Monthly Archives: September 2012

Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: skew; skewer.

skew; skewer. To "skew" is to change direction; to "skew" statistics is to make them misleading, especially by including some factor that is irrelevant to the inquiry. To "skewer" is (1) to impale, or (2) figuratively, to satirize or criticize. … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: site; sight.

site; sight. This is yet another example of homophonic confusion. A "site" is a place or location; a "sight" is (among other things) something seen or worth seeing. This example is an unusually close call: "The intern liked to ask … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Miscellaneous Entries.

Miscellaneous Entries. sibylline (= prophetic; mysterious) is often misspelled *"sybilline" — e.g.: There were Joan's often sybilline [read 'sibylline'] remarks — Of course, we always do Tibet from the north. Nicholas Haslam, Joan Lady Camrose: Family Fortunes, Guardian, 29 May … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: sink / sank / sunk.

sink / sank / sunk. So inflected. Occasionally the past participle ousts the simple-past form from its rightful place — e.g.: o "When the Montreal Expos announced that they had selected outfielder Errick L. Williams in the annual Rule 5 … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson # 88

What are the rules on initial capitals? ANSWER: Most of the first letters of words in the titles of books, articles, songs, etc. are capitalized. The exceptions are articles or prepositions of four or fewer letters (unless they begin the … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: single most.

single most. This grating redundancy (“single” adds nothing to the superlative it precedes) appears most often in quoted speech, but it’s also common in edited text — e.g.: o “To see or not to see? Stratford is a must for … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: single; singular.

Part A: As Adjectives. “Single” = (1) only one in number; sole; individual {a single strand of hair at the crime scene}; or (2) unmarried {single white male seeks single female for conversation and possible romance}. “Singular” = (1) exceptional, … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Language-Change Index.

Language-Change Index. The third edition of Garner’s Modern American Usage reflects several new practices. Invariably inferior forms, for example, are now marked with asterisks preceding the term or phrase, a marking common in linguistics. The most interesting new feature is … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: sing / sang / sung.

sing / sang / sung. So inflected. The past-participial "sung" is often misused as a simple-past verb — e.g.: o "She sung [read 'sang'] the title track." Timothy Finn, "Williams Rocks, Sways Through Raw, Earnest Concert," Kansas City Star, 13 … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #87

What are the rules on indenting? ANSWER: The first rule of indenting is to change your word-processor’s default tab setting. Half-inch tabs are a sure sign of a dysfunctional layout. They jump out at you as soon as you pick … Continue reading

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