October 10, 2002: Issue 39
SIM STYLE: Should I use figures or words for numbers in lists and text boxes?
SIM style on numbers applies regardless of where they appear in copy. Write out numbers zero through nine, and use figures for numbers 10 and above. Use figures for all numbers that represent a unit of measure.
• One 2×2, 8 feet long
• Four 1x2s, 8 feet long
• 36 galvanized deck screws
Note: Always use figures in headlines.
Note: In charts, figures can sometimes be used to save space. Consult your lead CE.
For more information, see Numbers section in the SIM Stylebook or Issue 59.
GRAMMAR: Let it be: subjunctive mood, part II
Last week we looked at some common uses of subjunctive mood. This week, we look at a less obvious one—suggestive language. Anytime someone suggests, demands, or requests something, English shifts into the subjunctive, but this time “was” and “were” become “be.” Think of it as the command form of the verb. (BE good! BE on time! BE quiet!)
incorrect: The inspector required that the wiring was updated.
correct: The inspector required that the wiring be updated. Other verbs used in suggestives shift to their command forms, as well.
correct: The designer insisted they BUY the sofa.
correct: They demanded the architect FINISH the project.
Tip: If you’ve got the right verb form, the word “should” would sound perfectly natural in front of it.
correct: She suggested I (should) LEAVE.
Subjunctive mood can be a hard concept to grasp. And in practice, we usually get it right without thinking about it. But when you encounter a sentence that just doesn’t sound quite right, ask yourself whether it’s expressing a conditional thought or a wish, regret, or demand. If the answer is yes, check the verb form; it’s likely the culprit.
For more information, see Issue 38.
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