Category Archives: Grammar

A short proofreading quiz on National Proofreading Day

From Wikimedia Commons

Fancy trying your hand at a bit of proofreading, on National Proofreading Day? See if you can catch all the spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors in the five sentences below. A clean copy will be posted tomorrow. (Clue: you should be able to spot at least 10 errors, and a few more.) Good luck! Continue reading

A big bad “ablautive” exception to the grammar rule that went viral

By Felix Summerly, via Wikimedia Commons

By Felix Summerly, via Wikimedia Commons

As we discovered to our delight last week, we all use a grammar rule — a fairly complicated one involving the ordering of adjectives by property — without even realizing it. If you were hiding under a rock and missed the memo, you can see it explained in Matthew Anderson’s tweet, the viral post that was responsible for lighting up our inner grammatical souls. But what might delight you even more is to learn that there is in fact a big bad exception to this awesome astronomical rule, and you know that rule too … Continue reading

In the news … (Friday, Sep 16)

Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/1498–1543) via Wikimedia Commons

Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/1498–1543) via Wikimedia Commons

In usage and grammar news this past month: how and why we curse (or swear, if you’re a profane Brit); a new app for grammar snobs; a celebrity scolds Siri for mispronouncing her name; names that parents regret giving their babies; the true nature of the word gypsy; and a grammar rule that we all use without knowing it. Continue reading

In the news … (June 10)

trump

TGIF: That Gerund Is Funky. In usage and grammar news this month: Trump is unaware of the hottest portmanteau of the year; a very sinister punctuation trend; Roald Dahl’s weird words get their own dictionary; a grammar mistake on a London Transport ad (can you spot it?); Texan Republicans either believe that most Texans are gay, or they just can’t string a sentence together; the name of a famous bridge has been spelled wrong for more than five decades; a comedian lands herself in trouble with a mispronunciation; and some awesome Bachelorette malapropisms. (And if you’re not sure what a portmanteau or malapropism is, check out Glosso’s earlier post here.)

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As became apparent in a Hollywood Reporter piece at the beginning of the month, presidential wannabe Donald Trump seemed to be unaware of the most famous political portmanteau of 2016, which is on the lips of most Brits — especially during this month of the EU nation’s historic referendum. At one point during a lengthy interview with Michael Wolff, the Donald was asked what he thought about the two-syllable word that’s currently dividing the UK into warring factions: “And Brexit?” Woff asked. “Your position?” … Trump: “Huh?” … Wolff: “Brexit”. Trump: “Hmmm.”

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“Over the past few days, Twitter users may have noticed an increase in the number of fellow users who have surrounded their names with ((( ))). The symbols appear harmless enough but have become controversial after an investigation revealed that they were being used by a small minority of white supremacists to target Jewish writers with anti-Semitic abuse.” The BBC reports on this disturbing punctuation trend.

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“It’s an error that has loomed over New York Harbor for more than 50 years: The name of the majestic Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is spelled wrong. Despite a new petition drive to make it right — the bridge is named for 16th-century Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano (two Z’s) — the state authority that controls the span has stubbornly held to the one Z position it’s taken for years: We know it’s wrong, but we’re not changing it.” New York’s Daily News has the full story.

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Can you spot the grammatical error in this TfL (London’s public transport) advertisement?

tfl ad

Clue: it’s a singular mistake. The Evening Standard has the full story.

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“A Texas-based LGBT advocacy helped spark a grammar debate … over whether an errant comma in the stridently anti-homosexual Republican Party of Texas platform can be read as saying the majority of Texans are gay. … “Homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that has been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nations founders, and shared by the majority of Texans.” I’m not so sure it’s an errant comma that causes the confusion, as Reuters reports; isn’t it those two “that”s and those plural “truths” with a singular “has” that make the whole statement incomprehensible?

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According to the UK’s Independent, a woman from Georgia is suing Ellen DeGeneres after the comedian and chat show host mispronounced the litigant’s name on daytime TV. “Titty Pierce” was the name DeGeneres sounded out as she poked fun at the estate agent’s advertisement in her segment “What’s Wong With These Ads…. and These Signs?”. Pierce, 35, insisted in the lawsuit that her name is pronounced “Tee Tee … as grammar dictates”. Maybe she means spelling. Either way, it’s a shame she wasn’t just called Mildred.

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“Roald Dahl was the master wordsmith who wrote some of the nation’s most memorable children’s books. To mark 100 years since his birth, almost 8,000 of the phrases he used in his novels are going to be published in a special dictionary. The BBC asked some of his biggest fans in Manchester what they thought of his language.” See the video here.

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And finally, 10 awesome malapropisms from the season premiere of ABC’s The Bachelorette, courtesy of Mashable.