Author Archives: Roy Jacobsen

Spot the Error: Pundit Edition


Spotted in a bit of political commentary: If the Romney team believed their own inevitability rhetoric, failing to invest for victory yesterday just as they did before South Carolina, that doesn’t auger well for their ability to make sound decisions … Continue reading

Posted in Spot the Error | 6 Comments

“Writing is a skill, not a talent”


“Writing is a skill, not a talent, and this difference is important because a skill can be improved by practice.” –Robert Stacy McCain, The Other McCain

Posted in Good advice from here and there, Quotations | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Need to apologize? Speak plain English.


There are good ways and bad ways to address a customer service fiasco. Courtesy of Southwest Airlines, here’s one of the bad ways: “We are working directly with the family after sincerely apologizing and issuing a full refund for their … Continue reading

Posted in Business writing, Plain Language | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Never underestimate the power of sitting down and doing it


Author John Scalzi recently ran across something he wrote back in 1997 upon finishing his first novel: [L]ike most things on the planet, thinking about doing it is a lot worse than simply sitting down and doing it. The writing … Continue reading

Posted in Good advice from here and there | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Spot the Error: Lists Edition


Here’s a poser for you: Our local daily newspaper has a front-page article describing how frequently Fargo makes it into lists generated by various magazines, newspapers, and websites. A few paragraphs into the story is this: Meanwhile, The Daily Beast … Continue reading

Posted in Spot the Error | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Exculpate the lacuna


Yes, there’s been a lengthy break in posting; real life has reared its head with its normal mix of good, bad, and indifferent disruptions. We will have normal service restored shortly. And for those of you wondering whether I got … Continue reading

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“Friends, Romans, countrymen, borrow lend me your ears”


Borrow Lend me your attention and let me share this gaffe on a newspaper website that my friend Fred pointed out: The day before, his sister Dolly Wambach, of Georgetown, Minn., and family spent about 12 hours loading the tops … Continue reading

Posted in Grammar, Uncategorized, Usage | Tagged | 3 Comments

New special report available: “Put Your Writing to the Test”


Can you tell if your writing will get the results you want? Will that document, that letter, that brochure meet the goals you have for it? Is there some way to find out? Yes! There are four inexpensive methods you … Continue reading

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Voting opens for Best Grammar Blog of 2011! Vote now!


Voting has opened for the Grammar.net Best Grammar Blog of 2011 Award, and Writing, Clear and Simple is one of the nominees. This is the first time my blog has been nominated for an award like this, and it feels … Continue reading

Posted in Announcements | Tagged , | 1 Comment

No such thing as “very imperative”


Can something be “very imperative?” No, it can’t. I’ve already written about the overuse of intensifiers, our habit of tacking adverbs like very, really, and extremely onto words in an attempt to turn up the intensity of our language. While … Continue reading

Posted in Grammar, Usage, Word Choice | Tagged , , | 4 Comments