Faze vs. Phase

The verb faze, “to disturb,” is often misspelled as phase.

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  • Maeve Maddox on
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Critique vs. Criticism

Although dictionaries list critique and criticism as synonyms, the words are not exact equivalents.

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  • Maeve Maddox on
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What Word, or Which Word, Should You Use?

In conversational language and informal writing, the pronouns what and which are often used interchangeably as determiners—words used in asking about or referring to people, places, or things. However, the careful writer will distinguish between the general determiner what and the specific determiner which.

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  • Mark Nichol on
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The Descent of “Hag”

The headline of this post uses descent in two senses: This post discusses the etymological origin of hag, but it also points out how the connotation of the term has plummeted in status.

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  • Mark Nichol on
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5 Sentences Demonstrating Whether to Capitalize and Punctuate Quotations

When the syntax of a sentence containing a quotation is not straightforward, it can be difficult to determine whether the first word should be capitalized and which punctuation marks, if any, should attend the quotation. The following sentences illustrate some of the pitfalls, and discussions and revisions point to their solutions.

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  • Mark Nichol on
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When to Do That Stringing-Words-Together Thing with Hyphens

When are hyphens required to string together a sequence of words, and when are the hyphens extraneous? The following sentences, each with a discussion and a revision, illustrate the syntactical situations in which they are necessary and when they are superfluous.

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  • Mark Nichol on
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A Basis for More Concise Wording

One clear sign of a sentence that is a candidate for conciseness is the noun basis, especially when it appears in the phrase “on a/an [blank] basis.”

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  • Mark Nichol on
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Fit and Fitted

A Lenscrafter television advertisement showing a man being fitted for glasses caught my attention with its unidiomatic use of the verb fit.

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  • Maeve Maddox on
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Grit and Gritty

The word grit has been in the language since Old English times. It derives from a verb meaning “to crush or to grind.”

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  • Maeve Maddox on
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The Courteous Conjunction “That”

That is an innocuous little word, but it is often a linchpin of comprehension, making the difference between understanding and confusion. Take, for instance, its insertion or omission as a conjunction following verbs such as believe, ensure, and indicate.

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  • Mark Nichol on
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5 Types of Parallel-Structure Problems

There are many ways to botch the logical organization of a sentence. Here are examples of five variations, along with discussion and revision of each.

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  • Mark Nichol on
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“Halfway” and Other Ways

The noun way constitutes the second half of many compound words. Almost all of them, like halfway, are closed, but a couple retain a hyphen or are open.

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  • Mark Nichol on
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