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John Lemke

A Useful Reminder About 'An' - 0 views

  • In modern usage, the form a is used in front of words that begin with a consonant sound; an is used in front of words that begin with a vowel sound.
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    I have seen the examples of misuse more often than I would care to admit.  Just this morning I was debating whether it should be "a Ottawa teen" or "an Ottawa teen" because my spelling and grammar checker told me right was wrong.  This article focuses on the confusion caused by "u".
John Lemke

Which and That to Introduce Clauses - 0 views

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    This topic seems to confuse many.  It is a crowd which I am a member of.
John Lemke

Cynics and Cynosures - 0 views

  • cynic comes from a Greek word meaning “dog-like, currish, churlish.”
  • The word cynosure comes from a Greek word meaning “dog’s tail.” This was the name given by the Greeks to the northern constellation Ursa Minor, the “Small Bear” in whose tail is the Pole-star, also known as the North Star. Because the North Star is bright and a means of finding the direction of north, the word cynosure acquired the figurative meaning of “something that is bright and serves as a guide.”
  • In modern usage, a cynic is a person disposed to find fault with everything and to rant about it to everyone. A cynic trusts no one’s sincerity or good intentions. The adjective is cynical; the noun is cynicism.
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  • Unlike cynic, the word cynosure has positive connotations. A cynosure is someone or something that serves for guidance or direction, a “guiding star.
John Lemke

6 Embarrassing Grammar Mistakes You Simply Don't Want to Make - 0 views

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    Point one, I make em', you make em', we all make em' and everyone makes these mistakes.
John Lemke

The Best Shots Fired in the Oxford Comma Wars | Mental Floss - 0 views

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    There has been a long debate about what some call the Oxford comma. Personally, I use it. I use it for clarity, out of habit, because I feel it "looks" right, and likely because I lean OCD. Do you use it?
John Lemke

Complacent vs. Complaisant - 0 views

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    "Both complacent and complaisant descend from Latin complacere, "to please, to be pleasant," but they have acquired different meanings in English."
John Lemke

Compound Plurals - 0 views

  • In regard to American usage, the Chicago Manual of Style recommends that writers consult Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary for “tricky” compounds like fathers-in-law, courts-marital, and chefs d’oeuvre, adding, “For those not listed, common sense can usually provide the answer.”
  • Compound nouns are of three kinds: open, closed, and hyphenated.
  • Some speakers have trouble with nouns that end in -ful, puzzling, for example, between cupfuls and cupsful. This is a case in which common sense should probably advise against consulting M-W. Although the M-W entries for cupful, handful, and armful list the plurals cupfuls, handfuls, and armfuls first, they give cupsful, handsful, and armsful as alternative spellings. In addition, the spelling handfull is in there as an “also.” My American spellchecker does not countenance any of these alternatives. Cupsful doesn’t cut it because compound nouns are made up of two or more words that can be used on their own. For example, the words in the compound policeman can be used separately: “The man called for the police.” The element ful in cupful is not a word; it’s a suffix. Common sense tells me that cupsful is incorrect.
John Lemke

Is U.S. a Noun? - 0 views

  • The Chicago Manual of Style prescribes spelling out United States as a noun in running text and reserving US for the adjective form only. CMOS also prefers US without periods, to match the US postal codes like AR, MI, and WY.
  • The AP Stylebook recognizes U. S. as a noun as well as an adjective. It calls for periods when the U.S. appears in a running text, but US without periods in a headline.
  • When it comes to formal speaking and written text, however, reserve the abbreviation for adjectival use and write out United States as the noun.
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    I never really thought about it before but it seems that using "US" or "U.S."  as a noun is somewhat debated.
John Lemke

Direct and Indirect Objects - 0 views

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    This article uses some great examples to explain direct and indirect objects.
John Lemke

Anecdote and Anecdotal - 0 views

  • The earliest meaning of anecdote in English is “Secret, private, or hitherto unpublished narratives or details of history.” Later, the word came to have its present meaning: “The narrative of a detached incident, or of a single event, told as being in itself interesting or striking.”
  • The adjective anecdotal dates from the 18th century. It can mean simply “pertaining to anecdotes,” but in modern usage it is often used in the sense of “unreliable.”
John Lemke

Ludicrous vs Ridiculous - 0 views

  • Silly is a synonym for ludicrous; using one to intensify the other is overkill.
  • Ridiculous seems to me to be less judgmental than ludicrous. Something ridiculous provokes laughter because it is incongruous. For example, a man wearing a lampshade for a hat presents a ridiculous sight. Something ludicrous is both incongruous and contemptible. For example, a nineteen-year-old with the full use of his legs riding on the shoulders of his bodyguards while touring the Great Wall of China presents a ludicrous sight.
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    This is a pet peeve of mine, especially when someone says "ludicrously silly".  (For it is the same as silly silly.)
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