Tag Archives: right vs wrong words

‘Icky’ Words — Politics, Ethics, Optics — and Their Verbs

www.RuthlessEditor.comYou’d have a hard time finding a news report these days that doesn’t include the word politics. Ethics and optics often aren’t far behind.

But which is correct:

Politics are in the news every day.

Politics is in the news every day.

Here’s how you determine whether to use the singular verb is or the plural form are with politics and other ics words. Continue

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Can, May, Might: How Do They Differ?

www.RuthlessEditor.comMany of us learned either at home or early in our school days that there is a difference between can and may:

Can you (do you have the ability to) have your book report done by noon?

May I (do I have your permission to) read your book report to the class?

According to merriam-webster.com, can still is the verb of choice for ability, but both can and may are acceptable to express permission. Continue

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How ‘In Behalf of’ Differs from ‘On Behalf of’

www.RuthlessEditor.comI’ve wondered from time to time about the difference between in behalf of and on behalf of. This recent post from Daily Writing Tips on GrammarBook.com sheds light on the nuance of difference between them.

In Behalf of vs. on Behalf of
Sometimes in writing and speaking we arrive at a phrase that forms a fork in the road to expression. Ideally, we can distinguish one path from the other, even if by subtlety.

Other forks pose a greater challenge. Each way looks the same, and the sounds from both are familiar. We pick our path and hope for the best, making our choice a 50-50 gamble. Continue

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3 Tips to Solve the Who vs. Whom Dilemma

www.RuthlessEditor.comFewer and fewer people seem to recognize when to use who and when to use whom. Have who and whom become interchangeable? 

It depends on whom you ask.

There still are people who value grammatical correctness, and there still are those who will judge you for not knowing the difference between who and whom.

These three tips will help those who care but get confused:

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Expanded Use of ‘Concerning’ is Disconcerting

www.RuthlessEditor.comI hate to be considered an inflexible, grumpy grammarian.

That’s why I’m working on controlling my irritation with the expanding use of concerning to mean something that is worrisome or unsettling.

There is so much going on in our country and our world that people are worried about, we hear this is concerning, that is concerning … ad infinitum. Continue

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Verbal Tic ‘So’ Considered Annoying, Overused

www.RuthlessEditor.comSo, here’s how this blog came to be:

A blog subscriber asked if I had noticed how widely “so” is being used, especially to start a spoken sentence.

When I Googled “overuse of so,” this headline appeared on my screen:

So, let’s bid farewell to 2016’s most annoying and overused word

It was followed by a subhead:

So, we undertook this research and we discovered the following … Continue

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Pre-existing or Preexisting, Health Care or Healthcare: Which Is Right?

www.RuthlessEditor.comPre-existing (or is it preexisting?) conditions and health care (or is it healthcare?) have taken over headlines and are dominating conversations across the country.

What is the grammatically correct way to express these words in writing?

My foremost source, The Associated Press Stylebook, prefers pre-existing with a hyphen, explaining: Continue

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Graduation Grammar: Alumn, Cum Laude, Emeritus … And More

www.RuthlessEditor.comSpring brings graduations, along with confusion about use and misuse of related terms. Let’s clear up a few.

Do you say: “Seth graduated Harvard University last week.”

What about: “Becca will graduate Clemmons High School in May.”

Neither is correct. Why? Continue

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Filet Or Fillet? Choose Your Word Or Cut Of Meat

www.RuthlessEditor.comWhen a blog subscriber asked about the difference between filet and fillet, both of which she sees at supermarkets and on restaurant menus, I had to admit I didn’t know if there was one.

I’m no Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray. My friends know the kitchen is not my favorite room.

However, I have had a few classes in French. Here’s my attempt to bring clarification to the difference between filet and fillet, which is minimal. Continue

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Ignore Noun/Pronoun Agreement For Gender Neutrality? Count Me Out!

www.RuthlessEditor.comThe Associated Press Stylebook, my first choice among style guides and grammar reference manuals, rocked the writing world when it announced it was giving the green light to using the plural pronoun “they” with a singular noun.

AP explains:

They, them, their … In stories about people who identify as neither male nor female or ask not to be referred to as he/she/him/her: Use the person’s name in place of a pronoun, or otherwise reword the sentence, whenever possible. If they/them/their use is essential, explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun. Be sure that the phrasing does not imply more than one person …

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