Grammar Girl's 101 Troublesome Words You'll Master in No Time (Quick & Dirty Tips)
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Millions of people around the world communicate better thanks to Mignon Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl, whose top-rated weekly grammar podcast has been downloaded more than 40 million times. Now she's turning her attention to solving your worst problems―one troublesome word at a time.
Are you feeling "all right" or "alright"? Does "biweekly" mean twice a week or every two weeks? Do you run a gauntlet or a gantlet? Is a pair of twins four people or two?
The English language is always changing, and that means we are left with words and phrases that are only sort of wrong (or worse, have different definitions depending on where you look them up). How do you know which to use? Grammar Girl to the rescue! This handy reference guide contains the full 411 on 101 words that have given you trouble before―but will never again.
Full of clear, straightforward definitions and fun quotations from pop culture icons such as Gregory House and J. K. Rowling, as well as from classical writers such as Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin, this highly-useable guidebook takes the guesswork out of your writing, so you'll never be at a loss for words again.
as in We had high hopes for our new senator, but after he was in Washington for a few months he went native. What Should You Do? If gone missing bothers you, use a word such as disappeared in your own writing. You can criticize gone missing as annoying if you like, but not as incorrect. The sheriff of Area 9 in Texas has gone missing. He is twice as old as I am and very powerful. If one such as he can be taken, than none of us is safe. —Alexander Skarsgård as Eric Northman in the TV series
schoolbooks. Although gotten is fine in America, we also use got. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage says Americans use gotten and got “in a way that is almost freely variable.” However, which word you use can change the meaning of some sentences. Got can have a sense of ownership, whereas gotten can have a sense of process. The American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Style highlights it best with these two examples: I haven’t got any money (which says you’re broke) versus
of love. You’re over twice as likely to be killed by the person you love than by a stranger. —Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House in the TV series House M.D. Now, you listen to me, officer. I do not take kindly to you shining your light in the eyes of my female companion. And as I have more than 100 years on you, I do not take kindly to you calling me “son.” —Stephen Moyer as Bill Compton in the TV series True Blood Pair What’s the Trouble? People find pair confusing. Is it singular
Greeks called the Keltoi may have spoken an early form of Celtic, they didn’t inhabit the British Isles—the lands we think of as Celtic. Instead, they lived in a large region of Western Europe called Gaul. On the other hand, the argument for Celtic is that the word came into English not directly from Greek, but through French, and the French word is celtique. It’s even confusing in Scotland. Glasgow has a soccer team called the Celtic Football Club, even though most people living in
Do? Stick with the pronouns it and that when referring to companies. The move brought an end to Mr. Icahn’s two-month fight to squeeze more value out of a century-old company that is facing tough competition from generics but which investors generally see as well run. —Paul Ziobro in The Wall Street Journal Couldn’t Care Less What’s the Trouble? People say they could care less when, logically, they mean they couldn’t care less. The phrase I couldn’t care less originated in