While we're talking about holidays ...
Posted by June on January 23, 2017
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If you want to know which holidays are written with an apostrophe, there's no rule to help you. It varies from holiday to holiday, from publisher to publisher, and sometimes even from dictionary to dictionary. I included the major holidays in my book The Best Punctuation Book, Period. If you don't have handy one of the 20 copies I'm sure you've purchased by now (smile), you can always check a style guide or a dictionary (in that order). If you're writing for news media or business, check the alphabetical listings of the Associated Press Stylebook. If you don't find the holiday you're looking for, check Webster's New World College Dictionary, which is one of the dictionaries searchable at www.yourdictionary.com. If you're writing in the style of book publishers, check the Chicago Manual of Style and, if you don't find the answer there, check Chicago's go-to dictionary, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate, which is at m-w.com.

Here's what you'll find:

New Year, New Year’s, New Year’s Day, New Year’s Eve

Martin Luther King Jr. Day (note there's no "Rev.,” no “Dr.” and no comma before “Jr.")

Valentine's Day (note it's singular; if you want to use the "Saint,"  spell it out in AP style (Saint Valentine’s Day) but abbreviate in Chicago style (St. Valentine’s Day)

Presidents Day in AP style; Presidents' Day in Chicago style

Groundhog Day

St. Patrick's Day

April Fools' Day

Mother's Day

Fathers' Day

Veterans Day

Xmas (no hyphen)


Insurmountable Peeves
Posted by June on January 16, 2017
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I try to avoid forming opinions on matters that aren't subject to opinion. The key word is "try." Just because I know a usage is acceptable doesn't mean I like it. I have my own unfounded, not-backed-up-by-reality peeves and prejudices. I usually keep mum about them. No point raving about the wrongness of something that's right. Still, some usages irk my inner pedant even though they're correct.

Here's a column I wrote recently naming just a few.

Can You Effect an Affect?
Posted by June on January 9, 2017

You probably already know that affect is a verb and effect is a noun. But did you know that sometimes the opposite is true? And did you know that "to effect positive change" uses the E spelling?  If not, here's the scoop.

A Celebration of Swearing
Posted by June on January 2, 2017

Last year, a group of linguists, editors and other language buffs started handing out awards for the best obscenity of the year over at the blog Strong Language. As a longtime fan of the C-word, especially when used by a man from the UK to describe another man, I find the whole thing pretty damn amusing.

If you don't, steer clear. If you do, here it is and enjoy.