Commas Save Lives

If seeing the wrong “there, their or they’re” gives you anxiety, you’re not alone. After all, commas do save lives, just ask Grandma. “Let’s eat Grandma” or “Let’s eat, Grandma” makes a difference.

Reflecting on the engrossing effects of the em-dash


What happens in your mind when you read this sentence — and you hit the dash? Did you pause? If so, how long did you pause for? I imagine it was longer that you normally would for spaces between words, and about as long as you would for a semicolon, colon or a parentheses. This […]

Dreaming of universal parallel structure awareness


I have a dream that all humanity will one day learn to use parallel structure properly. The only problem is that I’m currently stuck in a classroom, listening to my Chinese history professor ramble about Ying-Yang hexagrams, am writing about parallel structure and haven’t taken notes as I really should be. Unfortunately, these relatable student […]

The biggest problem with money and the English language


Many common grammatical errors bother me. “Your” vs. “you’re,” “their,” “there” and “they’re” and flat-out incorrect words and expressions like “supposively” and “play it by year.” None of these errors, however, bother me more than the misuse and abuse of the poor dollar sign. In English, the only accepted way to write an amount of […]

Grammar’s difficult dilemmas — repetition and redundancy


It’s a common phrase: difficult dilemma. But it’s also wrong — at least in the grammatical sense since a dilemma is, by definition, difficult. It’s what we call a redundant phrase, and they’re rampant in our speech and writing. We crank our phrases like “actual facts,” “added bonuses” and “basic necessities” without realizing that we’re actually repeating […]

Making a difference, one Oxford comma at a time


Grammar, stylistic conventions and the more technical aspects of writing get a bad rap. We all know they’re necessary, but surely it’s the content that makes the writing, right? Besides, breaking the rules from time to time is how creative writing stays fresh. But this is the wrong way to look at it. The rules […]

New year, new style


For thousands of school children (and some college students), the first day of school means one stressful decision: a first-day-of-school outfit. At the Daily Trojan this year, we had to make similar decisions, only our style wasn’t fashion — it was grammar. Every publication has a “style” — the way it writes certain words and […]