Capitalize iPad or eBay to Start Sentence?

iPhone_orIPhoneMost of us know to capitalize the first letter of a sentence. It’s one of the few written-in-stone grammar rules.

But what about the i in iPhone or the e in eBay? Aren’t those registered brand names?

Do you write “iPhone prices will drop this fall” or “IPhone prices will drop this fall”? Continue

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Might vs May: Are They Interchangeable?

Do I use 'might' or 'may'?

If you have trouble deciding when to use might and when to use may, this post is for you.

As a writer and ruthless editor who strives for clarity, I prefer this clear distinction:

might implies possibility
Eric might go to the movie tonight.
(There is a possibility Eric will go to the movie.)

may implies permission
Eric may go to the movie tonight.
(Eric has permission to go to the movie.)

Yet I find multiple sources online that offer what I consider this unsatisfactory claim about the difference between might and may: Continue

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5 Tips for Better Emails

Are you receiving more emails with a subject line unrelated to the content of the message — or with no subject line at all?

A blog subscriber designs websites and provides tech support, a service for which she issues monthly invoices. She sometimes gets confirmation of invoice receipt.

Lately, she has begun to receive emails with “invoice” in the subject line because someone took a shortcut and used REPLY to send a new message that has nothing to do with the invoice she sent.

Her concern: If a client has an immediate problem but the subject line does not convey urgency, her response and a critical remedy might be delayed. Her desire to provide excellent customer service can be thwarted when a client fails to make clear the nature — and related importance — of a message. Therefore …

TIP 1: Make your topic clear in the SUBJECT field.

Continue

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Hey Millennials: Don’t Forget the Interview Thank-You Note

Millennials Say Thanks

Jason Busch

According to most age guidelines, Jason Busch qualifies as a millennial (born 1980s through 1990s).

That’s why I was so delighted to see his column, “The Power of a Thank-You Note,” in the April 2019 issue of In Business: Greater Madison (Wisconsin) magazine, where he is online editor.

You’ll find plenty of folks who believe that expressing thanks has gone out of style — especially the handwritten versions, and especially among young people.

Even Jason admits:
Continue

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Let’s Talk About Redundancies ‘Any’ and ‘Reason Why’

redundancies AS and REASON WHYRegular blog followers probably know how I feel about redundancies. In terms of language, redundant means unnecessary, not required or called for.

The best writing uses the fewest words to express a thought. That’s why I’m targeting both any and reason why in this post.

Any

Any is a determiner, a word that comes before a noun and indicates how much or how little of that noun is being considered.

There are times when any is appropriate. If you deleted any in these examples, they would sound awkward or incomplete:

Continue

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That vs. Which: When to Add Commas

Comma use seems to confuse almost everyone at some point.

Equally confusing for many is when to use that and when to use which when introducing extra information in a sentence. They aren’t interchangeable: which requires a set of commas, and that does not.

This post tackles both questions. Answers are based on whether the additional information is essential or nonessential to the meaning of your sentence. Continue

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Should ‘Such As’ Be Preceded By a Comma?

comma w/such asIf you visit online grammar forums, you know that the comma is the most asked-about punctuation mark.

If you get confused about comma use with such as, you have company: me!

Let’s look at some examples and some explanations.

Nonessential such as

Consider that we often use such as when we present an example of something:

  • Please paint red flowers.
  • Please paint red flowers, such as roses, poppies and tulips.
  • We’ll spend this year’s vacation traveling to an island country.
  • We’ll spend this year’s vacation traveling to an island country, such as Australia or New Zealand.
  • To become a competent blogger, you need to understand how to use punctuation marks.
  • To become a competent blogger, you need to understand how to use punctuation marks, such as apostrophes and commas.

Continue

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Twitter Grammar: Do You Tweet Out, Tweet In, or Just Plain Tweet?

tweet_or_tweet_out?A recent online post about tweeting caught my attention:

“I understand that tweet already means to send a message, but I am hearing tweet out more frequently. Isn’t tweet out a redundancy in the category of revert back, continue onrise up and drop down?”

As a ruthless editor sensitive to redundancies, I’ve had this question, too.

We see plenty of tweet out in politics and sports: Continue

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‘Democrat’ Party vs ‘Democratic’ Party and Other Political Terms

Democrat vs RepublicanAre you as overwhelmed as I am by our early start to the 2020 U.S. presidential election?

As if it’s not enough to be bombarded by nonstop media coverage of emerging candidates, constant emails are flooding my inbox, pleading for contributions to support our way-too-long election cycle.

Here’s a small but positive step we can take: Serve as good examples of how to talk and to write about political terms. Approach politics from a ruthless editor’s grammatical perspective.

You might want to start with a refresher on politics is or politics are. Continue

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