Exchanging English Over the Pond: U.S. and U.K. Part IV

Posted on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, at 11:00 pm

During the last several weeks we've covered some meaningful ground about the language we share with our friends across the water. For us, it's been fun to reflect on what we have in common as well as how each dialect varies its voice. So far, we've examined spelling, word choice, and points of grammar. We'll …

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The Dictionary Definition of Racism

Posted on Tuesday, June 16, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Just as public support for the Black Lives Matter movement and nationwide protests over police violence are moving Americans toward positive social changes, so too do they reveal an inadequacy in how we have defined racism. We've written frequently about how the meanings of words change over time. The prescriptivists among us tend to hold …

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Exchanging English Over the Pond: U.S. and U.K. Part III

Posted on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, at 11:00 pm

We hope you’re enjoying our exploration of U.S. and U.K. English as much as we are. Part I and Part II of our series looked at variations in spelling and word choice between the dialects. Our review continues with a closer look at American and Commonwealth grammar. Prepositions Different phrasing involving prepositions between U.S. and …

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Sweating the Small Stuff

Posted on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, at 11:00 pm

At a football game a few years ago, the University of Notre Dame sold soda in cups that said, "Figthing Irish." Did no one at this distinguished school have the time or pride to proofread a two-word slogan? Here are a few other items we've seen and now wish we hadn't … Back to Basics  …

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Exchanging English Over the Pond: U.S. and U.K. Part II

Posted on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Part I of our discussion of U.S. and Commonwealth English focused on word spellings between the dialects. In Part II, we’ll review variances in vocabulary. Understanding how the U.S. and the U.K. approach the naming of words is a great opportunity to embrace the richness of our shared language. Stateside, we enjoy and appreciate how …

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Similes and Metaphors

Posted on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Simile A form of expression using like or as, in which one thing is compared to another which it only resembles in one or a small number of ways. Examples: Her hair was like silk. She sings like an angel. He runs like a gazelle. This meat is as dry as a bone. Metaphor A …

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Exchanging English Over the Pond: U.S. and U.K. Part I

Posted on Tuesday, May 12, 2020, at 11:00 pm

The U.S. and the U.K. are connected in many meaningful ways, perhaps most notably by a common language. At the same time, we each have variances that make our expressions distinctive, as well as interesting to learn and understand. Stateside, it’s also good for us to recognize U.K. style as that being used in countries …

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To Split or Not To Split

Posted on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Not everyone knows what an infinitive is, but everyone uses them. Infinitives are formed when a verb is preceded by the word to, as in to run or to ask. Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech might be the most famous use of infinitives in English literature. One of the great misconceptions about …

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How Does a Word Become a Word?

Posted on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, at 11:00 pm

The English language is about 1,400 years old. One of the earliest-known English dictionaries, The Elementarie (1582), contained 8,000 words. As of January 2020, English now includes more than one million words—a figure that differs from words accepted in dictionaries, which can range from 170,000 to 470,000 depending on the source. Even if we discuss …

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Assure vs. Ensure vs. Insure

Posted on Tuesday, April 21, 2020, at 11:00 pm

The three words, assure, ensure, and insure, are often confused. All three words share an element of "making an outcome sure," and you can exchange these words with each other in some instances. However, rather than using these words interchangeably, we'd like to point out the unique aspects of each word so that you can use them to …

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Staying Woke* with New Words

Posted on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, at 11:00 pm

English is a language of flux, always moving and shifting with the changes among us as we evolve. Each year, it introduces around 1,000 new words to represent the events, circumstances, and spirit of the day. Today’s cyber-centric existence makes it only easier for those new words to spread and multiply. We thought it would …

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Leonard’s Ten Commandments

Posted on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, at 11:00 pm

The writer Elmore Leonard, who died in 2013 at the age of 87, was the master of hard-bitten prose. He started out as a pulp novelist, and went on to transcend the genre. Since the mid-1950s, more than forty of his works have been adapted for movies and TV, many of them featuring such A-listers …

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Leaning on the Evolution of Meanings

Posted on Tuesday, March 31, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Words and their meanings change as people and society do. Just as we replaced travel by horse with motorized transit, so have we altered words to serve what we want and need from the era we live in. In some cases, those words have even become the opposites of what they used to signify. At …

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Pronoun Tips

Posted on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Pronouns take the place of nouns. Subject pronouns: I, you, he, she, it, we, they Object pronouns: me, you, him, her, it, us, them Rule: Use a subject pronoun, not only as the subject of a sentence, but after to be verbs when the pronoun renames the subject. To be verbs: is, are, was, were, …

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Writing with Nimble Variation

Posted on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Writing is much like anything else involving enjoyment: too much of one thing can eventually spoil the fun. Just as they might tire from eating the same cereal every morning, readers can soon grow weary from an over-repetition of compositional forms. Consider the following sentence:      Winthrop grew up in poverty. He could not …

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