Yet 3 More Cases of Dangling Modifiers

In each of the following sentences, a phrase that is intended to modify the core of the sentence is treated as if it is associated with the subject, but a flaw in the sentence construction leaves the modifier dangling, hence the phrase denoting this type of error. Discussion after each example points out the problem, … Read more

Beware of Wielding Unwieldy Jargon

This post pertains to the pitfalls of employing jargon to convey ideas without considering that colorful usage may confound instead of convey. I once edited a book that referred to “dual-wielding pistols,” a reference to the trademark weapons of a movie character: a brace of flintlock pistols. Mentally shaking my head in mild consternation, I … Read more

3 Types of Unnecessary Hyphenation

An extraneous instance of hyphenation occurs in each of the following sentences. Discussion after each example explains the error, and revisions illustrate correct treatment. 1. Those organizations that adapt will be able to excel in the long-term. Some pairs of words closely associated because they commonly appear together as phrasal adjectives are often unnecessarily hyphenated … Read more

Gratitude and Congratulations

Gratitude and congratulations, along with some other words with the element grat and associated with giving thanks, are related. Such words, and a couple of disguised cognates, are listed and defined in this post. Gratitude, and the other words discussed here, derive from the Latin adjective gratus, meaning “pleasing” or “thankful.” Gratitude is the state … Read more

Punctuation Quiz #25: Possessive Apostrophes

One use of the apostrophe is to form the possessive case of nouns and indefinite pronouns. Add apostrophes to show possession as needed in the following sentences. 1. All my friends and I gather at the Joneses house every Christmas Eve. 2. We celebrated JFKs life on the fiftieth anniversary of his death. 3. Everyones … Read more

3 Cases of Misuse of Dashes

In each of the following sentences, dashes are erroneously employed, resulted in confused sentences. Discussion following each example explains the problem, and one or more revisions illustrate solutions. 1. When driving long distances—know that children get restless. A dash is not applicable when one clause naturally follows another. “Know that children get restless” does not … Read more

3 Examples of Confusion Caused by Missing Words

In each of the sentences below, omission of a small but key word muddles the statement’s meaning. Discussion after each example explains the problem, and a revision to each sentence provides a clarifying solution. 1. Some organizations still look at privacy and security as a cost/benefit equation, rather than an issue that could create long-term … Read more

3 Types of Redundancy to Avoid

Redundancy in a sentence is annoying, and it is also a nuisance. Conveying information in more than one way, or by repeating wording, is consciously or subconsciously distracting to the reader and contributes to compositional clutter. Note in the discussions and revisions following each example how the sentence in question can be improved by deleting … Read more

Admonitions and Premonitions

Admonition and premonition are two members of a small word family based on a root pertaining to scolding or warning. The family is introduced below. The Latin verb monere, meaning “advise,” “express disapproval,” or “warn,” is the root of admonition and premonition. Admonition and its sister noun admonishment are distinguished by the senses “warning about … Read more

3 Examples of Incorrect Use of Semicolons

In each of the following sentences, semicolons are incorrectly employed. Discussion following each example explains why the use of one or more semicolons is an error, and revisions demonstrate proper punctuation. 1. The lack of specificity allows flexibility; but the lack of clarity also makes certification less certain. This sentence consists of two independent clauses. … Read more

45 Synonyms for “Road”

This post lists synonyms for road and specific terms for various types of roads. It excludes words primarily of use in British English or in other languages, as well as other senses of the terms. 1. alley: a narrow street, especially one providing access to the rear of buildings or lots between blocks 2. alleyway: … Read more

3 Cases of Tense Errors

Each verb in a sentence should reflect the tense appropriate to the specific phrase rather than conform to the tense of another verb in the sentence. In each of the sentences below, a verb is not in the correct tense. Each example is followed by a discussion and a revision. 1. They are emblems of … Read more