Tag Archives: right vs wrong words

News Flash: Yesssss! You MAY Split Your Infinitives!

Knowing how I follow developments in the grammar universe, a colleague sent me a recent article from The Economist, a British publication with international coverage and subscribers.

Started in Scotland in 1843, The Economist now claims a reputation for “a distinctive blend of news based on fact, and analysis incorporating The Economist’s perspective.”

The change in The Economist’s style guide that warranted my colleague’s attention relates to the use of infinitives. The editors have declared — at long last — that infinitives may indeed be split. 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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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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‘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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