Topic : Grammar
The Elements Of Clunk
January 4, 2011
In The Chronicle of Higher Education, Ben Yagoda writes about the errors he's noticed in his students' compositions. Very often, he says, students change their writing to be "longer and more prosaic": "They give a new sound to prose. I call it clunk." Read Yagoda's guided tour to "clunk" here.
A Monthly Column for Word Lovers
January 3, 2011By Orin Hargraves
There's an old saying in real estate: the three most important things about a property are location, location, location. This month in the Language Lounge we discover that the same holds true for English syntax. We take a look at what happens when elements of a sentence get accidentally waylaid. Continue reading...
How do you feel about the phrase due to? Does it just mean "attributable to" to you, or can it also mean "because of"? Your answer may help explain where you fall along the prescriptivism-descriptivism usage continuum. Continue reading...
Ad and marketing creatives
December 24, 2010By Julia Rubiner
My mother and sister seem to take more pleasure than the average bear in saying things like, "It was he" and "This is she."Actually, the average bear takes NO pleasure in saying such things because the average bear doesn't say them; the average bear says, "It was him" and "You got 'er." Continue reading...
We recently spoke to Nancy Mack, author of Teaching Grammar with Playful Poems, to find out how she was inspired to use poetry as an innovative entry point for teaching grammatical patterns to young students. Continue reading...
Writers Talk About Writing
December 15, 2010By Erin Brenner
Subject-verb agreement sounds easy, doesn’t it? A singular subject takes singular verb, and a plural subject takes a plural verb. Yet The Copyeditor's Handbook lists no fewer than 25 cases that aren't so clear-cut, and Garner's Modern American Usage devotes nearly 5 columns to the topic. Even the comparatively diminutive Grammar Smart devotes five pages (including quizzes) to the topic. What makes subject-verb agreement so hard? Continue reading...
Teachers at Work
A column about teaching
November 22, 2010
Writing teacher Margaret Hundley Parker has a dark secret she has to reveal.Here's my confession: In the summer, I don't care about rules. I pen prose that would give a good copy editor a heart attack. I don't mind if someone "lays" down for a nap, I get in the line for "ten items or less" and refrain from muttering fewer under my breath. The news "impacts"people and I don't flinch. It's very liberating. The down side of all this is when friends—or worse, new acquaintances—ask me word questions and I give wrong answers. It's not that I do a brain cleanse every June, it's that I can't articulate the rules when I'm not really thinking about them. Continue reading...