SECTION ONE – GRAMMAR AND USAGE

That and Which

a) As relative pronouns, THAT serves as the defining or restrictive pronoun, and WHICH serves as the non-defining, or non-restrictive, pronoun. A clause introduced by THAT will therefore include information that IDENTIFIES the noun that precedes it. A clause introduced by WHICH will simply give information about a noun which has already been identified or whose identity is immaterial.

RIGHT: I read the book that you recommended to me. [the book that I read is the one that you had recommended]

RIGHT: She wore the ring that he had given her. [the fact that he had given it to her identifies which ring it was that she wore]

RIGHT: The first boat that crosses the finish line will win the race. [the boat is identified by the relative clause]

RIGHT: I read Moby Dick, which my brother recommended to me. [the title already defines the noun; the information that follows the relative pronoun is simply supplementary]

RIGHT: She wore a beautiful gold ring which he had given her a year earlier. [the ring has been identified by its description; the additional information is not defining]

RIGHT: Commodore Vanderbilt’s boat, which crossed the finish line first, won the race. [we already know which boat won, before we hear how it did so]

WRONG: London, that had four million inhabitants, was the world’s biggest city in 1850. [London is a unique entity which cannot be further defined]

WRONG: She worked in a popular restaurant that got very crowded in the evening. [the clause adds information that is immaterial to the identity of the restaurant]

WRONG: Hope was the thing which saved him. [the noun “thing” is identified by the following clause]

n.b. It is often said that THAT appears in constructions where it can be omitted, and WHICH is or can be preceded by a comma. This is true, but neither is a reliable guide to their use. If THAT is connected to the subject noun, it cannot be omitted (see the third sentence above), and WHICH often cannot (or ought not to) be preceded by a comma.

b) WHICH is the only so-called connective pronoun in English. It introduces clauses whose subject is not the immediately preceding noun, but the entire preceding clause or circumstance. The equivalent Polish pronoun is CO, but to translate this to “what” in English is an elementary and ugly error.

RIGHT: We stayed at the pub until two, which meant I missed my first class the next morning.

RIGHT: She was cheerful and honest which made her popular with everyone.

WRONG: The climate is very dry, what has a big impact on agriculture.

Allow, Permit, Enable

These verbs all must be followed by an indirect object before a second verb in the infinitive.

RIGHT: This perspective allows us to draw another conclusion about his motives.

RIGHT: The new regulations permitted the government to control the flow of information.

WRONG: This perspective allows to draw another conclusion about his motive.

WRONG: The new regulations permitted to control the flow of information.

The verb TO ENABLE should follow the same pattern (i.e., “Something enables X to do Y”) but in recent years has become almost stripped of meaning by being employed before a noun phrase or gerundive.  Such jargon is to be strictly avoided; if the impersonal sense is necessary, for TO ENABLE substitute the much more precise verb phrase TO MAKE POSSIBLE.

RIGHT:  Jones’s commentary enables the reader to gain a clearer view of the whole matter.

RIGHT: Using the new application makes it possible to save both time and money.

WRONG: Jones’s commentary enables gaining a clearer view of the whole matter.

WRONG: Using the new application enables saving both time and money.

 

Distribution of independent clauses

These cannot be separated by a comma; one must use a semi-colon or a conjunction.

RIGHT: Lisa didn’t call Richard; she didn’t even know he had returned to London.

RIGHT: Lisa didn’t call Richard because she didn’t know he had returned to London.

RIGHT: The scientists were worried; the virus was spreading and they had found no way to stop it.

WRONG: Lisa didn’t call Richard, she didn’t even  know he had returned to London.

WRONG: The scientists were worried, the virus was spreading and they didn’t know what to do.

Except / Despite and subject nouns

These prepositions must be followed by nouns or noun phrases in the object case (including those that are preceded by other prepositions).

RIGHT: Despite his injuries, he was able to crawl to safety.

RIGHT: He was able to crawl to safety, despite being injured.

RIGHT: Despite what I told him, he lied to his wife.

RIGHT: They sold all the puppies, except the one they wanted to keep.

RIGHT: Except for the one they kept, all the puppies were sold.

WRONG: Despite he was injured, he managed to crawl to safety.

WRONG: Despite I told him not to, he lied to his wife.

WRONG: Except they kept one, all the puppies were sold.

Distribution of nouns, noun phrases, and clauses by means of conjunction

Any series of words or phrases that serves as a noun phrase or that is governed by a single verb, preposition or article must have a conjunction separating its two last elements (or both its elements, if there be only two); that is, it must adhere to the patterns “A and B” or “A, B and C.” Remember that the frequent repetition of a function word in English, if the syntax calls for it, is not only necessary but stylistically estimable and aesthetically pleasing.

RIGHT: We visited Spain and Portugal and saw many churches, monasteries and castles.

RIGHT: Ania, Ela and Jadzia visited us and told lots of jokes and stories while we served them tea, coffee and wine and prepared cakes, biscuits, toast and chocolates.

RIGHT: Tom and Jane went mountain climbing, Nancy, Jenny and Betsy visited the lake, and Vanessa and Colin stayed at the hotel and read books and magazines.

WRONG: We visited Scotland, Ireland, saw many ruins and castles.

WRONG: Holly, Marcy, Jeannie visited us and told jokes, stories, while we served them many delicious snacks, dishes.

WRONG: Kasia and Marek went to the pub, Magda, Ola, Bogusia played bridge and drank tea, Bartosz and Natalia drank some beer, went to bed early.

Number of Verb with Nouns for Collectivities

The grammatical number of nouns is often understood in English according to a different logic than in Polish, and the logic is not consistent. Generally, English uses a plural verb if the numeral, noun or adjective refers to a plural entity. This applies as well to constructions employing the partitive genitive, a situation in which Polish uses the singular. An exception to this is the collective nouns “everyone” and “everybody,” which always take verbs in the singular. The nouns “majority,” “minority,” etc., when used on their own, can take either a plural or singular verb, depending on context and the intention of the writer. Words such as “team,” “crowd,” audience,” etc. are usually treated as singular  nouns, though it is noteworthy that the British sometimes use plural verbs with such words, especially proper nouns for particular groups, especially sports teams (in America this is almost never done). This is evident in sports writing, where one reads, e.g., “Boston has a three-run deficit,” but “Leicester are playing a home tie on Saturday.”  

RIGHT: Many are called, but few are chosen.

RIGHT: A lot of the students were disappointed.

RIGHT: Several of the candidates have serious legal problems.

RIGHT: Half of the field was covered in snow.

RIGHT: Half of the athletes were taking drugs.

RIGHT: All of them were angry.

RIGHT: Everybody was angry.

RIGHT: The whole crowd was angry.

RIGHT: Our team was having a bad week.

ALSO RIGHT: Our team were having a bad week.

RIGHT: The majority of voters hate both candidates.

RIGHT: The majority hate both candidates.

ALSO RIGHT: The majority hates both candidates.

WRONG: Many like what is happening, but a few is dissatisfied.

WRONG: Fifty percent of the people is angry.

WRONG: Half of the athletes was disqualified.

n.b. Numerals in English which include the formula “…and a fraction,” unlike in Polish, always take a plural noun and verb.

RIGHT: Three and a half melons are lying on the counter.

RIGHT: The child is one and a half years old.

RIGHT: Leila got only one scoop of ice cream, but Betsy got one and a half scoops.

 

SECTION TWO – PUNCTUATION AND FORMAT

Indentation

Every paragraph, except those that introduce chapters and subchapters, should have indented first lines. There is no good reason to ignore this custom, and doing so leaves readers of English unsure whether the writer does in fact wish to start a new paragraph or not, or indeed, unsure whether the writer even knows what a paragraph is.

Dash and Hyphen

These are two completely different punctuation marks and any typographical confusion or compromise between them is unacceptable; it will leave the reader at best irritated, and at worst hopelessly confused. The HYPHEN looks like this: [ - ] and its purpose is to tie two words or elements together. It is short and there is no space on either side of it. The DASH looks like this: [  –  ] and its purpose is to keep two words or elements apart. It is long and there is a space on either side of it. The two marks do not interbreed and there are no hybrid or intermediate forms either in appearance or in function.

RIGHT: He came up at last with a well-thought-out plan.

RIGHT: Many 19th-century ideologies underwent a radical change during the 20th century.

RIGHT: Patrick was hopelessly indecisive, and all his friends criticized him for shilly-shallying.

RIGHT: Gosia’s intention – though she hadn’t told Marcin about this – was to quit her job in March.

RIGHT: You have two choices – either to complete your studies or to find a job at once.

WRONG: He came up at last with a well- thought- out plan.

WRONG: Many 19th – century ideologies underwent a radical change in the 20th century.

WRONG: Patrick was hopelessly indecisive, and all his friends criticized him for shilly–shallying.  

WRONG:  Gosia’s intention-though she hadn’t told Marcin about this - was to quit her job in March.

WRONG: You have two choices– either to complete your studies or to find a job at once.

Emphasis

In ordinary narrative or discursive prose, emphasis should usually not be conveyed by use of boldface type, underlining, italics, capital letters, or any other change in the font or appearance of the script, nor should the writer’s delight, outrage, or other forms of exuberance be emphasized by the use of exclamation points. Words that are themselves the object of attention or discussion should be set off within quotation marks. Tonal emphasis should be conveyed above all by the use of language, always bearing in mind that the English language deplores hyperbole and overstatement.

GOOD: When she saw the body lying on the floor, Jennifer realized that she was faced with a very grave problem indeed.

GOOD: The first object of study, the preposition “about,” is discussed in the first section.

GOOD: The next survey showed that as many as 94% of the respondents had a negative opinion.

GOOD: Though he was often provoked, he never, under any circumstances, retaliated.

BAD: When she saw the body lying on the floor, Jennifer realized that she was faced with a terrible problem.

BAD: The first object of study, the preposition  ABOUT, is discussed in the first section.

BAD: The next survey showed that 94% of the respondents had a negative opinion!

BAD: Though he was often provoked, he never retaliated.  

 

n.b. The use of different fonts, styles, and typefaces is, of course, permissible and indeed necessary in organizational elements of a work, e.g. section and chapter headings, and also in reference to names of cited works, certain brands or trademarks, and so on. Foreign language words or passages, too, ought generally to be put in italics. Instructions, summaries, and guides (such as this one), where variations in typeface or font are made for reasons of efficiency or clarity rather than emphasis, should be considered exempt the advice given in this section. See also Foreign Words 

Exclamation Point

This punctuation mark is used very rarely in English, and almost never outside of dialogue, advertisement and propaganda.  If used, it is likely to give the impression that the writer is shouting at the reader, and there are virtually no circumstances when it is necessary or appropriate to use it in academic or any other formal writing. See also Emphasis

Foreign Words

These are to be distinguished from so-called loan words, which have been, so to say, fully naturalized and may be treated like any other words in the language. Foreign words are those that are either 1) the objects of study, example or demonstration in themselves, or 2) expected to be understood by the reader, but are used by the author for reasons of style or atmosphere, or because English lacks any word with the same meaning or shade of meaning, or for any one of many purposes connected with the subject matter. They appear in their original form, generally with original (foreign) diacritical signs, and carry original grammatical markers (pluralization, etc.). Individual foreign words may occur with great frequency in English and yet not lose their “foreign” status, and should be treated as such however widespread their use.

The standard treatment for all foreign words and expressions in text is to italicize them, and to spell them retaining all foreign typographical and grammatical features.

 

SECTION THREE – VOCABULARY AND STYLE

Multiple

MULTIPLE, when used as an adjective (the noun “multiple” occurs in mathematics) means “more than one.” It is, therefore, inherently imprecise, and should not be used in the place of “two,” “several,” “many,” or “a gazillion,” despite the current fashion for it. Do not succumb to the craze for polysyllabic Latinisms.

RIGHT: The work has been praised by several critics.

RIGHT: Many are called, but few are chosen.

WRONG: The work has been praised by multiple critics.

WRONG: Multiple individuals are summoned, despite the fact that limited numbers are selected.

As Well As

This is a subordinating conjunction which causes a lot of trouble. It does NOT mean “and also” and cannot be used as a translation for ORAZ. Its meaning can be only imprecisely rendered as “and not only.” It introduces, in other words, a subordinate noun or noun phrase which deserves less emphasis than the principal one, because it is better known to the reader or more to be expected. If AS WELL AS is misused, therefore, to have the sense “and also,” the writer will at best confuse the reader.

RIGHT:  It snowed in the spring, as well as in the winter.

RIGHT:  She was rich, but as well as being rich, she was beautiful.

RIGHT: As well as books, the bookshop sold magazines and stationery.

RIGHT: At the English philology dept., you can study Chinese and Arabic as well as English.

WRONG: It snowed in the winter, as well as in the spring.

WRONG: The bookshop sold books, as well as magazines and stationery.

WRONG: At the English philology dept., you can study English as well as Chinese and Arabic.

n.b.  AS  WELL AS cannot, likewise, be used to distribute independent clauses, nor the final terms of a series of words or phrases.

WRONG: She was rich, as well as she was beautiful.  [Should be:…and she was also beautiful]

WRONG: At the English dept. you can study Chinese, Arabic as well as English. [Should be: Chinese and Arabic, as well as English]  

Or, And

 The English conjunction OR has a strong sense of logical exclusion (A or B = if A, then not B), and therefore it often cannot be used in place of the Polish conjunction CZY. A choice of names, places, events or other items in which the reader must choose one term to the exclusion of others, or only needs to choose one as an example, in which case the others don’t matter, may appropriately be distributed by OR. Otherwise, such lists or choices take AND (AND should be used in all the examples cited as “wrong” below).

RIGHT: If you have just one day in Rome, you can visit St. Peter’s, St. John Lateran, or the ruins of the Imperial Forum.

RIGHT: To confirm this view, we need only think of Darwin or Galileo.  

RIGHT: It is not necessary to go to the Hermitage, the Louvre or the Metropolitan in order to see some of the world’s best art.

WRONG: When you go to Rome, you should definitely visit St. Peter’s, St. John Lateran or the ruins of the Imperial Forum.

WRONG: Among the scientists who demonstrated this point were Darwin or Galileo.

WRONG: Some of the world’s best art can be found in the Hermitage, the Louvre or the Metropolitan.

Nouns and Pronouns

The accepted pattern for the alternation of nouns and pronouns in English is that the noun should be used initially, either when a person or thing is introduced or reintroduced, or when confusion with other persons or things needs to be avoided. Thereafter, the appropriate pronoun should be used exclusively, until the reader once again needs to be informed of the subject’s identity. Variation between noun and pronoun, and use of pronoun before noun  for no particular reason, are unacceptable practices.

RIGHT: I noticed Mary at once; she was standing at the very back of the crowd.

RIGHT: Mary fell in love with a co-worker named Tom Fraser and a few months after they met she married him. He was a morose Scot and he didn’t talk much but he was clearly very fond of her and everyone could see that she loved him dearly.

RIGHT: Seen in this way, Eliot is the most important American poet of his generation; he dominated the critical as well as aesthetic debate, and his views on art have had lasting effect.  While Pound has also been influential, he has not created a critical legacy in the same way that Eliot has.

WRONG: I noticed her at once; Mary was standing at the very back of the crowd.

WRONG: Mary fell in love with a co-worker and a few months after they met she married Tom. Mr. Fraser was a morose Scot and he didn’t talk much but he was clearly very fond of her and everyone could see that Mary Brown loved Tom dearly.

WRONG: Seen in this way, Eliot is the most important American poet of his generation; he dominated the critical as well as aesthetic debate, and T.S. Eliot’s views on art have had lasting effect. While Pound has also been influential, Ezra has not created a critical legacy in the same way that Thomas Stearns Eliot has.

n.b. In English, variation between one form of a name and another (see wrong examples 2 and 3 above) usually looks peculiar, not to say bizarre. A person is introduced with his or her standard full name, and thereafter referred to consistently by a single shorter form, most often either the surname or one form of the first name. Alternation of first name with nickname, last name, full name, etc.  is impermissible. (Exceptions to this pattern include reported speech, facetious intent, necessary shift of context or register, etc. Very rarely will such situations arise in academic writing, or other formal writing.)

RIGHT: [Mary Brown … she… she… she… Mary… she… she… Mary… she… she… she…she….]

RIGHT: [President Bill Clinton… he… he… Clinton… he… he… he… Clinton… he… he… he….]

WRONG: [Mary…she…she…Mary Brown…she… Mary…Ms. Brown…she…Polly…she… she…]

WRONG: [President Clinton… he…Bill Clinton… he…William Jefferson Clinton… he…Clinton… ]

To prove

This verb denotes the establishment of a fact based upon hard and irrefutable evidence. It cannot, therefore, be used to express the establishment of an opinion, point of view, aesthetic judgment, or sentiment. It has a much narrower semantic range, therefore, than UDOWODNIĆ and cannot be used as a suitable English equivalent for this verb in most circumstances. If you seek a translation of the broader senses of UDOWODNIĆ, there are several English verbs and verb phrases that may be employed – to substantiate, to show, to demonstrate, to buttress, to support, to give weight to, to argue for, to provide evidence for/that, etc.

RIGHT: In 1854 John Snow, by correlating cases of disease with sources of drinking water, proved that cholera is transmitted by water-borne pathogens.

RIGHT: By summoning all his powers of deduction and finding three key pieces of evidence, Inspector Bloodhound proved that the murder had been committed by Colonel Mustard in the library on the night of October 4th.

RIGHT: The text of the newly-discovered letter proves that Harrison must have finished his first novel a full two years before he sought to have it published.

RIGHT: The results of our analysis show that many students fail to profit from remedial work.

RIGHT: The richness of the linguistic resources of this work leads one to conclude that Hopkins was a great poet.

RIGHT: Prof. Foster’s carefully considered argument supports the view that Yeats suffered from a deep emotional immaturity.

WRONG: The results of our analysis prove that many students fail to profit from remedial work.

WRONG: The richness of the linguistic resources of this work proves Hopkins’ greatness as a poet.

WRONG: Prof. Foster’s carefully considered argument proves that Yeats suffered from a deep emotional immaturity.  

n.b.  A good reason to avoid overuse (or any use) of the verb TO PROVE is that English-speaking readers are sensitive to its categorical, evidence-based denotation, and to employ the word loosely, as in the examples just given, may inspire resistance in the reader and hence alienate him or her from the writer’s line of argument. (“You say ‘X proves Y’? No it doesn’t. Where’s the proof?”)