Tag Archives: right vs wrong words

‘As Long As’ or ‘So Long As’ … What’s the Difference?

man presents giftIs there a grammar rule that applies to as long as and so long as?

Which of these do you consider correct?

“He can join us as long as he brings a gift to exchange.”
“He can join us so long as he brings a gift to exchange.”

When using as long as or so long as to imply something conditional — He can join us if he brings a gift to exchange — both are correct.

But the three-word phrases are not interchangeable in all constructions. Here are five ways to use as long as: 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.

Continue

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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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Is ‘Ones’ a Valid Word?

www.RuthlessEditor.comIf one is defined as being or amounting to a single unit, how can the plural form ones be a valid word?

We recognize one when appropriately used as a personal pronoun referring to an individual or people in general:

One never knows how much good comes from a kind deed.

One should not drink and drive.

One also has a possessive form:

One’s home is one’s castle.

One’s health is more important than one’s wealth.

Yet enwiktionary.org defines ones as the plural of one.

Huh?

I’ve noticed ones in a number of online news reports, and I’m puzzled — and discouraged — by its use. Here are examples and my suggestions for rewrites: Continue

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Your English Teacher Was Wrong: You MAY Start a Sentence with And, But, So

www.RuthlessEditor.comA new academic year begins soon. As students of all ages head back to school, many will work on developing or fine-tuning their writing skills.

Different teachers will have different expectations — and different grammar rules. Some will claim that you shouldn’t start a sentence with And, But or So.

Is that a valid edict? It depends.

And, but and so serve as conjunctions; they’re joiners.

As such, they can be the perfect transition between one thought and another when your writing has an informal tone. Continue

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Confused by Anxious vs Eager, Bad vs Badly, Fewer vs Less, Good vs Well, It vs It’s? Read this post!

www.RuthlessEditor.comIs he anxious, or is he eager?

Does she feel bad, or does she feel badly?

I’ve written many times about misused words, but requests continue from friends, colleagues and blog subscribers to remind people of these common errors.

If you’re one who needs reminding, this post is for you! Continue

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Bespoke: Verb? Adjective? Everyday Word?

www.RuthlessEditor.comYou know as well as I do that English can be an odd — and challenging — language. You’ve probably seen lists of “weird English“: words whose meanings are convoluted from what we might expect:

We take English for granted. But if we export its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and guinea pigs are neither from Guinea nor are they pigs.

And why is it that writers write, but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce, and hammers don’t ham?

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, two geese. So one moose, two meese? Is cheese the plural of choose?

One mouse, two mice. One louse, two lice. One house, two hice? Continue

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‘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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