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Two of the longest sections in most grammar and style guides concern how to form plurals and how to form possessives. Some guidelines are identical—almost no plurals are formed with apostrophes, no matter how many "All Drink's Half Price" signs you see—and some disagree: Is the possessive form of "Texas" rendered as "Texas'" or "Texas's"?  Continue reading...
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"You must be a ringer," the journalism instructor told the student, who insisted that, though he had many years of experience in other jobs, he had never been a journalist. "I admit I had to look that term up," the student said later." I wasn't sure if it calling me a ringer was a compliment or an insult."  Continue reading...
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People who write are "writers," though many call themselves "authors," especially if their products are books, or legislation. More and more, they say that they "authored" what they wrote.  Continue reading...
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Journalists writing about performers and athletes often use the word "journeyman." But Merrill Perlman, who writes the "Language Corner" column for Columbia Journalism Review, has a word of warning: "While it's OK to call an experienced person a 'journeyman,' beware: The word can imply 'undistinguished,' or worse."  Continue reading...
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Cities that have hard winters have no "alternative" and must repair roads in the summer. And when they do, they need to provide motorists with "alternate" routes.

That sentence illustrates the difference between "alternative" and "alternate."  Continue reading...
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Let's say you've just arrived from another planet, with a mastery of English, but little exposure to the popular sport known as golf. So you don't understand why one golfer would hit a "banana ball" and end up with a "bogey," while another used a "chicken stick" and ended up with an "eagle."  Continue reading...
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We love to "range." When describing a new shopping mall, for example, an article might say: "It has everything from a roller coaster for the kiddies to high-end boutiques for fashionistas." The "from" and "to" implies a "range," and a range implies that "everything" will be along that line. But the only thing the roller coaster and boutique have in common is that they are inside this new mall. It’s a "false range."  Continue reading...
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3 4 5 6 7 Displaying 29-35 of 55 Articles