February 22, 2021

Among or Between?

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Can you share something between three friends? Or Is "between" only for groups of two, with "among" the required term for three or more? Some people will tell you it's the latter. But it's not quite that simple. Here's what you need to know.

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Cache for cachet, an apostrophe without an S to form a possessive and other issues from the week in editing
Posted by June on February 22, 2021
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A week in the life of a copy editor wouldn’t make for a good movie — a lot of sitting, staring and tapping at the comma key on a computer. But for language nerds and people who’d like to improve their grammar skills, an ultra-condensed week in the life of a copy editor could make for an entertaining way to spend five minutes. So here are a few of the more interesting language issues this copy editor came across last week.

“Living at this address carries a certain cache.” Sentences like this justify my paycheck. As a copy editor, I specialize in knowing about commonly confused words like “cache” and “cachet.” For whatever reason, it seems very few non-editors know that “cache” is pronounced “cash” and if you want the two-syllable word that means prestige, it gets a T on the end.

“Yesterday, Popov’ mother drove her to the store.” Possessives can be hard. Possessives of words that end in S are harder. But possessives of words that end in Ch, X or Z shouldn’t be. And that goes double for words that end in V. There are no special rules for forming possessives of words that in end in one of these letters. Just add an apostrophe and an S: Popov’s mother, just like Smith’s mother or Lurch’s mother or Chavez’s mother.

I also encountered:

Wellbeing

Where Everyday Is the Weekend

Under the auspice of the charitable foundation

Thank you to whomever sent me these beautiful flowers

You can read about how I handled them all in my recent column here.

 

June Casagrande is a writer and journalist whose weekly grammar/humor column, “A Word, Please,” appears in community newspapers in California, Florida, and Texas. more

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  • 'Whom' vs. 'Who' at the Beginning of a Sentence

    June A.S.: Everything you said is right, but I'm not sure which comment you're directing it at. Are you getting confused by passive voice as it comes into play in these sentences? "I called him" uses the object pronoun "him" because, as you said, is an object. When you invert that sentence to say "He was called," it's not the same sentence structure. In passive voice, the object of the action (so to speak) is made the grammatical subject of the sentence. So "He was called" does, as you said, required the subject pronoun "he." I don't believe anyone said anything to the contrary.

  • 'Whom' vs. 'Who' at the Beginning of a Sentence

    A.S. WRONG! If "Whom was called into the office" is a question then it's the equivalent of asking "Him was called into the office?" which is obviously wrong. If it's a statement it's still wrong. Look, it's not difficult: Me, him, her, them and whom are objects. I, he, she, they and who are subjects. If the person in the sample sentence is the object (as indicated by "whom") then the office must be the subject but there's no verb for the subject, so the person must be the subject and is therefore who. Understand?

  • E-mail vs. Email

    June Punctuation rules for American English are indeed "always" put the period or comma before the closing quote mark. British style is as you described (that is, it follows a certain logic). But American rules are rooted in a printing convention that originated from aesthetics concerns. I'm quite confident that this American convention will go the way of the dinosaur. Wikipedia is proof: Their style is situational in the way you described. But for now, it's the rule: The comma always goes "inside," as does a "period."

  • A Not-So-Thrilling Typo

    June Oops. Fixing now. (Better late than never.)

  • A Not-So-Thrilling Typo

    JR "An" Not-So-Thrilling Typo?