Tag Archives: misused words

Headline Lessons: Contractions, Redundancies, Verb Forms

HeadlinesToday is a holiday in the U.S. — The Fourth of July (Independence Day) — so many of you probably are not in your office or at your computer.

But my email list is not limited to U.S. residents, so I went to my latest collection of headlines to develop a post for those of you who are toiling through this American holiday.

Headlines and the grammar lessons they teach

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The Difference Between Whether, Whether or Not, and If

A blog subscriber wrote to ask about whether, wondering if there is a difference between whether and whether or not.

What a coincidence that I had looked this up not long ago! As I often say, if you have a question about grammar, there probably are others who have the same question.

The answer to this query is not straightforward or absolute. The broader question is when should you use whether, when should you use if, and should you ever use whether or not? Here are explanations and examples. Continue

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When to Say ‘the’ (thuh), When to Say ‘the’ (thee)

Have you noticed how many people do not differentiate the sound of the (thuh) and the (thee)? I have.

It was mentioned as a grammar pet peeve by a blog follower in 2016.

When I hear someone say “thuh only thing … thuh other side … thuh arrival time … thuh entrance,” I consider it a bit clunky, awkward or unrefined. Such pronunciation might not reflect well on the speaker in some circles. Continue

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Honoring Barbara Bush: Weigh Every Word for Nuance, Connotation

Wikipedia Commons

A physician advocate for palliative care and dying with dignity posted a blog about Barbara Bush soon after her death. He wrote:

Dignity comes in all shapes and sizes, yet the key to Mrs. Bush’s dying with dignity was her final decision to not return to the hospital.

He also honored the matriarch of the Bush family with these words: Continue

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Splish, Splash … How to Use the Slash

We all recognize the slash (/) as an integral part of a URL, the Uniform Resource Locater affiliated with website addresses: http://www.RuthlessEditor.com

The slash has other useful applications in personal and business writing, and it has other names: solidus, slant, diagonal, virgule, forward slash, front slash, oblique stroke, shill.

The slash generally does not require a space on either side of it. (Exception: when used to show separate lines of poetry, songs or plays.*)

Here’s how and where to use the slash appropriately. Continue

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Grammar: Why You Should Do This, Not That

Grammar Matters!What is grammar? It encompasses the words you choose, how you string them together, and how you punctuate them to give them meaning.

To recognize National Grammar Day, which this year falls on March 4, the following post examines 11 sentences that demonstrate why grammar matters. I point out the grammatical errors in each and offer a suggested rewrite.

Examples are the best teachers. Continue

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From Memorialize to Curate, Curator, Curation: What Do They Mean?

Have you noticed how often you’ve heard memorialize lately?

It has emerged primarily in the context of former FBI Director James Comey’s having made a written record of — in other words, memorializing — his conversations with President Donald Trump.

Many words in the English language have more than one meaning — or shades of meaning — depending on context.

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Grammar Rules Worth Breaking? You Decide

couple_disagree_grammarA former colleague sent me a link to Grammar Rules You Should Break in Business by Steve Yastrow. I agree with some of Yastrow’s suggestions and disagree with others.

What do you think?

Where We Agree, Disagree

Yastrow begins, “A language works according to a shared set of understood rules, which change over time as language evolves.” Continue

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What’s the Difference Between Optimum and Optimal?

Optimum versus optimal: Are they interchangeable?

I say no, but not everyone agrees.

I discussed the difference in a February 15, 2015, post that followed the Super Bowl that year. Because I always ask new blog subscribers how they found me, and because I continue to get mentions of that optimum versus optimal post, I’m covering the topic again. Continue

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Mid-size, Midsize or Midsized: How to Decide?

www.RuthlessEditor.comWhen you’re describing a company that is neither large nor small, what’s the proper way to express it?

  • a mid-size company
  • a midsize company
  • a mid-sized company
  • a midsized company

According to my primary and preferred reference, The Associated Press Stylebook, midsized company is preferred. Part of the reason might be the tendency to avoid hyphens in words with prefixes:

coexist | nonfiction | paralegal | prenatal | semifinal | midsize(d)

Another source, Daily Writing Tips, considers midsize (not midsized) correct, agreeing with AP on omitting hyphens after prefixes. Continue

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