Category: Singular vs. Plural

How Can They Be Singular?

Posted on Tuesday, June 2, 2015, at 1:04 pm

Which of the following sentences is incorrect: A) It’s enough to drive anyone out of his senses. B) It’s enough to drive anyone out of his or her senses. C) It’s enough to drive anyone out of their senses. Those who consider themselves “old school” would likely consider C incorrect: their is plural but its antecedent, …

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What Kind of Rule Is Usually?

Posted on Tuesday, May 19, 2015, at 2:38 pm

A thought-provoking inquiry showed up recently in our inbox: I can’t decide which verb is correct in sentences like the following. Would I write There are three kilograms of flour in the kitchen or There is three kilograms of flour in the kitchen? Two meters of fabric is here or Two meters of fabric are …

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A Twenty-first Century Usage Guide

Posted on Tuesday, May 12, 2015, at 9:57 pm

Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words by best-selling writer-editor Bill Bryson offers serious scholarship with a smooth, light touch. It’s a hard book to stop reading once you’ve opened it. We have a lot of other reference books in our offices, but the most recent of those came out in 1983. That was way back in …

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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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Rules, Policies, and Judgment Calls

Posted on Tuesday, February 10, 2015, at 4:23 pm

Readers seemed to enjoy “Are Two r’s One Too Many?” our column about the pronunciation of February. But we also received a few emails like this one: “Why on earth is there an apostrophe in the title??” We understand the reader’s concern. Starting in grade school, English teachers rail against sentences like “Banana’s make good snack’s.” Students …

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