Submitted by adam  •  March 29, 2006

Over exaggeration

Is it correct to say “over exaggerate”? or is exaggeration by nature already over emphasizing? Surely you either exaggerate or you don’t? It just drives me mad when people say this all the time!

Submitted by billedwards  •  March 28, 2006

The “he or she” problem

I find educated speakers saying the following:

“Everyone must do their duty.” or “The next player must move their piece if the move is possible.”

This is caused because people do not think ahead when speaking. To avoid this, they could start with the plural, such as:

“All of us must do our duty.” or “Players must move their piece if the move is possible”.

What will future grammar books say about the time honored rule that pronouns must agree in gender, number, and case? They must agree in gender, number, and case with the exception that in order to avoid using “he or she” or “his or hers”, the plural may be used as an exception.

Submitted by drewfleischer  •  March 23, 2006

Titles in quotes

I’m writing for a trivia book that will use quote marks to signify a title. Would a correct possessive be:

How tall is “Sesame Street’s” Big Bird? or How tall is “Sesame Street”’s Big Bird?

Submitted by andys  •  March 13, 2006

Magazine title plus a possessive = italics?

In the phrase “...ranked in the top five in PC Magazine’s top-20 list...” I know that “PC Magazine” should be italicized. But should the italic formatting carry over to the apostrophe-s or not?

Submitted by tim  •  March 13, 2006


Why is it that drug addiction is referred to as ‘dependency’ and not ‘dependence’? I realize it’s a synonym but it seems like an unnecessary one. No one ever uses the word ‘independency’

Submitted by isabella  •  March 12, 2006

Genius and Ingenious

Genius has no ‘o’ in it and yet ingenious does. Why the difference in spelling?

Submitted by joe3  •  March 10, 2006

I vs I’ve

“As I mentioned before” or “As I’ve mentioned before”

Which one is correct and why, or is there a different place and time to use either?

Submitted by elledee  •  March 6, 2006

What is the word for intentionally incorrect spelling?

You know when people or businesses use improper spelling for effect?

eg. “Rogz for Dogz” or “Phantasy Star”

What is that called? I simply can’t find the answer anywhere.

Submitted by sue  •  March 6, 2006

“It is I” vs. “It is me”

Which of the following is correct?

It is I. It is me.

A grammar teacher mentioned to me something about the nominative case being used after the verb “to be” and not the usual objective case (”me”) that I thought it should be. He said the verb “to be” was an exception, but I can’t find anywhere that this is written down as such. Anyone any thoughts?

Submitted by bethann  •  March 3, 2006

Butter won’t melt in my mouth...

So I am a university English Lit student of about three years, and I have to admit, I don’t exactly know the meaning of this phrase. I came across it while reading “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and was reminded how much this phrase has always annoyed me, because I have a general idea of what it means, but couldn’t specifically define it. I am also curious as to where this phrase originated from. Any ideas?

Submitted by isabella  •  March 2, 2006

‘is/are’ and ‘do/does’

From a grammar test this was a correct sentence:

Dr. Stephens is one of those professors who do whatever it takes to get his point across to his students.

It still sounds odd to me, however. Should it perhaps say:

1. Dr. Stephens is a professor who does whatever it takes to get his point across to his students.


2. Dr. Stephens is one of those professors who do whatever it takes to get their point across to their students.

Any thoughts?

Submitted by sara  •  February 27, 2006


I recently used the phrase (?) “thisclose.” A friend asked me what it’s called when the literal writing matches the meaning. Is there a word for that? What is it?

Submitted by sara  •  February 27, 2006

Title vs. Entitle

I like to think I’m pretty swell at English grammar, punctuation, and usage, etc. But there’s at least one thing I have never gotten down, and that is, when do you use “title” versus “entitle.” For example, would I write: “She read a book titled ---”? Or is it “She read a book entitled ---”?

In what circumstances would either one be used?

Submitted by carrieagnes  •  February 25, 2006

First double negatives and now double possesives?!

I was watching the news today, and the title of a story they presented was “Legacy of Don Knott’s”.

Now, at first glance, I was positive that it was a grammatical mistake. I mean, why say “Legacy of Don Knott’s” when saying “Legacy of Don Knott” would do the job?

But then I replaced “Don Knott’s” with “his” (the phrase thus becoming “legacy of his”) and the latter phrase seemed to make sense. We say things like “that book of his”, so why not “legacy of his”?

So here comes the question: Are both the phrases “Legacy of Don Knott’s” and “Legacy of Don Knott” correct? Is there such a thing as double possesive? And why, for goodness sakes, can’t we just simply say “Don Knott’s Legacy”?!

And whatever happened to the man, anyway? Why are they all of a sudden presenting a story on his legacy? (Or, shall I say, legacy of his.)

Submitted by christina  •  February 24, 2006

Fora vs Forums

According to the Oxford English Dictionary...

forum n. (pl. forums) 1) a meeting or medium for an exchange of views. 2) (pl. fora) (in an ancient Roman city) a public square or marketplace used for judicial and other business. Origin ME: from Latin, lit. what is out of doors.

But everywhere else I’ve looked, it seems that forums and fora are interchangable. I personally prefer to use the word forums, when referring to a group of workshops and meetings.

I want to argue for this at my work because the term fora is being used and I want to know if there’s more evidence that I’m actually correct, besides what the Oxford English Dictionary tells me.

Submitted by donnieantonini  •  February 23, 2006

Cow Eyes

What does it mean when someone says you have cow eyes? I’ve heard a bunch of answers but I don’t know which is right. I have been told it means:

- Your eyes kind of stick out (like Steve Buscemi) - Your eyes are different colors (I guess this is common among cows? I know it’s common among certains dogs and cats) - Your eyes have a sad look to them (cause cows look sad?) - You have a stare that suggests you are “hot to trot” - You have a blank, empty stare.

Any ideas what this really means?

Submitted by jill  •  February 18, 2006

Nashes or Nash’s??

I am recently married and don’t really understand how to pluralize (is that a real word?:)) my new last name, Nash. For example, if I want to have a party at my house, would I invite people to meet at “The Nashes” house or “The Nash’s” house? My husband and in-laws state that the first use is correct but my friends seem to want to use the latter version. Some enlightenment please!

Submitted by chris  •  February 18, 2006

Capitalization of hyphenated words

Imagine the title of an essay:

A Study of Molecular-Based Reactions A Study of Molecular-based Reactions

(I’m not a scientist so ignore whether or not the title makes sense!)

Which is correct, or more widely accepted? Personally I think the first one looks best.

Submitted by mikegreen  •  February 15, 2006

Should you sign the copy of a letter

If you have cc’s in a letter, when you mail it, should the “copy” be signed?

Submitted by teresajimenez  •  February 14, 2006

Colon and semicolon in a single sentence

Can I use a colon and a semicolon in the same sentence? Here’s my example, “There were no known friends or family members, so besides his physical symptoms he was admitted with only one certainty: his longstanding IV drug use; he had numerous track marks and was noticeably malnourished.” Is there a better way to structure this?

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