Topic:Writing

I asked fellow editors recently what usage rule they wanted to know more about or what rule they saw broken regularly. I received lots of answers (thanks, all!), including this one: "Why is worth preceded with a possessive noun or pronoun, as in two days' worth?" Continue reading...
TOPICS: Grammar, Usage, Writing
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"A breath of fresh air." "Few and far between." "At the end of the day." These are just a few of the clichés examined by Orin Hargraves, an experienced lexicographer and one of our regular contributors, in his new book It's Been Said Before: A Guide to the Use and Abuse of Cliches. In this excerpt, Hargraves explains how to "free your speech and writing of unneeded and detrimental clichés." Continue reading...
TOPICS: Books, Language, Writing
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One of the students in my Fiction Writing Workshop told a classmate to take a red pen and cross out the multitude of adverbs he had strewn throughout his story. The rest of the class nodded their heads in agreement. But just before I could move us on to the next item on the agenda, the author asked the young woman who'd spoken up, "But why? Why can't I use adverbs?" Continue reading...
TOPICS: Teaching, Usage, Writing
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We're happy to introduce the first in a series of tips on usage and style from the inimitable Grammar Girl, a.k.a. Mignon Fogarty. First up: how do you punctuate do and don't when the words are pluralized? Continue reading...
TOPICS: Usage, Words, Writing
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One of the things everyone remembers about Shakespeare, whether they spent a few weeks on one play in high school or an entire semester on several plays in college, is that he wrote in iambic pentameter. Some may also have vague recollections about their teacher explaining that iambic pentameter isn't difficult to understand, because English "naturally" falls into its rhythms. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Language, Poetry, Writing
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As Black History Month comes to a close, we are proud to feature a fantastic new reference book: Bartlett's Familiar Black Quotations. As Henry Louis Gates, Jr. states in the foreword, it is an "impressively researched and documented collection of the finest thought produced by writers throughout the African diaspora." Here we present an excerpt from the preface by the book's editor, Retha Powers. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Books, Writers, Writing
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Today is the federal observation of George Washington's birthday, also called Presidents' Day. Five years ago, an unfortunate typo was discovered in a quotation from Washington chiseled on the front of the New York State Supreme Courthouse. That typo still lingers today. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Politics, Usage, Writing
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