Category: Effective Writing

More Mangled Language and Pompous Usages to Avoid

Posted on Tuesday, August 14, 2018, at 11:00 pm

This column is mostly concerned about the written word, but even so, pronunciation will inevitably enter the picture from time to time. The expressions chomping at the bit and stomping ground are both corruptions of the original champing and stamping. People find this incredible. But, for instance, consult the 1961 cult-favorite western film One-Eyed Jacks, …

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Don’t End a Sentence with a Preposition—Where Did This Myth Come From?

Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, at 11:00 pm

We’ve written a newsletter article about it (Problems with Prepositions), and in Rule 1 of Prepositions we state, “One of the undying myths of English grammar is that you may not end a sentence with a preposition.” Yet, we still receive admonitions from well-meaning readers who think we've made an error when ending a sentence with a …

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I Can’t Not Write This

Posted on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, at 11:00 pm

Did something like this happen to you back in grade school? Some little miscreant is reprimanded by the teacher, whereupon the kid protests: “I didn’t do nothin’!” And faster than you can say “teachable moment,” the teacher says, “Now, Billy, you mean you didn’t do anything. When you say you didn’t do nothing, that means …

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Figuring Out the Trick Behind [sic]

Posted on Tuesday, May 29, 2018, at 11:00 pm

We’ve all seen it at some point when reading: a three-letter package in brackets. It follows text to draw attention to or make a point about it. We’re talking about [sic]. What is it—and when do we accurately use it? Fowler’s Modern English Usage explains that sic is Latin for “so, thus.” It is a complete word and …

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The Word Nerd: Six Pitfalls Writers (and Others) Should Avoid

Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2018, at 11:00 pm

That’s right, I admit it. I’m a word nerd. I pick, pick, pick at the way you express yourself. Despite protests of apathy, people of all ages care about how well they express themselves. Deep down, everyone likes to be right about language, and you can even hear little kids teasing each other about talking …

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