Writers often have difficulty constructing sentences so that comparisons, contrasts, and lists, as well as parenthetical elements, are logically arranged. The following five sentences demonstrate various syntactical miscalculations; discussions and revisions follow each example.
The distinction between subconscious and unconscious is a subtle one. The noun subconscious refers to the mind’s activities just beneath consciousness, and the part of the mind devoted to such activities. The unconscious, by contrast, is the part of the mind that exerts a strong influence on behavior but is not noticed by one’s consciousness.
A reference to the name of a law called the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act
pointed out to me how easily confusion is created in writers’ minds by varying treatment of hyphenated terms.
All but one of the following sentences demonstrate incorrect style for suspensive hyphenation; revise the style of the number as necessary.
What’s the difference between a hurricane, a typhoon, and a tropical storm? The first two types of weather events are cyclones that sustain surface winds of at least 74 miles per hour—faster than virtually any highway speed limit in the United States. The term “tropical storm” refers to a degraded hurricane or typhoon.
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The following questions from readers, and the responses, pertain to how words are formatted to provide emphasis.
Parenthesis is the strategy of setting a word, phrase, or clause off from a sentence to interject additional information into that statement. Despite the name, parenthesis can be accomplished with a two commas or a pair of dashes as well as with a brace of parentheses. However, several problems can occur when writers attempt to parenthesize: The punctuation employed is not appropriate, the parenthesis is misplaced in the sentence, or what appears to be a parenthetical element is in fact something else. The following sentences illustrate these three problems respectively.
This generation, like every one before it and every one to follow, has the dubious pleasure of seeing evolution of language in action. The changes are obvious to careful writers, as they notice with distressingly increasing frequency the erosion of a distinction between words with similar but divergent meanings (for example, anxious versus eager) or a relaxing of a grammatical rule.
Numerals are often used in numeronyms: in combination with other numerals and with letters to represent a word, phrase, or concept. This post loosens the definition of numeronym to also include a numeral without one or more accompanying letters and with or without other symbols.
A surprising number and array of English words derive from the Latin verb specere, meaning “look at.” Each word, and its meaning and related forms, appears below.
All but one of the following sentences demonstrate incorrect style for parenthesis; revise placement and capitalization as necessary.