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Posts Tagged ‘editing’

When will folks ever learn the “less-on”?? The “less vs. fewer” debate rages on. Case in point:

Citi less is more

Citi is running a promo. It starts out fine, but quickly grates on grammarians with the phrase …

“Less trees being cut down …”

OK, everybody repeat after us …

I will use “less” for amounts that cannot be counted as discrete items, such as water, sunshine, and money.

I will use “fewer” for numbers of items that can be counted as discrete items, such as drops of water, rays of sunshine, dollar bills, and … of course, trees!

Get it? Got it. Good!

See also our previous post: Limit less …

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Normally, we don’t cross-post. However, here is an exception.

We poke fun at so many wikiHow entries that we thought it only fair to call upon a well-written and grammar-related post from its:

Home > Categories > Education and Communications > Subjects > English > English Grammar > Punctuation section.

Enjoy the following:

wikiHow

How to Use a Dash in an English Sentence

Source: wikiHow.com

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Updated post:

Compounds plural or compound plurals? That is the question …

We were already compiling a few notes about the “art of pluralizing” when we got a rash of input (from TV, Twitter, and email) about the plurals of compound nouns, specifically those compound nouns consisting of a noun plus a modifier.

We’re taking our best shots here, so please feel free to disagree or otherwise comment.

In question:

daddy longlegs – conventional wisdom would lead us to the plural form of: daddies longlegs, however, since that is cumbersome, we suggest: Harvestmen

Attorney General – no question about this one: Attorneys General

gin and tonic – conventional wisdom (gins and tonic) again loses out here (we defer to ironic1.com for this one ): gin and tonics

gin and tonics

notary public – not much question with this one: notaries public

brother-in-law – consistent formation found for this plural: brothers-in-law

maid of honor – 1) for more than one honor: maid of honors; 2) for more than one wedding attendant: maids of honor (please, only one MOH per wedding); for more than one copy of the movie Made of Honor: we suggest DVDs.

made of honor

man-of-war – encounter one and there are likely more on the beach or in the water: men-of-war

Bride of Chucky – ok, so are you talking about the plural of Chucky’s mates or the number of movies … or, even, the possessive? For our purposes here, today: Brides of Chucky

Good, now we’re getting more input. In a recent Twitter conversation:

@NeillShenton to @GrammarCops “ok, what about multiple spoons full of something? Plural* me that – i’d rather rephrase a sentence than type THAT ugly word.” 

* We’re now adding “plural” to our list of Nouns gone bad … Thanks!

@GrammarCops to @NeillShentonGood one … it’s actually one word ‘spoonfuls.'”

spoonfuls

There are likely hundreds of such examples. Please contribute.

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Welcome to the fourth in our ongoing series …

  1. Nouns gone bad …
  2. Nouns gone bad … sequeled
  3. Badverbs … cousins to nouns gone bad

Introducing, Verbalized … a new section in which we will grammaticalize (est. origin 1935-40) the modern use of the suffix “-ize” to make (traditionally) non-verbs into verbs.

Let’s get some of the technical stuff out of the way first … per dictionary.com:

verbalize. verb. 

  •  to convert into a verb: Many English nouns have become verbalized.

izea verb-forming suffix occurring originally in loanwords from Greek that have entered English through Latin or French (baptize; barbarize; catechize); within English, -ize is added to adjectives and nouns to form transitive verbs with the general senses “to render, make” (actualize; fossilize; sterilize; Americanize), “to convert into, give a specified character or form to” (computerize; dramatize; itemize; motorize), “to subject to (as a process, sometimes named after its originator)” (hospitalize; terrorize; galvanize; oxidize; simonize; winterize). Also formed with -ize are a more heterogeneous group of verbs, usually intransitive, denoting a change of state (crystallize), kinds or instances of behavior (apologize; moralize; tyrannize), or activities (economize; philosophize; theorize).

Usage note:
The suffix -ize has been in common use since the late 16th century; it is one of the most productive suffixes in the language, and scores of words ending in -ize are in daily use.
Some words ending in -ize have been widely disapproved in recent years, particularly finalize (first attested in the early 1920s) and prioritize (around 1970). Such words are most often criticized when they become, as did these two, vogue terms, suddenly heard and seen everywhere, especially in the context of advertising, commerce, education, or government—forces claimed by some to have a corrupting influence upon the language. The criticism has fairly effectively suppressed the use of finalize and prioritize in belletristic writing, but the words are fully standard[ized] and occur regularly in all varieties of speech and writing, especially the more formal types.
The British spelling, -ise, is becoming less common in British English, especially in technical or formal writing, chiefly because some influential British publishers advocate or have adopted the American form ize.

For the purposes of this article, and for our faithful following Brits, know that we hereby allow the substitution of the form “-ise” for “-ize,” … without limitation.

Now, we realize that this practice has been in effect for ages, however, certain readers have prodded us (thanks, mom!) to explore the more recent preponderance, and seemingly lazy application of this custom. We will build on the two examples in the usage note above: finalize (est. origin 1920-25) and prioritize (est. origin 1965-70), asserting that any English language trend since 1920 (at least) is, in our terms, modern.

When researching for this post, one source returned a list of more than 500 words containing “ize.” Another source gave us 1128 “-ize” words. Just know that we will only focus on those words in which the suffix “-ize” is used to verbalize. And, we will, with your help and contributions, acquaint you with some “-ize” words that have not yet been dictionaryized.

 simonize
  • computerize (est. origin 1955-60)
  • criminalize (est. origin 1955-60)
  • digitize (est. origin 1950-55)
  • glamorize (est. origin 1935-40)
  • winterize (est. origin 1925-30)
  • notarize (est. origin 1925-30)
  • globalize (est. origin 1940-45)
  • fantasize (est. origin 1925-30)
  • televise (1925-30)
  • customize (est. origin 1930-35)
  • stalinize (est. origin 1920s)
  • publicize (est. 1925-30)
  • randomize (est. origin 1925-30)
  • prioritize (est. origin 1965-70)
  • accessorize (est. origin 1935-39)
  • collateralize (est. origin 1940-45)
  • compartmentalize (est. origin 1920)
  • contextualize (est. origin 1930-35)
  • conveyorize (est. origin 1940-45)
  • fictionalize (est. origin 1920-25)
  • fractionalize (est. origin 1930-35)
  • miniaturize (est. origin 1945-50)
  • parameterize (est. origin 1935-40)
  • privatize (est. origin 1945-50)
  • simonize (est. origin 1935-40)

By the way, here’s a bit about our pictured example: simonize

simonize. verb. to shine or polish to a high sheen, esp. with wax: to simonize an automobile. Simonize is actually the generic term, which came after Simoniz, a trademark. Thanks to PizzaBagel for the photo.

A few that are in the dictionary but for which we could not determine their originating date:

  • commercialize
  • containerize
  • substiantialize
  • symptomize

Examples that you may not find in any mainstream dictionary:

  • budgetize
  • opinionize
  • seasonalize
  • Twitterize
  • calendarize
  • comprehensivize
  • quintessentialize
  • respectabilize
  • subjectivize
  • technicalize
  • technologize
  • transparentize
  • utopianize
  • vampirize

There is verbalizing for almost every country, state, city … i.e., when we moved last, we became Austinized again in this wonderful Texas capitol. Lots of organizations will “-ize” their employees … e.g., were you Dellized when you worked for the computer company? In addition, a virtually infinite number of brand names have the potential for “-izing,” and many have already been “-ized.” What are your examples?

Please help us build our list … we welcome your contributions.

Here’s one from dan_stiver: alterize

alterize

For our parting shot … if you want to please at least one mom out there, exercise the non-ized versions of these terms and concepts. We dare you!

Be sure to see our related posts:

Sources: dictionary.com, RhymeZone, wordnavigator.com, PizzaBagel (No, He’s Not!)

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Say what?

We did a little research on apostrophe use in Mother’s Day and Father’s Day messages floating around cyberspace and …

Mom’s win!

By far, there were more mistake’s for Mother’s than there were foul up’s for Father’s … (of course, our apostrophe abuse is intentional here).

We thought you might get a chuckle at some of our findings, so, here you go:

  • Happy Mother’s Day to all the lovely Mom’s!
  • … wishing all the Mommy’s I know a Happy Mothers Day!! (this one could have just moved the mark to Mothers)
  • We have to celebrate our mama’s by the way…
  • … can’t wait to have dinner at moms house. (now, this one needs an apostrophe)

Therefore, today’s punctuation concentration is on avoiding that embarassing apostrophe catastrophe 

To start, let’s define this little character:

apostrophe. noun. a mark of punctuation ( )used to indicate possessive case or omission of one or more letter(s) from a word.

You may see some sources state that the apostrophe is also used for indicating plurals of abbreviations, acronyms and symbols. We heartily disagree with this usage — we feel that this practice is outdated.

We do like Grammar Book’s baker’s dozen of Rules for Apostrophes, so we’ll refer you to their site for the full details and just give you a summary here, with one addition from us:

Our Apostrophe Rule:

0. Do not use an apostrophe to form a plural. This goes for words, symbols, abbreviations, and acronyms. * (This is related to Rules 5. – names, and 11. – CAPS & numbers used as nouns, below, but more encompassing.)

* Here are examples of misuse according to our rule:

CD-s and DVD-s

SUV-s

PC-s

Grammar Book’s Apostrophe Rules:

  1. Use the apostrophe with contractions.
  2. Use the apostrophe to show possession.
  3. Use the apostrophe where the noun that should follow is implied.
  4. Use the apostrophe to show plural possession.
  5. Do not use an apostrophe for the plural of a name. * (We have some people in mind who need to learn this rule!)
  6. Use the apostrophe with a singular compound noun, to show possession.
  7. Use the apostrophe with a plural compound noun, to show possession.
  8. Use the apostrophe and s after the second name only if two people possess the same item.
  9. Never use an apostrophe with possessive pronouns: his, hers, its, theirs, ours, yours, whose.
  10. The only time an apostrophe is used for it’s is when it is a contraction for it is or it has. (Remember, “its” is a possessive pronoun – no apostrophe.) See photo below.
  11. The plurals for capital letters and numbers used as nouns are not formed with apostrophes. *
  12. Use the possessive case in front of a gerund (-ing word).
  13. If the gerund has a pronoun in front of it, use the possessive form of that pronoun. (Refer to Rule 9. re: pronouns.)

Speaking of rules … we like this … from Trevor Coultart:

it's

Should be its.

 Sources: GrammarBook.com, Flickr

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Punctuation is a device used to assist the reader. Punctuation is defined as the practice or system of using certain conventional marks or characters in writing or printing in order to separate elements and make the meaning clear, as in ending a sentence.

Today’s subject: “end marks:”

1.        the period “.”

2.        the question mark “?”

3.        the exclamation point “!”

1. A statement is followed by (ended with) a period. Periods follow declarative sentences, sentences that make statements. Further, a declarative sentence containing an indirect question is followed by a period, not a question mark. “A reader asked why that is.”

The period is often used for terminal purposes when a sentence is not involved, as after numbers in a list:

1.        there is

2.        a period

3.        after each

4.        bullet number

In addition, the period is used to terminate many abbreviations: e.g., i.e., Mr., Dr., Ms., Rev., etc.. (Did you notice the “double period” there? the first period is to terminate the abbreviation “etc.,” and the second period is to complete the sentence.)

Our favorite … possibly overused … is the three periods … used to indicate the omission of one or more words or sentences in a quotation: “I pledge allegiance … to the republic …” Notice this additional period which terminates a sentence in a longer quote: “Shakesperare was born in 1564. … He married Anne Hathaway in 1582.”

2. Why is a question is followed by (ended with) a question mark? Again, to make meaning clear to the reader. Let’s look at examples:

  • A direct question with the word order as an interrogative sentence, “Why did you visit our site today?”
  • A direct question with the word order as a declarative sentence, “A fish can drown?” (This one could also be a statement, “A fish can drown.” (ended with a period).)

Remember, though, that a declarative sentence which contains an indirect question is ended with a period. “Someone asked us what keeps readers coming back.”

Here’s a twist … Readers sometimes ask us, “When are you going to post a new poll?” In other words, “we are often asked when we will post a new poll.”

3. We want to make a strong expression of feeling about this end mark! We caution against using the exclamation point to indicate only mild emotion. Most writing guides suggest that the overuse of exclamation points will dull the effectiveness of the mark. This is not nonsense! We totally agree!! Pay attention!!!

Helpful sources:

Warriner, John E., Mary E. Whitten, and Francis Griffith. English Grammar and Composition. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1965.

Hopper, Vincent F., Cederic Gale, Ronald C. Foote, and Benjamin W. Griffith. A Pocket Guide to Correct Grammar. New York: Barron’s Educational Service, Inc., 1984.

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A reader writes: “What exactly are the duties of a Grammar Police Deputy?”

Well, first of all, thanks for your question! And, second, we must get busy defining those responsibilities as we now have several applications for the position, and we recently named a couple of deputies. Here’s your job description …

The duties of a Grammar Police (GP) Deputy include but are not limited to:

  • Affect an arrest, using forcible language if necessary.
  • Subdue resisting subjects using social media and the Web while employing defensive tactical manners, or approved non-lethal words.
  • Pursue fleeing suspects both day and night in unfamiliar terrain.
  • Use grammatically-correct force through barriers to search, seize, investigate and/or rescue.
  • Perform grammar searches of Tweets, Web postings, books, TV/radio, movies and everyday conversations.
  • Climb over obstacles, through openings, jump down from elevated surfaces. Jump over obstacles, ditches and streams. Crawl in confined areas to pursue, search, investigate and/or rescue. Conduct searches of buildings and large outdoor areas. All figuratively, of course.
  • Perform tasks which require thinking, typing, laughing, or reading while performing arrest, rescue or general grammar patrol functions.
  • Prepare investigative and other reports, using appropriate grammar, usage,  symbols and mathematical computations.
  • Present aforementioned reports to the Grammar Police Captain (@GrammarCops) via Tweets on Twitter or via comments on https://grammarcops.wordpress.com/
  • Communicate effectively over approved grammar enforcement channels while initiating and responding to questions and other communications.
  • Communicate verbally and effectively by listening to others and by giving information, directions and commands, often within a 140 character limitation. 
  • Conduct grammar surveillance for extended periods of time (and always with a smile).
  • Perform grammar enforcement patrol functions while working rotating shifts and unanticipated overtime (for which you will never be paid).
  • Operate emergency vocabulary during both the day and night in pursuit situations involving grammar goofs in excess of posted limits while exercising due care and caution, in exception to traffic control devices and in congested traffic, unsafe language and environmental conditions.
  • Load, unload, aim and fire words, abbreviations, acronyms, phrases, complete sentences, and other grammar enforcement agency weapons from a variety of body positions in situations that justify the use of non-deadly force while maintaining emotional control under real and/or imagined extreme stress.
  • May serve a variety of civil grammar actions. Take a stand.
  • Conduct grammar enforcement investigations to include the following critical tasks: protect grammar, usage, spelling and punctuation crime and accident scenes, conduct interviews, record information, measure and diagram grammar crime and accident scenes, prepare detailed reports of investigative findings, seize and process evidence, present testimony and evidence in civil or criminal grammar court proceedings.
  • Recommend appropriate sentences for convicted offenders.
  • Perform a variety of public assistance activities. Exercise independent judgment within grammar guidelines.
  • Maintain deputy certification requirements as recommended by the captain, and adhere to all policies and procedures.

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