Sunday, November 8, 2009

Is Capt. Kirk dead or are you telling him someone has died?

Leave it to a comedian to impart an important lesson. On Thursday's 30 Rock episode, Tracy Morgan's Tracy Jordan character pointed out how a simple comma can make a huge difference in the meaning of a sentence.

In sentences where a person is being addressed, the comma is required. Otherwise that word before the name becomes an adjective for the person you are supposed to be talking. Unfortunately, I see many writers who don't understand that rule.

Note the difference:

He's dead Jim.

He's dead, Jim.

When addressing someone, remember what Tracey Jordan said: "Oh, you mean, 'He's evil COMMA Tracey,' "

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Why some may use woman as an adjective

Hélène from France wrote in a comment on the "Woman is not an adjective!" post her thoughts about how so many people began to use the word in the wrong way. "We often use "femme" (woman)for words that do not have any feminine form," she wrote. "For instance : une femme médecin, as you wrote, a "woman doctor." Check out her entire comment here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Eye can't believe it

Have trouble reading? See an obstetrician ... huh?

And when that doesn't help, I suppose you could call an chiropodist.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

We're getting a lot of complaints

One of the first things a college journalism professor told us has stuck with me forever. "There is no such word as alot"

It's two words, she told us. Not that I didn't know that already, but it was a surprise to many. And still a surprise, it appears, to the number of people who still get it wrong.

Just remember: though people have been getting it wrong for decades, it will never be one word. While some words (think to-morrow, video-tape) eventually become one word, alot won't be one of them.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

We're mad as hell about made-up, shortened words and we're not going to take it anymore

How angry do made-up or shortened words from ad copywriters like nitelife, donuts or lite beer? As made as the guy (or woman, it's possible) who corrected this "drive-thru" sign?

Most of us just accept such bastardization from commercial ventures, but it's good to see someone still wants to make sure everybody knows right from wrong.

Just don't get me started on the words lyricists resort to, like "pompatus" -- thanks, Steve Miller. (At the same time, thanks Simpons, for hilarity such as embiggened and cromulent)