February 23, 2015

Skunked Terms

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Hopefully, decimate, healthy: If you want to be right, you can use them any way you like. But if you want other people to think you're right, well, that's another matter entirely.

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February 16, 2015

Gauntlet vs. Gantlet

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You can throw down a gauntlet or run a gantlet. But can you also throw down a gantlet? If you know the origins of these two words, it's clear that you can.

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February 9, 2015

Verb Agreement with Teams and Groups

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Why did a news headline say "Mexico Take World Cup" instead of "Mexico Takes World Cup"? Here's a hint: It was a British news site. Listen to get the full story on making verbs agree with teams and groups.

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February 2, 2015

Prefixes With Special Hyphenation Rules

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The general rule for whether to hyphenate prefixes goes like this: You shouldn't hyphenate them, except when you should. Here are some of those "when you should" situations ...

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January 26, 2015

Superlatives in Comparisons of Two

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A reader says: “I was taught that you use ‘er’ when referring to two items or people and ‘est’ when referring to three or more. Thus, I have two grandsons. The older one is Wyatt and the younger one is Casey. Yet all the time I see: ‘I have two grandsons. The oldest is Wyatt and the youngest is Casey.’” Is the reader right? Is "oldest" in this case an error? Nope. Here's the full story.

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January 19, 2015

Creating Emphasis

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Great writers seem to have a natural talent for creating emphasis. Here are a few tips to give your writing the same well-placed punch.

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January 12, 2015

Plurals and Possessives of Titles in Quotation Marks

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In the editing styles that put movie and book titles in quotation marks, how do you make those titles into plurals and possessives, like The future will not bring us more "Gone With the Winds" and The legacy is "Casablanca's"? No one's saying, exactly. But there's a precedent for putting the possessive or plural S inside the quotation marks.

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January 5, 2015

Evacuate

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Can you evacuate people from a place? Or can you only evacuate the place? This one gets controversial ...

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December 29, 2014

Dummy Operators

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Sometimes, when we form questions, a word appears out of nowhere – a word that has no place in the declarative form of the same sentence: a dummy operator.

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December 22, 2014

How to Hyphenate Nouns

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Instructions on using hyphens usually have one thing in common: They're all about adjectives. But nouns can be hyphenated, too. Here are guidelines for forming those compounds.

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