Category: Effective Writing

Might You Mean May?

Posted on Tuesday, May 31, 2016, at 4:43 pm

What is the difference between may and might? There may have been a clear difference long ago, and there still might be a difference in some sticklers’ minds, but today the two verbs are, with few exceptions, interchangeable. Grammarians tell us that might is the past tense of may, but that fact, while interesting, does …

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A Couple of Things, and a Couple More

Posted on Wednesday, May 25, 2016, at 9:03 am

The word couple literally means “two,” but it is often used to mean “an indefinite small number.” So if you were to say, “I only have a couple of dollars,” you would probably not be called out if you really had three or four. However, your friend the grammar stickler might take exception if you said you …

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Media Watch

Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2016, at 7:46 am

Here is another set of recent flubs and fumbles from usually dependable journalists. • “Yet my relationship with the game was simple and uncomplicated.” How did this one get by the editors? One of those two adjectives has to go. • “He is accused of fleeing to London in March while owing more than $1 …

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The Only Truth

Posted on Wednesday, May 4, 2016, at 7:50 am

A few readers took issue with the title of last week’s article, “Pronunciation Only Matters When You Speak.” They said “Only” should go after “Matters,” not before. To which we reply: ugh. “Pronunciation Matters Only When You Speak” is too stilted, too mannered. Our title places only where you usually find it: before the verb. There is …

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The Rise and Fall of Vogue Words

Posted on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, at 7:54 pm

In the last two weeks, on various radio and television programs, I have heard the word granular used no less than five times, in sentences like “The commission was hoping for a granular analysis of the problem.” The word got my attention, but I didn’t know what it was supposed to mean. All I knew …

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