‘Usage’ Category

  1. Every day or Everyday?

    February 4, 2014 by edotgdot

    . . .it’s a gettin’ closer / Goin’ faster than a roller coaster / Love like yours will surely come my way. . .  -Buddy Holly

    Everyday or every day? Well, it depends.

    Everyday is an adjective used to describe things that (1) occur every day or (2) are ordinary or commonplace. In the phrase every day, the adjective every modifies the noun day, and the phrase usually functions adverbially.

    Every day you eat breakfast. Sam walks the dog every day.

    Can’t figure out which one to use? Replace everyday or every day with each day. If each day would make sense in its place, then you want to use the two-word form.

    To explore further, review these examples.

    I take a nap every day.

    Reading is an everyday activity.

    I take the train to the office every day.

    Those are my everyday shoes.

    (Buddy Holly should have used Every Day, but we’ll let it slide.)

  2. I’d like to iterate and reiterate. . .

    December 4, 2012 by edotgdot

    Reiterate is a word that we hear frequently in conversation, but is misused. Or is it? After a quick Google search, I found reiterate defined on Merriam-Webster online as “to state or do over again or repeatedly sometimes with wearying effect.” Fair enough.

    If it’s in the dictionary then it’s a safe bet, right? The question here is about usage. Future Perfect Communications says that “reiterate crept into the language through what’s known as hypercorrection: correcting something which is already right.”

    The website further explains that because many people are unaware of the meaning iterate, they add the re as a prefix to give the again element. Iterate (alone) means “to say or do again or again and again.”

    So you could reiterate some for example, used correctly in a sentence it could be written as:

    The teacher iterates and reiterates her grammar lessons so the students absorb the information before the final exam.

    Divine Caroline of Life in your Words says: “My high school geometry teacher clued us into this re-redundant word. Iterate means to say or do again, making the “re” before it useless.”

    Merriam-Webster online lists reiterate as a synonym to iterate. So perhaps this is another case of proper usage falling to the wayside. Future Perfect Communications stresses that iterate would be to repeat once  and so reiterate is to repeat two or more times.

    To be safe and that is if you are hanging around grammarians or literature majors, instead of asking “can you reiterate, please” ask “can you repeat that last statement” instead.



  3. Compare to or with…

    April 16, 2012 by edotgdot

    During this week’s editing adventures, I came across a word choice issue when using the verb compare. When is it appropriate to write compare to and when is it correct to use compare with? Or is this an issue at all? Either to or with can be swapped in some cases, but there is a difference. With a little research, here are my conclusions:

    Use compare to when…
    The purpose is to liken two things or put them in the same category. So if the subjects are alike then use compare to: “I would compare my handwriting to a third grader’s.”

    Use compare with when…
    the end result is to juxtapose two things, place one thing side by side with another, not to examine similarities but the differences. “Our budget of $10 million is minuscule compared with last year’s budget of $50 million.”

    Sources: Daily Writing Tips; The Careful Writer, Theodore M. Bernstein

  4. Typos & Twitter

    February 7, 2012 by edotgdot

    Has Social Media induced carelessness when it comes to spelling and grammar?


    How many times do you see something like this plastered on Facebook?


    “Your coming to Chicago this weekend?” as opposed to  “You’re coming to Chicago this weekend?”


    With the ability to post in a matter of seconds on Facebook and Twitter, we are inundated with typos. Does the web reveal that most people are not aware of some of the fundamental rules of English? We are not all professional editors and writers, but putting forth the best effort when making any statement should be paramount. As a stickler, I find it difficult to not ask others to correct some of the errors. (I don’t do it because I suspect it will not go over well). And when I see a mistake of my own (yes, it happens), I am no less than horrified and do my best to redeem myself.


    In their new book, The Great Typo Hunt, writer and editor Jeff Deck and his friend Benjamin Herson trekked across the United States in an effort to correct as many typos as possible. An admirable feat and an interesting concept, however, if readers understand the message do typos really matter? Typos matter: what you write is a reflection of yourself and to an extent, your intelligence and ability.


    In 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle famously flubbed the spelling of “potato” by adding an “e” on the end. The media sensationalized this seemingly innocuous event because it may have verified the opposition’s criticism and prompted others to question whether or not a man who could not spell “potato” was capable of leading the country. In his subsequent memoir, Quayle said: “It was a defining moment of the worst kind imaginable. Politicians live and die by the symbolic sound bite.’’


    The hard rules may not apply in the case of Social Media, yet you are still posting, broadcasting, or publishing your thoughts for the world to see. Typos happen and mistakes are not the end of the world. But being continually lax about grammar could lead to a blunder that could cost you the next job interview or even public scrutiny. The next time you are posting then, will you give it a second glance?


    Sources: cbcnews Canada


  5. That is, for example

    August 31, 2011 by edotgdot

    i.e. versus e.g.

    i.e. and e.g. are both Latin abbreviations that are used ubiquitously in English, however, these common abbreviations are often misused in writing. So what is the difference between e.g. and i.e. anyway? e.g. stands for the phrase exempli gratia which roughly translates into “for example.”(Silly memorization tip: e.g. as in egg-sample).

    Jerry likes traveling to big cities, e.g., Chicago, Rome, and Paris.

    i.e. is Latin for id est or “that is.” When using i.e., it is like writing “in other words” or providing further clarification.

    I like visiting big cities, i.e., I rarely travel to the country.

    If this is still confusing, try using plugging in the phrases “for example” or “in other words” to see which phrase fits best. For even greater detail on punctuation and usage of i.e. and e.g., visit Grammar Girl.

    Sources: Grammar Girl; Daily Writing Tips

  6. The Facts

    August 23, 2011 by edotgdot

    The fact and the fact that…


    While editing academic papers, many writers use the phrase the fact or the fact that. Does this phrase drive the point home or make the writing seem stronger? The locution the fact or the fact that can be omitted more often than not. Furthermore, The Careful Writer explains that it can be a loaded phrase: the author may not be stating a fact, but is simply offering her opinion or making an assertion. Here is an example of when this phrase is unnecessary:

    The author argued the fact that The Great Chicago Fire was a catalyst to the city’s economic development.

    The phrase, however, can not be completely excluded from your work:

    Jim Hendry did not relish the fact that he was fired by the Chicago Cubs.

    The fact is that Eliminating nonessential words or phrases will ultimately make your writing more powerful.

    Sources: The Careful Writer

  7. American, British, Globish, or English

    July 25, 2011 by edotgdot

    Speackin’ English?


    Matthew Engel of the BBC wrote an op-ed piece this month about the English language and how Americanisms are infiltrating British English. Engel explored the issue of why Americanisms irritate people. Engel writes:

    “The Americans imported English wholesale, forged it to meet their own needs, then exported their own words back across the Atlantic to be incorporated in the way we speak over here. Those seemingly innocuous words caused fury at the time. The poet Coleridge denounced “talented” as a barbarous word in 1832, though a few years later it was being used by William Gladstone. A letter-writer to the Times, in 1857, described “reliable” as vile.”

    It seems strange (and a bit funny to me) that the words “talented” and “reliable” could cause such an uproar. With the ubiquitousness of American business and entertainment in the UK, Americanisms are coming in droves. Apparently American English is still a point of contention: when the BBC asked readers about their least “favourite” Americanism, they received thousands of responses. The report posted fifty of the top responses to the blog.

    Some of the peeves are justifiable, while others may seemingly be unfounded as noted in The Economist’s Johnson blog post entitled “Anti-Americanisms.” American English isn’t necessarily bad, it is just different. For example, Johnson responds with comments about the BBC’s most notable Americanisms (highlighted in bold):

    “I’m good” for “I’m well.” That’ll do for a start.

    Johnson responds: “That’ll do what?  Linking verbs including “am” take adjectives, not adverbs. “I’m healthy,” not “I’m healthily.” There’s nothing wrong with “I’m well,” since “well” is also an adjective, but nothing wrong with “I’m good” either.”

    British English or American English. Whatever! Or rather, Bloody Hell! The point is that unlike French, for example, Engel explains that English is far more flexible so it is the likely choice for global communication. Not British English, or American English, but Globish.

    As an American, I am all for dumping some annoying *isms* like “my bad” or “24/7.” Nor would I be opposed to British terminology seeping its way into American usage. British English has a way of seeming more sophisticated.Though when I hear “flat” coming from an American, it seems pretentious. Either way, we should embrace the changes and malleability of our language. Moreover, we should feel blessed that our language is spoken throughout the world.


    Sources:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14201796http://www.economist.com/blogs/johnson


  8. An Ampersand & The Serial Comma

    April 2, 2011 by edotgdot


    The ampersand (&) is a ligature, which is a character consisting of two or more letters, that symbolizes the Latin conjunction “et” meaning “and.” This slick symbol is rarely used within paragraph writing, but is commonly used in titles, headlines, and business names. Not only is the ampersand an eye-catching logogram, but it is a fun word to say aloud (try it). The ampersand has recently reemerged thanks to text messaging, Facebook, and Twitter. Being a longtime fan of the ampersand, I wanted to incorporate it into our business title, but it was brought to my attention that the ampersand cannot be used with the serial comma (thanks Dad and master typographer).


    For example, when searching for an editing and writing firm the LLC is called:


    Write & Writer


    But when you add three or more names, it would be:


    Smart, Smarter & Smartest (no comma before the ampersand)


    What if you need to separate Smart and Smartest? Then include:


    Smart, Smarter, and Smartest (using the word “and”)


    When determining the title of our business services, we wanted to distinguish between the “editing” and “design” services and so we developed the title:




    References: The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition; smithwriting.com; Wikipedia

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