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Adverbs end in -ly and modify verbs. At least, that's what we're taught in elementary school. It's a fair start, but we soon learn that adverbs are more complicated than the rule implies. For a start, adverbs can also modify adjectives, other adverbs, phrases, and clauses. And they don't have to end in -ly, either.  Continue reading...
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When the US government finally signed a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, I was quickly confused about what the deal was. On the airwaves, I heard that part of the deal would be a 2% increase in payroll taxes, yet in print, I read that there was to be a 2 percentage point increase.  Continue reading...
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While editing for a client recently, I ran into the phrase small/midsized businesses. Instinctively, I wanted to change it to small-midsized businesses. But why did I think the hyphen was such a better choice than the slash?  Continue reading...
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None takes a singular verb if what it refers to is singular and a plural verb if its referent is plural. But why is that? If none means "no one, not one," shouldn't it always be used with a singular verb? Formal agreement dictates that a singular subject pair with a singular verb and a plural subject pair with a plural verb. Yet the result doesn't always make sense. When formal agreement fails us, we reach out for notional agreement.  Continue reading...
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Like is a powerful word. It's a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, and conjunction. It demonstrates preferences and shows relationships. It even acts as filler when we're trying to put our thoughts in order. Not all uses of like are equally accepted, however.  Continue reading...
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In the crusade against flabby writing, we're often counseled to get rid of redundancies with a machete. We are to show no mercy for the likes of repeated ideas and words. But following this "rule" blindly, as with following any rule blindly, can result in text that fails to get its meaning across. There are times when redundancy is a boon to the text rather than a scourge.  Continue reading...
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We're all familiar with those words that modify nouns. Words like big, yellow, northern, and government. They're called adjectives, and their job is to modify the nouns they're next to.

Government?  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 15-21 of 47 Articles