‘Failing’ and ‘failure’
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED by FADZILAH AMIN
COULD you please advise me on this sentence, which comes from an English daily: “ Failure to do so, according to the company’s managing director Hasni Zarina Mohamed Khan, may result in the cards not functioning at the fast lanes.”
Why don’t we use failingtodoso instead of failuretodoso?
Could you please give a few examples which use these two words. – Chang “ Failure” in your quotation is a noun, meaning the act of “not doing something one should do”. It is the word more often used in official notices and reminders, than the word “failing”, which is the –ing form of the verb “fail” and can be used as a gerund to also mean “not doing what one should do”. The noun, however, has a more urgent and forceful ring to it than the gerund. Here are some examples of usage, from the Internet:
... please always include ... your full name, date of birth and the course to which you have applied in all correspondence. Failure to do so may result in a decision on your application being delayed. (from the website of the University of Warwick, UK)
This highlights the need for businesses and individuals to prioritise renewing their registrations. Failure to do so can result in your online brand identity being snapped up by someone else. (from netmag.co.uk)
Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) accused UN peacekeepers in Congo on Wednesday of failing to protect civilians by not reacting to attacks by Ugandan rebels that have killed hundreds. (from an online Reuters report)
Many patients don’t take their medicines as prescribed, even when failing to do so could prolong diseases or have life-threatening consequences. (from the online publication, Research, October 2005) THE following statements come from the newspapers.
1. “MIUP president Datuk S. Nallakaruppan said it was the desire of any political party that supports Barisan’s aspiration to be officially accepted into the coalition.”
Is the tense of the verb in bold correctly used here? If it is correct, please explain the reason? And if not, what should the correct tense be?
2. When asked for his birthday wish, Karpal said: “That Pakatan Rakyat takes over power at the Federal level.”
Should the verb be “ take” instead of “takes”? – Felicia 1. No, because the reporting verb in the sentence, i.e. “ said” is in the past tense, and the verb in the main reported clause , i.e. “ was” is also in the past tense. The verb in the relative clause of the reported clause (i.e. “that supports Barisan’s aspiration ...”) should therefore also be in the past tense, i.e. “ supported”.
It is possible to use a present tense reported clause with a past tense reporting verb if the situation that is being reported has not changed. But since Datuk S. Nallakaruppan was expressing an opinion rather than describing a situation, it is better to use the past tense.
2. Yes, the verb in bold should be “take”, NOT “takes”, because a wish expressed in a clause beginning with “that” should use a verb in the subjunctive mood. In this case, the subjunctive has the same form as the base form of the verb. IS “percentage” a singular or plural noun? What are the answers to the following questions?
1. What percentage of people in the world (is, are) illiterate?
2. What percentage of the earth’s surface (is, are) covered by water? – AvidMOEReader “Percentage” is a singular noun and its plural form is “percentages”. It can, however, be used with a singular or a plural noun, depending on the context of the words around it.
I assume you don’t want me to answer the questions asked in 1 & 2, but to choose between the singular “is” and plural “are” in brackets in each question. I would choose the plural verb “are” for Question 1 and the singular verb “is” for Question 2, so that they will read:
1) What percentage of the people in the world are illiterate?
2) What percentage of the earth’s surfaceis covered by water?
The verb agrees with the noun that follows “What percentage of ...” in questions that begin with those words. Thus the noun “people” in 1) takes the plural verb “are”; and the noun “surface” in 2) takes the singular verb “is”.
You might be interested to look at some sentences of similar structure from a pdf file titled Fractions and Percentages, made available on the Internet by The Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching, Britain:
“55% of the students in a school are female. What percentage of students are male?”
“An alloy consists of 2.5kg of zinc and 4kg of tin. What percentage of the alloy is made of tin? (www.cimt.plymouth.ac.uk/projects/ mepres/allgcse/pr11-sa.pdf) THESE sentences appeared in The Star some time ago:
1. Green initiatives acriteria for hotel starrating
2. He said more new hotels were also taking an increased interest in green initiatives as it was acriteria for star-ratings.
Shouldn’t “criterion” be used instead? – NeedEnlightenment The word used should be “criterion” in both sentences. Using “criteria” as a singular noun is a common mistake according to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary (2009). In Malaysia, it may be partly due to BM using “kriteria” to mean both “criterion” and “criteria”.