Often, when readers stumble on a faultily constructed sentence, the obstacle is merely one seemingly inconsequential word—or, more accurately, the omission of what is actually an essential component of the sentence. In each example below, one missing word throws off the sentence. Discussion and a revision point the way to a coherent statement.
The Latin noun probus, meaning “virtuous” or “worthy,” is the ultimate source of probe and probability and their variants, which are listed and defined in this post.
Each year, several major lexicographers release their word of the year—the term that, among the most frequently looked-up words during the previous twelve months, has most prominently captured the zeitgeist. This post discusses the 2016 selections.
Parenthetical marks can cause difficulties for writers—and, as a result, for readers. In each of the following examples, parentheses are misused; discussion and revision of each sentence follow.
All but one of the following sentences demonstrate incorrect use of ellipses according to The Chicago Manual of Style and most other style guides; revise the sentence as necessary.
This post lists a number of words that were introduced to the lexicon by novelists and other writers during the nineteenth century.
Writers often mistakenly introduce intrusive “colonization” where it is not necessarily. In each of the following examples, as explained in the discussion, the colon is superfluous.
Despite the fact that the first two syllables of bogeyman are pronounced just like boogie, the antics of bogeymen, vaguely defined imaginary beings conjured to threaten misbehaving children—as far as can be ascertained—do not include dancing, and the words are apparently unrelated.
The word cede and words with the syllable -cede share an origin with other similarly spelled words that in some sense refer to withdrawal. This post lists and defines those terms.
Numerous terms, many of them derived from colorful underworld slang, exist to refer to the action of cheating or fooling someone. This post describes the connotation inherent in some of these words and phrases.
All but one of the following sentences incorrectly employs or omits a semicolon; revise sentences as necessary to demonstrate correct use of punctuation.
In each of the sentences below, the omission of one comma (two commas, in one case) obscures the intended meaning. Discussion and revision following each example provides clarity.