Monthly Archives: August 2007

quotation marks: U.S. v. Britain, #1

Just as the British and American rules for which side of the road to drive on are different, so too are their rules for the use of quotation marks and other punctuation. In the United States: First quotations take double … Continue reading

Posted in punctuation, usage | Leave a comment

quotation marks

Quotation marks have a kind of domino effect on other punctuation marks, causing them to land in the wrong places — or nowhere at all. Here’s an example: When one of our fantastic staff members resigns, my first response is … Continue reading

Posted in punctuation | Leave a comment

imminent, immanent

Since there is only one letter of difference between them, imminent and immanent are easy to confuse. But they are not at all the same. Both words are adjectives. Imminent modifies something that’s about to happen: The conference in Italy … Continue reading

Posted in word usage | 6 Comments

prerequisite, requisite, perquisite

This morning, when I began to use prerequisite in a sentence, perquisite came to mind. I guessed that they are synonyms. I trace my confusion to childhood, when my mother said something like this: “If you want to go to … Continue reading

Posted in word usage | 1 Comment

higher education?

Unless the writer or editor pays close attention, a garbled message will leave readers scratching their heads. A case in point is the sentence below, taken from an opinion piece by two top-level education officials trying to rally support for … Continue reading

Posted in clear thinking, sentence structure | Leave a comment

reflexive pronoun

A reflexive pronoun is personal pronoun with self or selves at the end. The singular forms of a reflective pronoun are myself, yourself, himself/herself/itself. The plural forms are ourselves, yourselves, themselves. When the subject of a sentence or clause and … Continue reading

Posted in usage | Leave a comment


I recently came across this usage of sat in a mystery novel: She sat a pitcher of fresh, thick cream in the middle of the table. This is incorrect. Sat is the past tense of sit, as in, “She sat … Continue reading

Posted in word usage | 1 Comment