Grammar GrammarBook.com |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Category: Vocabulary

Media Watch: Subjects and Verbs, Word Choice, Pronouns

Posted on Tuesday, November 3, 2015, at 10:51 pm

What better way to begin a Media Watch column than with headlines? Here are two recent ones that got our attention: • “Bacteria has sickened more than 100.” • “Foreclosure crisis makes taught thriller.” “Bacteria has sickened” is incorrect because has is singular and bacteria is the plural of bacterium. If the headline writer balked …

Read More

Test Your Vocabulary

Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2015, at 11:52 am

“The richer and more copious one’s vocabulary and the greater one’s awareness of fine distinctions and subtle nuances of meaning, the more fertile and precise is likely to be one’s thinking. Knowledge of things and knowledge of the words for them grow together. If you do not know the words, you can hardly know the …

Read More

You Can Look It Up

Posted on Tuesday, September 15, 2015, at 8:59 pm

What happens when you come across a word you don’t know? Do you just keep reading? Most people do. They believe they can figure out a word’s meaning by looking at the sentence and using common sense. Maybe they’re right … but what if they’re wrong? Here is a passage from a profile of a …

Read More

Euphemisms: Lying to Us Gently

Posted on Tuesday, September 8, 2015, at 10:34 am

Let’s talk about euphemisms, those soothing words meant to assure us that something’s not as bad as we know it is. A euphemism is a lullaby, a sedative, a velvet glove enfolding reality’s iron fist. In a way, the word euphemism is itself a euphemism—so much kinder and gentler than cop-out. Euphemisms are employed for …

Read More

Grammar, Vocabulary Go Hand in Hand

Posted on Tuesday, July 28, 2015, at 7:50 pm

A solid vocabulary gives you a hammer rather than a rock when you need to drive a nail. Today we introduce the first in a periodic series of vocabulary tests. We want to keep the focus on words that would be worthy of inclusion in any serious person’s vocabulary. We feel tests like these are …

Read More

Media Watch: Pronouns, Verbs, Word Choice

Posted on Tuesday, February 17, 2015, at 3:23 pm

Here is another batch of fizzles and fumbles from dailies and periodicals. • Headline for an editorial: “Let he who is without spin.” It’s clever, it’s glib, it’s … a disaster. It’s supposed to be a twist on a well-known biblical verse, but that verse is routinely misquoted. Many people believe it goes like this: …

Read More

Words in Flux (2015)

Posted on Tuesday, January 13, 2015, at 10:28 am

Today we’ll discuss two words whose meanings in casual conversation may vary significantly from their traditional meanings in formal writing. Despise Not so long ago, despise was more than just another word for detest. “Syme despised him and slightly disliked him,” wrote George Orwell in his 1949 novel 1984. Orwell knew that, strictly speaking, despise means “to look down on” but not …

Read More

Media Watch: Subjects and Verbs, Pronouns, Vocabulary

Posted on Thursday, August 7, 2014, at 8:13 am

• From a review of an exhibition: “The society had in their possession a card imprinted with a 1872 photograph.” Two booby prizes in one sentence: society is singular, so make it “had in its possession,” not “their.” As for “a 1872 photograph,” is that the way you would say it? The misguided decision not …

Read More

Pronouncing the Word Blessed

Posted on Saturday, August 11, 2012, at 2:28 pm

We sometimes receive inquiries from readers regarding the proper way to pronounce blessed. The word blessed can be pronounced in two different ways according to its part of speech in the sentence. Rule 1. When blessed is used as a verb, it is pronounced with one syllable (blest). Example: Before we ate, our uncle Tony blessed [blest] the …

Read More

1 6 7 8