Treatment of Words That Include “Self”

Appropriately enough, the self-centered word self, when combined with others, sometimes gets special treatment. Self, as a prefix, is attached by a hyphen to other words in several parts of speech. The combination can be a noun (self-control), an adjective (self-absorbed), a verb (self-medicate), or an adverb (self-importantly). It can also refer literally to a … Read more

Denounce vs. Renounce

What’s the difference between denounce and renounce? Their related Latin ancestors shared a neutral sense, but in English they acquired exclusively condemnatory connotations. Denounce is externally directed — one denounces another’s words or deeds — while renounce is internally focused — one renounces one’s own viewpoints or actions, or is called on to do so. … Read more

Another Quiz About Parallel Structure in Sentences

Errors of organization plague writing — not just in overall structure or paragraph formation but also even within sentences. One frequent problem is a misunderstanding about how multiple elements in a sentence must be marshaled to clearly communicate relationships between the components. In each sentence below, repair the lapse in parallel structure and then compare … Read more

How to Convert an Adjective to an Adverb

How do you determine whether the adverbial form of an adjective should end in -ly or -ally? For most adjectives, the reason to use -ally, rather than -ly, is that you’re adding -ly to a noun plus the inflection -al, which forms the adjective, as in emotionally, musically, or traditionally. You’re starting with emotion, music, … Read more