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Oct. 18, Words

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“Strode also told Fox 16 he was interested in multi-family residences, and we hear local developers are hoping to partner with Strode on office development in the area … ”

An anonymous complainer has circled “partner” and put a question mark next to it. I suppose this means he's challenging the use of partner as a verb. If so, the challenge is hurled back. Random House says that partner is indeed a verb. I don't argue with dictionaries, especially the big heavy ones.

Still anonymous and now cheeky too, the same person questions an item from the “Words” column: “If Reader wants to fight on the beaches, etc., he has my admiration if not my company.” Our carping correspondent has written in the margin “etc. with only one?”.

Evidently, he believes there must be at least two items in a series before etc. can be used. I know of no such rule. The Cambridge Guide to English Usage makes no mention of it, and Cambridge has a long entry on etc., identifying it as “the best known Latin abbreviation in English,” and saying that authors and editors variously interpret etc. as “and so forth,” “and so on,” “and such like,” “and the like” and “and others.” Nor does the Penguin Dictionary of American English Usage and Style say that etc. cannot be used when only one item is listed. The Penguin does say, “When, in highly concise fashion, only one item precedes the etc., a comma need not intervene: instead of ‘rabbits, etc.,' make it rabbits etc.”

From a newspaper article about a certain Mr. and Mrs. Roberts: “University and ministry employees are regularly summoned to the Roberts' home to do the daughters' homework. … The university and ministry maintain a stable of horses for exclusive use by the Roberts' children. … The Roberts' home has been remodeled 11 times in the past 14 years.”

A name is not plural just because it ends with an s. Those university and ministry employees were summoned to the Robertses' home. Or to the Roberts home (no apostrophe), using Roberts as an adjective.

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