The Descendants of “Sedere”

Sit and its past-tense form sat, as well as set, settle, and seat, are cognates from Old English of the Latin verb sedere, meaning “sit.” The more or less disguised direct descendants of that term are listed and briefly defined in this post.

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The Distance Between Two “Leagues”

What does league, meaning “alliance,” have to do with league, meaning “a few miles”? An attempt to find kinship between these words by positing the notion of linking several similar entities or units is futile: The identical formation of the words is coincidental.

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3 Types of Parenthetical Problems

Writers sometimes carelessly neglect to close a syntactical door after opening it. In this case, “if not impossible” is a parenthetical interjected into the main clause, so a comma must follow as well as precede it: “The survey found increasing demand for customer experiences that are difficult, if not impossible, to deliver with legacy systems.”

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What to Do When a Dangling Participle Defies Revision

A dangling participle is a construction in which the participle, or verb, that follows the subject of a sentence is not associated with an introductory phrase, leaving the participle dangling. For example, in “As a client, we know this new standard may affect you and your financial-reporting requirements,” the subject “we” is identified in the introductory phrase (which modifies we) “as a client.”

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3 Cases of Poorly Constructed Short Lists

In each of the following sentences, the writer is under the misapprehension that the statement includes a list of three words and/or phrases; in fact, each sentence includes a compound list item and a simple list item (or at least is better rendered so that it does), for a total of two items. Discussion of each example explains the problem, and a revision after each sentence resolves the problem.

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Words Starting with “Epi-“

The prefix epi, from the Greek word meaning “at,” “close to,” “on,” “in addition to,” or “on the occasion of,” is at the root of a number of diverse words that pertain in some way to something associated with something else. This post lists and briefly defines many of these terms.

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Punctuation Quiz #17: Attribution

The following sentences deliberately lack internal punctuation whether such punctuation is correct or not. Insert punctuation as necessary to correct them.

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3 Sentences with Punctuation Problems

Commas serve a vital function as a fundamental organizing tool within sentences, acting as buffers that keep syntactical elements in place and as signals that indicate relationship. Often, however, they are incorrectly located, omitted, or inserted, adversely affecting comprehension. After each of the sentences below, a discussion explains why a comma is misplaced, missing, or extraneous, and a revision demonstrates the correct placement.

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Hyphenation Quiz #1: Attaching Prefixes to Words

Identify in each sentence below whether, according to The Chicago Manual of Style and most other style guides, the word with a prefix should have a hyphen connecting the prefix to the base word or whether the prefix should be directly attached to the base word.

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20 Archetypes for People Based on Names

Various expressions have arisen, sometimes from folkloric or historical origins, to describe types of people by assigning them with personal names. Here are twenty such appellations and their definitions and (sometimes only probable) origins.

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3 Cases of Confused Connections

Relationships between sentence elements are sometimes obscured by suboptimal syntax. In each of the following examples, ordering of phrases is an obstacle to comprehension. Discussion and revision of each sentences explains and provides a solution.

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