English usage guides

My own collection of usage guides. I’ve collected quite a few of them since the start of the Bridging the Unbridgeable project in 2011. The aim of the project is to study usage guides and usage
My own collection of usage guides. I’ve collected quite a few of them since the start of the Bridging the Unbridgeable project in 2011. The aim of the project is to study usage guides and usage [More]

To be or not to ‘be’: 9 ways to use this verb [excerpt]

As short as it is, the verb ‘be’ has a range of meanings and uses that have developed over the last 1,500 years. It is—after ‘the’—the second most frequent word in the English language, and if
As short as it is, the verb ‘be’ has a range of meanings and uses that have developed over the last 1,500 years. It is—after ‘the’—the second most frequent word in the English language, and if [More]

How to write for an Encyclopedia or other reference work

From time to time, many of us will have the opportunity to write for a reference work like an encyclopedia or a handbook. The word encyclopedia has been around for a couple of thousand years and
From time to time, many of us will have the opportunity to write for a reference work like an encyclopedia or a handbook. The word encyclopedia has been around for a couple of thousand years and [More]

October etymological gleanings continued

There is a good word aftermath. Aftercrop is also fine, though rare, but, to my regret, afterglean does not exist (in aftermath, math- is related to mow, and -th is a suffix, as in length, breadth,
There is a good word aftermath. Aftercrop is also fine, though rare, but, to my regret, afterglean does not exist (in aftermath, math- is related to mow, and -th is a suffix, as in length, breadth, [More]

Quotes make me shudder

The practice of using punctuation to indicate verbatim speech seems to have had its origins in the diple, a caret-like ancient Greek marking used to call attention to part of a text. By the late
The practice of using punctuation to indicate verbatim speech seems to have had its origins in the diple, a caret-like ancient Greek marking used to call attention to part of a text. By the late [More]

Power and politeness: key drivers behind profanity and self-censorship [excerpt]

Social conventions determine why we use profane language. The deliberate use (or avoidance) of profanity is often a socially conscious decision: self-censorship may be driven by politeness, while
Social conventions determine why we use profane language. The deliberate use (or avoidance) of profanity is often a socially conscious decision: self-censorship may be driven by politeness, while [More]

Breaking down the Internet’s influence on grammar and punctuation [excerpt]

The Internet has become a key part of modern communication. But how has it influenced language structure? Surprisingly, formal writing remains unchanged. Informal writing, however, has seen an
The Internet has become a key part of modern communication. But how has it influenced language structure? Surprisingly, formal writing remains unchanged. Informal writing, however, has seen an [More]

Infrequently asked questions: The Monologic Imagination

In the online age, a tried and true method of conveying a lot of information succinctly is the “Frequently Asked Questions” portion of a webpage. In the spirit of honesty and forthrightness, we’re
In the online age, a tried and true method of conveying a lot of information succinctly is the “Frequently Asked Questions” portion of a webpage. In the spirit of honesty and forthrightness, we’re [More]

How to Begin and End Paragraphs

We should pay more attention to paragraphs. I know that sounds obvious, but what I’m fretting about is the advice that beginning writers get to begin paragraphs with topic sentences and end with
We should pay more attention to paragraphs. I know that sounds obvious, but what I’m fretting about is the advice that beginning writers get to begin paragraphs with topic sentences and end with [More]

George Berkeley and the power of words

According to a picture of language that has enjoyed wide popularity throughout the history of Western philosophy, language is a tool for making our thoughts known to others: the speaker translates
According to a picture of language that has enjoyed wide popularity throughout the history of Western philosophy, language is a tool for making our thoughts known to others: the speaker translates [More]