Tag Archives: less vs fewer

As Language Evolves, Should You Follow The Trends?

dictionary_new_wordsLanguage continually evolves. At this time of year in particular, we consider words that have emerged to describe new fields, new products or new phenomena.

The Oxford English Dictionary listed 1,346 new words as of September 2016. Yikes!

nws.merriam-webster.com has introduced new words and slang from 2016. Submitted by the public, some are clever and useful, others are simply silly, and some are grammatically unsound.
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Got Grammar Pet Peeves? You’re Not Alone

annoyed_grammar_pet_peevesI invited those of you on my email list to share your grammar pet peeves, and the results are in!

First: What is grammar? Grammar encompasses the words we choose and how we punctuate them — how we string them together.

Words give our sentences meaning, and punctuation marks tell us when to pause or stop, when to raise our voice or show emotion, when we’re asking a question versus making a statement.

Here are your pet peeves: ways others speak and write that you find annoying. They’re alphabetized so you can skim and select what interests or resonates with you. I’ve commented here and there and added examples. Continue

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Misused Words: Did I Just Say That?!

man grimacing

I commented recently to a writer/editor friend that I have long considered there’s the most misused word in the English language. She gave me a puzzled look, as if to disagree but lacking evidence.

I could fill this page — or maybe a book! — with examples. Consider this sampling from weather forecasters to legislators, from financial specialists to everyday people. Continue

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Headline Errors Hurt Writer’s Credibility

Grammar in headlinesI consider writing headlines an art form.

A headline should grab attention and draw in the reader. It also should be an accurate portrayal of what’s to come. Hyperbole — bait and switch, so to speak — can be a turnoff.

You can write your headline at the start, before you pull your content together, using it to keep you on target.

Or you can write your headline as you finish, reflecting on and summarizing your topic in a few words that invite your reader to continue.

A headline is the worst place to misspell a word or make a grammar faux pas. It signals either lack of knowledge or lack of attention to detail. Either hurts your credibility as a writer. Continue

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From Crest to Ford: Bad Ad Grammar

Woman brushing teeth - should advertisors use proper grammar?Should ad agencies pay attention to grammar? If you hear something that grates on your ear, does that grating extend to the product?

Crest toothpaste is running an ad that features a young woman who used to think all toothpastes were, as she claims, “pretty much the same. But then my husband started getting better checkups than me.”

Than me? She no doubt is parroting what the ad agency’s script says, but does her statement follow guidelines of standard grammar?

Here’s how you can tell: Carry the sentence just two words further to add the implied comparison. Continue

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End-of-Year Potpourri

Potpourri ingredients - a bit of this and that smell nice, but bad grammar stinksPotpourri (pronounced poe-pur-REE) is a mixture, most commonly of dried flower petals and spices, valued for its fragrance. However, it also can be a musical medley, a collection of miscellaneous literary extracts — or any mixture, especially of unrelated objects, subjects, etc.

This post is a mixture of words, although perhaps not quite “literary extracts.” It is a collection of things I have heard or read since my last post, and it exemplifies why I consider myself a ruthless editor, why I blog, and why I write a monthly column about grammar. Continue

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