Commas Before and in a Series

Posted on Tuesday, September 25, 2018, at 11:00 pm

Many of you no doubt saw the news last week that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joined our ranks of fellow grammar watchdogs when he issued instructions to his staff on the proper use of commas. According to an internal State Department email given to CNN, “The Secretary has underscored the need for appropriate …

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Still on the Stakeout for Worn-Out Words and Phrases

Posted on Tuesday, September 18, 2018, at 11:00 pm

Last year we waded into the weeds of worn-out words and phrases: the verbal components that appear fresh and assimilate well in language until their nature is revealed. At first they might look just like the grass that surrounds them, but in time they disrupt communication with buzz words and catch phrases that impose on …

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When Jumble Fumbles

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

I may be a word nerd, but I don’t go in for word games. I’ve never been a Scrabble guy and crossword puzzles leave me cold. But I have a weakness for Jumble, a game that since the 1950s has been a daily feature in newspapers from coast to coast. When I started playing it, …

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Arranging Multiple Adjectives

Posted on Tuesday, September 4, 2018, at 11:00 pm

We know an adjective is a word that describes or modifies a noun. We also know that in English adjectives almost always precede their noun, unlike languages such as Spanish and French, in which adjectives more commonly can be placed either before or after a noun depending on their function or emphasis. Understanding adjectives’ position …

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In and of Itself, Continual vs. Continuous

Posted on Tuesday, August 28, 2018, at 11:00 pm

In this week’s newsletter we’ll review two classic topics that continually draw comments from our readers. In and of Itself To many people, the phrase in and of itself sounds clunky and old-fashioned. However, when used sparingly—and correctly—it serves a purpose. Example: The weather was not, in and of itself, the cause of the traffic …

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