Advertisements
Archive | Grammar Nazi(s) RSS for this section

That that is is that that is not is not is that it it is

grammar english

That that is is that that is not is not is that it it is is an English word sequence demonstrating syntactic ambiguity. It is used as an example illustrating the importance of proper punctuation.

The sequence can be understood as either of two sequences, each with four discrete sentences, by adding punctuation:

That that is, is. That that is not, is not. Is that it? It is.

Read More…

Advertisements

6 incredibly useful spelling rules from childhood

honey-311047_1280

In English, there are words that sound the same but are spelled differently (such as “their,” “they’re,” and “there”); words with letters that have nothing to do with how the word is pronounced (“brought,” “although”); words that contain silent letters (“gnat,” “pneumonia”); and words that simply don’t follow any spelling rules.

Let’s revisit those spelling rules we learned long ago and the words that break those rules.

1. “I before E except after C or when sounded as A as in neighbor and weigh”

Words that break this rule:

  • ancient
  • species
  • science
  • sufficient
  • society
  • either
  • foreign
  • leisure
  • protein

2. “When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking?” (Meaning when there are two vowels in a row, the first usually has a long sound and the second is silent.)

Words that break this rule:

  • said
  • through
  • leather
  • early
  • piece
  • build
  • guide
  • shoes
  • does
  • guest
  • break

3. Final silent E makes the vowel say its name (such as “rat,” “rate,” “hid,” “hide”)

Words that break this rule:

  • have
  • done
  • lose
  • where

4. Plural nouns—add an “s” or an “es”

Words that break this rule:

  • goose/geese
  • man/men
  • mouse/mice
  • tooth/teeth
  • alumnus/alumni
  • series
  • deer
  • sheep
  • species

5. If a word ends with an “ick” sound, spell it “ick” if it has one syllable (“trick”) and “ic” if it has two or more syllables (“sarcastic”)

Words that break this rule:

  • candlestick
  • seasick
  • nitpick

6. “A” versus “an”—if the first letter is a vowel use “an”; if the first letter is a consonant, use “a.”

Words that break this rule:

  • an honest
  • an honorable
  • a unicorn
  • a united front
  • a urologist
  • a onetime

Readers, any other rule-breaking words to share?

Laura Hale Brockway is an Austin-based writer and editor. Read more of her work at Impertinent Remarks.

SOURCE

Why is Y Sometimes a Vowel?

y2

Written by Arika Okrent

A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y.

  • You might have learned it as a chant, a song, or a simple declaration, but this is how you learned the vowels of English.
  • You may have wondered, why is Y so unsure of itself?
  • Can’t we just decide what it is?
  • Why is Y a “sometimes” vowel?

Because writing is not the same thing as speech. While we casually refer to letters, which are written symbols, as vowels or consonants, the concepts of vowel and consonant properly belong to the domain of speech. In general terms, a consonant is a speech sound formed by some kind of constriction or impeding of air flow through the vocal tract, and a vowel lets the air flow freely through. The letter Y can stand for either of these types of sounds.

In “yes,” Y is representing a consonant, and in “gym” it is representing a vowel.

In fact, due to the imperfect match between writing and speech, there are other “sometimes” vowels:

  • W is a consonant in “we” and part of a diphthong vowel in “now.
  • H is a consonant in “hat” but what is it in “ah“? It’s part of the representation of a different vowel sound; compare it with “a.” If we look hard enough, we can even find examples of “sometimes” consonants.
  • What sound does the O represent in “one“?
  • What sound does the U represent in “united“? They are consonant+vowel combinations ‘wuh’ and ‘yu.’

A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y is not a bad rule of thumb.

Most of the time a spoken vowel will be represented by one of those written forms. And Y swings between vowel and consonant more than other swing letters. But it’s worth remembering that letters are not speech sounds. They are lines on a page, pixels on a screen that nudge us, quite imperfectly, toward the sounds of the things we say.

SOURCE

The 20 Strangest Sentences In The English Language

https://i2.wp.com/www.funnysigns.net/files/beat-the-moose-400x204.jpg

1. I never said she stole my money.

https://i0.wp.com/www.wowowow.com/wp-content/uploads/2011_0208_ss_woman-stealing-money-thumbnail.jpg

This fun sentence takes on seven different meanings depending on which word is emphasized:
[I] never said she stole my money. – Someone else said it.
I [never] said she stole my money. – I didn’t say it.
I never [said] she stole my money. – I only implied it.
I never said [she] stole my money. – I said someone did, not necessarily her.
I never said she [stole] my money. – I considered it borrowed.
I never said she stole [my] money. – Only that she stole money— not necessarily my own.
I never said she stole my [money]. – She stole something of mine, not my money.
While this trick works for plenty of other sentences as well, this one’s short and easy to understand.

Read More…

What’s the Difference Between In- and Un-?

https://i1.wp.com/www.pervasive.co.uk/images/About/difference.jpg

English has two different prefixes that make a word into its opposite.

OK, yes, there are more than two (dis-, a-, anti-, de-, etc.), but in- and un- are the most common.

They bring the sense of “not” to an adjective, and they cause trouble because it is often not clear which one should be used for a particular word. Many pairs of in-/un- words are interchangeable.

For example:

“inalienable” and “unalienable” are both correct and mean the same thing (even the drafters of the Declaration of Independence went back and forth on that one), as do “inadvisable” and “unadvisable.”

Still, the two prefixes are not equivalent.

As a pretty flimsy general rule,

UN – goes with Germanic roots and

IN – goes with Latin roots,

as seen in these pairs: unfriendly, inamicable; unteachable; ineducable; unbelievable, incredible. Still, just because a word has a Latin root doesn’t mean it can’t go with un-: see unproductive, unfortunate, unreliable, undesirable, unconscious…and so on.

Un– is also usually found with adjectives formed from participles ending in -ed or -ing: undomesticated, undeveloped, undisciplined, unconcerning, uncomprehending.

On the other hand, if a word has a Germanic root, it pretty much does mean it can’t go with in-. If you do find such a word, it is probably an example of a completely different prefix in-, meaning in or towards (incoming, infield, indwell).

In- is much more restricted than un-.

https://i1.wp.com/www.mikestokes.net/files/warning_sign_1376661671.png

Un– is freely productive; it can apply to new words (“this haircut is brand new and unselfied!”), while

inremains frozen in the existing vocabulary, a Latin dinosaur bone.

Un– can even apply to words that already take in-, though when it does it often creates a different, less specific meaning.

For example:

while the word “indigestible” can be traced back to the meaning “not able to be digested” it carries extra layers of connotation –food that offends the senses or makes you feel bad, information that is too confusing to process– that “undigestible” doesn’t have. “Undigestible” is more straightforwardly “not able to be digested.”A poorly prepared lasagna is indigestible, but a rock is undigestible. Its meaning is composed of its two parts, while the meaning of “indigestible” comes from its long history of use.

But the search for these kinds of meaning difference can quickly turn messy and confusing. Once you start thinking about this too much, in- and un- words start to switch back and forth in your mind like

a duck/rabbit optical illusion.

https://i2.wp.com/www.optical-illusionist.com/imagefiles/duckrabbit.jpg

Shades of difference in meaning emerge only to dissolve under closer scrutiny.

Inaccessible, unaccessible?

Inconsolable, unconsolable?

Indescribable, undescribable?

Surely they mean different things. No, maybe not. Many of these kinds of pairs have been switching back and forth for centuries. (At the current time, the in- forms of these particular words are considered more acceptable.) Some of them have gotten stuck on one setting or the other, and some will continue to be indecisive, or, if you will, undecided.

 

SOURCE

Avoid Gender-Based Language Traps

https://i2.wp.com/creative-capital.org/content/files/projectsamples/1407/medium_CM3.jpg

Written by Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, Syntax Training
Discussions of gender-based language can become heated and frustrating. Some people want to preserve language they consider traditional and appropriate. Others want to adjust language to fit our current world of work. I fall into that second category, preferring inclusive language and words that do not focus unnecessarily on a person’s gender. I recommend avoiding the language traps below. 



1. Avoid “man” words unless you are specifically referring to an adult male. Avoid expressions such as manpower, man hours, and chairman, which focus on men. Instead, use words that include both genders. For example, for manpower, use crew, staff, labor, or personnel. For man hours, use time or work hours. For chairman, choose a word that works for your group, such as chair, chairperson, leader, or convener. Do not be concerned about a word such as manager, which derives from the Latin word for “hand,”  or mandate, whose root means “entrust.”  


 2. Avoid words that communicate a “women-only” category. Use housekeeper rather than chambermaid, and ballet dancer rather than ballerina. Choose server rather than waitress, tailor rather than seamstress, and host or attendant rather than hostess. Baby boomers recall the challenge of remembering to use flight attendant in place of stewardess many years ago, but flight attendant comes to mind instantly now. Actor is appropriate for both genders despite the Academy Award categories of Best Actor and Best Actress. I bet we will soon see Best Male Actor and Best Female Actor Oscar winners.

3. Avoid “Dear Sir” or “Dear Sirs” as a greeting. It excludes the possibility of a woman as your reader. Instead, whenever possible, learn the reader’s name and use it. If you cannot discover your reader’s name, use a generic term such as “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Credit Representative,” or use “Dear Sir or Madam.” 


4. Think twice before referring to women as girls or ladiesGirls may suggest that women are not grown up or are immature, and ladies hints at delicacy that may not be appropriate in the workplace. I understand that this issue is controversial, and I encourage you to use terms that fit your industry and company. If you use girls, do you call men boys? If ladies is common usage at your company, do you also use gentlemen? For more on this topic, read my blog post “Women, Ladies, and Girls at Work.”  


5. Avoid using the pronouns he and his when you mean anyonenot just a man. For instance, do not write, “A manager should give feedback to his employees.” “His or her” is cumbersome, but the plural form often works well: “Managers should give feedback to their employees.” Read more about this topic in the blog post “His, Hers, Theirs, Yours–Gender-Neutral Language.”


6. Avoid using terms that focus on gender unnecessarily. For example, avoid “male nurse” or “lady animal trainer.” Do not single out a woman employee as a grandmother or a man as a stay-at-home dad. Do not refer to a transgendered individual as “formerly a man” or “used to be female.”


If you feel resistant to the suggestions above, talk with your male and female coworkers about them. Decide whether inclusive rather than gender-based language might work well for your company, your industry, your community, and your customers. Don’t be trapped in gender-based language habits. 
SOURCE
Image source

5 editor’s secrets to help you write like a pro

writer-typing

by

Professional writers get work because they hit their deadlines, they stay on their message, and they don’t throw too many tantrums. Some pros have a great writing voice or a superb style, but as often as not, that gets in the way. When you know that the best word is “prescient,” it’s hard to swallow when an account manager tells you the client won’t know what it means.

Professional writers rely on editors to fix their clunks. Like good gardeners, sensitive editors don’t hack away—we prune and gently shape. When we’ve done a great job, the page looks just like it did before, only better. It’s the page the writer intended to write.

Editing, like writing, takes time to learn. But here are five fixes I make with nearly every project. Learn to make them yourself and you’ll take your writing to a more professional, marketable, and persuasive level.

1. Sentences can only do one thing at a time.

Have you ever heard a four-year-old run out of breath before she can finish her thought? I edit a lot of sentences that work the same way. You need a noun, you need a verb, you might need an object. Give some serious thought to stopping right there.

Read More…

Demystify Writing Misconceptions

writing

“Demystify Writing Misconceptions” was written by Joe Moxley.

Learn the beliefs that empower successful academic authors.

To become a competent, confident writer, you may find it useful to analyze your attitudes about writing. After all, your assumptions about how writers work can limit your imagination and the quality of your finished product. You can debunk a truckload of myths about writing by analyzing how you write, how your peers write, and how professional writers write.

Writer are Born Rather Than Nurtured

Read More…

%d bloggers like this: