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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December 15, 2014

Forming Plurals of Latin-derived Words

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Cactuses, cacti? Priuses, Prii? The answers are easier than you think.

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December 8, 2014

Sentence Fragments

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They're not as horrible as your English teacher said ... if you use them right.

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December 1, 2014

'The Reason Why'

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The "why" is unnecessary. So is this really such an awful error? No. And here's the reason why ...

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November 24, 2014

Well-paying but Good-looking?

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Every wonder why "well-paying" uses the adverb "well" while "good-looking" uses the adjective "good"? To understand why, you need to know about copular verbs -- which are the same reason that you use an adjective in "He seems nice" even though you use an adverb in "He sings nicely." Here's the full story.

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