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• 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 to use an stems from the belief that an should only
precede a vowel, and the 1 in 1872 isn’t even a letter. However, the actual rule is that an always precedes a vowel sound, which is
why we say “an honor,” even though the silent h is technically a consonant.
• From a newspaper editorial: “California will join other states who have made alterations to their sentencing codes.” Make it
“other states that.” A state is not a person, and who applies only to humans.
• “It was all so cliché.” What’s wrong with “It was all such a cliché”? Cliché is a noun, not
an adjective. To sticklers, this sentence sounds as silly as “It was all so paper clip.”
• From a book review: “It’s impossible to predict it in advance.” Oh dear. Either change “predict” to
“know” or delete “in advance.”
• “Their reticence to challenge the union is why this ruling is essential.” The writer meant “reluctance to
challenge.” The two words are not synonyms; reticence means “habitual silence” or “reserve.”
• From a profile of an athlete: “His single-minded passion is one of the many qualities that has made him a star.” Make it “one of
the many qualities that have made him a star.” The subject of the verb is “qualities,” not “one.” Many qualities
have made him a star; his single-minded passion is one of them.
• “The inmates are trying to put distance between the men they are now with the crimes that landed them here years ago.” Make it “and the crimes.” Would you say, “The distance between my house with your house is three blocks”? The writer forgot the first
half of his sentence before he finished the second half. And then he just couldn’t be bothered to proofread the mess he’d made.
Because of the e-newsletter’s large readership, please submit your English usage questions through GrammarBook.com’s “Grammar Blog.”
The following are sentences recently heard over the airwaves. See if you can spot the errors. Answers are at the bottom of the newsletter.
1. “These are some of the most deadliest terrorists in the world.”
2. “It would have been better if he had went to the border.”
3. “All you have to do are utter these words.”
4. “I have some personal thoughts of my own.”
5. “I want more people to vote, not less.”
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Here is another installment from the "Grandiloquent Dictionary," a collection of some of the most obscure and rare words in the English language.
ignipotent: having control of or power over fire
jactitate: to toss and turn or to toss back and forth
keelivine: a pencil that uses black or red lead
leister: a three-pronged, barbed spear used for catching fish
Pop Quiz Answers
1. “These are some of the most deadly terrorists in the world.” (OR “some of the deadliest”)
2. “It would have been better if he had gone to the border.”
3. “All you have to do is utter these words.”
4. “I have some personal thoughts.” (OR “some thoughts of my own”)
5. “I want more people to vote, not fewer.”
Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.