Two Verb Puzzles in the News

I suppose I may be exposing my own comprehension failings by writing about two verb uses that puzzled me recently. I’ll just have to take the chance. In a New York Times article (Jan 3, 2020) about the death of an Iranian military operative, I had to read the following sentence three times before I … Read more

5 Wordy Sentences Examples and Corrections

The careful writer always reviews their prose, and one of the qualities they aspire to demonstrate is conciseness, or brevity of expression. Revision of the following wordy sentences, accompanied by commentary about the revision, provides specific examples of the types of verbosities to eliminate. 1. There are seventy-seven industry-specific codified standards, launched in November 2018 … Read more

Understanding “Either … Or” and “Neither … Nor”

If you’re presenting two alternatives, you’ll often use an “either … or” or a “neither … nor” construction. Here’s how those work: You can choose either cereal or toast for your breakfast. My friend’s car is neither green nor brown. Either is used in the affirmative sense, when you’re presenting possibilities that are both true … Read more

Brand Identity and Content Quality

Every company is in the business of communication, and now that our society is well into the digital age, and businesses deliver their messages across multiple forms of media, it behooves them to do so with high professional standards. Two significant factors are brand identity and content quality, which are discussed in this post. The … Read more

3 Types of Word Treatment

Spelling, capitalization, and italicization are three aspects of writing that careful writers will attend to. This post discusses the importance of recognizing standards and making conscious decisions when contemplating deviating from them. Spelling Employing proper spelling is one of the fundamentals of composition. Unfortunately, the explosive increase in writing opportunities afforded by the internet and … Read more

How to Write About Ranges

A range is, in written expression, the numerical difference between or among two or more values, or a pair of elements denoting the end points on, and perhaps one or more elements along, a continuum. Using sentences with errors in expressing ranges, this post discusses how to correctly do so in writing. The school enrolls … Read more

Hyphens Guide: Functions and Examples

The functions the hyphen appear to be straightforward, but exceptions and inconsistencies abound. This post serves as a guide to the recommendations of The Chicago Manual of Style regarding hyphenation. Hyphens are often introduced when new noun compounds are created, including in technological vocabulary, but such terms usually become closed compounds, though there are exceptions, … Read more

The 3 Types of Compounds

This post discusses the three types of compounds in English: compound nouns, compound modifiers, and compound verbs. Compound Nouns Compound nouns come in three forms: closed, hyphenated, and open. They are formed by pairing multiple combinations of parts of speech, such as two nouns (workshop), a preposition and a noun (overlord), and a verb and … Read more

Quotation Marks, Apostrophes, and Other Raised Symbols

This post details the function of various symbols that appear the top of a line of type to communicate additional information about the text. Apostrophe The apostrophe signals that, depending on usage, one or more letters are missing or are being added to perform a grammatical function. An apostrophe • marks omission of one or … Read more

A Guide to Vertical Lists

A recent post described how to organize and format in-line lists, those that occur within a sentence. This one explains the proper use of vertical lists, which are organized by setting the items on the list (following an introductory phrase or sentence), apart from each other, distinguished by numbers, letters, or other symbols, on consecutive … Read more

A Guide to Abbreviations

Abbreviations are a sometimes necessary evil, but with the power to employ them comes great responsibility. This post outlines types of abbreviations and associated guidelines. An abbreviation is a shortening of a word or phrase, either by truncation or by abridgement by way of using only the first letter of each word of the term … Read more

Words as Words

Using italics and quotation marks to emphasize words and phrases is a useful technique, but for the sake of clarity, such formatting should be used only in the manner described in this post. Italics help readers understand that a word is being presented as the label for a concept and not as a concept itself, … Read more