November 11, 2019

Existential 'There'

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In a sentence like "There is something you should know," there is functioning as something called existential there, in which it's a subject even though it's not the doer of the action know. Here's an overview of existential there.

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November 4, 2019

Scare Quotes

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You probably know by now that scare quotes have nothing to do with Halloween. But chances are you don't know everything you need to know to use these quotes, which call out questionable words and expressions, correctly. Here's the full story.

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October 28, 2019

Irregardless

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Every language lover's least favorite word, "irregardless" is a term to be avoided but not to be criticized because, technically, it's acceptable. Here's what you need to know.

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October 21, 2019

All Intensive Purposes? Spitting Image?

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Is it "all intensive purposes" or "all intents and purposes"? How about "all told" vs. "all tolled," "one and the same" or "one in the same," and "spit and image" vs. "spitting image"? Here's a look at some of the most commonly confused terms.

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October 14, 2019

Ted and Jen's cars or Ted's and Jen's cars?

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Shared possessives work like this: if ownership is shared, the owners have to share a single apostrophe and S. So if Ted and Jen share ownership of two cars, those are Ted and Jen's cars. But if Ted has one car and Jen has a different car and you're talking about them together, it's Ted's and Jen's cars. Here's more on shared possessives ...

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October 7, 2019

Waiver, Brooch, Vise: Easily Confused Words

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English has a lot of words that are very easy to mistake for other words. The only way to get them right is know about them beforehand. Here are some common ones to watch out for.

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September 30, 2019

Italics or Quotation Marks for Movie, Book & Song Titles?

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Deciding whether to put a book or movie title in italics or quotation marks has less to do with personal preference and more to do with style. Rooted in the days when newspapers' computers couldn't reliably transmit italics, Associated Press style leans heavy on the quote marks. The Chicago Manual of Style says to use italics in many, but not all cases. Here are the basics.

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September 23, 2019

Periods and Spaces in Initials

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Is it FBI, F.B.I. or F. B. I with spaces? The answers aren't straightforward. They vary by type of initial and style. The good news is that, unless you're bound to a specific style, it's hard to go wrong. Consistency is key. Here's what you need to know.

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September 16, 2019

Preventive or Preventative?

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The choice between "preventive" and "preventative" can stop you in your tracks. But choosing is easy.

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September 9, 2019

Evacuate

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Is evacuate a transitive verb, taking an object as in: evacuate a town? Is it intransitive, taking now object, as in: the residents evacuated? Are there ways to use this verb wrong? Here's everything you need to know about evacuate.

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