Frame 152, Page 98 - First line missing


There is a difference between the question and the answer. Is the first line missing in the question?

ANSWER:

Oh dear, YES, the first line of the poem is missing!

Here is the complete poem:

For the want of a nail, a horseshoe was lost;
For the want of horse, the rider was lost;
For the want of a rider, the message was lost;
For the want of a message, the battle was lost;
For the want of a battle, the war was lost;
For the want of a war, the kingdom was lost;
And all for the want of a horseshoe's nail.

Work hard and be successful,

Professor iEnglish

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Frame 172, Page 58 - Capitalizing Latin


The explanation says "We do not capitalize school subjects unless the word is normally capitalized, e.g. languages," However, Frame 172's 2nd question's answer says there is no problem with capitalizing Latin. Is it right?

ANSWER:

Latin is the name of a language, so YES, it ought to be capitalized.

Work hard and be successful,

Professor iEnglish

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Frame 199, page 4 - Comma before "and"


In Question b, is it wrong to put a comma before the "and"?

ANSWER:

This is another good question!

The short answer is:

NO, it is not wrong, strictly speaking, but the comma is usually left out unless there is a good reason for it to be there, for example, to avoid misunderstandings or ambiguities, as well as to make the job of reading easier for the reader.

Here's the longer answer:

This comma, used before the "and" (or another coordinating conjunction) at the end of a list of items, actually has a name; it is called the "serial comma," or the "Oxford comma" or "Harvard comma."

The serial comma is normally not used in British English. It is more often used in American English.

It is best to use the serial comma when there is a good need for it, that is, when the comma will help to avoid misunderstandings, or make the job of reading easier for the reader.

Here is an example where the use of the serial comma helps to clarify meaning:

(1) I wrote an e-mail to my parents, George and Jill.

(2) I wrote an e-mail to my parents, George, and Jill.

Without the serial comma in (1), the sentence implies that the writer's parents are George and Jill.

In (2), the serial comma makes it clear that the e-mail was written and sent to a total of four different people: the writer's parents, George, and Jill.

The example in iEnglish® 201, frame 199, however, is pretty straightforward, especially as it contains the number "four" in the independent clause:

There are four types of marriages: monogamy, polygamy, polyandry and group marriage.

Therefore, the serial comma here is not required. It would not be incorrect to include the serial comma--but it may just be a little redundant to do so.

Work hard and be successful,

Professor iEnglish

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