Category: Usage

August 27, 2020

Right, Wrong, and Relative

A while ago at work, I ran into a common problem: trying to decide whether to stop editing out a usage I don’t like. In this case, it was a particular use of “as such” that was bothering me. To me, “as such” is a prepositional phrase, and “such” is a pronoun that must refer […]

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Usage 16 Replies to “Right, Wrong, and Relative”
September 10, 2019

My Latest for Grammar Girl: “Verbing Nouns and Nouning Verbs”

A lot of people dislike it when nouns like task and dialogue are turned into verbs, but this process has been a normal part of English for centuries. In my latest piece for Grammar Girl, I explain why we should all relax a little about verbing nouns. Read the whole piece or listen to the […]

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Grammar, Usage 0 Replies to “My Latest for Grammar Girl: “Verbing Nouns and Nouning Verbs””
May 9, 2018

Is Change Okay or Not?

A few weeks ago I got into a bit of an argument with my coworkers in staff meeting. One of them had asked our editorial interns to do a brief presentation on the that/which rule in our staff meeting, and they did. But one of the interns seemed a little unclear on the rule—she said […]

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Descriptivism, Prescriptivism, Usage 5 Replies to “Is Change Okay or Not?”
March 8, 2018

Skunked Terms and Scorched Earth

A recent Twitter exchange about the term beg the question got me thinking again about the notion of skunked terms. David Ehrlich said that at some point the new sense of beg the question was going to become the correct one, and I said that that point had already come and gone. If you’re not […]

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Usage 8 Replies to “Skunked Terms and Scorched Earth”
May 19, 2017

For Whomever the Bell Tolls

A couple of weeks ago, Ben Yagoda wrote a post on Lingua Franca in which he confessed to being a whomever scold. He took a few newspapers to task for messing up and using whomever where whoever was actually called for, and then he was taken to task himself by Jan Freeman. He said that […]

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Grammar, Usage 5 Replies to “For Whomever the Bell Tolls”
December 9, 2016

Prescriptivism and Language Change

Recently, John McIntyre posted a video in which he defended the unetymological use of decimate to the Baltimore Sun’s Facebook page. When he shared it to his own Facebook page, a lively discussion ensued, including this comment: Putting aside all the straw men, the ad absurdums, the ad hominems and the just plain sillies, answer […]

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Usage, Words 6 Replies to “Prescriptivism and Language Change”
October 31, 2016

Stupidity on Singular They

A few weeks ago, the National Review published a singularly stupid article on singular they. It’s wrong from literally the first sentence, in which the author, Josh Gelernter, says that “this week, the 127-year-old American Dialect Society voted the plural pronoun ‘they,’ used as a singular pronoun, their Word of the Year.” It isn’t from […]

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Grammar, Usage 19 Replies to “Stupidity on Singular They
September 8, 2016

To Boldly Split Infinitives

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the first airing of Star Trek, so I thought it was a good opportunity to talk about split infinitives. (So did Merriam-Webster, which beat me to the punch.) If you’re unfamiliar with split infinitives or have thankfully managed to forget what they are since your high school days, it’s […]

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Grammar, Usage 7 Replies to “To Boldly Split Infinitives”
May 18, 2016

On a Collision Course with Reality

In a blog post last month, John McIntyre took the editors of the AP Stylebook to task for some of the bad rules they enforce. One of these was the notion that “two objects must be in motion to collide, that a moving object cannot collide with a stationary object.” That is, according to the […]

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Usage 29 Replies to “On a Collision Course with Reality”
February 4, 2016

A Rule Worth Giving Up On

A few weeks ago, the official Twitter account for the forthcoming movie Deadpool tweeted, “A love for which is worth killing.” Name developer Nancy Friedman commented, “There are some slogans up with which I will not put.” Obviously, with a name like Arrant Pedantry, I couldn’t let that slogan pass by without comment. A love […]

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Grammar, Usage 16 Replies to “A Rule Worth Giving Up On”
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