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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The Haves and the Have Gots

Posted on Tuesday, July 19, 2016, at 11:02 am

In a recent post we bemoaned the widespread overuse of surreal: “Why keep regurgitating surreal when something atypical happens—is that all you’ve got?” A reader found the sentence objectionable: “Really? ‘is that all you’ve got?’ How about ‘all you have’?” His email insinuated that “all you’ve got” is unacceptable English. Many grammar mavens down through …

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Spell Check

Posted on Wednesday, July 13, 2016, at 7:36 pm

An online company’s research department has revealed the top misspelled word in each state, based on search-engine queries. In Iowa and Kentucky the chief troublemaker is maintenance. Arkansas and Utah apparently can’t spell leprechaun—but why would Arkansas and Utah want to? For irony aficionados: drought-plagued California’s top misspelled word is desert. Florida struggles with tomorrow …

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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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