Today I saw a National Geographic article that contained this sentence: “The sound of airflow grows, reaching a ferocious decibel.” A ferocious decibel? Ummmm, no. We’ll be generous and assume that National Geographic is skimping on copy editors and that a word or two accidentally fell off. A decibel is a unit of measurement telling … More Measured words
Oh, those ideas that drift off into a fog, as typically happens when you encounter an ellipsis … . Don’t worry if you have never wondered how anybody came up with those three dots (four if you are using them to end a sentence). Someone at Slate has done the worrying, the research and the writing … More Fill in the blank …
This morning a passionate political commentator urged me to look into the past history of one of the presidential candidates. What’s the difference between past history and plain old history? No difference at all. If it’s history, it’s in the past. “Past history” is redundant. (It’s true that you can have something from the past … More Department of Redundancy Department
English tends to mash words together over time, which is how base ball became base-ball and then baseball. Our job as writers, though, is to reflect the language that most people use right now, not to resurrect the past or lead the masses toward a glorious future. The way the English plays out in 2016, you’ll … More One lump or two?
Arranging the same words in a different order can change the whole meaning of a sentence. This week I saw someone addressing the forlorn supporters of Bernie Sanders: “Most of you weren’t even Democrats, like Bernie.” As written, it looks like the author is saying that Bernie was a Democrat, but his supporters weren’t. What … More Order, please