Category: Adjectives and Adverbs

You Can Say That Again

Posted on Tuesday, September 22, 2015, at 7:35 pm

Because English is so unpredictable, it’s often impossible to infer a word’s pronunciation from its spelling. Dictionaries help, to a point. But dictionaries often seem all too willing to penalize time-honored pronunciations after a word gets mispronounced by a sufficient number of people. So here is another in our series of pronunciation columns. The words …

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Media Watch

Posted on Tuesday, August 4, 2015, at 7:19 pm

Here is another assemblage of less than shining achievements in journalism. • From a review of a movie about a ninety-three-year-old designer: “She makes no attempt to deny the pains and rigors of life in her ninth decade.” Let’s see now, a three-year-old is in her first decade; a thirteen-year-old is in her second decade; …

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Irregular Verbs Can Be a Regular Pain

Posted on Tuesday, July 7, 2015, at 4:05 pm

English verbs are either regular or irregular. We call a verb regular when we add ed (wanted, looked) or sometimes just d (created, loved) to form what are called the simple past tense and the past participle (see third and fourth paragraphs below). A regular verb’s simple past tense and past participle are always identical. …

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Rewriting Great Poetry

Posted on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, at 3:30 pm

The twentieth century produced no greater poet than Dylan Thomas (1914-1953). And Thomas produced no poem more powerful or impassioned than “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.” You read that right: Thomas said “gentle,” not “gently.” In the poem Thomas exhorts his dying father not to be meek when facing the end, but …

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Evolution or …?

Posted on Tuesday, April 21, 2015, at 10:13 am

Today we’ll home in on three examples of the English language’s capriciousness. Self-deprecating  Few contemporary writers would hesitate to use self-deprecating to describe someone who is refreshingly humble. But the term’s wide acceptance is yet another triumph of the slobs over the snobs. Technically, the correct term is self-depreciating. Although deprecate and depreciate appear almost identical, these words have different roots, and …

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