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I am writing an essay about my university experiences and a suggested correction from an English Ph.D. sounds wrong to me.

The suggestion is

In our meeting to discuss the spring semester of my junior year, my adviser set forth a challenge.

She made a similar correction later,

One graduate course had been sufficient to consume my time in the fall semester.

As a native English speaker, both of these corrections sound like grammatical errors to me, but I do not have the linguistic knowledge to articulate exactly what, if anything, makes them incorrect. (I spend much more time on math.se than english.se!)

Are her suggestions correct?

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What you had originally is definitely correct, but I'll leave it to others to use the correct grammatical terminology to rebuff your challenger. –  Andrew Leach Aug 5 '13 at 18:21
3  
Named time periods like Fall Semester are often simply used as temporal adverbs withoutarticles. Since the adverbs are identical to the nouns, you can say either one. –  John Lawler Aug 5 '13 at 18:50
    
As @John Lawler says, named time periods like "Fall Semester" are temporal adverbs, what does the adverb modify in the first sentence? –  JeffSahol Aug 5 '13 at 19:39
    
@JeffSahol Looks to me like it's a nominal in the first sentence, object of discuss. –  StoneyB Aug 5 '13 at 19:43
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I'm with @AndrewLeach. (Maybe because we're both from the UK?) I don't think either of the changes would be appropriate in British English. Leaving aside the difference in terminology, "discuss spring semester" and "my time fall semester" just do not make sense to me. –  TrevorD Aug 5 '13 at 22:33

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Time periods can be used without articles. A different example:

One graduate course had been sufficient to consume my time last semester.

I personally find it awkward to use "fall semester" instead of "last semester" but it's the same basic idea.

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I think the corrections are technically correct, but they make the sentences awkward. Perhaps you could reach a compromise, such as:

In our meeting to discuss my junior year (plan), my adviser set forth a spring semester challenge.

and

One graduate course was sufficient to consume my fall semester.

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I had to ask myself this question recently, and was surprised what I came up with. Specifically I like to listen to books on tape (CD/MP3) and while enjoying one of the Harry Potter Novels, I was struck by how odd the phrase "Do you need to go to hospital?" (As opposed to the hospital) sounded to me.

But after researching it I discovered that we often use similar forms with other places such as; I am going to School. He was at Church all day.

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