Indefinite Article With Initialisms

Many English speakers who probably use the indefinite article an in front of a vowel when speaking seem to encounter a mental disconnect when it comes to writing.

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Mutually Exclusive

A reader asks: Could you write a piece on the use of the term “mutually exclusive”? I always get a little befuddled when someone says, “This and that are not mutually exclusive.” I have to stop and do the math to make sure I follow.

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Adaption vs. Adaptation

A reader in the UK who grew up hearing the word adaption used in reference to radio and television programs based on books wonders: Where did adaptation come from, since there is no verb adaptate?

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Don’t Do Due Diligence

Not so very long ago, the only people I heard talk about “due diligence” were realtors. Due diligence is a legal term that refers to the exercise of proper care and attention to avoid committing an offense through ignorance.

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Uses of Do

ESL learners sometimes have difficulty with the uses of the verb do. For example, a reader wonders about the use of the -ing form doing.

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Most vs. Almost

A reader wonders why some speakers write “most everybody” when what they mean is “almost everybody.”

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A Historic vs. An Historic

Some points of English usage stir strong feelings. Placing the indefinite article “an” in front of the words historical or historic is one of these. Here are some comments prompted by a post I wrote on this topic several years ago.

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Confused Words #1: There, Their, They’re

Three words often confused are the homonyms there, their, and they’re. Their is a possessive adjective. It always precedes a noun and indicates possession.

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Name Change for ISIS

English speakers have yet to agree on a word, phrase or acronym to label the terrorist group making news for such atrocities as beheading noncombatants and butchering unarmed prisoners.

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License vs. Licence

My recent post on Driver License vs. Driver’s License stirred a discussion about the spellings licence and license. In American usage, the word license is used as both noun and verb.

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Marriage Words

Hypergamy belongs to a group of English words formed with -gamy, a suffix derived from Greek words for husband, wife, and marry. The presence of this suffix indicates that a word has something to do with marriage or reproduction. Most of these words relate to botany or biology, but several apply to people.

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