Beware: Redundancy weakens writing

How often have you heard a friend say something like, “I had an urgent meeting at 2 a.m. in the morning,” or “It was unexpectedly surprising when my sister gave birth to a pair of twins”? Here, what does 2 a.m. mean if not morning? What is a surprise if not unexpected? What are twins […]

Serious Matters: Your vs. You’re

The nice thing about social media spats is that you can instantly tell whether the person you’re arguing is actually worth your time based on their grammar skills. There are many classic simple errors that are instant tip offs, but none bigger than your vs. you’re. One of them is a possessive pronoun. The other […]

To Oxford comma or not to Oxford comma?

The Oxford comma is one of the many paradoxes of the English language. We were taught to put a comma before “and” in a list of three or more ideas, and since then, we have unquestioningly followed this rule. Journalism is different, though. We don’t use the Oxford comma; we believe that the “and” is […]

Hanging by a thread

When I think of dangling modifiers. I think of a mountain climber on a cliff. His gloved hands grasp loosely on the crude rocks above him. His feet keep him hoisted and stable. But only for now. At any moment, any slip of the hand or cracking rock could send him plummeting down into the […]

Are you fired up for some fast fire’d pizza?

For a company whose mantra is all about being fast and efficient with pizza cooked in 180 seconds, the same speed obviously translated to Blaze Pizza’s slogan, “Fast Fire’d.” They moved so quickly that they didn’t even realize the extra apostrophe that snuck into the slogan. In fact, Fire’d is not a word in the […]

Remembering to RAVEN on

The American actor effected a change in his affect to affect his chances of getting a role as a British character. He affected a British accent and a flat affect, which had the positive effect of getting him the part. Confused? It’s okay — you’re not alone. “Affect” versus “effect” is one of those rules […]

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 […]