In Behalf Of vs. On Behalf Of

Posted on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at 3:24 pm

Sometimes in writing and speaking we arrive at a phrase that forms a fork in the road to expression. Ideally, we can distinguish one path from the other, even if by subtlety. Other forks pose a greater challenge. Each way looks the same, and the sounds from both are familiar. We pick our path and …

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Proper Prepositional Pairing

Posted on Wednesday, June 7, 2017, at 8:23 am

Like any other language, English functions best when its parts are correctly connected. During grammatical evolution, parts of speech have bonded with certain prepositions for concise expression. An exacting writer observes these couplings and upholds their intended use and integrity. The noun “affinity” (a natural connection or attraction to a person or thing) is but …

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Media Watch

Posted on Monday, May 29, 2017, at 2:43 pm

These articles used to be a lot more fun to write, but that was before newspapers and magazines went on life support. Mainly, we do “Media Watch” for the copy editors, those unsung word nerds who make journalists watch what they say and how they say it. When companies struggle, they downsize, so we shudder …

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Word Choice: Small Is Still Better Than Big

Posted on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, at 4:26 pm

The true size of the English language is often debated and probably impossible to determine. Those who do try to quote the count tend to agree that English includes about 250,000 to 300,000 distinctly usable words. The second edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary (2009) comprises 171,476 words in current use; 47,156 obsolete words; …

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When to Add s to a Verb

Posted on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, at 3:08 pm

If you feel confident about forming plurals in English by adding an s or es at the end of the word, we're about to make you feel a little wobbly. Although most noun plurals are formed this way, only verbs with a third-person singular noun or pronoun (he, she, boat, courage) as a subject ever have …

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