Nothing Poetic About This Verse

Posted on Tuesday, August 23, 2016, at 4:42 pm

Have you noticed how the abbreviation vs., meaning “against,” is pronounced these days? People read “Serbia vs. USA for the Gold Medal” and say “Serbia verse USA.” Yes, “verse”—one syllable—although vs. stands for versus here. That’s “verse-uss”—two syllables. When we hear this gaffe over the airwaves, are we imagining things or do the announcers sound …

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Media Watch

Posted on Monday, August 15, 2016, at 5:26 pm

The following are less-than-exemplary snippets from recent newspapers and magazines … • “The suspect was linked to at least nine different bank robberies.” Why not just “nine bank robberies”? It would be interesting to know what compelled the writer to add “different.” However, this sentence is not a total loss; it could be shown to …

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More Fun with Irregular Verbs

Posted on Monday, August 8, 2016, at 6:41 pm

“In the past, they have not went if it was out of the country.” So spoke a poised, informed young woman last week on a political talk show. And this was no anomaly. Abuse of irregular verbs is sweeping the nation—so much so that some readers will see nothing wrong with the sentence quoted above. …

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Arcane Words and the “Intuitive” Reader

Posted on Tuesday, August 2, 2016, at 10:47 am

Serious readers, when they are reading literature they consider important, routinely look up any words they do not know. But there are also “intuitive” readers, who consider themselves of sufficient wisdom to figure out a word just by reading the sentence and trusting their life experience and common sense to grasp the writer’s meaning. Today …

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A Sportswriter Cries “Foul!”

Posted on Tuesday, July 26, 2016, at 1:30 pm

by Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist The hyphens are coming, and beware—they’re taking over. Commas, not so much. Commas have gone extinct. These are a couple of my pet peeves when it comes to grammatical violations in print. More on that later. In the meantime: Somehow, a guy named Al showed up in …

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