All posts tagged: English 101

LOL and OMG Toll the Death-knell of the English Language

Really? I don’t think so. English is one of those languages that begs, borrows and downright steals from other languages to the point of stalking them down dark alleys. Where, before hitting them over the head with a dangling participle, rifles through a language’s pockets in search of any word it thinks it can get away with. It doesn’t care whether it’s bright, shiny, and new, or if it is dog-eared and long since forgotten. The only criteria is, can I use it? You have to remember, languages live by adapting or die by stagnating. English (and yes, we’ll include American, Canadian and Australian English here too) knows this and isn’t above grand theft and petty larceny in the verbiage world at large. So, to any and all of you out there bemoaning the death-knell of the English language when reading announcements that the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) has once again added new and controversial words to its pages. Ask yourselves, do we speak the same language of Shakespeare, or even the Victorians? Could you …

Grammatical Bad Habits

These are just a number of the more common mistakes we all do when writing, and, as such, I thought to share them with you in one easy-to-copy primer. all ready/already; all right/alright; all together/altogether We were all ready by the afternoon. I had already written to my accountant. Do you feel all right now? (Note: You should only ever use the American slang term alright in dialogue.) We were all together for my mother’s party. They kept three cats altogether in the house. get Get is one of the most overused verbs in the English language. Try to remember not to use have got for have or possess. AVOID: She’s got three cats. INSTEAD: She has three cats. AVOID: Will you get the prize? INSTEAD: Will you win the prize? however Try not to start a sentence with however. Its best position is second in the sentence, after whatever it qualifies i.e., I must, however, tell you… If placed further along in the sentence it loses its force and simply clouds its function. AVOID: …

Hyphen-Nation

It’s easy to become confused over the proper use of the humble hyphen. The main purpose of which is to join two (or more) words together, thereby making them a single compound word with its own meaning. As in: • an ex-President is a former President. • a co-director works with another director. The absence of a hyphen can also lead to misunderstanding: • I must re-cover the sofa (with new material). • I must recover the sofa (from the person I lent it to). • After his time in prison, he was a reformed character (no longer a criminal). • They re-formed the band and played in the garage (started up again). Prefixes like co- and pre- should have a hyphen when next to a word beginning with the same vowel, as in: co-ordinate, pre-empt. Hyphens can contribute considerably to clarity, as in: You must read two hundred odd pages a day which gives the impression you are only to read the odd pages, hence the hyphen in: You must read two hundred-odd pages …