I WOULD like to share three very interesting questions from readers of this column and its companion Facebook page these past few days:
The first question is from Anthony Perez who sent it to me by e-mail:
“The ‘English grammar bombs’ in your column yesterday [‘Shell-shocked by English grammar bombs in entertainment reporting ,’ April 18, 2015 issue] brought to mind this item I read in the Philippine Star last Wednesday, April 16, 2015:
“‘LOS ANGELES (AFP) – A US woman convicted of the brutal 2008 killing of her boyfriend in a case that gripped America was told she will die in prison on Monday after being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.’ (italics mine)
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but why would she be meted a life sentence if she were to die in a few days?
“Where should the misplaced ‘on Monday’ go—after ‘was told’ (as in ‘was told on Monday’) or at the end of the sentence?”
Here’s my reply to Anthony:
Every now and then, even the more established wire news agencies like the Agence France Presse bomb out in their English reporting. Clearly, the phrase “told she will die in prison” in that sentence is a sophomoric feature-writing flourish—syntactically troublesome and altogether needless—most likely by a new reporter trying to impress the agency’s editors. Without it, that sentence would have read very naturally and succinctly as follows:
“LOS ANGELES (AFP) –A US woman convicted of the brutal 2008 killing of her boyfriend in a case that gripped America was sentenced on Monday to life without the possibility of parole.”
The problem wasn’t really a misplacement of “on Monday” in the original sentence or anything of that sort; it’s just that “told she will die in prison” had absolutely no business being there.
The second and third questions are from Mary Anne S. Fernandez who raised them in the Facebook page of Jose Carillo’s English Forum:
“Do we say ‘May I invite the speaker to please come up the stage to deliver his speech’ or ‘May I invite the speaker to please come up on stage to deliver his speech?’
“And is the heading ‘Wanted: Teachers Applicants’ correct? My idea is that the word ‘teachers’ should be replaced with the singular form ‘teacher’ since the word ‘applicants’ carries the numbers.”
Here’s what I advised Mary Anne:
Regarding your first question, the more idiomatic way to say that sentence is, “May I invite the speaker to come up on stage to deliver his speech?” However, it’s much better to identify the speaker by name, say “Mr. Reyes” or some specific appellation like “our guest of honor” or “guest speaker,” because calling him by the unspecific noun “speaker” evokes the uncomfortable sense that he’s already speaking and yet is still being invited to deliver his speech.
That statement will sound much more pleasant and cordial when addressed to a specific person or appellation: “May I invite Mr. Reyes to come up on stage to deliver his speech?” “May I invite our guest of honor to come up on stage to deliver his speech?” It’s perfectly acceptable as well to use the adverb “onstage” to modify the verb “come”: “May I invite Mr. Reyes to come onstage to deliver his speech?” “May I invite our guest of honor to come onstage to deliver his speech?”
As to your second question, yes, you’re right. The word “teacher” should be in the singular form, but not because the noun “applicants” carries the numbers (plural in this case) but because “teacher” is functioning here as an adjective modifying “applicants.” Actually, the more serious problem is that “applicants” is actually a redundancy in “Wanted: Teachers Applicants.” What’s really wanted are “teachers,” not “applicants,” so “Wanted: Teachers” suffices and can stand by itself.
Visit Jose Carillo’s English Forum at http://josecarilloforum.com. Visit me on Facebook. Follow me at Twitter.com @J8Carillo.