Usage and Grammar

Q. When I see the sign OVERSIZE LOAD on the back of trucks, it feels grammatically incorrect. Shouldn’t it be OVERSIZED LOAD or OVER-SIZED LOAD? Please tell me so I can either smirk when I see this sign or apologize to my family.

Q. I am wondering if you can help settle a dispute. A friend of mine recently asked me to copyedit her work and we came to a point of disagreement. She wrote a sentence like the following: “A former public school teacher, I know the importance of providing adequate funding.” I argued that the sentence should start “As a former,” while she was adamant that her original sentence was grammatically correct. Is her construction appropriate, even if it is not ideal? Can you help put this question to rest?

Q. I have an ongoing discussion with an author I edit. She’ll often begin a sentence with being that, and I change it to because, depending, of course, on the context. She feels I’m wrong to substitute because for being that. What do you say?

Q. I am a copyeditor for a tiny scientific journal. I was given the following sentence: It is intriguing to note that BE has 18- to 33-fold the analgesic potency of morphine. I felt that this was incorrect and should have been changed to “18 to 33 times the analgesic potency” or “an 18- to 33-fold greater analgesic potency.” My editor overruled me by telling me that in scientific writing this is acceptable. I believe he is being confused by the fact that dictionaries give times as the definition of -fold (the true meaning of -fold is quite debatable, but that is not my question). I can’t seem to find a good reference for correct usage in this case. 

Q. From your July Q&A: “Comprehensive tip sheets for setting up a paper are available for free at the website.” Really? “For free”? Free here is an adverb modifying the verbal phrase “are available,” not a noun, and cannot be the object of the preposition for.

Q. I work for a company that produces training material for the mining industry. A machine in the mining process uses ceramic beads to grind down rocks. We refer to these ceramic beads as “grinding media.” Is it appropriate to treat “grinding media” as a singular noun? For example: “The grinding media consists of ceramic beads with a size of 3.5 to 5.0 mm.”

Q. How can I look up words like “illegal alien” or “lady” that are hurtful to the people described?

Q. This is sort of a dangler, and yet it seems OK: “As a captain, most of my duties are administrative.” I rewrote it to be safe, but is that kind of construction OK?

Q. I’m editing an advertising brochure that says, “With more cruise departures from more convenient ports, you’ll find an itinerary that’s just right for you.” A colleague asks, “More than what or whom? You should not use a comparative word like more without providing the comparison. More than other cruise lines offer? With more cruise departures from more convenient ports than other cruise lines offer?” Is this true or have we evolved a little in terms of ad copy?

Q. Is it redundant to write “and also”? I cannot find this issue (of redundancies) in the Manual. Is it there?