Category: Definitions

What Is a Gerund and Why Care?

Posted on Tuesday, December 11, 2018, at 11:00 pm

What is a gerund and why do you need to know? Maybe it would be better to answer the second part of the question first so that you have some motivation to identify gerunds. If you are able to pick the gerund(s) out in your sentence, you will avoid a grammar gaffe that often goes …

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Basically, Why Your Cohort Isn’t Your Buddy

Posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2018, at 11:00 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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Exploring Some English Miscellany

Posted on Tuesday, November 13, 2018, at 11:00 pm

American English offers us plenty to consider, discuss, and define. Some items warrant their own full and separate treatment; others gather as grammatical bits to be captured and held up like fireflies in a jar. We’ve collected another group of these linguistic lightning bugs to arrive at more direction for concise and careful writing. Let’s …

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Orwell and Newspeak

Posted on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, at 11:00 pm

It’s not just professors and snobs who deplore the decline of English. The great essayist and novelist George Orwell (1903-50) had much to say about the corruption of language—and how it enables tyranny. The warning was clear: a distracted populace with diminished reading, writing, and speaking skills is vulnerable. Orwell’s 1984, published in 1949, is …

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Clarifying the Conditional Tense

Posted on Tuesday, October 30, 2018, at 11:00 pm

The conditional tense—also sometimes referred to as the conditional mood—communicates what happens, will happen, might have happened, or would have happened if we do, will do, or did do something. The situation described can be real or imaginary; in either case, an action relies on something else (a condition). For that reason, most English sentences …

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