Think Different


I won’t deny it. I come very close to being an Apple fangirl at times, but I do not think that I will ever be a hundred percent blinded to the flaws that beset the company (just like any other company). That being said, I cannot sit back and ignore two pieces that link Apple and grammar, which are two of my favorite topics. About two weeks ago, I found myself almost snorting with laughter because of an email exchange between a Macworld UK writer and a reader. The exchange was instigated by Pedantic Reader with the subject: “Illiteracy (yours).” [Read more…]

Just How Important Is Grammar?


I honestly didn’t think that I would be asking this question today, but an article published by The Wall Street Journal caught me off guard. Titled “This Embarrasses You and I“, the article highlights the degradation of grammar in the workplace, leading to supposedly disastrous results. You all probably know by now that I am a stickler for grammar, but you also ought to know that I can be flexible. I have always been a strong believer in context and purpose. In some cases, I will not settle for less than prescriptive grammar. In others, I tolerate (even engage in) [Read more…]

What Do You Call Someone Who Protests?


Last year could very well be called the year of protests. We’re only halfway through this year, but I guess we can say that protests are still the “in” thing. Now please remember that this is a grammar column and not a political one, so let’s forget about the latter aspect of the word. Instead, why don’t we take a look at a noun derived from the word “protest”? What do you call a person who protests? Is he a protester, or is he a protestor? A quick look at online dictionaries will not give you a single answer. It [Read more…]

Who’s Who and the Blues

Subject-verb agreement

Who reads The Washington Post on a regular basis? I have to admit that I do not, but I still look up to them. Who doesn’t? It seems, though, that their writers are but human just like the rest of us. Recently, a reader pointed out a mistake that some grammar nazis enthusiasts will find more than egregious, if there is such a thing. The mistake? Something that is basic to the English language: subject-verb agreement. I have not been teaching English for almost a year now, but I still do remember that this grammar point is one of the [Read more…]

Non-Errors in the English Language (Part 2)


If your high school English teach was anything like my teacher, she/he probably always emphasized the “rule” about NOT using conjunctions to begin your sentence.  “You must never begin a sentence with a conjunction” is the mantra of many an English teacher.  Just because “everyone” says it is a rule does not necessarily mean it is true, though.  In fact, many a grammar “expert” will tell you that this arbitrary rule does not hold much sway. I can go on and on and repeat that I believe that using conjunctions such as “but” and “and” to begin a sentence is [Read more…]

Non-Errors in the English Language (Part 1)


There is no denying that we all have our pet peeves when it comes to the English language. There are certain words, phrases, and usages that we simply cannot stand. Sometimes, these pet peeves are valid – when the “mistakes” are really incorrect. There are many instances, however, when certain usages may actually be correct, contrary to popular opinion. These things are what we call “non-errors” – in spite of what many people may say, they are grammatically sound. In this post – and the next few posts – I am going to take a look at some of these [Read more…]

Just Between You and Me


I don’t know if you’ve heard of the group dc Talk, but they do have some pretty cool songs.  In my opinion, one of their catchiest songs is Between You and Me, not only because of the tune but also because of the lyrics.  Sticklers for grammar (yes, you) will be hearing warnings bells by now.  Let me  share the song with you first before we get down to business, alright? Just between you and me I’ve got something to say Wanna get it straight Before the sun goes down Just between you and me Confession needs to be made [Read more…]

Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

Begging dog

Don’t you just love it when you learn something new unexpectedly?  I was reading the news today when I saw an article titled “To beg or not to beg” and for some reason, I decided to take a look at it. I am glad I did, because it was a very interesting read, which I would like to share with you. How often do you hear the phrase “to beg the question”? How do you use it? In my case, I don’t really hear it that often, but I always understood it in the context of someone making a statement [Read more…]

How Consistent Are You?


Running is the thing right now.  Everywhere I look, it seems that people are talking about running.  My Twitter timeline is flooded with people’s tweets about 5k, 10k, and LSD! (Apparently, that means long slow distance and not what I initially thought.)  On Facebook, I see wall posts about runs left and right.  It’s the same thing with forums. Here’s one post that caught my eye and gave me an idea for today’s grammar post. i started running because i want to be more active. now i run because i love it and i’m obsessed with it. Let’s get the [Read more…]

What’s Missing?

Scattered puzzle pieces next to solved fragment

In oral communication, it is quite normal to speak in fragments.  This is especially true for informal conversations.  While I have nothing against that, it is another matter altogether when it comes to formal speech and writing.  Actually, even if you’re writing informally for your blog or web site, sentence fragments should be a no no. What are sentence fragments anyway? I like OWL‘s simple definition: Fragments are incomplete sentences. Usually, fragments are pieces of sentences that have become disconnected from the main clause. One of the easiest ways to correct them is to remove the period between the fragment [Read more…]

Justifying a Comma Splice

In the last post, I talked about a major error in writing – a comma splice. As I mentioned in that post, there are some cases wherein using a comma splice just might be acceptable. In fact, this is in an ongoing debate. So when is a comma splice acceptable? According to Strunk & White, one can use a comma splice “when the clauses are very short and alike in form.” The most commonly cited example for this case is the popular line: I came, I saw, I conquered. Diana Hacker of A Writer’s Reference also gives some examples: Man [Read more…]

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