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In January, I took part in an interesting discussion on Twitter. Washington Post copyeditor Bill Walsh posted a headline: "Hole-in-the-walls: East, west, and downtown, 19 named." He asked, "Would you take your sister-in-laws to such a place?"  Continue reading...
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Language allows us to communicate the ideas in our heads with other people. It is a main way we connect with the world around us. Because of that, language becomes very personal to each user. We form affinities for individual words because of what they mean to us.  Continue reading...
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Parallelism is something copyeditors obsess about and writers take little notice of. If we could meet in the middle, our sentences would be a lot happier. Parallelism is no more than matching parts of a sentence or multiple sentences grammatically. It creates balance and rhythm in the sentence and brings order and clarity to meaning.  Continue reading...
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Double negatives are supposed to be a bad thing. Using two negatives in one clause is not only ungrammatical, it's illogical: it creates an unintended positive meaning. According to this thinking, if you say "Studying grammar rules won't do you no good," you're really saying, "Studying grammar rules will do you good."  Continue reading...
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I asked fellow editors recently what usage rule they wanted to know more about or what rule they saw broken regularly. I received lots of answers (thanks, all!), including this one: "Why is worth preceded with a possessive noun or pronoun, as in two days' worth?"  Continue reading...
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Pop quiz time, readers! Which of the following sentences is correct?

The reason why they got married is they love each other.
The reason that they got married is they love each other.
The reason they got married is they love each other.
The reason why they got married is because they love each other.  Continue reading...

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In English, modifiers go next to the thing they modify. Dangling and misplaced modifiers are challenging because they can be difficult to spot. Often the meaning is clear enough that readers pass right over them. That doesn't mean, of course, that we shouldn't fix them.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 1-7 of 54 Articles