I was reading a document at work once and ran across this statement: "Core contracts within the product are interface-based and are easily mockable." My programmer-to-English translation filter was momentarily confused, and for a brief but amusing moment I thought, "You mean, we can laugh at them?"  Continue reading...

"Let the facts speak for themselves" — for writing non-fiction, that's as good a single rule as any I know. If Bobby did ride his bicycle to the store, the strongest, clearest, and plainest way to put that fact into words is: Bobby rode his bicycle to the store.  Continue reading...

You may wonder why, shortly after waking up every morning, I head upstairs to my office and lie down on the floor and cover myself with a blanket. You'd think, after seven hours of sleep, I wouldn't need to lie down again. But I'm not just lying down; I'm meditating.  Continue reading...

"I'm trying to stave off a cold," a friend said. Another responded, "Wine will work for that." Neither probably realized that, indeed, to "stave off" has its origins in wine, or something like wine.  Continue reading...

A group of doctors paid me to edit a report a few years back. Their work — not a medical study, but a document aimed at making a political point — horrified me. When I ran it through readability stats, it earned a grade 14 rating.  Continue reading...

Writing and reading philosophy are two human activities famous for their inherent difficulty. If philosophy is thinking about thinking, writing philosophy is writing about thinking about thinking, and reading philosophy is reading writing about thinking about thinking.  Continue reading...

Recently in an online forum for editors, someone balked at then being used as a coordinating conjunction, as in: "I went to high school, then I went to college." Coordinating conjunctions, you'll recall, join two items of equal status: two words of the same parts of speech, two phrases of the same type, or two clauses.  Continue reading...

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