UKC

grammar help please.

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 climbercool 06 Apr 2021

I'm struggling to understand the grammar here.

I initially wrote.

The share repurchases boosts the confidence of investors.

but I am told that the S on boosts in incorrect and it needs to be

The share repurchases boost the confidence of investors.

to me they both sound O.K, but I think I prefer the first.  If anyone can explain why either is incorrect I'd be grateful.

1
 mattyP 06 Apr 2021
In reply to climbercool:

Boosts is the 3rd person present. I don’t entirely understand that, an 11 year old doing SATs tests might through. I think the second one sounds better fwiw. 

 SouthernSteve 06 Apr 2021
In reply to mattyP:

they boost

it boosts

repurchases is plural. hth

 VictorM 06 Apr 2021
In reply to climbercool:

The verb refers to the subject of the sentence. The subject of this sentence is 'the share repurchases'. Repurchases is plural, hence the verb needs to be plural too - boost.

 climbercool 06 Apr 2021
In reply to mattyP:

Thanks Matty, you say you prefer the second answer, but I am being told the first answer is wrong, do you think it is wrong, or you think they can both potentially be ok?  I have read them both so many times now that i have lost all perspective.

4
In reply to climbercool:

It (singular - ie just one) boosts 

They (plural - ie more than one) boost 

So, since the repurchases are plural "boost" doesn't need an -s

 climbercool 06 Apr 2021
In reply to VictorM:

Ok, just seen this, looks like I got it wrong, it has to be "boost"  Thanks.

 Philip 06 Apr 2021
In reply to climbercool:

If you think the first is right then maybe you've got the subject wrong. Do you think "share repurchases" is several separate repurchasing events or just plural as there are many shares? Should it be "The shares repurchase".

Otherwise, yes the first is wrong, the second right.

1
In reply to Andy Clarke:

> So, since the repurchases are plural "boost" doesn't need an -s

Although the repurchasing of shares could be a be a singular processes, perhaps coordinated by one fund manager, or following a single plan, and therefore singular.

I think the knowledge of the context in the writer's mind is why these things can "feel" right to one person and not the next.

Climber cool - probably not worth getting stressed about. Many grammar rules are arbitrary, and as any other regular Wittertainment listeners now know, from recent weeks, the term for an annoying pedant in Finnish literally translates as a "comma-f**ker". Don't be one of them (and hello to Jason Isaacs).

In reply to Philip:

> Should it be "The shares repurchase".

Or "The repurchase of shares".

 mike123 06 Apr 2021
In reply to climbercool: I feel your pain . On the whole I enjoyed home educating my 8 year old , I think he enjoyed most of it to . Much of the maths  was pants but we largely did our own thing and his understanding of several things really came on . The amount and level of grammar expected of him was just silly . I posted few of times about rules which felt like they d been made up by an  old public school master with nothing better to do . Which is correct : Mike123 s muttered response to year 4 grammar was: 

a) this is flipping ridiculous 

b) this is flaming ridiculous 

c) this is f£&king ridiculous 

In reply to climbercool:

A specific example, singular: The share repurchase boosts the confidence of investors.

OR...

Generic to many examples of this: Share repurchases boost the confidence of investors.

OR...

A specific set of repurchases: The share repurchases boost the confidence of investors.

It depends what you're trying to say.   

In reply to mike123:

Cursing under his breath, Daddy tried again to understand fronted adverbials. Wearily, little Imogen copied out the definition. With a smirk, the forces of darkness contemplated the wreckage of the school curriculum. Slowly and painfully imagination died.

In reply to Andy Clarke:

You forgot the comma after 'painfully'.

In reply to ericinbristol:

Deliberate omission for stylistic variation and to add to the drama!

1
In reply to climbercool:

The first is grammatically incorrect because “boost” is relating to “repurchases”. But it sounds correct to your brain (and the second sounds wrong, even though it is grammatically correct) because your brain wants to tag “boost” to “share”. 

just one of those weird quirks where our intuitive grasp of language doesn’t line up with the grammatical structure of the sentence. 

In reply to Andy Clarke:

Stephen Pinker is interesting on the subject of grammar, 'The Language Instinct' should be required reading for - well, everybody, really.

He's particularly good on the arbitrariness and social origins of rules like 'split infinitives'; I don't imagine Michael Gove is.

In reply to Paul Sagar:

'even though it is grammatically correct'

What does this actually mean? 

In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

The idea that one should never split an infinitive is pure class snobbery, derived from the notion that what is correct in Latin must be correct in English. It’s absolutely fine to split infinitives in English, hence why everyone does it intuitively and it usually reads better to do so. 

here is another good one:

i picked up from my Dad that one must pedantically correct “fewer” and “less”. The rule is supposed to be that less relates to unspecified volume, fewer to specific number. But what then is the antonym of fewer? It’s “more”. What is the antonym of less? Oh, that’s also “more” What’s going on here? Well, there used to be an English word “manyer”, which was reserved for the opposite of fewer. But we did away with that and we just say “more”.  And we all know what we mean. If we can get on fine without the volume/number distinction when we are talking about increases, it’s just arbitrary to insist on it when talking about decreases. 

And that is why I stopped being a dick about “fewer” vs “less”, because I realised it really was just correcting people for the sake of correcting them 

Post edited at 10:17
6
In reply to Andy Clarke:

I've just read the BBC piece on fronted adverbials. How did I get to my age, with 2 degrees, several published articles, and any number of memos and reports, without knowing about them?

I feel mortified and ashamed.

1
In reply to climbercool:

I think if I was writing this sentence I'd rewrite it to make the investors' confidence the subject. E.g.:

The investors' confidence is being boosted by the repurchase of shares.

(Not too happy with 'boosted' either. Think I'd prefer 'bolstered' or 'stimulated', but that's a very minor point.)

In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

Well in this case, that the bit that is getting pluralised (or not) tracks the relevant word in the sentence. More generally: that the intended meaning of the speaker is what is conveyed by structure of the sentence (I’m with Pinker on this)

In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> Stephen Pinker is interesting on the subject of grammar, 'The Language Instinct' should be required reading for - well, everybody, really.

> He's particularly good on the arbitrariness and social origins of rules like 'split infinitives'; I don't imagine Michael Gove is.

These are the voyages of the school curriculum...  its five year mission: to exploit strange new words; to seek out new lies and new classifications; to boldy Gove where no teacher wanted to go again.

 wercat 06 Apr 2021
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

I suspect that they might be an imported bit of rubbish from the US.  Particularly as the word front is relative to a reference point.  I was never taught that kind of crap and I got a 1970s grade 'A' in English at A level.

Post edited at 12:19
In reply to wercat:

> I suspect that they might be an imported bit of rubbish from the US.  Particularly as the word front is relative to a reference point.  I was never taught that kind of crap and I got a 1970s grade 'A' in English at A level.

I was stuck by that in one of the fly on the wall documentaries about schools, a massive emphasis on the technicalities, the class had terms like 'fronted adverbial' memorised, but most if them still couldn't string a coherent sentence together.

Maths is another subject that now baffles me since I heard about 'chunking'...

 wercat 06 Apr 2021
In reply to Ridge:

It seems to me that these are newly invented pseudo technicalities!

I hate people using "front" as if it is obvious what it means - you should see the arguments here about what is the front of a rucsac!

Now how about a "fonted adverbial" - probably something you could achieve after Microsoft Word brainwashed everyone that presentation was more important than content.

Post edited at 12:44
 wintertree 06 Apr 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Good rewrite.  I prefer removing the source of confusion with a rewrite.

> The investors' confidence is being boosted by the repurchase of shares.

But is it, really?  That’s the question...

In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> The investors' confidence is being boosted by the repurchase of shares.

> (Not too happy with 'boosted' either. Think I'd prefer 'bolstered' or 'stimulated', but that's a very minor point.)

Bolstered and stimulated might imply that the confidence was already at least "average". If confidence were LOW, then "boosted" is more applicable. 

In reply to wercat:

> Now how about a "fonted adverbial" - probably something you could achieve after Microsoft Word brainwashed everyone that presentation was more important than content.

That'll be the same Microsoft who have a grammar checker that suggests changing "These components are.." to "These components is ."

 mike123 06 Apr 2021
In reply to Andy Clarke:

> Cursing under his breath, Daddy tried again to understand fronted adverbials. Wearily, little Imogen copied out the definition. With a smirk, the forces of darkness contemplated the wreckage of the school curriculum. Slowly and painfully imagination died.

Very much this ^ . Like most 8 year olds , he has a great imagination , but one of last tasks before they went back was to write a story using some  nonsense ( well to him and also largely to me) rule , he really couldn’t be bothered . Surely it should just have been “ write a story about....... when your dad got stuck on a mountain . Again . “ or whatever . 

In reply to mike123:

> Very much this ^ . Like most 8 year olds , he has a great imagination , but one of last tasks before they went back was to write a story using some  nonsense ( well to him and also largely to me) rule , he really couldn’t be bothered . Surely it should just have been “ write a story about....... when your dad got stuck on a mountain . Again . “ or whatever . 

It's tragic how much creativity and imagination has been driven out of the primary curriculum by this ludicrous nostalgia for grammar. It's a fundamental truth that you learn to write through writing, and techniques only become meaningful when you use them as a means to the end of expressing something that matters to you.

When I was a (secondary) English teacher/Head of Department I was able to do stuff like getting all the Year 8 kids to write a novella, or having the Sixth Form students submit a portfolio of original poetry as part of their A-level English coursework. Fat chance of that now.

The current impoverished English curriculum  appears to be what passes for "traditional values" to the anti-progressives who now dominate educational policy.

In reply to Andy Clarke:

Who's voting for this cr*p? Who is administering it? Surely there has to be a reckoning, sooner or later.

 tlouth7 06 Apr 2021
In reply to wercat:

> Now how about a "fonted adverbial"

You can't say you have truly mastered an adverbial until you have mastered a fonted adverbial! I hear that some of the most pedantic grammarians are using adverbials barefoot these days.

In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> Who's voting for this cr*p? Who is administering it? Surely there has to be a reckoning, sooner or later.

As people age and become more likely to vote Tory, I suppose you could argue they'll also become less concerned about the school curriculum once their own kids have passed through it. But apparently the tipping point at which people become more likely to vote Tory has now fallen to 39, so sadly plenty of parents voted for their kids to experience this.

Michael Gove, aided by Cummings, has a huge amount to answer for in his aggressive pursuit of an anti-progressive agenda when Education Secretary. I despised him for this at the time and I continue to do so. I look forward to the day when his rotted septum falls out on live TV. The appointment of the absurdly incompetent and untrustworthy Williamson shows exactly how highly state education is valued by this administration and any protestations to care must surely be dismissed as empty platitudes.

A reckoning? One has to believe that eventually the good will triumph.

In reply to tlouth7:

> You can't say you have truly mastered an adverbial until you have mastered a fonted adverbial!

Well the fonted ones are easy to spot because they're almost always in Gothic.

1
 wercat 06 Apr 2021
In reply to Andy Clarke:

we are in very good company

http://michaelrosenblog.blogspot.com/2016/03/health-alert-how-fronted-adverbial.html

is it possible that someone who needed to appear effective to the upper echelon to justify a salary invented/imported such pseudo/non grammatical stuff like this to pad out the National Curriculum ?

One problem I have noticed is people looking up stuff on the internet and not distinguishing between usages/ideas applicable in American English and those which are British.

Post edited at 16:32
In reply to climbercool:

It is often easier to just rearrange eg. " The confidence of investors is boosted by the repurchase of shares."

In reply to wercat:

> we are in very good company

Rosen is as always bang on the money. A great man and a champion for what education should be. We managed to get him as the guest of honour to open a new building at our school, the International Centre, dedicated to the cause of developing links among schools across the globe. He was witty, idealistic and humane.

In reply to wintertree:

> But is it, really?  That’s the question.

If its material for some investment vehicle, it doesn't really matter... all that matters is perception.

In reply to Ridge:

"Customers is our business"...

In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> Who's voting for this cr*p? 

Hopefully, with so many parents having been exposed to this crap over lockdown, far, far fewer in future...

 profitofdoom 06 Apr 2021
In reply to Paul Sagar:

> And that is why I stopped being a dick about “fewer” vs “less”, because I realised it really was just correcting people for the sake of correcting them 

No, I'm sorry, but it isn't. Look at these 2 sentences:

"I am drinking fewer beer these days"

"I have a lot fewer money than I need"

Do they look acceptable to you? They are not. And anyone who uses them in e.g. a written document at work, or an assignment, will rightly be marked down or lose marks. That's the way of the world 

In reply to profitofdoom:

"10 items or less" seems to be acceptable...

2
In reply to captain paranoia:

> "Customers is our business"...

"Users of this car park do so at their own risk"

 wercat 07 Apr 2021
In reply to profitofdoom:

Much people might agree

I keep a small pistol handy so I can put out from my misery anyone who thinks "least worst" is good usage.

Post edited at 09:11
 wercat 07 Apr 2021
In reply to Blue Straggler:

that is really bad spelling.  I wonder whether they meant seamstresses or agricultural workers?

In reply to wercat:

> that is really bad spelling.  I wonder whether they meant seamstresses or agricultural workers?

You are going to start noticing it in all car parks now. I am not sorry  

In reply to Blue Straggler:

> "Users of this car park do so at their own risk"

Forgive me if I'm being thick, but I can't see the point you're making here. It seems clear and grammatically correct. Plural verb 'do' and plural possessive 'their' agree with the plural subject of the sentence, and 'do so' is an unambiguous elision of 'use it'.

 Iamgregp 07 Apr 2021
In reply to Paul Sagar:

Did you notice a couple of years back there was a bit of a fewer/less craze when everyone suddenly started correcting one another on this?  I started noticing more and more instances of adverts, headlines, quotes.... Suddenly they're all using fewer whereas I think a few years ago they would have used less?  Maybe it's just me?

Personally, I couldn't give fewer of a shit about whether people use less or fewer correctly or not, like you said language  evolves and the meaning of words changes over time.  No need to fight against it, we're not French.

 wercat 07 Apr 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I think he's right after taking a second look.  There isn't a verb to match the referential "do so" which is why I interpreted it as misspelt "do sow" or "do sew" making it charmingly archaic but grammatically correct and capable of bringing a whimsical scene to mind.

Post edited at 11:40
 wercat 07 Apr 2021
In reply to Iamgregp:

your choice, my choice.  If you want to devalue the precision of English that is your affair but don't expect me to like it.

 Iamgregp 07 Apr 2021
In reply to wercat:

And here was me hoping so much that you would.  I'm beside myself with disappointment.

In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> Forgive me if I'm being thick, but I can't see the point you're making here. It seems clear and grammatically correct. Plural verb 'do' and plural possessive 'their' agree with the plural subject of the sentence, and 'do so' is an unambiguous elision of 'use it'.

Where is there a reference to "us[ing] it"?

Forgive me if _I_ am being thick, but technically shouldn't this be "Users of this car park are such, at their own risk". Obviously it would be a bit pretentious to put that on a sign. 

In reply to Iamgregp:

> Did you notice a couple of years back there was a bit of a fewer/less craze when everyone suddenly started correcting one another on this? 

I did, and I am pleased to say that I corrected myself, whilst not being a total arse going around and correcting others  

 Iamgregp 07 Apr 2021
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Glad you noticed it too and it wasn't just me going mad, I knew there was some kind of fewer/less thing going on!

Correcting yourself but not others is a good attitude to have!  I must admit I can be a little pedantic at times.  There used to be a bloke I worked with who pronounced Salford to rhyme with "Halford(s)".  Just couldn't not correct him.

He also used to say "The Peaks" mind...

Did you also notice the sudden craze around 10 years ago when people started insisting you must look someone in the eyes when you clink glasses with them.  A bloke I used to work with used to always do an exaggerated stare straight into people's eyes whilst shouting "Eyes Eyes Eyes!".  Not sure why he though that was more polite?!

 john arran 07 Apr 2021
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> Forgive me if _I_ am being thick, but technically shouldn't this be "Users of this car park are such, at their own risk". Obviously it would be a bit pretentious to put that on a sign. 

"Users of this car park use it at their own risk"

or more simply "Parking at user's own risk"

 wercat 07 Apr 2021
In reply to john arran:

No liability accepted for any damage to vehicles parked here

In reply to john arran:

Yes, either of those would suffice; it's not as if it's that hard to come up with an alternative.(*). Personally I don't like the first one "users" and then "use" soon after and I imagine the person who came up with "do so", thought the same but didn't realise that their "workaround" was incorrect. I am intrigued as to why it is so widespread across unrelated independent car parks nationwide!


* yes I am aware of the Alternative Car Park mime sketch (and possibly a later band by that name)

In reply to wercat:

> No liability accepted for any damage to vehicles parked here

Wee bit menacing, that. 

"Nice car. Wouldn't want anything to HAPPEN to it...."  

Next question (unrelated to discussions thus far)

"A teenage boy", or "A teenaged boy"? 

 Martin Hore 07 Apr 2021
In reply to profitofdoom:

> No, I'm sorry, but it isn't. Look at these 2 sentences:

> "I am drinking fewer beer these days"

> "I have a lot fewer money than I need"

> Do they look acceptable to you? They are not. And anyone who uses them in e.g. a written document at work, or an assignment, will rightly be marked down or lose marks. That's the way of the world 

I think you might perhaps be missing the point. Hardly anyone would say either of those sentences. The problem, if it is a problem, is when people use "less" where "fewer" is grammatically correct, not vice versa. For example: "less people were vaccinated this week than last week". 

Languages evolve, and we may soon be seeing "fewer" go the way of "manyer" an extinct opposite to "fewer" which someone mentioned above. Some would say that makes the language poorer, others that it makes it easier for children and non English speakers to learn. And as we seem as a nation rather to expect foreigners to speak our language, that might not be a bad thing.

How we preserve English in England is perhaps irrelevant anyway. The English of the future is probably being spoken today in Mumbai.

Martin


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