I asked fellow editors recently what usage rule they wanted to know more about or what rule they saw broken regularly. I received lots of answers (thanks, all!), including this one: "Why is worth preceded with a possessive noun or pronoun, as in two days' worth?"  Continue reading...
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"A breath of fresh air." "Few and far between." "At the end of the day." These are just a few of the clichés examined by Orin Hargraves, an experienced lexicographer and one of our regular contributors, in his new book It's Been Said Before: A Guide to the Use and Abuse of Cliches. In this excerpt, Hargraves explains how to "free your speech and writing of unneeded and detrimental clichés."  Continue reading...
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One of the main functions of language is communication, and for this it no doubt helps to be as clear, concise and straightforward as one can possibly be. Clear and straightforward art using language, however, is usually pretty boring.  Continue reading...
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One of the students in my Fiction Writing Workshop told a classmate to take a red pen and cross out the multitude of adverbs he had strewn throughout his story. The rest of the class nodded their heads in agreement. But just before I could move us on to the next item on the agenda, the author asked the young woman who'd spoken up, "But why? Why can't I use adverbs?"  Continue reading...
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Many of our excuses for not writing might sound convincing, if we don't think about them too much. But really, the only person we're hurting is ourselves. Check out this list and see if any of these excuses for not writing are ones you've ever used.  Continue reading...
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The world utterly forgot the Roman poet-philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus and his masterwork, De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things). Then in January 1417 an adventuresome papal secretary found a 500-year-old copy on a dusty shelf in a German monastery, and De Rerum began a second illustrious life that continues, still blossoming, to this day.  Continue reading...
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"Rhetoric may be defined as the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion." That's Aristotle, writing in the fourth century BCE. Most of the wiles and schemes by which modern-day crafters of clickbait entice you to take the fateful step of clicking on a link were anticipated by the Master.  Continue reading...
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