Did you know that even as general literacy has increased, our ability to read and understand long sentences has decreased? Here are some tricks to make your sentences shorter.  Continue reading...
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We'll all be doing each other a great favor by paying most of our attention to the substance of what others say, and the least of our attention to the way they say it.  Continue reading...
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Is Dreyer's English "utterly correct"? Of course not, as the author would be the first to acknowledge. But it's compulsively readable, thoroughly helpful, and delightfully funny. For anyone who cares about writing well, it's an utterly essential addition to your shelf of most-reached-for reference books.  Continue reading...
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Ta-da! You're about to read my eightieth column for Visual Thesaurus—Happy Column! Penning (on computer of course) twelve hundred words on aspects of writing every few weeks has been a pleasurable discipline that's taught me, I hope, to say a lot in a little.  Continue reading...
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When I recently heard a news reporter say that "China doesn't want a failed nuclear state on their doorstep," I was taken by surprise. Did China seriously want North Korea to succeed in their nuclear ambitions?  Continue reading...
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Zero derivation—that is, the ability of a word to perform different grammatical functions without a change in form—is a celebrated feature of English. A sideshow of zero derivation is the fact that English has no barrier to using a principal verb form—the past participle—as an adjective. What's not to love, you may think, about the simplicity of using a single form to do so many jobs? I have no argument with this fantastic and flexible feature of English, only with the license it gives speakers and writers to use it in a weaselly way.  Continue reading...
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