Varying Degrees of Stupid

As I browse the Web, skimming comments on various topics, one word comes up again and again: stupid.

There’s no end of people or things that some grump somewhere is calling stupid in speech or in writing.

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A Funny Thing About William

US Social Security records indicate that the five most popular boys’ names in 1915 were John, William, James, Robert, and Joseph.

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Running the Gamut and Running the Gauntlet

Two frequently confused expressions are “to run the gamut” and “to run the gauntlet.”

Gamut originated as a medieval musical term. The word is still used to mean “the full range of notes that a voice or instrument can produce.” Figuratively, gamut means “the full range or scope of something.” For example, a person might “run the gamut of emotions from rage to despair.”

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Believes is a Verb

Some bloggers, academics, and authors with books on Amazon seem to be confused about the verb believe and the noun belief. Here are just four examples.

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Formatting Dialogue

When I read a novel for pleasure—as opposed to studying a novel that does not appeal to me—I don’t want to have to work at it. I want to enter the fictional dream and not be pulled out of it by inappropriate diction, faulty grammar, or unconventional formatting.

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Grammar Review #3: Misplaced Modifiers

The error known as a “misplaced modifier” often results in hilarious images. Some of these errors, whether originating in actual writing or invented by clever English teachers, have achieved classical status and are quoted on numerous websites. Here are five of my favorites.

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Barbecue vs. Barbeque

I can sympathize with the pain a fellow language lover feels when faced with one of his peeves, but I have to admit that barbeque doesn’t even register as a “one” on my scale of linguistic suffering.

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Pike’s Peak or Pikes Peak?

Attempts by city governments in England to drop apostrophes from official signage frequently provoke enraged opposition from local taxpayers, but in the United States, observes Jennifer Runyon, “We don’t debate the apostrophe.”

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Different Meanings of Hallmark

Until recently, I attached only one figurative meaning to the word hallmark: A distinctive mark or token of genuineness, good breeding, or excellence.

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Copying Files On, To, or Onto

Preposition use is not easy to formulate. In this post I will focus on incorrect—or at least ambiguous—uses of on, to, and onto in the context of electronic file transfer. First, some definitions.

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