In a Word

Once upon a time (circa 1939), James Thurber made some drawings and Margaret Ernst wrote some words, and they put them all together in a book they called “In a Word.” It was a fun look at the origins of several hundred words. The primary intent was to entertain, but Thurber hoped the book would do … More In a Word

Try a new look

You’ve probably suffered through this: You’ve spent a lot of time writing, a lot of time revising, and a lot of time polishing. Then you went over ever word in every sentence to make sure there were no mistakes. You checked spelling. You checked punctuation. You checked grammar. Then you printed it out. And the … More Try a new look


A lot of people have a hard time figuring out when to use “whom.” Some writers avoid using it altogether, while others drop it into sentences any time they want to sound cultured. There’s no good reason for either approach. Here’s a simple trick that help you sort it out, and you won’t have to suffer … More Who(m)?

Hey, watch your tone

When people discuss something passionately, you’ll often to run into a “tone argument,” or “tone policing.” That’s when someone rejects an argument by objecting to the writer’s (or speaker’s) tone. The tone argument is as a logical fallacy, often used as a way of unfairly shutting people down rather than engaging with them. (“I can’t … More Hey, watch your tone