October 14, 2019

Ted and Jen's cars or Ted's and Jen's cars?

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Shared possessives work like this: if ownership is shared, the owners have to share a single apostrophe and S. So if Ted and Jen share ownership of two cars, those are Ted and Jen's cars. But if Ted has one car and Jen has a different car and you're talking about them together, it's Ted's and Jen's cars. Here's more on shared possessives ...

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Clatfart, fannybaws, grognard: Some recent additions to the Oxford English Dictionary
Posted by June on October 14, 2019
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Great news, everyone! The Oxford English Dictionary has finally — finally — added a verb form to its definition of “clatfart.” That’s right. The noun we all love, meaning “gossip,” is now also a verb meaning “gossip.”

And it’s not just intransitive, as in, “Excuse us while we clatfart,” but it also has a transitive sense, meaning it can take a direct object: “Please don’t clatfart the news of our growing family just yet.” Finally!

What’s that, you say? You weren’t aware people use “clatfart” as a verb? And what’s that, you say? You weren’t aware the word existed in the first place?

Don’t feel bad. It’s new to me, too. But it just goes to show you how much fun and learning there is to be had by skimming lists of words and word senses added to the Oxford English Dictionary, or OED. Here are some of my favorites, old and new, that the OED has added to its dictionary recently.



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.)

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    JR "An" Not-So-Thrilling Typo?