Category: Vocabulary

A Fine Distinction

Posted on Tuesday, February 7, 2017, at 11:57 pm

How valid can a rule be if nobody knows or cares about it anymore? That all depends on what the definition of “nobody” is. A lot of people I’ve been around seem to feel “nobody” applies to just about everybody 15-plus years younger or older than they are. Generational outcasts—the nerds, wonks, and misfits—also get …

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Year-End Quiz

Posted on Wednesday, January 4, 2017, at 1:53 pm

To say goodbye to 2016 we have put together a comprehensive pop quiz based on the year’s GrammarBook.com grammar posts. The quiz comprises twenty-three sentences that may—or may not—need fixing plus two multiple-choice questions. Think you can fix the ones that need help? You’ll find our answers directly below the quiz. Each answer includes, for …

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Go Trendy, Stay Alive

Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2016, at 11:09 am

Americans used to love their newspapers and magazines. Now a whole generation regards them as quaint curiosities. Here’s a day in the life of a late-twentieth-century big-city newspaper: “The newsroom was packed with reporters keeping very close watch on every institution in town. They had two reporters covering city hall, three reporters covering the police …

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The G-Rated Truth

Posted on Monday, November 7, 2016, at 11:16 am

Euphemisms put a happy face on the world’s brutishness. When a player is laid out by a ferocious hit in a football game, announcers downplay it with a cheerful “He really got his bell rung.” We had a Department of War from the eighteenth century until the late 1940s. Then it was renamed the Department …

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Big Words We Can Use

Posted on Wednesday, October 26, 2016, at 3:35 pm

To many Americans, big words are an affront. People who use fancy words are trying to show us up, flaunting their education and intelligence, rubbing our noses in our own shortcomings. It’s true there are people who use their vocabularies to intimidate. It’s a shabby tactic, and it’s sad how effective it can be. Many …

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