Vague, Vagrant, and Vagabond

The three words in the title above, and others that share a derivation alluding to a lack of certainty or direction, are defined and discussed in this post.

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What is a Calque?

One way in which the English language is enriched is the acquisition of calques, or literal translations of foreign words and phrases. This post lists and defines calques from various languages.

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3 Ways to Make Sentences More Concise

Sentences need not be pared down to essentials—the challenge is to make them as coherent as possible, not as concise as possible—but careful writers will craft and revise their writing in part by minimizing the number of words necessary to convey their thoughts. Three simple strategies are demonstrated in discussions of and revisions to the following examples of sentences that can and should be improved.

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Conditionals Besides “If” and “Unless”

If and unless are common conditional conjunctions employed to express conjecture and uncertainty, but a number of other words and phrases that perform similar functions are discussed in this post.

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Noise Canceling or Noise-Canceling?

An advertisement for “Noise Cancelling” headphones prompts this post about how easily the vagaries of spelling and punctuation complicate the simple act of describing something in writing.

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3 Cases of “Not Only . . . but Also” Variations

Sentences that employ the “not only . . . but also” counterpoint (as in “I visited not only France but also Spain”) can confound writers, who often fail to apply logical syntax when using this construction. As shown in the examples below, such confusion often occurs in similarly posed statements. Discussion and revision of each sentence explains and illustrates coherent use of related constructions.

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What Does “Retro” Mean?

What, exactly does retro mean, and where does it come from? This post discusses the definition and derivation of this modern-looking but old-fashioned term.

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Secure and Sure

Secure and sure, along with a handful of other words originating from those terms, share an etymology. These words are listed and defined in this post.

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10 Tips for Clean, Clear Writing

Adhering to the following guidance about usage, syntax, punctuation, style, and form will perceptibly improve the quality of your writing.

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