Grammar

Freakin’ Awesome

Recently, on Twitter, a fellow tweeter (who shall remain unnamed) asked me to stop using awesome to mean, like, really cool. This person, like many others, is frustrated that the milder use common among Americans is weakening a once-powerful word. The first definition of awesome in most dictionaries is its more traditional meaning: inspiring great […]

More Grammatical Than Thou

Gabe Doyle, the linguist behind the Motivated Grammar blog, put up a good post a couple weeks ago about the fine-for-me-but-not-for-thee attitude among some grammar peevers. Thus we see Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams writing a screed against sentential hopefully*, but then absolving herself for using stabby and rapey… When she says rapey, she sees it as the considered usage of a professional writer, […]

The Lost Because

I have a proofreader who corrects every “because of” to “as a result of,” and I’d like to know if she just hates “because of” or if there is a some rule I’m unaware of. For example, “Overall, oil services’ operating margins will likely contract as a result of reduction in available rigs.” Would “because […]

Insure vs. Ensure

When do I use “insure” and when do I use “ensure”? I can never remember which is which. Well, there’s a pretty good reason that you find them confusing. Technically, they started out as just variant spellings of one another, so they meant the same thing. And some sources will tell you that insure can still mean […]

He or Him?

This morning I wrote this, prompting one of my readers to send me an angry email: “Aramis Ramirez was hit by a pitch yesterday for the 100th time as a major leaguer, making he and Rickie Weeks just the fourth pair of 100 HBP teammates in major league history.” I think their primary concern was […]

Pesky Prepositions

Why, oh, why did I start this blog out with a post about prepositions when I know full well that those pesky little words are constantly setting traps for the unwary? Hubris, I suppose. Although the point of my last post is still perfectly sound, it appears I goofed with at least one of the sample sentences I […]

Ending a Sentence with a Preposition

What are your feelings on terminal prepositions? Oh, this is an easy one. The “rule” against ending a sentence with a preposition is an age-old bugaboo. Consider these perfectly natural English sentences: “Which pocket did you leave the keys in?” “What exit should I get off at?” “Here’s that store I told you about.”* “Please, […]

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