Jonathon Owen is a copy editor and book designer with a master's degree in linguistics from Brigham Young University. His thesis explores the role of copyediting in regulating English usage, and he holds the paradoxical view that it's possible to be a prescriptivist and descriptivist simultaneously. He writes about usage, editing, and linguistics at arrantpedantry.com, and he also writes a column on grammar for Copyediting newsletter. In his free time he likes to play Scrabble and design word-nerdy t-shirts. You can follow him on Twitter at @ArrantPedantry
On the surface, and/or seems like a helpful but mostly harmless little phrase — a little ugly, perhaps, but still useful for those times when you want to be extra clear about what all the options are. Most people associate the phrase with legal writing, but it turns out that a surprising number of lawyers and judges hate it, claiming that it's actually unclear and thus impossible to interpret. Continue reading...
Topics: Usage Words Writing
The distinction between less and fewer is one of the most popular rules in the peevers' arsenal. Students have it drilled into their heads that fewer is for things you can count while less is for things you can't. But there's a problem: the rule as it's commonly taught is wrong, and it's dulling our sense of what's actually right. Continue reading...
Lately I've been noticing the phrase as such everywhere. It's not just a recency illusion; according to corpus data, it really is on the rise. And with that rise comes a shift in function and a corresponding effort to halt that shift. Continue reading...
Topics: Language Usage Words
Jonathon Owen is a copy editor and student of linguistics who "holds the paradoxical view that it's possible to be a prescriptivist and descriptivist simultaneously." Here, he looks at how people can get tripped up on words with unusual plural forms like phenomena. Continue reading...

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