February 8, 2016

Danglers

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Sure, dangling participles and the like are fun to talk about. But if you want to understand the mechanics of a problem sentence like "I photographed an elephant in my pajamas," they're actually useful to understand. Here's what you need to know.

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Grammar Is Going Down the Tubes ... Right?
Posted by June on February 8, 2016
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In celebration of the one jillionth time a reader of my column told me that the language is going to hell in a handbasket, I published a column on the subject. I cited a number of heavy-hitting educators who agreed with my correspondent. The twist? They're all dead. Long dead.

Here's the column

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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  • How to Punctuate "Hi, June" - Greetings and Direct Addresses

    June Cliff: Look up "till" in the dictionary. Not only does it mean "until," it actually predates it. It's the original. So, yes, a till is a cash register. But it also means "until." In fact, 'til is considered an error in professional publishing. (Keep your eyes peeled when reading books and newspapers and you'll see that 'til is nonexistent!)

  • Lineup, Line Up, Line-up

    June Sandra: Sorry for the very late reply. I bet your argument is long forgotten by now. "Line up" is the verb form. "Lineup" is a noun. Your sentence uses it as a noun, like "Lunch is at 10 a.m." So if you were telling people to line up at 10 a.m., you'd want the two-word form. But because you're saying that the thing, the lineup, is at 10 a.m., you want the one-word form.

  • Under Way vs. Underway

    June Steven Alper: Thanks for your comment. I had missed the AP style change from "under way" to "underway." I appreciate the link!

  • Drive Safe vs Drive Safely: Another Flat Adverbs Question

    June Allen R.: Sorry it took so long to reply. Both "readers' questions" and "reader questions" are acceptable. In "reader questions," I'm just choosing to use "reader" adjectivally instead of as a possessive. (Both valid forms.) There's a term for this, "attributive noun." Just like the noun "hat" works as an adjective in "hat store," lots of nouns can sometimes modify other nouns, making them "attributive" (aka like adjectives). Note, however, that your question using "reader's" would be appropriate only if we were talking about just one reader because you need the plural possessive readers' to show possession by more than one.

  • Lineup, Line Up, Line-up

    June Hi, Pam. Actually there's no rule against splitting infinitives -- and there never was. You can search this site for the keywords "split infinitive" for lots more on the subject.