Definite Ideas About Definite and Indefinite Articles

Posted on Thursday, February 5, 2009, at 10:13 am

Take a look at this sentence from a restaurant review that was sent in by a reader: The restaurant operates with an efficiency and authority that defy the chaos in the pleasant but cramped room. Is it correct to use the indefinite article an in front of an abstract noun (efficiency)? If so, should we …

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Confusing Possessives

Posted on Thursday, December 11, 2008, at 7:00 pm

The Chicago Manual of Style lists the following holidays as singular possessives: Mother's Day, Father's Day, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day. Plural possessive is used for Presidents' Day. Your guess is as good as anyone's about Secretary's vs. Secretaries' vs. Secretaries Day and Boss's vs. Bosses' vs. Bosses Day. What would you do if …

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Writing Dates and Times

Posted on Sunday, August 24, 2008, at 11:24 pm

Please note: This original post from August 24, 2008, has been updated and replaced by a new version of Writing Dates and Times, published onĀ April 19, 2017. Rule: The following examples apply when using dates: The meeting is scheduled for June 30. The meeting is scheduled for the 30th of June. We have had tricks …

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Fractions, Decimals, and Money

Posted on Sunday, August 24, 2008, at 11:22 pm

Rule: Always spell out simple fractions and use hyphens with them. Example: One-half of the pies have been eaten. Rule: A mixed fraction can be expressed in figures unless it is the first word of a sentence. Example: We expect a 5 1/2 percent wage increase. Example: Five and one-half percent was the maximum allowable …

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The Power of Punctuation

Posted on Saturday, August 9, 2008, at 7:59 pm

If you question the necessity of punctuation, here is a story that should illustrate its power. A professor wrote on the chalkboard: A woman without her man is nothing. He asked students to correct any punctuation errors. While most of the male students saw nothing wrong with the sentence, most of the females rewrote the …

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