Difference Between “Barbarous” and “Barbaric”?

Udit Chandna wonders what the difference is between barbarous and barbaric. The short answer is not much. Both words derive from a Greek word meaning “foreign.” The original word was coined as a nonsense word to indicate the sound of a language other than Greek. For the ancient Greeks, the only civilized language was Greek. … Read more

Running Amok or Running Amuck?

We’ve all heard people criticize parents who permit their children to run amok in public places. Or do those badly brought up children run amuck? The first recorded use of the phrase to run amok in English dates from the 1670s. The word amok is from Malay amuk, “attacking furiously.” The expression as we use … Read more

Never Overlook the Arc

This is a guest post by Vic Shayne. If you want to write for Daily Writing Tips check the guidelines here. There are many elements that are key to creating a good story, and the arc is one of the most important of all. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about fiction, nonfiction, a fantasy … Read more

Taking another Pass at “Passed”

In my early days as a classroom teacher, I would occasionally finish giving a lesson on some aspect of English grammar or punctuation with the feeling that it had been so clear and so filled with wonderful examples that my students would never commit a related error again. It didn’t take me long to learn … Read more

Feel Strong or Feel Strongly?

Phil Dragonetti asks about the idiom “to feel strongly about something.” . . . when people say “Oh–I feel badly about that”. . . we know that what they mean is “I feel bad about that.” But what about “I feel strongly about capital punishment.”? That almost sounds right..no?  And “I feel bad about capital … Read more

Back Up Your Writing

John Steinbeck’s dog ate an early draft of Of Mice and Men. Ernest Hemingway famously lost an entire suitcase of his early writings – a suitcase that contained his originals and all his copies. The only copy of Thomas Carlyle’s The History of the French Revolution was destroyed when it was used to light a … Read more

Happy Yuletide!

Today is a day that has been important to human beings from time immemorial. For ancient English speakers, it was Yule. Even now people refer to “the Yuletide season”and sing about the Yule log. Spelled Geola in Old English, Yule is a very ancient English word. Before the English adopted the Roman calendar along with … Read more

Beware of the Irregular Past Participle Forms

When reading articles on the web, especially those on personal blogs, if I see one grammatical error I hesitate to be too critical. Typos happen. When I see the same error a second time, I sense a problem. Here are examples of the same error that occurred in two separate posts on the same site. … Read more

Creating Compelling Characters

This is a guest post by Ali Hale. If you want to write for Daily Writing Tips check the guidelines here. The success of a story rests on its characters. We remember truly compelling, vivid characters long after we’ve finished reading a novel or watching a movie: I’m sure you can recall characters from books … Read more

What’s That Thingummy?

Margareth Wennersteen writes: Today I heard about the word “wotsit” for the first time. . . It was used as a synonym to a “thingy”, which didn’t match with the definitions I found on the web: “Providing the question isn’t in itself version specific, but is more of a “how do I set up my wotsit to … Read more

Tomayto or Tomahto?

DM asks: Why do Americans say tomayto and English speakers say tomaato? What is the rule in this case? This simple question led me on a fascinating journey. When I did a Google search for “tomayto, tomahto,” I got 211,000 hits, most of them having nothing to do with pronunciation. Because of the song, tomayto, … Read more

Word of the Day: Heresy

Heresy is an opinion that goes against the values of an established doctrine or system. It is commonly used in the religious context. He is quick to acknowledge that scholarship is not more important than sanctity, but he still argues that it is sinful, and a kind of heresy, for evangelical Christianity not to honor … Read more