Category: Pronouns

Media Watch

Posted on Tuesday, February 17, 2015, at 3:23 pm

Here is another batch of fizzles and fumbles from dailies and periodicals. • Headline for an editorial: “Let he who is without spin.” It’s clever, it’s glib, it’s … a disaster. It’s supposed to be a twist on a well-known biblical verse, but that verse is routinely misquoted. Many people believe it goes like this: …

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Resolutions for Word Nerds

Posted on Tuesday, January 6, 2015, at 4:01 pm

Below you’ll find ten New Year’s resolutions for self-appointed guardians of the English language. We are a group that needs its own code of ethics to protect us from ourselves and shield others from our self-righteousness. So let’s get right to … The Stickler’s Ten Commandments 1) No using big words to intimidate. You can’t beat …

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Rules and Preferences

Posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2014, at 1:09 pm

There were fervent protests from readers reacting to “Old Superstitions Die Hard.” The article established that the relative pronoun that refers to people as well as to things and has done so for centuries. Never was an essay more aptly named. “I don’t care what all of your quoted sources say,” wrote a fiery businesswoman. …

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Old Superstitions Die Hard

Posted on Tuesday, September 9, 2014, at 4:15 pm

People that try hard usually succeed. Is that sentence grammatical? Some nitpickers say the relative pronoun that should never refer to humans. Here is an interesting piece of mail that arrived recently: Please review your “rule” about the use of “who” and “that” when referring to persons. The use of “that” when referring to people …

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Based Off Is Off Base

Posted on Monday, June 23, 2014, at 4:13 pm

Enough is enough. It’s time to blow the whistle on an obnoxious faux idiom that has the popular culture under its spell. The offending usage is based off and its alternate form, based off of. Both are everywhere. One hears and sees them constantly over the airwaves, in print, and online. A Google search yields …

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