Yearly Archives: 2017

Let’s not overexaggerate – avoiding tautology

Former US president George W Bush caused linguists much amusement/annoyance during his time in office for his skilful use of tautology. We have Dubya to thank for such unnecessary terms as ‘to misunderestimate’ and for incontestable pearls of wisdom such

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Posted in Proofreading/copy-editing

Confusing commas

Here’s a quick question to exercise your brain: is the following statement true or false? Politicians, such as Donald Trump, are keen to dispense with conventional politics. Congratulations to those of you who said it was false. The above sentence

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Posted in Grammar, Proofreading/copy-editing, Punctuation

Got to dash? Hyphens, en dashes and em dashes

These little lines cause more than a little confusion. Here’s a quick-fire introduction to how to use them. Hyphens Let’s start with hyphens, as they’re the easiest (at least in theory!). Hyphens are used exclusively to join parts of words,

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Posted in Proofreading/copy-editing, Punctuation

Making words mean what you want

‘[…] There’s glory for you!’ [Humpty Dumpty said.] ‘I don’t know what you mean by “glory,”’ Alice said. Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. ‘Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”’ ‘But “glory”

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Posted in Etymology, Grammar, Vocabulary

‘I before E except after C’ – techniques for remembering tricky spellings

It may have the olde-worlde ring of a quaint but questionable proverb, and has indeed been much maligned in recent years, but there’s more truth to this well-known rule than initially meets the eye (or E). Here, we take a

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Posted in Spelling, Vocabulary