Category: Adjectives and Adverbs

Words Can Be Bullies

Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2017, at 2:03 pm

Words that start with the letter h don’t always act like it. Consider “herb,” when it means “an aromatic plant used for seasoning in cooking.” Americans dump the h, whereas many Brits pronounce it. So we say “an ’erb,” but an Englishman says “a herb.” A different sort of h-confusion happens when self-important speakers and …

Read More

Verbal Illusions

Posted on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, at 7:05 pm

During a recent gubernatorial campaign, a reporter asked a local to comment on one of the candidates. The reply: “I can’t say too much good about him.” Someone reading that might conclude the statement was negative, but anyone listening knew it was just the opposite. From the way he said it, the man clearly meant, …

Read More

You Can’t Coin What’s Already Coined

Posted on Tuesday, September 20, 2016, at 12:24 pm

Sometimes you hear statements like this: They threw him under the bus, to coin a phrase or To coin a phrase, he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Those who say such things do not understand coin a phrase. You cannot coin a phrase that other people have already used. When you use phrases …

Read More

Hyphens: We Miss Them When They’re Gone

Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2016, at 2:33 pm

Most people ignore hyphens. Those who don’t ignore them often misuse them. “Nothing gives away the incompetent amateur more quickly than the typescript that neglects this mark of punctuation or that employs it where it is not wanted,” wrote the language scholar Wilson Follett. The writer-editor Theodore M. Bernstein was more sympathetic: “The world of …

Read More

Small Dishes

Posted on Tuesday, July 5, 2016, at 1:07 pm

• Here is the type of sentence that makes grammar sticklers crazy: one of the students forgot to bring their lunch. You probably know this old tune: laissez-faire scholars and editors say the sentence is just fine, whereas nitpickers demand a rewrite because one is singular and their is plural. Things took a turn in …

Read More

1 2 3 4 8