General Writing and Grammar Help/Problematic expressions

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Question
Thanks, Jerry, for volunteering and helping so many.

I like to be grammatically correct in my writing, but sometimes I cannot grammatically justify a commonly used expression. I've picked out 3 such expressions with the hope that you can justify them (or just tell me that they're incorrect!). Note that I don't need you to parse the entire selection but just the expression surrounded by asterisks.

1. I'm curious *why he did that*.
2. I'm not sure *what that means*.
3. This would be a good thing, *right*?

Answer
Richard,

In my opinion #’s 1 and 3 have an “understood” (unexpressed) preposition preceding “why” and “what.”  “I am curious as to why . . .”; “I am not sure as to what . . .”.   It is unnecessary to express “as to” since the meaning is clear without it, but the clause “why he did that” is still the object of the preposition.  Both sentences are grammatically correct as shown.

As for #3, “right” simply means “is that correct,” but in my opinion should be a separate sentence:  “This would be a good thing.  Right?”

I hope that helps,

Jerry Leone

General Writing and Grammar Help

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Jerry Leone

Expertise

I`ve taught writing or some aspect of the English language for nearly 35 years. I can answer nearly any question on grammar, usage or meanings of words above dictionary usage. An avid crossword fan and writer, I can also answer questions about business presentations and resumes.

Experience

I have worked with words all my life as a teacher of the language and as an amateur and professional writer. Communication is a vital force in my life and everyone else's.

Organizations
Sigma Delta Chi, NY Press Association, NY Publishers Association

Education/Credentials
BA in English from the University of Buffalo, MEd in English from SUNY Buffalo, MA in English Literature from SUNY Buffalo. Course work in Journalism from Syracuse Univ., in Linguistics from Rutgers Univ. and Journalism from Univ. of Texas and Ohio Univesrity.

Awards and Honors
Chancellor's Award for Excellence Teaching SUNY, Distinguished Teaching Award SUNY Morrisville, Who's Who in American Journalism Education

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