Dangling Phrases and Clauses

Posted on Sunday, March 30, 2008, at 5:35 pm

When phrases or clauses are misplaced in a sentence, such that they don’t agree with the subject, sometimes funny or even embarrassing meanings and images will result. Danglers are difficult for us to spot when we write them because we can’t always see that what we have written is not what we meant to express. …

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Abbreviations vs. Acronyms vs. Initialisms

Posted on Monday, March 17, 2008, at 10:06 pm

Dictionaries don’t all agree on the definitions of these words and neither do style manuals. So we will attempt to shed more light on the distinctions. Abbreviations According to Dictionary.com, an abbreviation is a shortened or contracted form of a word or phrase, used to represent the whole, as Dr. for Doctor, U.S. for United …

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The Subjunctive Mood

Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2008, at 3:24 am

An e-newsletter fan came across this sentence: If I were very lucky, I would get the chance to go. She asked, “Shouldn’t I be followed by was, not were, since I is singular?” Let us answer that by asking you a question: Are you old enough to remember the ad jingle that began, “I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener …”? These …

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Some Confusing Words

Posted on Monday, March 3, 2008, at 7:13 pm

We have many words in the English language that have subtle differences between them. If you know these differences, you will be confident that you are conveying the meaning you intend. The five sets of confusing words we will cover today are: Adverse vs. Averse Uninterested vs. Disinterested Suppose vs. Supposed Oriented vs. Orientated Democratic …

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Titles of Books, Plays, Articles, etc.: Underline? Italics? Quotation Marks?

Posted on Wednesday, January 30, 2008, at 2:33 am

Prior to computers, people were taught to underline titles of books and plays and to surround chapters, articles, songs, and other shorter works in quotation marks. However, here is what The Chicago Manual of Style says: When quoted in text or listed in a bibliography, titles of books, journals, plays, and other freestanding works are …

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