Patron and Matron

As Latin scholars may recognize, patron and matron are cognate with the Latin words for “mother” and “father.” However, their senses, and those of inflectional forms of these words, extend beyond the immediately family. Patron, which means “sponsor” or “supporter,” ultimately derives from the Latin term pater, meaning “father,” but the senses of its intermediate … Read more

Grammar Quiz #14: Irregular Verbs

Choose the verb that fills the blank most appropriately. 1. No sooner had the family spread out their picnic, than it _______ to rain. a) began b) begun 2. When I saw the look on Zack’s face, I knew he had _______ his promise. a) broken b) broke 3. At the signal everyone _______ and … Read more

3 Cases of Incomplete Parallel Structure

In each of the sentences below, an action or result is described in comparison or contrast to another, but the phrasing that expresses the parallel between the two phenomena is faulty. Discussion after each example explains the problem, and revisions illustrate solutions. 1. The statue was vandalized in a similar fashion as another statue in … Read more

The Prefix “Hypo” and Related Words

A recent post listed and defined words with the Greek prefix hyper– (meaning “above,” “beyond,” or “over”). Here, words based on its antonym, hypo-, are the focus. The most common words beginning with hypo– include hypodermic (literally, “under skin”), an adjective describing injection under the skin or tissue or growths beneath the skin (the word … Read more

More About “Mission”

A recent post listed and defined many words containing the element mit and miss and descended from the Latin verb mittere, meaning “send.” This follow-up offers related words not as easily discerned as being part of the mittere family. But first, here are the details about a word integral to this vocabulary family but not … Read more

Vocabulary Quiz #9: Formal Communication

Rewrite the following sentences to reflect the vocabulary expected in formal communication. 1. The clinic specializes in the treatment of kids 4-12. 2. He should of known that Jackson could not be trusted. 3. Hodges was terminated for insubordination, but Hodges says he was going to resign anyways. 4. The company is going to move … Read more

3 Easy Ways to Write More Concisely

Writers can employ various categorical strategies to make their writing more active and concise. Here are three simple types of unnecessary wording to keep in mind (and out of one’s writing). 1. Extinguish Expletives An expletive is an indirect phrase that only delays a reader’s acquaintance with the writer’s point. Expletives include “There is,” “there … Read more

The Prefix “Hyper” and Related Words

Words with the Greek prefix hyper– (meaning “above,” “beyond,” or “over”) are listed and defined in this post. (A subsequent post will focus on words with the antonymic prefix hypo.) In the medical realm, hyperactivity is excessive behavior often associated with attention deficit disorder (ADD)—also referred to as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)—though the term … Read more

Missions and Omissions

The words listed and defined in this post all stem from the Latin verb mittere, which means “send.” They have in common the element mit (or miss). To admit (literally, “send to”), for example, is to allow something to enter or be sent in, though the word also pertains to acknowledging or conceding something. Such … Read more

Grammar Quiz #13: Pronouns

Correct any pronoun forms that are incorrect in the sentences below. 1. My mother expected my brother and I to do well in school. 2. Mike and me are going to Mexico this summer. 3. Myself and Alan volunteer every Saturday at the animal shelter. 4. When we get to the theme park, all the … Read more

3 Types of Misplaced Modifiers

Poor placement within sentences of words that provide details can hamper comprehension. Take care to avoid the various types of pitfalls demonstrated in the following examples, which are followed by discussion and a revision. 1. The company has been an extremely integral partner for our organization over the past years, both from delivery and leadership … Read more

3 Examples of How a Comma Can Change Meaning

Omission of a lowly comma often alters the intent of a sentence, as demonstrated in the following examples, each followed by discussion and a revision. 1. Customers likely to be the target of any kind of prosecution under this law include individuals who use tax planners such as celebrities and politicians. This sentence mistakenly implies … Read more