Got a Problem With 'No Problem'?
Posted by June on December 5, 2016
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Lately I've been hearing from people who don't like to hear "no problem" after they say "thank you." The problem with "no problem," they say, is that it introduces a problem into a situation where there hadn't really been one before -- as if the thanker had imposed some huge burden on the thankee, which that person endured heroically. But when you put alternatives like "you're welcome" under the same scrutiny, they don't hold up well, either. Here's my recent column on the problem alternatives to "no problem."

How to Choose the Right Past Tense
Posted by June on November 28, 2016
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A reader wrote to me recently to say his wife claims to have heard TV newscasters use "drugged" as the past tense of "drag." He wanted to know whether I consider this a correct usage. To which I reply: It doesn't matter what I think. The answers are already at your fingertips.

Here's the column I wrote in reply explaining how to find past tense and past participle forms in your dictionary.

Fake News? The Clues Are in the Copy Editing
Posted by June on November 21, 2016

 

Fake news is becoming a real problem. Websites pushing bad information, sometimes outright lies, as fact may have influenced many voters. How can readers know a news item isn't credible? Often, the clues are in the copy editing. Here's my recent column on editing red flags in bogus news sites.

Singular 'They': It's Still Fine
Posted by June on November 14, 2016
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A few weeks back, a National Review contributor went on a tear about how awful it is that we use they as a singular pronoun and about how we should all use he when we don't know an individual's sex, as in, "Everyone with a locker should make sure he locks it."

The writer wasn't very nice about it, "Trying to depluralize they is an asinine effort, stemming from a stupid misunderstanding made by stupid people."

A number of us language types pointed out how very, very wrong the piece was. (Here's my two cents). But a particularly delightful contribution came from linguist and Arrant Pedantry blogger Jonathan Owen. Here's what Jonathan had to say.