Monthly Archives: July 2007

meaning what?

Last week, I came across the following quote in a book about finances: Most large brokerage houses will not touch speculative transactions to protect themselves and their clients. At first reading, the meaning is not clear because the order is … Continue reading

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repetition

Beware of words and phrases that you really like, as they invite repetition. In a novel that I was reading the other day, I came across two instances of unnecessary repetition in two pages. One sentence read, “She could almost … Continue reading

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question mark punctuation

Both speakers and writers often use question mark punctuation incorrectly. For example, unless the speaker/writer of the sentence below wants to broadcast her own insecurity and is looking for approval, the question mark doesn’t belong there: “Then I asked her … Continue reading

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rule of thumb

I used the expression “rule of thumb” in a recent post, then regretted it. Why? Because I value kindness and equality. One source of this colorful expression is the ancient rule that no man could use a stick wider than … Continue reading

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as

Unless the writer uses “as” carefully, this tiny word can create some very strange images. Here’s a typical example: “As a young girl, my father paid me $1 for every A and 50 cents for every B on my report … Continue reading

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smiled

Word usage doesn’t matter much if your audience doesn’t know or care about proper English. But if you’re a professional communicator, or you’re trying to impress a group of people you don’t know well, it matters a lot. So avoid … Continue reading

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indignity

Here’s another example of using the wrong word: “You never needed George anyway,” my aunt said with indignity. Oops. Let’s see. Indignity is a noun. It means “a loss of dignity or honor.” Was the aunt in the example above … Continue reading

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