A style tip, a juice box, a writing bot and more

March 15 to March 28



The elements in our list above provide the main theme of reading picks in this, our fourth issue.  As motley as they are, the style update to a much-referenced newspaper stylebook, the markings on boxes of a certain orange juice brand, and a computer program called Quakebot that “wrote” and sent news of an earthquake to news desks in Los Angeles recently, seem to be heralding changes — in word usage, people’s attitudes to grammar, and the business and practice of journalism. Read on:

Continue reading →


On the iPad Mini, the Obama-Romney Debates, Young Readers and the Benefits of Tweeting

October 20 to October 25, 2012

The iPad proved to be a hit for journalists and now Apple is stepping into the smaller-tablet market as it unveiled the new iPad Mini last Tuesday. Those who attended the event excitedly tried the new tab, but soon concerns about its pricing surfaced. Also on Tuesday, Pew released a study on younger Americans’ reading habits finding that most young people still read and go to libraries.

Image credit: “Electronic Book” by Timo Noko on Flickr. Used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Continue reading →

Style and grammar, or why lots of things aren’t ‘wrong’ | Grammar Monkeys | Wichita Eagle Blogs

Here’s a post from Grammar Monkeys explaining the difference between grammar and style. In some cases, errors that people point out as grammar errors are actually usage errors or style issues.

Style and grammar, or why lots of things aren’t ‘wrong’ | Grammar Monkeys | Wichita Eagle Blogs.

Image via original post.

Some changing uses of ‘grammar’ words: are you across ‘across’? | Macmillan


Prepositions are tricky. Sometimes our copy editors read sentences or phrases with prepositions more than twice just to ensure that the correct one is used. (Is it “compare with” or “compare to”? Don’t even get us started on idioms!) Some prepositions are now “straying into new territory” by acquiring new usage.


True, new grammar words don’t burst onto the stage with all guns blazing, like some ‘lexical’ words do. So-called ‘open-class’ words – particularly nouns and adjectives – are often coined or dug up by journalists when the situation demands it, like omnishambles in the aftermath of the last UK budget. Omnishambles may make its way into the dictionary, or more probably it will sink into oblivion once the narrative that spawned it is forgotten. In general, new ‘lexical’ words and compounds are coined as and when needed, to name new objects and concepts. For example, not long ago we might have been mystified by this supermarket product description: fairly traded party size instant barbecue (printed without any hyphens), which now causes only fleeting puzzlement.

New uses of ‘grammar’ words enter the language more gradually and without attracting much attention. This may be because the words themselves are not newly-minted or revived; instead, the same familiar little items are being drafted into new areas, annexing part of the territory of other members of their set.


via Some changing uses of ‘grammar’ words: are you across ‘across’? | Macmillan.

Causative verbs | The Nasty Guide

The Nasty Guide’s take on the causative, or “the frat-boy lexical problem.”

The Nasty Guide to Nice Writing

Lying about getting laid

by Dirk E. Oldman

The causative in English gives us what I like to call the frat-boy lexical problem.

You see, if you meet a frat boy at a party, he’s probably gonna have a lot to say about how many chicks he’s laying all the time. But you can never be sure how much he’s really laying, and how much he’s just lying.

Now, it’s true, lie and lay aren’t the only intransitive-causative pair in English. But in general the others don’t get confused so much. No one really says Are you gonna fall that tree? Because that tree might fell on you.

But someone might say Are you just gonna lay there, or are you gonna lie that cookbook down and pick up the whipped cream? And especially all sorts of people all the time say lay when they really are supposed to say

View original post 660 more words

Today’s Chiron Collective: May 9, 2012

Today’s edition of the Chiron Collective picked up several writing and editing tips. We have posts on rules for writing suspense fiction and thrillers, why we should be wary of compound words, confusing “expatriate” with “ex-patriots,” and the “frat-boy lexical problem.”

Also, Pam Nelson shares a new quiz featuring usage distinctions from The Economist Style Guide.

Check out our top stories on Paper.li.

via Today’s Chiron Collective.

As good (as) or better than faulty parallelism

Sentence first

I read the following in a Discovery News article, and it gave me pause:

Fussy readers will frown at the faulty parallelism of “as much, or more, than…”. After all, we don’t say as much than. Strictly speaking, it would seem a second as is missing: as much as, or more than, the face.

This construction is sometimes called “dual comparison”, and it takes various forms: as good (as) or better than; as well (as) or better than; as bad (as) or worse than – you can add your own adjectives or adverbs to the formula. All are susceptible to the kind of casual ellipsis pictured above.

You may be wondering how acceptable the unparallel forms are: whether they’re OK in semi-formal contexts such as science news websites, for example. Let’s see what usage commentators have to say.


Bryan Garner says parallelism “helps…

View original post 672 more words

Signs you’re being misled – baltimoresun.com


Last week, we shared a post from inkhouse.net, titled “Twenty Signs You Might Be a Word Nerd.” Now here’s John E. McIntyre’s reaction to the post. John, a word nerd, says the article “neatly encapsulates the combination of sound counsel, ineffective generality, and downright error that marks much of the current writing about language and usage.”


If you are a word nerd like me (how did Mr. Vittorioso omit the like/such as mythical distinction?), and I do not defer in word nerdiness to any man or woman living, then perhaps your understanding of the language and the craft of writing has progressed a little beyond Strunk and White, the AP Stylebook, and the eighth grade, to a point at which simplistic “rules” give way to informed judgments.


via Signs you’re being misled – baltimoresun.com.

Nutty non-rules of grammar | Grammar Monkeys | Wichita Eagle Blogs

What rules have you been taught that turned out to be preferences? Let us know through comments. It’s time to let go of those grudges you’ve been holding against your grade school or high school English teacher.

Lisa McLendon lists the following as “NOT legitimate” but somehow popular rules:

Don’t split infinitives or compound verbs.

Don’t end a sentence with a preposition.

Don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.

Cakes are “done,” but people are “finished.”

Don’t begin a sentence with the word “it.”

Don’t use the passive voice.

Paragraphs MUST have 5 sentences (topic, 3 support sentences, conclusion).

Sentences must have verbs.

via Nutty non-rules of grammar | Grammar Monkeys | Wichita Eagle Blogs.

(Image taken from original post linked.)

Also, see this related repost from Cracked.com on rules that aren’t.