Blog-azine

“I” or “me”?

Which is it: “Donna loves pizza more than I” or “Donna loves pizza more than me”? It depends on what point you are trying to make. If you’re trying to say she loves pizza more than you love pizza, then “Donna loves pizza more than I” is correct since the implied phrase is “…than I do.” But, given a choice between you and a pizza, if Donna chooses the pizza (tough break, by the way), then “Donna loves pizza more than me” is correct since the implied phrase is “…more than she loves me.”

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Posted Saturday, February 28, 2009 | Link to entry

Affect or effect?

Most of the time, affect is a verb and effect is a noun. However, this is only a “most-of-the-time” guide, since affect can at times be a noun and effect can at times be a verb. But, instead of confusing the issue with exceptions that are rarely used, I’ll concentrate on the most common uses. Affect is almost always a verb meaning “to influence or change.” Use it this way: “Will this affect my performance review?” Effect is almost always a noun meaning “result.” Use it this way: “We need to address the effect of your behavior.”

Want to learn more? Consider my two writing seminars: Business Writing in Plain English and Goof-Proof Grammar.

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Posted Tuesday, April 15, 2008 | Link to entry

Can it be “truly unique”?

A blog-azine subscriber, Jerry Dunn, politely and correctly called to my attention a usage error I had posted in my entry that is now titled “Now, this is unique.” Originally, the item was titled “Now, this is truly unique.” (Don’t look for the mistake--I’ve already corrected it.) Jerry wrote ”unique can’t be modified--it’s either unique or it isn’t.” He further explained, “so-called ‘incomparables’ are words that express absolutes and therefore can’t be used with comparatives (such as more) and superlatives (such as most).” Jerry added, “other examples of absolutes are eternal, equal, and fatal.” He’s absolutely right, and I wish I had caught it, except for the fact that my error gave me another teaching point. Jerry is the author of The National Geographic Traveler: San Francisco. I can’t say it’s truly unique...but I bet it’s worth a look.

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Posted Friday, April 04, 2008 | Link to entry

Comma before “and”?

Which is correct: “The flag is red, white, and blue” or “The flag is red, white and blue”? Actually, both are acceptable. However, as a general practice the recommended business style is to use the comma before “and.” This comes straight from the Gregg Reference Manual, my favorite grammar dispute settler. According to Gregg: “When three or more items are listed in a series and the last item is preceded by and, or, or nor, place a comma before the conjunction.” However, many newspapers and magazines prefer the “non-comma” style, and that is also acceptable. But what is not acceptable is to use both styles intermittently. Pick one style and stick with it. Otherwise, you look careless.

Want to learn more? Consider my two writing seminars: Business Writing in Plain English and Goof-Proof Grammar.

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Posted Sunday, March 16, 2008 | Link to entry

Ending a sentence with “at”

We’ve all been admonished, “Never end a sentence with at.” True, there are times when you definitely should not; but there are also times when you should. It’s common to hear “Where is he at?” That’s simply wrong, but not for the reason most think. You may think it’s because “at” is a preposition and “you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition*.” But that’s not the reason. It’s merely because “at” in the sentence above is a redundancy. “Where is he?” says exactly the same thing, so adding “at” is simply superfluous. And your goal should be to have no unnecessary words. However, there are times when “at” is desirable at the end of a sentence. If you see someone looking at you, snickering, what are you going to say: “What are you laughing at?” Or, would you say “At what are you laughing?” I’d choose “What are you laughing at?” any day.

*If you still believe “you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition,” see the entry dated 3-8-2008 below.

Want to learn more? Consider my two writing seminars: Business Writing in Plain English and Goof-Proof Grammar.

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Posted Saturday, March 15, 2008 | Link to entry

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