Style Quiz #1: Months, Days, and Years in Dates

All but one of the following sentences demonstrate incorrect style for styling dates according to The Chicago Manual of Style; revise the style of the number as necessary: 1. I’ll expect you on the 25th, then. 2. The study was concluded on 8/22/13. 3. Registration will close on March 31st, 2013. 4. On November 5, … Read more

5 Types of Punctuation Problems

Each of the following sentences omits or misuses punctuation, resulting in possible confusion when a word or phrase is attached to a main clause or a transition occurs. Discussion and revision explain and resolve each error. 1. He has no clue period. What is a clue period? There is no such thing. The person in … Read more

It’s A Great Time to be a Freelance Writer!

Technology certainly created a period of prosperity for writers all around the world. Before the advent of the Web making money as a freelance writer was relatively difficult, because you had a limited number of local publications to work with. Today, on the other hand, there are literally tens of thousands of publications online, on … Read more

What Is the Meaning of “Hack?”

The term hack, which entered general usage with a new, nontechnological sense of “solution” or “work-around,” as in the phrase “life hack,” in the previous decade has undergone an impressive divergence in meanings since it entered the English lexicon hundreds of years ago. However, as with the synonym kludge (also spelled kluge), the etymological origin … Read more

What’s the Difference (and the Connection) Between Marquee and Marquis?

The words marquee and marquis are sometimes confused. Though they have distinct meanings, interestingly enough, one of the terms begat the other. Marquis stems from the Old French term marchis, meaning “border ruler,” from marche, meaning “frontier.” (The latter term was adopted into English as march.) Used in English since the Middle Ages, the title … Read more

Punctuation Quiz #3: Question Marks

All but one of the following sentences demonstrate incorrect style for question marks according to The Chicago Manual of Style; revise the sentence as necessary: 1. Am I to blame? he asked himself. 2. “Were you in the war?,” I asked. 3. I wondered whether she would ever speak to me again? 4. Would you … Read more


Parentheses serve several specific functions, but their general purpose is to set a grammatical unit of content off from the surrounding text. The parenthesized material can range from a single letter, numeral, or other symbol to an entire sentence. (Because enclosing more than one complete sentence in parentheses overextends the digression, it is not recommended.) … Read more

5 Types of Errors When Representing Numbers

Publications generally use one of two systems of referring to numbers: Spell out numbers to ten and use numerals for all larger numbers (with some exceptions such as informal usage of large round numbers such as “a thousand” or “a million”), or spell out to one hundred and use numerals otherwise (with the same exceptions). … Read more

65 Compound Words Ending in “Stone”

Dozens of compound words, all but a few closed, end with the word stone, though some of the terms have figurative senses stemming from the original meaning and a few do not refer to actual types of rock at all. Here’s a list of most if not all compound words in which stone is the … Read more

5 Types of Awkward Wording to Avoid

The following five sentences demonstrate various ways a carelessly worded or constructed sentence can fail to communicate the intended idea. A discussion and a revision follows each example. 1. There is a danger of overreaction and a rush to implement poorly thought through laws and regulations. Because the phrase “thought through” modifies “laws and regulations,” … Read more

“Alt” as an Alternative to “Alternative”

The prefix alt-, an abbreviation of alternate, has appeared in the media lately, attached to the word right to denote a political movement supporting nationalism and opposing multiculturalism and liberal immigration policies. Although this prominence is a very recent phenomenon, the term alt-right—or, at least, its full form, “alternative right”—is not brand new: Coined in … Read more

Grammar Quiz #1: Dangling Participles

All but one of the following sentences includes a dangling modifier. Revise as necessary: 1. Running consistently every day, the workouts steadily became easier. 2. Studying for her degree, there were times when she felt like giving up. 3. Rolling down the hill, my eyes widened as the truck came into view. 4. The Grand … Read more