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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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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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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 15-21 of 49 Articles