December 15, 2009  •  damienveatch

decapitalize vs. uncapitalize

I’m stuck on the correct use of “un-” (as in “reverse action”) and “de-”. Specifically, I want to write that a student should change an incorrectly capitalized word to the lower case. Should he “uncapitalize” it or “decapitalize” it? It’s true that the word should be uncapitalized, but since he incorrectly capitalized it in the first place, must he now decapitalize it?

December 11, 2009  •  rib

Twenty-ten vs Two thousand-ten

If you ever listen to Charles Osgood, you know he has been saying “twenty-oh-one” rather than “two thousand-one” for, well, about nine years. The usage is parallel to calling the year 1901 “nineteen-oh-one” rather than “nineteen hundred-one”, yet it never caught on with the general public. Now, however, the stakes are higher with “twenty-ten” saving a whole syllable vs. “two-thousand-ten”, aside from being easier to pronounce. Yet I still mostly hear the latter. Am I going to have to grate my teeth every time I hear “two-thousand-x” for the rest of my life, or is there hope that the English-speaking world will come to it’s senses?

December 3, 2009  •  josh2

A perfectly acceptable construction

“It has a great construction” sets my teeth on edge every time a writer I work with uses the phrase in written English. Is this correct/standard usage? It sounds so wrong to me, but I can’t point to the rule it violates. Am I simply biased against... A perfectly acceptable construction? These sound/seem so wrong:. My t-shirt has a durable cotton construction. That house has a great construction. With a construction of 100% cotton, her dress... I think you omit the indefinite article.

December 3, 2009  •  lainiewhitney

Prohibits...to be or from being?

When using the word prohibits... which is correct? ...which prohibits fences 4 ft in height from being erected ... or ...which prohibits fences 4 ft in height to be erected ...which prohibits any fence from being constructed... or ...which prohibits any fence to be constructed

December 1, 2009  •  redfern

Moments & Seconds

Are you writers aware of time? More and more often I read about a character staring at another character for several moments. If you mean several brief time periods, try using seconds. It’s much more powerful and precise. For example, “the angry client stared at the well-dressed bank manager for several seconds”. That’s believable and many of us have experience glaring at someone for several seconds. But if you use several “moments” in that phrase it just sounds endless and wrong and inaccurate. Who holds eye contact for several “moments”? Unless it’s a prelude to a kiss, someone is sure to walk away before several moments are up.

November 26, 2009  •  whoopycat

“...not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

I’m curious as to the origin of the phrase “...not that there’s anything wrong with that.” I have a vague recollection of hearing it for the first time -- possibly in a comedian’s act? -- many years ago, clearly in the context that it now seems to ubiquitously have: a reference to homosexuality. For the life of me, I cannot recall who it was I first heard say this. I do seem to recall that it was long before Seinfeld made it popular. Does anyone else have a similar memory?

October 30, 2009  •  yd

Table of Content vs Table of Contents

Apart from the fact that convention is clearly “Table of Contents”, is there a grammatical reasoning for “Table of Content” vs “Table of Contents”? I guess it comes down to whether the noun “content” is one that can be counted, i.e. several contents, or not. My instinct is that in fact, content is not an enumerable noun, i.e. it should be Table of Content. But does that mean that MS Word, LaTeX and all other Desktop Publishers out there are just wrong? YD

October 28, 2009  •  simon

Causative or Causal?

What is the correct usage of causative and causal? If, for example, you want to describe the etiological agent of a disease, would you call it a “causative agent” or a “causal agent”?

October 5, 2009  •  juttin

p. v. pp.

Why is “page” abbreviated “p” while “pages” is “pp”? Of somewhat less interest to me, I also wonder whether “p” or “p.” is the correct notation?

October 1, 2009  •  andy2

Heaven or heaven?

Talking about the concept of the afterlife in Catholicism, would you capitalize Heaven? Moreover, what about Hell?

September 16, 2009  •  aaron

Loose = Lose?

I have noticed dozens of examples of people, mainly on the Internet, typing the word “loose” when what they really mean is “lose.” For instance, “I didn’t want to loose the car keys.” Do you know when or how this annoying mistake came to be? It seems like it has only been going on for the past year or so, but it could be longer.

September 10, 2009  •  jeremiah

Fetch Referring to People?

A friend has issue with the use of “fetch” used to mean “go get someone.” She referred to its association with having a dog “fetch” something as being offensive: “it is not okay to use a word commonly known for a dog retrieving a bone to refer to a human being - period.” And also hinted its use as being inappropriate in a professional/office setting. The definition i have says: “go for and then bring back (someone or something)” and says nothing at all about it being a dog trick. Also interesting that someone is listed before something. What do you say?

August 30, 2009  •  ronaldlhughes

Why have media changed our words?

I ask each of you to consider the fact that a certain word seems to have disappeared from all of our media! What you say, that is impossible! Well just read the news or listen to the news, etc. and you will find out that a very simple word has been replaced by a more complicated word, and every one is doing it in the Media! And, I mean everyone! The word is “Pled” / “Plead, which can be a short version of “Pleaded”! You have been unable to see the shortened version of “pleaded” in either print media or hear it in TV, or Radio media for about ten or so years now, maybe even longer. Instead of a news account saying “John Doe pled / plead guilty yesterday”, all media will say “John Doe (or “they”) pleaded guilty yesterday!” My question is, WHY? And why wasn’t I told about it? And why did everone else know it was no longer to be used before I noticed it was totally missing in my world of today? Why, Why was I not involved in the numerous discussions which must have taken place amongst the learned persons of this society? Why was not there a Public Opinion Poll taken, which whould have made it a majority descision? Why? I now asume that most Media will still state that, “John Doe bled to death”, or will they change this to, “John Doe bleeded to death?” And what might happen to “led”, will it be “leded” or even “leaded” away? What will we all do about the use of this phrase “John Doe was shot “to death” yesterday!” Is now possible for someone to be “Shot to life?” How about the never let a chance go unused use of the terms; “immeasurable”, and “countless”, and “un-countable”, and, and ?, when most every thing that the Media considers as “countless” or “imeasurable”, etc., is in fact either “measurable” or “countable!” When will it stop? And if it does, will anyone let me know? Ron

August 20, 2009  •  Dyske

Is Punctuation Part of “Mechanics”?

According to my research, punctuation is part of “mechanics”. If so, is it redundant to say, “punctuation and mechanics”? I do see many instances of people using “punctuation and mechanics”. For instance, I came across an article written by an English professor entitled “Common Mistakes of English Grammar, Mechanics, and Punctuation”. If punctuation is indeed part of mechanics, then this title itself would be a mistake ironically.

August 19, 2009  •  jenn

Capitalization of dog breeds

When referring to “French” and “English” bulldogs, the geographic part of the breed will always be capitalized. What are the rules about capitalizing the stand alone word “bulldog?” From what I understand, AKC dropped the requirement to use “English” in front of the word “bulldog” (or so I’ve been told....) so I am left with the word “bulldog.” Should I capitalize or not? I referred to the AKC site to see how they were handling the capitalization and they begin by capitalizing the word then use a non-capitalized version throughout their article. Thoughts?

August 12, 2009  •  zipetaa

Difference between a release and a waiver

I translated some legal agreement several day ago. It is about an accident in a hospital resulting in the death of AAA. In this agreement, it is provided that AAA’s parents would waive (the term I used) all claims they may have against the Hospital and something like that, but my boss told me yesterday that “release” should be used in this case. I referred to certain dictionaries, but found nothing that can explain their difference. Can the term “waive” be used in this case? Is there any difference between a waiver and a release? Many thanks

August 5, 2009  •  jayd

obstinacy vs. obstinancy

I’ve seen both of these words used to describe a person’s stubbornness. Obstinacy seeming to come from obstinate, and obstinancy seeming to derive from obstinant. Which is the correct form of the word, and is there some sort of subtle difference between the two?

July 31, 2009  •  franka

46 year old heated Caribbean debate

Good Day All, I live in Trinidad and Tobago and for the last 46 years there’s been an argument about a point of grammar in our National Anthem. The last line is (what we learn in kindergarden): “Here every creed and race FIND an equal place” Some say this is grammatically correct. Others argue that it should be, “Here every creed and race FINDS an equal place”. Thousands of Letters to the Editor have been written arguing about this issue. Anyone care to help us solve this dilemma?

July 30, 2009  •  johnkoh

a long sentence with the verb “demand”

I want to write as follows, but it is confusing.: This modern society, which is increasingly being globalized and opening to the world, demands the attitude of understanding different countries and respecting different culture on the basis of broad knowledge of various places of the world of students of this era. The above ‘s structure is as follows: The modern society demands something of somebody. Here, something is [the attitude of understanding different countries and respecting different culture on the basis of broad knowledge of various places of the world], and somebody is [students of this era] The setence structure can be simplified as follows: This modern society, which is increasingly being globalized and opening to the world, demands [the attitude of understanding different countries and respecting different culture on the basis of broad knowledge of various places of the world] of [students of this era]. I am not sure in such a case, how I should write it. One solutin may be this? This modern society, which is increasingly being globalized and opening to the world, demands, of [students of this era], [the attitude of understanding different countries and respecting different culture on the basis of broad knowledge of various places of the world]. Please help me, thank you very much.

July 26, 2009  •  mikesheehan

“on the day”

Normally, I would say “Williams had 4 singles for the day,” but many sportscasters use “ON the day” instead. Does anyone know the origin of this use? The editor of an online baseball encyclopedia had no idea, so I’m not sure where to go for an answer.

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