Sue Kline’s Grammar Hotline

Clear answers to your pressing questions about English usage.
For prompt response, send your own questions to

A selection of questions received recently:

Is there a better way to write this sentence? It sounds awkward.
I wanted to let you know that the credit card I used to book your reservation is only to “hold” your reservation. When you check in¸ the front desk will ask you for your credit card for payment.
Leslie D., New Hartford, NY

Answer: You are right that the message sounds awkward. The point is clear, but someone may have to read twice to get it. It is wordy as well: I wanted to let you know that, the front desk will ask.
How about reversing the order of information?
When you check in, you’ll be asked to present your credit card for payment since the credit card used in booking served only to hold, not pay for, the reservation.
The second version is clearer and more efficient, reducing the word count by about 20%.

In the following sentence, would I use is or are?  Supply Chain people is/are one of our critical needs.
Ballarie W, Chicago, IL

Answer: Use “are” because of the plural subject (people). It’s correct – but awkward because you have a plural subject and a singular predicate (one): Supply Chain people are of our critical needs.

When confronted with awkwardness, you can almost always improve by revising as in the following examples:
We have a critical need for Supply Chain people.
One of our most critical needs is for Supply Chain people.

Which is correct “a set of his and hers wedding rings” or “a set of his and her wedding rings”?   I see his and hers used more often, but it sounds a bit odd to say.
Leslie D, New Hartford, NY

Answer: Although both sound awkward, the correct version is “a set of his and her wedding rings.” Today it might seem more sensitive to refer to “a pair of wedding bands.”

Category: Ackward

Load More