Is it ‘side effect’ or ‘side affect’? Take this quiz to find out if you’re an ace at telling apart these two tricky words!
Grammar can be tough. There are a lot of rules to follow, and a lot to wrap your head around. Some of the rules we learn in school, though, aren’t exactly accurate. While some function as helpful guidelines for style and form, other so-called ‘rules’ are inventions, or ‘superstitions,’ as the lexicographer Henry W. Fowler […]
The presence or lack of a comma before and or or in a list of three or more items is the subject of much debate. Such a comma is known as a serial comma. For a century it has been part of Oxford University Press style to retain or impose this last comma consistently, to […]
If you’ve ever been confused about using passed and past when writing, your brain cells may benefit from a short workout in the form of this mini-quiz. No punishing press-ups or unforgiving Lycra required – just read the following paragraph, and decide whether the words in bold type use the words passed and past correctly: […]
Your data was corrupted… Wah! First thought: I’ve lost some work. Second thought: shouldn’t that be ‘…data were corrupted’? In the strictest sense, yes, because it’s all a question of ensuring that you match singular subjects with singular verbs, and ditto plural subjects and verbs, a process called agreement. Easy when it’s a straightforward case, such […]
1. Such a question isn’t intended to elicit an answer. 2. VHF radio calls from the coastguard and other ships were illiciting no response. 3. He brazenly carried on an elicit affair with Bert’s wife. 4. She admitted to having been in possession of illicit drugs. 5. You can imagine the amount of booing this […]
A woman’s place is in the bosom of her family; her thoughts ought seldom to emerge from it. The Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany, Volume 97, 1825 Those nineteenth-century moralists! Can you imagine what today’s world would have been like if women such as Florence Nightingale, Emmeline Pankhurst, or Harriet Beecher Stowe had confined their […]
Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. F. Scott Fitzgerald 1926 It’s a situation that crops up all the time – you want to contrast people or things, describing how one is not the same as the other, so you use the adjective different, and decide to […]