Music to Help Kids with Grammar?
Posted by June on June 19, 2017


In case you missed it, NPR did an interesting piece a few weeks ago about the intersections of rhythm and grammar. From the piece:

Gordon has previously published research showing a correlation in children between good rhythm skills and a good grasp of grammar. She found children who can detect rhythmic variations in music have an easier time putting sentences together.

Also Sounds Like 'Peak'
Posted by June on June 12, 2017
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While we're on the subject of pique and peak, a friendly reminder: peak doesn't belong in the term sneak peek.  If you knew that already, be warned: even people very clear on the wording of sneak peek often get it wrong.  We can only assume that the process of spelling out sneak kicks the brain into some repeat mode in which it takes a cue from the spelling of "sneak" to inform the spelling of word peak, even though you meant peek.

This mistake is so common that a Google search for "sneak peak" -peek turns up nearly 18 million hits — about 30% as many as the correctly spelled sneak peek, which gets 56 million hits. Your takeaway: Be careful. Anyone can make this mistake.

A Not-So-Thrilling Typo
Posted by June on June 5, 2017
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I edit a lot of articles about travel, and whenever an article mentions ziplining, parasailing, or some other high-thrills adventure, there's a high probability it contains a specific error. See if you can spot it in this example sentence: EcoBlasters offers a choice of three- or four-hour tours on its high-speed, adrenalin-pumping zipline.

Answer: adrenalin is the wrong word, at least according to the style I follow. It should be adrenaline. According to Merriam-Websters, without an E, Adrenalin is a proper name of a pharmaceutical product — "a preparation of levorotatory epinephrine." The stuff your body produces naturally under stressful or intense circumstances, according to this dictionary, is adrenaline.




Cleft Sentences
Posted by June on May 30, 2017


When you don't know grammar terminology, a term can be off-putting to the point of being intimidating. Luckily, grammar terms are fun to learn. Here's one from the Oxford English Grammar to add to your mental jargon folder.

Cleft sentence: a sentence that is cleft (split) so as to put the focus on one part of it. The cleft sentence is introduced by 'it,' which is followed by a verb phrase whose main verb is generally 'be.' The focused part comes next, and then the rest of the sentence is introduced by a relative pronoun, relative determiner, or relative adverb. If we take the sentence 'Tom felt a sharp pain after lunch,' two possible cleft sentences formed from it are 'It was Tom who felt a sharp pain after lunch' and 'It was after lunch that Tom felt a sharp pain.'

In other words, structures like "It was he who" or "It was the (noun) that" are cleft sentences.