Category: Uncategorized

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 …

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Confessions of a Guerrilla Grammarian

Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2016, at 10:01 am

I was on a mission. It was dicey. It was bold. It had cloak-and-dagger undertones, although the weather was too balmy for a cloak, and rather than a sharp weapon I was wielding a Sharpie Permanent Marker. Let me set the scene. I live in a charming little tourist trap in Northern California. A couple …

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Autoantonyms Speak with a Forked Tongue

Posted on Thursday, March 31, 2016, at 7:29 am

An autoantonym (pronounced auto-ANTA-nim) is a word with two opposite meanings. A familiar example is the Hawaiian word aloha, which means both “hello” and “goodbye.” Autoantonyms (also known as contranyms, contronyms, and Janus words) are not rare. We see, hear, and use them all the time. Too often, miscommunication ensues. It’s awful when you think you said “purple” but the whole world …

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No Question About It

Posted on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, at 3:59 pm

Let’s see if you can spot what is wrong with this sentence? On closer inspection, most of you will see that the sentence should end in a period rather than a question mark. Question marks are used only with direct questions. The sentence above certainly contains a direct question: what is wrong with this sentence? …

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Words in Flux

Posted on Wednesday, February 17, 2016, at 9:30 am

The words we’ll examine today highlight the rift between language purists and less-fussy people who just want to get their point across. You probably can guess which side we are on. Podium  This word might not mean what you think it means. A podium is not a stand with a slanted top for notes or …

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