Category: Adjectives and Adverbs

To Split or Not To Split

Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013, at 12:45 pm

Not everyone knows what an infinitive is, but everyone uses them. Infinitives are formed when a verb is preceded by the word to, as in to run or to ask. Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” speech might be the most famous use of infinitives in English literature. One of the great misconceptions about …

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Words Can Be Bullies

Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013, at 6:53 pm

Words that start with the letter h don’t always act like it. Consider “herb,” when it means “an aromatic plant used for seasoning in cooking.” Americans dump the h, whereas many Brits pronounce it. So we say “an ’erb,” but an Englishman says “a herb.” A different sort of h-confusion happens when self-important speakers and …

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Leonard’s Ten Commandments

Posted on Monday, August 26, 2013, at 2:22 pm

The writer Elmore Leonard, who died last week at 87, was the master of hard-bitten prose. He started out as a pulp novelist, and went on to transcend the genre. Since the mid-1950s, more than forty of his works have been adapted for movies and TV, many of them featuring such A-listers as Paul Newman, …

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Basically, Why Your Cohort Isn’t Your Buddy

Posted on Saturday, June 15, 2013, at 12:38 pm

I received an e-mail from a fellow fussbudget deploring basically. He considers it meaningless and useless, and if you think about it, he has a point. Say any sentence with it and without it, and basically there’s no change in meaning (see?). Perhaps the most basic use of basically is as a promise to cut …

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Pronouncing the Word Blessed

Posted on Saturday, August 11, 2012, at 2:28 pm

We sometimes receive inquiries from readers regarding the proper way to pronounce blessed. The word blessed can be pronounced in two different ways according to its part of speech in the sentence. Rule 1. When blessed is used as a verb, it is pronounced with one syllable (blest). Example: Before we ate, our uncle Tony blessed [blest] the …

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