Chatter, Natter, and Patter

Three coincidentally rhyming words that all serve as slang to describe idle and extensive talk are discussed in this post. To chatter is to talk quickly and/or casually, though the term also refers to any fast, high-pitched, or clicking sound, such as the involuntary striking of one’s upper and lower teeth in response to cold … Read more

Punctuation Quiz #24: Capitalization

Correct the capitalization in the following sentences. 1. Harry Selfridge was a Self-Made Man who left school at 14 and lived to amass an enormous Fortune in london. 2. At the age of 20, Selfridge went to work at Marshall Field and company in Chicago where he rose from Stock Boy to Junior Partner. 3. … Read more

3 Examples of Erroneous Case Style

In each of the following examples, a phrase employs incorrect treatment as to whether one or more words begin with uppercase or lowercase letters. An explanation, followed by a revision, points out each error. 1. Three of the children developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition with anemia and kidney complications. Names of medical … Read more

3 Cases of Erroneous Use of Colons

In each of the following sentences, a colon is employed in the mistaken belief that the sentence structure requires it, when in fact the syntax renders it superfluous. Discussion after each example explains why a colon is inappropriate, and a revision demonstrates proper punctuation of the sentence. 1. The network is terminating all its business … Read more

3 Cases of Erroneous Punctuation with Quotations

In each of the following sentences, punctuation associated with a quoted phrase or a partial or full quotation is not appropriate. Discussion after each example explains why the punctuation should either be changed or omitted altogether, and one or more revisions illustrate correct treatment of the quoted material. 1. The old saying, “What gets rewarded … Read more

Boxes and Boxing

Is there any connection between the word for a usually square or rectangular container and the name of the contact sport called “the sweet science”? The pugilistic sense of box may be related to the botanical one and therefore to the general sense of an object in which something is situated or enclosed, but no … Read more

Grammar Quiz #20: Verb Tense

The language of wishing requires a particular combination of verb tenses, according to whether the wish is for the present, the past, or the future. Choose the correct verb form for each of the following sentences. 1. I didn’t see the first part of the Hobbit movie. I wish I ________ it. a) saw b) … Read more

5 Ways to Minimize Prepositional Phrases

A prepositional phrase is a series of words beginning with a preposition and providing additional information in a sentence that pertains to position (hence the word preposition) or relationship; the phrase “with a preposition” is itself a prepositional phrase. Though such phrases are not inherently undesirable, they are often easily avoidable contributors to compositional clutter. … Read more

Punctuating Subordinate Clauses

In each of the following sentences, omission of a comma between a main clause and a subordinate clause muddles the meaning. Discussion after each example describes the complication, and a revision demonstrates how to eliminate ambiguity. 1. The candidate’s supporters and protesters championing his rival violently confronted each other in the city’s downtown district leading … Read more

Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2017

The Oxford Dictionaries recently publicized its Word of the Year for 2017 and the runner-up shortlist, and the selections, and a comparison of them with those of Merriam-Webster, are intriguing. The Oxford Dictionaries (part of Oxford University Press) and Merriam-Webster, publishers of the predominant dictionaries in the United Kingdom and the United States, respectively, select … Read more