3 Types of Compound-Word Errors

Compound words can easily confuse writers. Compound nouns, for example, are variously styled closed (for example, horseshoe), hyphenated (light-year), and open (“income tax”). But correctly formatting a noun isn’t the only challenge when it comes to determining whether one word or two is appropriate. This post discusses three classes of errors in usage regarding compounds. […]

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Grammar Quiz #21: Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Clauses

A nonrestrictive clause is a subordinate clause that may be left out of a sentence without significantly altering the meaning expressed by the main clause. In a restrictive clause, on the other hand, the information is related to a word in the main clause. Nonrestrictive clauses are set off by commas; restrictive clauses are not. […]

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3 Examples of Problems with Parallel Structure

In each of the following sentences, sentence construction obscures the complementary relationship between parallel phrases. Discussion following each example explains the problem, and revisions illustrate solutions. 1. Follow this step with user support and usage monitoring to ensure a smooth transition and optimal user experience during and post-implementation. The phrase “during and post-implementation” is treated […]

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Words Drawn from “Trahere”

The Latin verb trahere is the source of an assortment of words pertaining to drawing or to drawing or pulling out. This post lists and defines the English descendant tract and terms formed from that root word; a follow-up post will discuss trahere’s disguised offspring. Most words in the trahere family are based on tract, […]

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Avoid Beginning a Sentence with “With”

Sentences (and clauses) that begin with with are doomed to be weak. The following sentences suffer from this affliction; discussions describe how to improve the sentence, and revisions demonstrate the solutions. 1. With a quarter-billion-dollar industry possible, there is a real possibility of supporting the community with something other than an economy based on a […]

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Words for Names of People

Words that include the element nym, and some that include nom, pertain to names and naming. Such terms as anonymous (literally, “without a name”) and pseudonym (“false name”) are ubiquitous, but most others in this class are more or less obscure. This post lists and defines such terms that pertain to individuals and groups of […]

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Vocabulary Quiz #14: Commonly Confused Words

In each sentence, choose the correct word from the pair of similar terms. (If both words possibly can be correct, choose the more plausible one.) 1. Sallie’s parents criticized her constantly as a child; as a result, she has difficulty accepting a ______ . a) compliment b) complement 2. Many citizens feel that the government […]

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Words as Words

Using italics and quotation marks to emphasize words and phrases is a useful technique, but for the sake of clarity, such formatting should be used only in the manner described in this post. Italics help readers understand that a word is being presented as the label for a concept and not as a concept itself, […]

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3 Examples of Dangling Modifiers

In each of the sentences below, the sentence has been constructed so that the noun or pronoun that a modifying phrase should refer to is missing, which may or may not cause reader confusion but definitely will distract, often because an inanimate object is mistakenly ascribed human agency, sometimes resulting in an unintentionally humorous reading. […]

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3 Cases of Poorly Constructed Points and Counterpoints

In each of the following sentences, a point and a counterpoint are posited, but the phrasing that supports them is poorly constructed; explanations and revisions that follow each example describe the problem and provide a solution. 1. The cynic in me believes it’s rarely done for aesthetic reasons but for strictly commercial ones. This sentence […]

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An Assortment of 30 Synonyms for “Assortment,” “Mixture,” or “Variety”

This post lists thirty words to employ as alternatives for assortment, mixture, and variety, accompanied by brief definitions. 1–2. An agglomerate or agglomeration is a jumbled collection or mass, and the first variant also serves as a noun and an adjective (and can also refer to a volcanic rock consisting of various combined fragments). Agglomeration […]

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3 More Cases of Dangling Modifiers

In each of the following sentences, a phrase that is intended to modify the core of the sentence is treated as if it is associated with the subject, but a flaw in the sentence construction leaves the modifier dangling, hence the phrase denoting this type of error. Discussion after each example points out the problem, […]

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