July 6, 2015

When to Put Periods and Spaces in Initials

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Is it WC Fields, W.C. Fields, or W. C. Fields? Depends on whose rules you're following. Here's how to choose well.

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June 29, 2015

Preventive or Preventative?

 

The choice between preventive and preventative has spawned some pretty silly battles in the language wars. You can use either. But preventive is the safer choice. Here's the full story.

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June 22, 2015

Founder vs. Flounder

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People confuse these two verbs a lot, and that's a mistake you don't want to make.

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June 15, 2015

Writing Academic Degrees

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An apostrophe in master's degree? How do you write its plural? And do you put periods in abbreviations of academic degrees? Here's a quick lesson in how to write degrees right.

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June 8, 2015

Run-on Sentences, Comma Splices, and Sentence Fragments

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How to avoid some common sentence-punctuation problems.

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June 1, 2015

Some Things You Don't Need to Capitalize

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A sure-fire sign of amateur writing is a certain brand of self-conscious capitalization -- a sort of timid style in which the writer seems to feel that someone else practically owns the words they want to use. Here are some examples of often-capitalized letters you might want to keep in lowercase.

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May 25, 2015

Mastering Longer Sentences

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Short sentences are a safe bet for every writer. They're clear and pose fewer pitfalls for the writer to get tripped up in her own thoughts. But just because longer sentences often go awry doesn't mean they're necessarily bad. Here's how to handle them well.

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May 18, 2015

Metaconcepts

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Ever noticed a correlation between terms like "approach," "level" and "concept" and really, really bad writing? Welcome to the wonderful world of metaconcepts, which go a long way to explain why academic writing can be so awful.

 

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May 11, 2015

The Five Forms That Verbs Take

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Any student of language has noticed how verbs can take different forms, like go, going, and went. Linguists identify five "form types" of verbs that can help you understand how sentences work. Here's a quick overview.

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May 4, 2015

The Dangers of Parentheses

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Parentheses are great tools for squeezing information into a sentence where it otherwise wouldn't fit. The danger, of course, is that they let you squeeze information into a sentence where it doesn't fit. Here's how to use parentheses well.

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