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It's September and students of all ages are heading back to school. But why is it back to school and not back to the school or back to schools? Certainly if I were to write about one specific school, I would write the school. If I were talking about schools as a category, I can say schools.  Continue reading...
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This summer, I've been looking at zombie rules, false grammar rules taught and followed slavishly with little thought. Today, I'll kill three final zombies: the split infinitive, hopefully, and singular they. They're style rules — albeit awkward ones — that are lumbering around as grammar rules.  Continue reading...
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Last month, I introduced the idea of a zombie rule: a false grammar rule that is taught and followed slavishly as though it were the real thing. Like their namesakes, these rules have no life in them, but they keep returning no matter how many times their true form is revealed.  Continue reading...
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In 2005, Arnold Zwicky introduced the term zombie rule to describe a grammar rule that isn't really a rule. Zombie rules are taught, followed, and passed along as rules we must follow to speak and write correctly. Like their namesakes, however, these rules are dead and no matter how many times it's explained that there is no grammatical basis for them, they just keep coming back.  Continue reading...
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Recently on the Copyediting-L discussion board, member Levi Bookin presented this conundrum: one of his authors avoids the phrase such as to such an extreme that he seems allergic to it. Possibly, Bookin wrote, this is because he dislikes commas so much.  Continue reading...
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Some English speakers, copyeditors like myself among them, like logic. We like writing to be neat and tidy: precise words all lined up in their Sunday best, punctuation accentuating their meaning instead of overwhelming it. Which is why phrases like center around drive us crazy.  Continue reading...
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A recent blog post decried the use of and/or. Rich Adin makes the case that the conjunction is inaccurate. This, at least, is an improvement over the popular argument that and/or is "hideous" or "monstrous," but it isn't entirely true, either.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 8-14 of 47 Articles