Category Archives: Uncategorized

“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

“Be vewwy quiet! I’m hunting intensifiers!”


A modifier is a word or phrase that modifies another word or phrase by adding descriptive, limiting, or qualifying details. Adjectives modify nouns, and adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and everything else. Intensifiers are a special class of modifier that work … Continue reading

Posted in Growing as a writer, Style, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Are short sentences better than long sentences?


Writer Cynthia Robertson is railing against “The Cult of the Short Sentence.“ [Update 5:29 central time, 27 July 2011: I removed the Robertson quote at her request.] In my experience, long sentences frequently turn up when the writer doesn’t notice … Continue reading

Posted in Style, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

The power of well-chosen words


This one speaks for itself:

Posted in Creativity, Uncategorized, Video, Word Choice | Leave a comment

Periods and Commas and Quotation Marks: In or Out?


The rules of punctuation can often be likened to the Pirate’s Code, as described by Captain Barbossa in the movie The Pirates of The Caribbean: “…the code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.” Nowhere is this clearer … Continue reading

Posted in Polls, Punctuation, Style manual, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Ask an editor: Is “Beg the question” a lost cause?


Bill Van Benschoten asks: “Recent reports of wrongdoing in the federal government beg the question of how closely citizens  should monitor their elected and unelected leaders.” Correct? Acceptable? Or should we still hold the ground on the earlier sense of … Continue reading

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Ask an editor


Do you have a burning grammar question keeping you awake nights? A thorny punctuation issue you’re trying to untangle? A ponderous usage problem weighing you down? Fear not! I’m here to offer my assistance. Just fill in the information below, … Continue reading

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In today’s mail…


Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Advocates by Ross Guberman of Legal Writing Pro.

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Hyphenating compound words


Phil W. (of Brandywine Books fame) writes: I have a question about compound words. I understand that using compounds as modifiers requires a hyphen, e.g. our decision-making process, but my organization often uses compounds as nouns, e.g. disciple-maker or “Editing … Continue reading

Posted in Grammar, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Picking the right word: shear vs. sheer


Engineering has been described as the art of carefully selecting the right screw for a situation, and then pounding it in with a wrench. (Apologies to my three engineer brothers.) Some people apply the same approach to selecting words. A … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized, Word Choice | Tagged , , | 4 Comments