Word Rage: Anger Management for US English Speakers

Maeve’s new collection of essays, WORD RAGE, covers most of the topics that spark heated online “grammar” debates and interfere with true communication.

Continue reading Word Rage: Anger Management for US English Speakers

The Difference Between "Advise" and "Advice"

If you’re selling, spelling counts. People who write for a living have no excuse to misuse ordinary English

Continue reading The Difference Between “Advise” and “Advice”

Beware of Whom with Parenthetical Expressions

This morning the following caption appeared in a Democrat-Gazette article about a bank robbery:
Springdale police are searching for this man whom they say robbed an Arvest Bank branch Thursday.
The error with whom in this caption is common in sentences that contain a parenthetical phrase or clause: a group of words thrown into another clause, separating

Continue reading Beware of “Whom” with Parenthetical Expressions

What Makes A Word Fancy?

If dossier is a “fancy French word,” wouldn’t imprimatur be a “fancy Latin

Continue reading What Makes A Word “Fancy”?

Anger in the Air

Have you ever made a survey-caller so angry he left you shaking when you hung

Continue reading Anger in the Air

Knowing a Preposition from a Particle

In my morning paper, the headline “Just do it! Dangle a few prepositions” caught my eye. The article is about the common misconception that ending a sentence with a preposition is a major writing flaw in English.
Because I have written on the same topic (“Go Ahead, Put that Preposition at the End”), I was curious

Continue reading Knowing a Preposition from a Particle

Embers and Pleonasms

The NPR announcer who mentioned “still-hot embers” failed to understand the meaning of

Continue reading Embers and Pleonasms

Epithet and Epitaph

There’s no excuse for anyone who graduated from high school and writes professionally to confuse the words “epitaph” and “epithet.” If at no other time, they would have learned the meaning of “epitaph” when they studied Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” in high school.

Continue reading Epithet and Epitaph

"Mic" Rhymes with "Bic"

According to the way it’s pronounced, the shortened form of “microphone” belongs to the same category as words like “bike,” “hike,” “like,” and “pike” when it is written. That is to say, it should be spelled “mike,” not

Continue reading “Mic” Rhymes with “Bic”

Questionable Past Tense of TREAD

Use of “well-tread” in _Writer’s Digest_ article.
The use of the adjective “well-tread” in the November/December 2016 issue of Writer’s Digest had me puzzled. The context was an article on the topic of writing about subjects that have already been frequently written about:
The title of the article is “The Road Already Taken.” This tag appears under

Continue reading Questionable Past Tense of “Tread”