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I would like to consider myself among the modern vanguard, letting language take its natural course and evolve as its owners — that is to say, its speakers — allow it to. But at the same time, I spend hours every week at the rock face of language change — that is to say, in classrooms full of young people — and while there, I cannot but lament the passing of some niceties of English.  Continue reading...
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In January, I took part in an interesting discussion on Twitter. Washington Post copyeditor Bill Walsh posted a headline: "Hole-in-the-walls: East, west, and downtown, 19 named." He asked, "Would you take your sister-in-laws to such a place?"  Continue reading...
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The story of Steve Henderson — a software engineer bent on single-handedly fixing every use of the word comprise in Wikipedia entries where compose would be more appropriate — has captured the popular imagination. Yesterday, Southern California Public Radio invited our own Ben Zimmer to explain the difference and weigh in on the wisdom of Henderson's quest.  Continue reading...
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Last year for Thanksgiving, I did something gastronomically delicious but linguistically impossible: I dry-brined my turkey. The very word brine implies water. Tons of seafaring stories reference the briny deep as a euphemism for the salty sea. So what could a dry-brine possibly be?  Continue reading...
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Parallelism is something copyeditors obsess about and writers take little notice of. If we could meet in the middle, our sentences would be a lot happier. Parallelism is no more than matching parts of a sentence or multiple sentences grammatically. It creates balance and rhythm in the sentence and brings order and clarity to meaning.  Continue reading...
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Welcome to the latest in our series of quick tips on usage and style shared by Mignon Fogarty, better known as Grammar Girl. In this tip, Mignon advises on the usage of toward vs. towards.  Continue reading...
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It's time once again for the latest in our series of quick tips on usage and style shared by Mignon Fogarty, better known as Grammar Girl. Here Mignon clarifies how to pluralize some nouns derived from Greek (sometimes by way of Latin).  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 8-14 of 204 Articles