3 Cases of Poorly Constructed Points and Counterpoints

In each of the following sentences, a point and a counterpoint are posited, but the phrasing that supports them is poorly constructed; explanations and revisions that follow each example describe the problem and provide a solution. 1. The cynic in me believes it’s rarely done for aesthetic reasons but for strictly commercial ones. This sentence … 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

5 Types of Usage Errors

Words can be misused in a variety of ways, as illustrated in the following examples, each followed by an explanatory discussion and a revision. 1. A massive diffused bomb sat in the middle of the courtyard. One form of erroneous word usage is use of a similar-sounding word, as in the case of effect in … Read more

When Jargon Fails

Jargon has its purposes. In content pertaining to popular culture, when employing slang to engage readers and other consumers of entertaining information, concise and/or colorful slang enlivens the experience. But in writing about business and technology, jargon can encumber rather than enhance comprehension, and writers should take care to use it judiciously. Consider this sentence: … Read more

A Capitalization Cheat Sheet

Capitalization is a bewilderingly complex issue, with many rules and exceptions. This post outlines the basic, most common guidelines for capitalization, with examples. Academic degrees: Lowercase—“bachelor’s degree”; capitalize entirety of most abbreviations (with a few exceptions, including PhD and DLitt) Academic disciplines: Capitalize only proper names—“Asian studies” (except as part of a full name of … Read more

Misuse of Connective Symbols with Numbers

In each of the following sentences, a connective symbol is employed in a reference to numbers or numerical values, but the usage is incorrect. Explanation of the error, and a revision of the error, follows each example. 1. Open enrollment for 2018 runs from November 1 – December 15. A connective symbol linking two values … Read more

5 Examples of Repetition and Redundancy

In each of the following sentences, repetition of words or phrases or redundant use of similar terms is easily eliminated, as described in the explanations and shown in the revisions that follow each example. 1. This procedure is called an assay. An assay determines the purity of a precious metal. The repetition in this sentence … Read more

How to Refer to Monetary Amounts

How should references to amounts of money be styled? The key to answering that question is context. Casual, isolated references, as well as approximations, are generally spelled out, as in the examples below: “I’m just putting in my two cents’ worth.” “Remember when a candy bar cost twenty-five cents?” “I have only five dollars in … 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

3 Cases of Inconsistent Wording in Lists

Whether items are listed in line (within a sentence) or vertically, the syntactical structure of the items should be consistent. In the following three examples, discussion and revision illustrate this point. First Example 1. Integrity to the Discipline 2. Constructive Board Engagement 3. Effective Risk Positioning 4. Establish a Learning Culture 5. Set Appropriate Incentives … Read more

3 Examples of Mismatched Inflectional Endings

When verbs serve parallel functions within a sentence, they should be treated with the same inflectional ending (-s/-es, -ed, or -ing) or should both have no inflectional ending at all. In each of the following examples, discussions explain this point in greater detail, and revisions illustrate adherence to this rule. 1. Below, we outline the … Read more