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Olga Stroia

(Note de curs, anI Admin. Publica )


Unwritten character The British constitution is not written in a basic document or group of documents.

Continuity of development It has evolved over the centuries with but few sudden or dramatic changes, and high degree of historical continuity has been maintained as the constitution has been brought up to date. Of the modern institutions of government, some are still rooted in medieval origins. But the constitution is not a museum piece. The greater part of Britain’s constitutional law has been made in this century.

Parliamentary sovereignty Parliament as a legislative body can enact any law whatsoever on any subject whatsoever in the eyes of United Kingdom courts, according to the generally held view. Changes in rules of constitutional law can be effected by ordinary legislation.

Law and convention Particularly in the working of the executive branch of government and its relationship with the Legislature, the constitution is regulated to a large extent by rules which do no belong to the normal legal categories. These rules are called constitutional conventions. They are rules of political conduct or binding usages, most of which are capable of being varied or of simply disappearing as political conditions and ideas change. If conventions are to be classified as rules of constitutional law, then the term 'law' must be given a very broad meaning. To use the term 'law' in more than one sense is not in itself unusual. Sometimes it is convenient to contrast constitutional convention with 'strict law'. Thus, in strict law (by virtue of the royal prerogative) the Queen can dismiss her Ministers at pleasure. By convention this legal power is exercisable only in very extraordinary circumstances. And because it is well understood that, save in exceptional circumstances, the Queen must act in accordance with ministerial advice, Parliament still adopts the form of conferring discretionary powers on Her Majesty. This dichotomy of law and convention pervades much of our constitutional law.

Flexibility The absence of a cumbersome procedure for altering rules of constitutional importance, the omnicompetence of Parliament and the pliability of many constitutional conventions tend to make the British constitution flexible and easily adaptable. ( ... )

. not a federal. is the focus of political attention. Bicameralism The upper House of Parliament. still constituted mainly on a hereditary basis. Parliamentary Executive The political arm of the executive branch of government is recruited from and located within Parliament. the lower House. State.Unitary nature The United Kingdom is a unitary. the House of Lords. at the present time. A Government would either have to resign or go to the country if it were to forfeit the support of a majority in the Commons. Parliament would not be omnicompetent. and the Cabinet is collectively 'responsible' to Parliament in general and the House of Commons in particular. The functions of the head of State are primarily ceremonial. the elected House of Commons. If it were a federal State. and despite their amplitude in strict law they are now of little or no political significance in normal times. Limited monarchy Succession to the throne is hereditary. is of minor importance.

it would be erroneous to speak in terms of 'Cabinet dictatorship'. as well as to the weight of opinion in the electorate at large. Judicial independence The Judiciary is appointed by the Executive. Parliamentary government is not governed by Parliament.. but it is conspicuously independent both of the Executive and of the Legislature. At the same time. The Government has indeed to be responsive to parliamentary opinion.Executive dominance in the Legislature Because of the structure of modern British political parties. and the operation of the electoral system and certain constitutional rules. the Government in office is normally able to command parliamentary support for the implementation of almost any policy that it is in practice likely to adopt. but one must not imagine that it is in any real sense a delegate or agent of Parliament. The Government governs in and through Parliament. Garner .. ( . restricting its freedom of manoeuvre. A Government operates within a complex network of constraints. Write sentences with each meaning and each opposite: . ) Read the following considerations about the word constitutional. its meanings and its opposites as given in “A Dictionary of Modem Legal Usage” by Bryan A.

has also been held constitutional. The adjective has two meanings: (1) "of or relating to the Constitution" (constitutional rights). .constitutional should not generally be capitalized. The opposite of constitutional sense (1) is nonconstitutional and in sense (2) is unconstitutional. Here is an illustration of sense (l): The diversion of a job to a competitor is not an invasion of a constitutional right. though Constitution (in reference to the United States Constitution or any particular constitution) should be." And here of sense (2): "The Wisconsin statute which is similar to the Norris-La Guardia Act. and (2) "proper under Constitution" (constitutional actions).

The British constitution. . unlike those of most other countries.Queen Elizabeth II . GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT Britain is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch .In a referendum in May. Other major proposals include increasing the openness of government through the introduction of' freedom of information legislation.Legislation is before Parliament to enact a Code of Rights which would incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic law. Constitutional Reforms . common law and conventions. Head of State.5 members. . modernising .UNIT 2. is not set out in any single document. Conventions are rules and practices which are not legally enforceable but which are regarded as indispensable to the working of government. Legislation is before Parliament to implement the devolution settlements. Instead it is made up of statute law. the residents of London voted in favour of having a directly elected mayor and assembly of 2.devolving power from Parliament at Westminster to a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly.The Government held separate referendums in Scotland and Wales in 1997 which confirmed popular demand tot.

These include summoning. judges. but also an important symbol of national unity. The Queen also formally appoints many important office holders. diplomats. . The only interruption in the monarchy was the republic of 1649-60. and reforming the House of Lords. . . proroguing discontinuing until the next session without dissolution . officers in the armed forces.head of the judiciary.the 'supreme governor' of the established Church of England. . THE MONARCH'S ROLE IN GOVERNMENT The Queen is not only head of State. going back to at least the 9th century. and giving Royal Assent to Bills passed by Parliament. including government ministers. In law she is: . the Queen acts on the advice of her ministers. Britain is governed by Her Majesty's Government in the name of the Queen.commander-in-chief of all the armed forces of the Crown. . In spite of a trend during the past hundred years towards giving powers directly to integral part of the legislature.the procedures of the House of Commons. during which the monarchy's absolute power has been progressively reduced. MONARCHY The Monarchy is the oldest institution of government. the Queen still takes part in some important acts of government.head of the executive. As a result of a long process of evolution.and dissolving Parliament.

such as appointing the Prime Minister . THE POWERS OF PARLIAMENT The three elements which make up Parliament . gives audiences to her ministers and officials in Britain and overseas. has the power to declare war and make peace. The Queen also holds Privy Council meetings. and conferring peerages. Parliamentary authority is not required for the exercise of these prerogative powers. although Parliament may restrict or abolish such rights. receives accounts of Cabinet decisions. reads dispatches and signs state papers. With rare exceptions . as head of State.are constituted on different principles. The agreement of all three elements is . The ministers are responsible to Parliament and can be questioned about particular policies.the Queen. who are members of the royal family. They meet together only on occasions of symbolic significance such as the state opening of Parliament.bishops and some other senior clergy of the Church of England. when the Commons are summoned by the Queen to the House of Lords. knighthoods and other honours . Provision has been made to appoint a regent to perform these royal functions should the Queen be totally incapacitated. An important function is appointing the Prime Minister: by convention the Queen invites the leader of the political party which commands a majority in the House of Commons to form a government. the House of Lords and the elected House of Commons .acts involving the use of 'royal prerogative' powers are nowadays performed by government ministers. In the event of her partial incapacity or absence abroad. to conclude treaties and to annex or cede territory. the Queen may delegate certain royal functions to the Counsellors of State. to recognise foreign states and governments. She is also involved in pardoning people convicted of crimes. In international affairs the Queen.

Parliament does not assert its supremacy in this way. THE FUNCTIONS OF PARLIAMENT The main functions of Parliament are: • to pass laws. Its members bear in mind the common law and normally act in accordance with precedent. once passed. . In practice. It can make or change any law. The validity of an Act of Parliament. including proposals for expenditure. and in this century the House of Lords has recognised the supremacy of the elected chamber. but that of the Queen is given as a matter of course to Bills sent to her. The House of Commons is directly responsible to the electorate. It can even prolong its own life beyond the normal period without consulting the electorate. by voting for taxation. or for any part of the country. the means of carrying on the work of' government. Parliament may legislate as it pleases. which are Crown dependencies and not part of Britain. • to scrutinise government policy and administration. They have local legislatures which make laws on island affairs. Parliament can legislate for Britain as a whole. and can overturn established conventions or turn them into law. • to provide.normally required for legislation. cannot be disputed in the law courts. The system of party government helps to ensure that Parliament legislates with its responsibility to the electorate in mind. It can also legislate for the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. subject to Britain's obligations as a member of the European Union. As there are no legal restraints imposed by a written constitution. however.

Parliament is also informed before all important international treaties and agreements are ratified. Parliament then 'stands prorogued' for about a week until the new session opens. By custom. The average number of 'sitting' days in a session is about 160 in the House of Commons and about 145 in the House of Lords. At the start of each session the Queen's speech to Parliament outlines the Government's policies and proposed legislative programme. In carrying out these functions Parliament helps to bring the relevant facts and issues before the electorate. Each session is ended by prorogation. Easter and the late Spring Bank Holiday. Public Bills which have not been passed by the end of the session are lost. Parliament is dissolved and writs for a general election are ordered by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. at weekends. The maximum life has been prolonged by legislation in are circumstances such as the two world wars. Each usually lasts one year normally beginning and ending in October or November. a royal prerogative exercised on the advice of the Government and is not subject to parliamentary approval. THE MEETING OF PARLIAMENT Parliament has a maximum duration of five years. at Christmas. and during long summer break usually starting in late July. however. .• to debate the major issues of the day. The making of treaties is. The life of a Parliament is divided into sessions. There are 'adjournments' at night. but in practice general elections are usually held before the end of this term.

There were 752 hereditary peers who had succeeded to their titles. all other life peers. In addition. Great Britain and the United Kingdom. In mid. and the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. but do not wish to be involved in party politics. who is ex-officio Speaker of the House. Durham and Winchester.1997 there were 1. including the two archbishops and 24 bishops. Peerages. . anyone succeeding to a peerage may. and the 21 senior bishops of the Church of England. both hereditary and life. and 406 life peers. The House also provides a place in Parliament for people who offer useful advice. However. The House is presided over by the Lord Chancellor. including the Prince of Wales. of whom 21 were 'law lords'. are created by the sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister. disclaim that peerage for his or her free time. Scotland. within 12 months of succession.THE HOUSE OF LORDS The House of Lords consists of all hereditary peers and peeresses of England. life peers created to assist the House in its judicial duties (Lords of Appeal or 'law lords'). They are usually granted in recognition of service in politics or other walks of life because one of the political parties wishes to have the recipient in the House of Lords. Hereditary peerages carry a right to sit in the House provided they claim and are aged 21 years or over. the Bishops of London.205 members of the House of Lords. Disclaimants lose their right to sit in the House but gain the right to vote and stand as candidates at parliamentary elections. 10 hereditary peers who had had their titles conferred on them. senior judges are given peerages as Lords of Appeal.

They. Permanent officers – who are not MPs – include the Clerk of the House of Commons. Officers of the House of Commons The chief officer of the House of Commons is the Speaker. There are also a number of other allowances. . 529 are for England. 72 for Scotland and 18 for Northern Ireland. subsistence allowances and allowances for second homes. Of the 659 seats. neither speak nor vote other than in their official capacity. Other officers include the three Deputy Speakers who are elected by the House on the nomination of the Government but are drawn from the opposition as well as the government party. or is given a peerage. who is the principal adviser to the Speaker on the Commons' privileges and procedures.860 – from January 1997 – and an office costs allowance of up to £47. and the Sergeant-at-Arms. a by-election takes place. Members are paid an annual salary of £43. for members with constituencies a long way from London. a supplement for London members and. who waits on the Speaker. 40 for Wales.THE HOUSE OF COMMONS The House of Commons consists of 659 Members of Parliament (MPs) directly elected by voters in each of Britain's 659 parliamentary constituencies. like the Speaker. including travel allowances. elected by MPs to preside over the House. At present there are 120 women and nine black or Asian MPs.568. and is responsible for security. When an MP dies or resigns. General elections are held after a Parliament has been dissolved and a new one summoned by the Queen.

that the highest standards are maintained. The Charter. launched in 1991. The Queen appoints its leader as Prime Minister. . the Prime Minister appoints about 100 ministers. Citizen's Charter The Citizen's Charter. which applies to all public services and privatised utilities.GOVERNMENT The Government is formed by the party with majority support in the Commons. Policies are implemented by government departments and executive agencies staffed by politically impartial civil servants. The largest minority party forms the official Opposition. As head of the Government. of whom about 20 are in the Cabinet – the senior group which takes major policy decisions. The Opposition has a duty to challenge government policies and to present an alternative programme. They serve the government of the day regardless of its political complexion. with its own leader and ‘shadow cabinet’. The Committee on Standards in Public Life considers the conduct of MPs and civil servants and makes recommendations designed to ensure. aims to raise the standard of public services and make them more responsive to their users. sets out a number of key levels of service which users of public services are entitled to expect. Most major public services have published separate charters. Ministers are collectively responsible for government decisions and individually responsible for their own government departments.

A Civil Service Code provides a statement of the constitutional framework within which all civil servants work. These include providing housing. separate units or agencies to perform the executive functions of government – for example. aims to deliver government services more efficiently. Scotland and Wales has changed during the last five years: • in some non-metropolitan areas in England the two-tier structure – of counties and smaller districts – has been replaced by single -tier or ‘unitary’ . and effectively.000 in April 1997. powers and duties given to them by Parliament. reflecting the Government's policy of controlling the cost of the Civil Service and of improving its efficiency. as far as is practicable. The Next Steps Programme. the payment of social security benefits and the issuing of passports and drivers' licences. education. LOCAL GOVERNMENT Elected local authorities exercise. personal social services. It has involved setting tip. launched in 1988. Local authorities raise revenue through the council lax (a local tax on domestic property). and the values they are expected to uphold. police and fire services. although their revenue spending is financed primarily by grants from central government and by the redistribution of revenue from the national non-domestic rate (a property tax levied on business and other non-domestic properties) The structure of local government in England.Civil Service The number of civil servants fell from 751.000 in 1976 to 476.

22 single-tier authorities replaced the previous eight county. . • in Wales. • in Scotland in April 1996. 29 new single-tier councils replaced the previous nine regional and 53 district councils – three islands councils have remained in being. the restructuring was completed by April 1998. councils and 37 district councils. especially in larger cities.authorities. also in April 1996.

The direct object can be a noun. Each structure is explained and an example of correct usage is given. -The meal looked wonderful. Verb Patterns -They bought the sweater. A transitive verb takes a direct Transitive object. A linking verb is followed by a noun Linking or adjective which refers to the subject of the verb. -He watched them.GRAMMAR FILE Verb Structures and Patterns This guide provides a look at common verb structures and patterns used in English. Verb Type Explanation Examples -They're Intransitive An intransitive verb does not take a direct object sleeping. -They arrived late. a pronoun or a clause. .

Examples -I waited to begin dinner.verb + ing .base form . -She asked her to find a place to . -They wanted to come to the party.doing). it is especially important to notice which form the second verb takes (infinitive . listening music. -They regretted spending so much time on the project. An indirect object is usually placed before a direct object when a verb takes both an IO and DO. -They instructed -I bought her a book. When two verbs are used. enjoyed to the verb + indirect object + direct object verb + object + infinitive . This is the most common form when a verb is followed by both an object and a do . Verb Pattern Structure This is one of the most verb + infinitive common verb combination forms. She asked him the question. -They This is one of the most verb + verb + ing common verb combination forms.Verb patterns are common in English.

-They let him go to the concert. where) -They were instructed where to go. harder.them to open the envelope. -She told him that she would worker verb + object + clause with ‘that’ Use this form for a clause beginning with ‘that’.(why. -He informed him that he was going to resign. verb + object + clause with ‘wh-’ Use this form for a clause beginning with wh. when. homework. -He helped him paint the house. help and make). -I heard her singing in the living room. painting the house. . -I observed them verb + object + verb + ing This form is less common than verb + object + infinitive. -She made her verb + object + base form (infinitive without ‘to’) finish her This form is used with a few verbs (let.

-They want the report finished immediately Compound Words Definition In English. In this respect. a language like German. they sometimes metamorphose over time. A common pattern is that two words — fire fly. And once they are formed. -He had his car washed. say — will be joined by a hyphen for a time — fire-fly — and then be joined into one word — firefly. words. This form is often used verb + object + past participle when someone does something for someone else. are combined into compound structures in a variety of ways. in which words are happily and immediately linked one to the other. particularly adjectives and nouns. might seem to .-She told me why she had done it.

are not hyphenated when compounded with other modifiers: a highly rated bank. When modifying a person with his or her age. However. but an old furniture salesman would be an old man. When compounded modifiers precede a noun. curtains that are fire resistant. on the same horizontal line. But this is not always the case: the most talented youngster." "the peanut butter" — is a nice and philosophical question. however: your high-rise apartment building is also known as a high-rise. when the age comes after the . Comparative and superlative forms of adjectives are hyphenated when compounded with other modifiers: the highest-priced car. We probably would not have the same ambiguity. etc. a partially refunded ticket. the degree to which the modifier and the noun are inseparable. If you were diagramming a sentence with a compound word. Adverbs. The bluish grey was slowly disappearing from the bluish-grey sky. makeup. mass-produced. they are not hyphenated: a field fifty yards wide. There are three forms of compound words: the closed form. half sister. master-at-arms. When those same modifying words come after the noun. middle class. they are often hyphenated: parttime teacher. you would probably keep the words together. publicly held securities. notebook. softball.have an advantage. secondhand. redhead. six-year-old. the shorter-term loan. real estate. over-thecounter. six-pack. about a used car dealer. attorney general. The second-rate opera company gave a performance that was first rate. the compounded phrase is hyphenated: my six-year-old son. It clearly has something to do with the degree to which the preceding word changes the essential character of the noun. fifty-yard-wide field. The New York Public Library's Writer's Guide points out that an old-furniture salesman clearly deals in old furniture. and the open form. the hyphenated form. however. in which the words are melded together. crosstown. There is only one sure way to know how to spell compounds in English: use an authoritative dictionary. high-speed chase. This is not always so. Sometimes hyphenated modifiers lose their hyphens when they become compound nouns: A clear decision-making process was evident in their decision making. keyboard. full moon. childlike. such as firefly. How a word modified by an adjective — "a little school. fire-resistant curtains. however. Modifying compounds are often hyphenated to avoid confusion. such as post office. such as daughter-in-law." "the yellow butter" — is different from a compound word — " a high school. words ending in -ly.

" "and courts-martial" (196). The Chicago Manual of Style says that "hyphenated and open compounds are regularly made plural by the addition of the plural inflection to the element that is subject to the change in number" and gives as examples "fathers-in-law. we don't use a hyphen. and master mechanics deputy librarians deputy assistant secretaries of state The possessive of a hyphenated compound is created by attaching an apostrophe -s to the end of the compound itself: my daughter-in-law's car. When you have more than one truck filled with sand.) The dictionary will help you discover that only one spelling is acceptable for some compounds — like passersby. The significant word may be at the beginning." "bills of fare. My son is six years old. (And the same is true of teaspoonfuls. middle." notaries public." Note: some dictionaries will list "attorney generals" along with "attorneys general" as acceptable plurals of that office. with the first spelling usually preferred. Plurals and Possessives Most dictionaries will give variant spellings of compound plurals. or end of the term" (396). Whether that's a matter of caving in to popular usage or an inability to determine the "significant word" is unknown." "doctors of philosophy. For hyphenated forms. a friend of mine's . however." "higher-ups. The NYPL Writer's Guide puts it this way: "the most significant word — generally the noun — takes the plural form. etc. do you have several truckfuls or trucksful? The dictionary will give you both." assistant attorneys general. half-moons." chiefs of staff. As a general rule. mayors-elect. And then we get examples such as "attorneys at law. journeyman." "sergeants-in-arms." "also-rans. the pluralizing -s is usually attached to the element that is actually being pluralized: daughters-in-law. regardless of the base element's placement: • • • • • • • • • first sergeants sergeants major sergeants first class colonel generals [Russian] lieutenant generals lieutenant colonels apprentice.person. then. a sixyear-old. cupfuls. He is." and "go-betweens. the plural form of an element in a hierarchical term belongs to the base element in the term.

To create the possessive of pluralized and compounded forms. co-edited Also. a writer is wise to avoid the apostrophe -s form and use an "of" phrase (the "post genitive") instead: the meeting of the daughters-in-law. however. In other words. pre-Civil War compounds that would be difficult to read without a hyphen pro-life. we would use a hyphen with the first. do we write that I am going to a writers conference or to a writers' conference? The Chicago Style Manual suggests that if singular nouns can act as attributive nouns — city government. . semi-independent. Exceptions include: compounds in which the second element is capitalized or a number: anti-Semitic. s or s-like sounds. will require an -es for the plural: . Otherwise. One of the most difficult decisions to make about possessives and plurals of compound words occurs when you can't decide whether the first noun in a compound structure is acting as a noun that ought to be showing possession or as what is called an attributive noun. x. pro-choice. essentially an adjective. the possessive form becomes downright weird: the daughters-inlaw's meeting. anti-intellectual (but when we combine compound nouns. • • • more than one snake = snakes more than one ski = skis more than one Barrymore = Barrymores Words that end in -ch. teachers union. co-op compounds in which a vowel would be repeated (especially to avoid confusion) co-op. and writers must remember to be consistent within a document. but not the last: when under. however. . This principle is not universally endorsed. post-Freudian compounds which need hyphens to avoid confusion un-ionized (as distinguished from unionized).and overdeveloped nations get together. . pre-1998. Plural Noun Forms The plural form of most nouns is created simply by adding the letter s. friends of mine's cars. the schedule of half-moons. tax relief — then plural nouns should be able to act as attributive nouns: consumers group. reedit) compounds consisting of more than one word non-English-speaking.

say. finally.) • • • • • • • • • • • more than one nucleus = nuclei more than one syllabus = syllabi more than one focus = foci more than one fungus = fungi more than one cactus = cacti (cactuses is acceptable) more than one thesis = theses more than one crisis = crises* more than one phenomenon = phenomena more than one index = indices (indexes is acceptable) more than one appendix = appendices (appendixes is acceptable) more than one criterion = criteria *Note the pronunciation of this word. there are nouns that maintain their Latin or Greek form in the plural. for "buss. and then we pronounce the word basease. of course. this is because the plural "buses" looks like it ought to rhyme with the plural of "fuse. is also bases." There are several nouns that have irregular plural forms. More than one base in the game of baseball is bases." which is "fuses." a seldom used word for "kiss." "Buses" is still listed as the preferable plural form. below. "Busses" is the plural.• • • • • • more than one witch = witches more than one box = boxes more than one gas = gases more than one bus = buses more than one kiss = kisses more than one Jones = Joneses Note that some dictionaries list "busses" as an acceptable plural for "bus. ." Presumably. • • • • • • • • more than one child = children more than one woman = women more than one man = men more than one person = people more than one goose = geese more than one mouse = mice more than one barracks = barracks more than one deer = deer And. but more than one basis for an argument. crises: the second syllable sounds like ease. Plurals formed in this way are sometimes called mutated (or mutating) plurals. (See media and data and alumni.

Okies. Chelmsley Brothers is the best moving company in town. (Nowadays you will sometimes see this word as a singular "pant" [meaning one pair of pants] especially in clothing ads. And another handful of nouns might seem to be singular in nature but take a plural form and always use a plural verb: • • • My pants are torn. One-half of the faculty have doctorates. Fifty percent of the students have voted already. . One-half of the faculty is retiring this summer. as in "The economics of the situation demand that . but most writers would regard that as an affectation. When a noun names the title of something or is a word being used as a word. it is singular whether the word takes a singular form or not. "term. . • • • • • Faces is the name of the new restaurant downtown. As a general rule. but it's not always that simple. Daughters-in-law follows the general rule. the word Okies is actually an appositive for the singular subject. . The term Okies was used to describe the residents of Oklahoma during the 1930s.) Her scissors were stolen. Postcards is my favorite novel.A handful of nouns appear to be plural in form but take a singular verb: • • • The news is bad.") Numerical expressions are usually singular. ("Economics" can sometimes be a plural concept.") Plural Compound Nouns Compound words create special problems when we need to pluralize them. . The glasses have slipped down his nose again. the element within the compound that word that is pluralized will receive the plural -s. but can be plural if the individuals within a numerical group are acting individually: • • • • Fifty thousand dollars is a lot of money. which most people regard as a disparaging word. was first used to describe the residents of Oklahoma during the 1930s. Economics/mathematics/statistics is said to be difficult. (In this sentence. Gymnastics is fun to watch. but cupfuls does not.

. that Vassar College. Even textbooks in computer science are beginning to use "data" as a singular. and The media is out to get the President. Many authorities nowadays approve sentences like My data is lost. be used as plural words. .Problem Children Many careful writers insist that the words data and media are Latin plurals and must. • • • • • more than one potato = potatoes more than one hero = . We note. . could include both genders. Alumni and alumnae remain problematic. more than one memo = memos more than one cello = . Hartford College for Women. and for words where another vowel comes before the o . In its publication style manual. • • • • more than one baby = babies more than one gallery = galleries (Notice the difference between this and galleys. has only alumnae. This does not go over well with some female alums. Special Cases With words that end in a consonant and a y. . The singular Latin forms of these words. therefore. . . . more than one stereo = stereos heroes cellos Plurals of words that end in -f or -fe usually change the f sound to a v sound and add s or -es. furthermore. we assume. the plural of feminine singular alumna is alumnae. The genderless graduate and the truncated and informal alum have much to commend them. however. In traditional Latin. alumni.) more than one reality = realities This rule does not apply to proper nouns: more than one Kennedy = Kennedys Words that end in o create special problems. the masculine plural form. . where the final y is not preceded by a consonant. The plural of masculine singular alumnus is alumni. however . you'll need to change the y to an i and add es. Wesleyan University approves of alumni/ae. . which now has both. has lists of alumni and alumnae. are seldom used: datum as a single bit of information or medium as a single means of communication.

group. we could say "A dozen is probably not enough. class. Family Names. for instance. can be pluralized: a university has several athletic teams and classes. exceptions: • • more than one dwarf = dwarfs more than one roof = roofs When in doubt. we could say. themselves. however. Generally. public. flock. . "The number of applicants is steadily increasing. staff." on the other hand. A number are here to see the president. which are singular when we think of them as groups and plural when we think of the individuals acting within the whole (which happens sometimes. team. so called collective nouns. Collective Nouns. Company Names. heap. jury. band. And the immigrant families kept watch over their herds and flocks. We could say the Tokyo String Quartet is one of the best string ensembles in the world. number." But if we're talking partying with our friends. Thus. further. consult a dictionary. lot." The jury delivers its verdict. [But] The jury came in and took their seats. will list both wharfs and wharves as acceptable plural forms of wharf. Sports Teams There are." Note that "the number" is a singular collective noun. as always. "A dozen are coming over this afternoon. but not often): audience. band names and musical groups take singular or plural verbs depending on the form of their names: "The Mamas and the Papas were one of the best groups of the 70s" and "Metallica is my favorite band. committee. kind." Collective nouns are count nouns which means they. Some dictionaries. family. if we're talking about eggs. is a plural form: "There are several students in the lobby.• • • • • • more than one knife = knives more than one leaf = leaves more than one hoof = hooves more than one life = lives more than one self = selves more than one elf = elves There are." "A number. but we could say the Beatles were some of the most famous singers in history.

are treated as plurals. Do not form a family name plural by using an apostrophe. the Maddoxes." A modest proposal: women whose last names end in "s" (pronounced "z") should marry and take the names of men whose last names do not end with that sound." Some writers will use a plural verb when a plural construction such as "Associates" is part of the company's title or when the title consists of a series of names: "Upton. however. however. which is always plural. When a family name (a proper noun) is pluralized. the Kennedys. regardless of their ending: "General Motors has announced its fall lineup of new vehicles. x." When we refer to a team by the city in which it resides. we almost always simply add an "s. sh. The names of companies and other organizations are usually regarded as singular. we don't add any ending to form the plural: "The Chambers are coming to dinner" (not the Chamberses). the Bushes. too. the Grays. Notice." and we'd probably write "The Stevenses are coming. also. that device is reserved for creating possessive forms. we . on the other hand. ch. and Gridley are moving to new law offices next week" or "Shadrach." So we go to visit the Smiths. When a proper noun ends in an "s" with a hard "z" sound. and eventually this problem will disappear. though. regardless of the form of that name. that the verb ("is") agrees with one." Try to avoid the inconsistency that is almost inevitable when you think of corporate entities as a group of individuals: "General Motors has announced their fall lineup of new vehicles. the Rodriguezes.The word following the phrase one of the (as an object of the preposition of) will always be plural.When a family name ends in s. we form the plural by added -es. • • One of the reasons we do this is that it rains a lot in spring. Meshach." But note that some inconsistency is acceptable in all but the most formal writing: "Ford has announced its breakup with Firestone Tires. etc. or z." Singular verbs and pronouns would be correct in those sentences. the Joneses. the Utah Jazz have attempted to draft a big man. The names of sports teams. and not with the object of the preposition. "The Hodges used to live here" (not the Hodgeses). Vernon. There are exceptions even to this: we say "The Joneses are coming over. We would write that "The Yankees have signed a new third baseman" and "The Yankees are a great organization" (even if we're Red Sox fans) and that "For two years in a row. One of the students in this room is responsible. as in the Marches. which is singular. Abednego & Associates have won all their cases this year. Their cars will no longer use tires built by Firestone.

we pluralize it by adding the unitalicized apostrophe -s — "In his essay on prepositions." This practice is not universally followed. baseball players love to accumulate "runs batted in. Jose used an astonishing three dozen out's. Towanda learned very quickly to mind her p's and q's. and in newspapers. Do not use the apostrophe+s to create the plural of acronyms (pronounceable abbreviations such as laser and IRA and URL*) and other abbreviations. (A possible exception to this last rule is an acronym that ends in "S": "We filed four NOS's in that folder." (This is decidedly not a British practice. — and if necessary. Notice that we do not use an apostrophe -s to create the plural of a word-initself. the city or country names by which British newspapers refer to soccer teams. are used as plurals — a practice that seems odd and inconsistent to American ears: "A minute's silence will precede the game at Le Stadium today. we first italicize it — I pointed out the use of the word out in that sentence.) Plurals and Apostrophes We use an apostrophe to create plural forms in two limited situations: for pluralized letters of the alphabet and when we are trying to create the plural form of a word that refers to the word itself. for example." But when we refer to a word-as-a-word. We would also write "The shortstop made two spectacular outs in that inning. and we assume that Theodore Bernstein knew what he was talking about in his book Dos. The speed of an internal combustion engine is measured in "revolutions per minute" or rpm (lower case) and the efficiency of an automobile is reported in "miles per gallon" or mpg (no "-s" endings). You have fifteen and's in that last paragraph." Some abbreviations have embedded plural forms. as in "Dallas has attempted to secure the services of two assistant coaches that Green Bay hopes to keep. Don'ts & Maybes of English Usage.use the singular. For instance. Here we also should italicize this "word as word. the "yeses and nos" of a vote (NYPL Writer's Guide to Style and Usage). and there are often inconsistencies in creating the plurals of these words. On the other hand. we would refer to the "ins and outs" of a mystery. and tomorrow at Lansdowne Road. when Leinster attempt to reach their first European final by beating Perpignan" [report in the online London Times]. when Toulouse play Munster. In the UK." but not the 's ending that belongs to it.") • • • Jeffrey got four A's on his last report card." a statistic that is usually reported as RBIs (although it would not be . you would find our example sentence written without italics or apostrophe: "You have fifteen ands in that last paragraph.

too. and they both have PhDs from Harvard. that we do not use an apostrophe to create plurals in the following: • • • • The 1890s in Europe are widely regarded as years of social decadence.S. We frequently run into a situation in which a singular subject is linked to a plural predicate: • My favorite breakfast is cereal with fruit. orange juice. For instance.) Notice. etc. furthermore. a prisoner of war — it's surely a good idea to form the plural by adding "s" to the abbreviation: RBIs. a meal ready-to-eat. do we say "Students must see their counselors" or "Students must see their counselor"? The singular counselor is necesssary to avoid the implication that students have more than one counselor apiece. remember that the number (singular or plural) of the subject. (Notice that no apostrophe is involved in the formation of these plurals.terribly unusual to hear that someone got 100 RBI last year — and some baseball commentators will talk about "ribbies. and toast. In such situations. Authority for this last paragraph: Keys for Writers: A Brief Handbook by Ann Raimes. so we use the singular father.or lower-case letters is a matter of great mystery. milk. Plural Predicates. 1996. Theodore . POWs. Singular Subjects. military provides "meals ready to eat" and those rations are usually described as MREs (not MRE). Houghton Mifflin: New York. determines the number of the verb. only your dictionary editor knows for sure. When an abbreviation can be used to refer to a singular thing — a run batted in. She has over 400 URLs* in her bookmark file. but we want to avoid that "his or her" construction by pluralizing. when we want each student to see his or her counselor (and each student is assigned to only one counselor). MREs. Rosa and her brother have identical IQs. Also. Whether abbreviations like these are formed with upper. I have prepared 1099s for the entire staff. the U." too). not the predicate. A special situation exists when a subject seems not to agree with its predicate. Sometimes. Do we say "Many sons dislike their father or fathers"? We don't mean to suggest that the sons have more than one father. a plural subject can be linked to singular predicate: • Mistakes in parallelism are the only problem here.

We might want to say "Puzzled. Don'ts and Maybes of English Usage . though. Here is a guide to collocations with deep. So use URLs unless you're writing for the New York Times. the plural of URL would be spelled URLs. heavy. Intensifying Adjectives Intensifying Adjectives: Important Adjective Collocations A collocation is a word pair. in deep trouble . deep sleep. however. that always goes together. but "The audience rose to their foot" is plainly ridiculous and about to tip over. in Dos. the singular that the boys (together) owned one car (which is quite possible).R. in deep thought.L. or (b) it is an abstraction ("The judges applied their reason to the problem"). deep devotion. by the way. in this case adjective and noun. should be pronounced like the name of your Uncle Earl or as a series of letters: U*R*L. The information technology experts at the college where I work use the "earl" pronunciation. It is also possible that each boy owned more than one car. it is important to learn some of the standard collocations. would insist on U. In "The boys moved their car/cars. *The jury still seems to be out on whether URL (acronym for Uniform [or Universal] Resource Locator). and consider carefully the implications of using either the singular or the plural. You might have to avoid the problem by going the opposite direction of pluralizing: moving things to the singular and talking about what each boy did. In either case. Sometimes good sense will have to guide you. Be prepared for such situations.'s because their style guide requires that everything be capitalized in headlines and URLS would look dumb in a headline. the children scratched their head" to avoid the image of multi-headed children. the address of a Website on the World Wide Web. a deep feeling. There are no specific rules for these collocations. high (low) and strong. deep pockets." the plural would indicate that each boy owned a car. says that "Idiomatically the noun applying to more than one person remains in the singular when (a) it represents a quality or thing possessed in common ("The audience's curiosity was aroused"). or (c) it is a figurative word ("All ten children had a sweet tooth") (203). The New York Times. and one would have to ask why you'd want to say "you-are-ell" when a simple "earl" would suffice.Bernstein. Deep deep depression.

or low .or low . This feature provides a guide to the use of the most common intensifying adjectives for non-physical nouns. However.or low . minuscule. Notice that a number of nouns (but not all) which take 'high' also take 'low'. big.or low . small.level (of) Strong strong criticism strong denial a strong feeling a strong opinion (about something) Intensifying Adjectives Intensifying Adjectives: Intensifying Non-Physical Objects When describing physical objects you can use a wide variety of adjectives such as: high .or low . and other events . total and utter are used to express strong feelings. Absolute / Complete / Total / Utter Absolute. anger. complete. wealth) you need to pay careful attention to the choice of intensifying adjectives. a strong sense (of) a strong smell a strong taste a high . extreme situations.opinion (of someone or something) high .density high . joy.or low .or low .esteem a high . tiny.g. etc.high price high quality high speed . when describing nouns that are not physical (e.expectation (of) a high .Low.Heavy a heavy drinker heavy rain a heavy sleeper a heavy smoker heavy snow heavy traffic High .or low .cost high .or low . high .pressure a .especially negative experiences.

Types of Persons a big eater a big dreamer a big drinker a big spender a big talker a great number (of) great power great pride a great quantity (of) great sensitivity great skill great strength great understanding great wealth .absolute agony complete astonishment total bliss (an) utter catastrophe absolute despair Big total ecstasy utter fury a complete idiot utter loathing total madness Big tends to describe a happening or a type of person. It is not usually used with uncountable nouns. It is not usually used with uncountable nouns. great admiration great anger in great detail (a) great disappointment great enjoyment great excitement a great failure great fun great happiness great joy at great length Large Large is often used with nouns concerning numbers and measurements. Happenings a big decision a big disappointment a big improvement a big mistake a big surprise Great Great usually describes nouns which express feelings or qualities.

Bucureşti. Law and Justice. D. M.38. The Guardian. Bucureşti. Engleza pentru jurişti. Dyer. Brookes.. 1995 *** Britain’s System of Government. Howard. Curtui. 1997 Hutchinson.a large amount a large number (of) a large population a large proportion a large quantity a large scale BIBLIOGRAPHY *** Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. M. W.. C. Ed. Ed.. 1997 *** Codul civil român *** Codul juristului Abadinsky. Bucureşti. 8 December 1989 . Lumina Lex. A. I.. Holden. Longman. Foreign and Commonwealth *** Romanian Legislation. Nelson-Hall Publishers... 1990 Bogdan. vol. Trifu.. 1999 *** Codul penal român. Bucureşti. S. 'Barrister's rights go in strategic reforms'. Teora. 1965 Cazan. Dicţionar Englez-Român..

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