooded vertebrates …… …… into mammals and birds.

5. Reptiles are …… of the …… of cold-blooded vertebrates.

6. Dolphins …… …… as mammals.

7. …… …… of fish …… sharks and tuna.

8. …… …… …… main …… of ……-……  ……: reptiles, fish and amphibians.

9. Warm-blooded animals …… …… …… …… vertebrates.

10. Vertebrates …… mammals, birds, ……, ……  and …… .

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Possible Answers

1. Cold-blooded vertebrates INCLUDE reptiles and fish.

2. Mammals BELONG to the CLASS of warm-blooded vertebrates.

3. Crocodiles are a KIND/TYPE/SPORT OF amphibian.

4. Warm-blooded vertebrates ARE DIVIDED (etc.) into mammals and birds.

5. Reptiles are MEMBERS of the CLASS of cold-blooded vertebrates.

6. Dolphins ARE CLASSIFIED as mammals.

7. TWO SUBGROUPS of fish ARE sharks and tuna.

8. THERE ARE THREE main GROUPS of COLD-BLOODED VERTEBRATES: reptiles, fish and amphibians.

9. Warm-blooded animals ARE A SUBGROUP OF vertebrates.

10. Vertebrates COMPRISE mammals, birds, REPTILES, FISH and AMPHIBIANS.