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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Category: Spelling

Spell Check

Posted on Tuesday, February 24, 2015, at 12:32 pm

Nothing can bring down a beautifully written sentence quite the way a misspelled word can. So today we are presenting the first in a series of intermittent spelling quizzes. True, there are many other spelling tests available online. But can you trust them? The Internet, for all the blessings it bestows, is a compulsive fibber …

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Are Two r‘s One Too Many?

Posted on Tuesday, February 3, 2015, at 3:45 pm

Here we are, in the month that’s hard to spell and harder to pronounce. Every year I grit my teeth listening to the bizarre ways people mangle “February.” The culprit is that first r. Most people just ignore it and say “Feb-yoo-ary.” The 2006 American Heritage dictionary has a “Usage Note” at “February” that made …

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Be Careful with the -a Team

Posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, at 5:05 pm

The first letter of the alphabet is also a common English word that is virtually synonymous with one. As a word, a is the very antithesis of plurality. This might help explain why there’s so much confusion about a group of words that I call “the -a team.” Here they are: bacteria, criteria, data, media, …

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The Case of the Missing Hyphen, Part 2

Posted on Monday, March 17, 2014, at 8:08 pm

We thank all of you who took the time to respond to the question we posed two weeks ago: Should it be e-mail or email? There were eloquent arguments for both sides, but email won decisively. “Time to join the 21st century,” wrote one gentleman, who added, “and I’m 61 years old.” Many of you …

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Christmas ’Log Review

Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013, at 7:12 pm

Every year, for six weeks or so, I get a taste of what it’s like to be a superstar. From late October to early December, I am accosted daily by an aggressive mob of stalkers who know where I live. Their urgent need for my attention seems to be their only reason for being. No, …

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Media Watch: Spelling, Commas, Apostrophes

Posted on Monday, November 25, 2013, at 1:36 pm

Several weeks ago, a Vatican-endorsed medal honoring Pope Francis had to be recalled because Jesus was spelled “Lesus.” Just last week, a political placard at a Washington, D.C., press conference spelled filibuster “fillibuster” and against “againts.” In light of these disgraces, it seems the right time to reopen our Media Malfeasance file… • “They have …

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Spell Check Overreach

Posted on Tuesday, September 25, 2012, at 1:42 pm

My spell check has been drinking again. It just told me “déjà vu” should be “deejay.” Everyone who uses Word software probably has some form of spell check. Mine—I call him “SC”—also makes occasionally helpful (but often just surreal) suggestions about grammar and punctuation. To be fair, SC sometimes saves me from my own carelessness. …

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Spelling: -ce vs. -se

Posted on Tuesday, October 19, 2010, at 3:49 pm

It is easy to get confused between nouns and verbs that are spelled almost identically. However, here is a simple rule that will help you with two sound-alike pairs of words. Rule: Generally, the verb form will be spelled with the "s" and the noun with the "c." Examples: advise vs. advice devise vs. device …

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Adding Suffixes: To Double or Not to Double Consonants

Posted on Tuesday, July 20, 2010, at 12:07 pm

Do you ever wonder if you should double a letter when adding a suffix? For example, why does shop become shopping, not shoping since hope becomes hoping, not hopping? This week's tip will help you spell correctly when adding suffixes. We have Lawrence K. to thank for sending this suggestion as well as for many …

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