Saturday, June 13, 2009

For Grammar Geeks Only (Part 1)

1. Which term is correct?

    a. Dodgers fans
    b. Dodger fans

Example:

    a. I recommend Jon Weisman's book 100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.
    b. Should 100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die really be titled 100 Things Dodger Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die?

Which term is correct?
Dodgers fans
Dodger fans
  
pollcode.com free polls

2. What is the plural of RBI?

    a. RBI
    b. RBIs
    c. RBI's
    d. RsBI

Example:

    a. James Loney leads the Dodgers with 42 RBI.
    b. Loney would have even more RBIs if he hadn't stranded five men last night.
    c. In addition to having no RBI's last night, Loney also made an error that led to a Rangers run.
    d. Hey, would you get off Loney's case, what with the errors and the RsBI and all.

What is the plural of RBI?
RBI
RBIs
RBI's
RsBI
  
pollcode.com free polls

3. Which format is correct?

    a. em dash with no spaces
    b. two dashes with no spaces
    c. em dash with spaces
    d. two dashes with spaces

Example:

    a. Don't look now—the Dodgers are only 5-5 in June.
    b. Don't look now--the Giants are only seven games back.
    c. Don't look now — the Rockies have won nine straight.
    d. Don't look now -- I'm an alarmist.

Which format is correct?
em dash with no spaces
two dashes with no spaces
em dash with spaces
two dashes with spaces
  
pollcode.com free polls

4. Should you capitalize "interleague play"?

    a. yes
    b. no

Example:

    a. The Dodgers have an all-time record of 91-104 in Interleague Play.
    b. The Dodgers sure blow in interleague play.

Should you capitalize "interleague play"?
yes
no
  
pollcode.com free polls

5. What is the correct way to abbreviate ante meridiem and post meridiem?

    a. am/pm
    b. a.m./p.m.
    c. AM/PM
    d. A.M./P.M.

Example:

What is the correct way to abbreviate ante meridiem and post meridiem?
am-pm
a.m.-p.m.
AM-PM
A.M.-P.M.
  
pollcode.com free polls

Grammar geeks, look for Part 2 of this poll tomorrow!

photo from Flickr user dazbur

18 comments:

Jon Weisman said...

I voted for Dodger fans but was overruled.

Raintes said...

I completely forgot a #2 pencil for this.

karina said...

Will you make a post with the correct answers?

The James Loney example was harsh, but funny. Still bitter about last night?

Orel said...

Moi?

rbnlaw said...

I know a call out when I see it. This all stems from my gerund correction, doesn't it?
I like the first question as it has a twist involving the possible plural possessive and use of apostrophe, depending on use. As written, it's likely a situation of adjective use.

I blame one class in college for my "grammar rodeo" skills: Syntax and Grammar. Taken along with Journalism 100. I was also the E-I-C of my law review in law school, so I learned a little about style.

Very little.

Mr. Customer said...

The singular form for either "Sox" is the one that really drives me crazy.

karina said...

Vous, monsieur

Eric Karros said...

This post was more thought-provoking than I'd like to admit. Here are my thoughts:

Since RsBI is an option but not R'sBI, can we deduce that RBI's isn't the correct answer?

Although I personally say 'Dodger fans', since we say without hesitation, 'I hate obnoxious Red Sox fans', can we deduce that 'Dodgers fans' is correct?

Of course we may only say 'Red Sox fans' due to Mr Customer's frustration, which I share.

I like the T-shirt!

Chris said...

Love the quiz, Orel. The first one has been on my miond quite a bit lately...I opt for "Dodger fans" but have been feeling lately that this might not be entirely correct. Looking forward to the answer!

Orel said...

There are no correct answers, just preferences. That's why I wanted to see what our readers think.

Eric Karros said...

Whether or not to capitalize 'interleague play' depends on the context:

"In retrospect, I think instituting interleague play was a good idea."

-vs-

"In retrospect, I think naming our son Interleague Play was a bad idea."

Mr. Customer said...

Informal post-script question before I (mercifully) move on over to the game thread.

Which of the following ostensibly correct phrases is the most grating.

1. Carlos Quentin plays baseball for Chicago. He is a White Sox.

2. Udonis Haslem plays basketball for Miami. He is a Heat.

3. Owen Nolan plays hockey for Minnesota. He is a Wild.

Felix Pardalis said...

I like the shirt but this one's more amusing.

Mr. LA Sports Fan said...

Dodgers.com: Cowboys fan Kershaw tours new stadium.

Keven C said...

I'll fight the plural RBI answer to the death. The answer should be RBIs.

RBI, or worse yet RsBI, is the overly literal but ultimately clumsy answer.

Ask yourself this ... what do we call a prisoner of war? Now, what do we call multiple prisoners of war?

We don't have to read RBI and translate it to Run Batted In. It stands alone and should be treated as such.

One RBI. Two RBIs. An RBI single.
NOT
One RBI. Two RBI. A RBI single.

/end of rant

Josh said...

1. Someone who could care less about the whole team but loves James Loney is a Dodger fan. That person is a fan of one Dodger. Most of us are fans of the whole team, which means we're Dodgers fans.

Mr. Customer is right that Carlos Quentin is a White Sox. In many cases, however, writers will avoid this usage because, though technically correct, it sounds awkward. My preference has always been to say, "Carlos Quentin is a member of the White Sox."

2. The dashes thing isn't so much about grammar. Rather, it's about style. The Associated Press Stylebook — which reflects a concern about how text looks on a newspaper page — says em with spaces. (Two long words with a non-spaced dash could be a very long set of letters uninterrupted by a space, which would conceivably look very bad in a narrow column.) The Chicago style manual—which is concerned more with academic and other formal writing—says no spaces around the dash.

Furthermore, the examples given may be improper uses of the dash, which usually is used twice in one sentence around an independent clause that sits within a complete sentence. In the examples given above, you have two complete sentences written as one sentence with a dash in the middle. It might be more correct to use a semicolon, or even a period. (In other words, it could read, "Don't look now. The Dodgers are only 5-5 in June.") Of course, for casual writing, the dash implies a certain flow of thought that connects the two sentences, and it certainly reads better than a semicolon.

3. I cannot think of a good reason to capitalize interleague play.

4. The a.m. / p.m. thing is also a style thing. The AP uses a.m. and p.m., so that's how it shows up in most newspapers. The convenience store chain may feel differently. But since when do companies care about punctuation in their names and logos? Try teaching proper use of punctuation to the folks at "Dr Pepper."

5. First of all, RBI should never have an S at the end. It is an acronym that stands for run(s) batted in. I'm not as passionate about Keven C on this one, but I think we differ in that the examples he gives seem to illustrate casual colloquial usage. The written language is a different story. I think "RBIs" looks silly in print.

Just because people say "POWs" doesn't make it correct. When referring to several people who have all been taken prisoner during a single war, they are prisoners of war, POW. ("The United States negotiated for the release of eight POW.") If they were captured during two separate wars, the S modifies the word represented by the last letter of the acronym, and it would be acceptable (though not necessary) to say "POWs."

Check the gauge in your car. Mine says RPM, not RPMs, though it is certainly referring to more than one revolution per minute. Also, that same car gets about 28 MPG.

This is a case where the AP Style Manual agrees with Keven C, not me, at least when it comes to RBI. That's because the AP is concerned with having its news copy be as easy-to-read as possible for the casual reader. It tends to follow patterns of spoken usage.

In this article, the author interviews the editor of the AP Stylebook, who basically says that RBI is grammatically correct, but RBIs is what most people say, so they gave in.

6. As far as the using an S preceded by an apostrophe, this is always unacceptable. Even if you disagree with me and choose to put an S after RBI, the apostrophe is incorrect, since nothing belongs to the runs that have been batted in. An apostrophe appears before an S only to indicate possession, with only one exception.

For example:
I was visited by several VIPs today.
The TSA officer stamped the VIP's boarding pass.

The exception: When the word in question has just one letter. "The Oakland A's were devastated when Kirk Gibson launched a homer into the stands." This rule exists because of the letters A, I and U, all of which make totally different complete words when followed by the letter S.

Rob said...

#1: I'll vote for anything that has a rack like that ...

#3: I see either (c) or (d) as correct — as you see here. Two hyphens -- typewriter convention -- survived into the Internet era, and I see no reason to change that, especially considering you either have to remember — is the name of the HTML entity (which I do use in my own writing, but what a handful!) or the equally long but far less memorable Unicode character number, —.

#4: no, of course not.

#5: any and all are permissible. Just not one of my pet peeves.

Joseph said...

AP Style ftw