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This week's commonly confused words will include three homonyms, censor, censer, and sensor, as well as censure, which has a slightly different pronunciation but is often confused with them. The examples will be using our friends at Person of Interest.

I need a sensor for the censer before the censor censures meCollapse )
Most of us with a fondness for (or even a passing familiarity with) grammar can relate to the jarring, nails-on-a-chalkboard sensation of running across a sentence that claims, “Me and him are best friends.” Unless the sentence is meant to be an example of ultra-relaxed colloquial dialogue, most grammar-minded people will want to run screaming from the room as soon as they’ve parsed it.

Fortunately, we’re not alone.

Such is the point made in Jen Doll’s June 2012 article from TheWire.com. Doll graciously shares 10 of her favorite copyediting and grammar-for-life rules, some of which I’ll be discussing right hereCollapse )

Answer: When to use hoard versus horde

Our question today is when to use hoard versus horde. Both words have to do with a mass quantity, so they are often used interchangeably. But this is an error, as they do have separate, distinct meanings. Here's how to know when to use which, with examples using characters from The Hobbit.Collapse )
There is nothing quite so amusing about living in the American South as overhearing your fellow Southerners’ lingo while waiting in line at the supermarket.  Besides the inevitable “dag burn” here and “ain’t” there, there’s a long list of colorful, exaggerated expressions that Southern speakers often customize when using, making these expressions more colorful and exaggerated than before.  Daniel Sosnoski covers one such expression, “butter my butt and call me a biscuit!” as well as a wide range of its variants (including the racier ones) in this very thorough article.  He touches a little on the friendly, humorous nature of this and other expressions, even the ones that are a bit (or a lot) on the insulting side.

Read more:Collapse )

Fandom Grammar Needs You!

Once again, we're running low on Answer topics, so it's your chance to help us shape our content.

Got a question you're arguing with your beta? Got a pet peeve you wish fandom would fix? Run into a problem somewhere else that still applies to fannish writing? We'll take them all.

Go to the Ask a Question post to suggest them. Comments are screened, so don't worry about being embarrassed.

No topic is too obscure, no question too nitpicky.

May the Grammar be with you!
In August of last year, Slate writer Katy Waldman tackled the tricky issue of adjective order and whether it’s important in spoken and written English. Her article describes GSSSACPM, which is the generally agreed-upon order of adjectives describing a particular noun: “general opinion then specific opinion then size then shape then age then color then provenance then material” (bold emphasis mine). But of course it’s not quite as simple as all that, as Waldman goes on to explain. I’ll admit that some of her explanation seemed needlessly convoluted to me, but her examples helped to clear up what she meant, which I appreciated. So overall, I liked this article. I even learned several new things, which is something I always enjoy doing. Read on to get the full scoop.Collapse )

Commonly Confused Words: taught and taut

Today we’ll be discussing a couple of words that are pronounced the same way but have very different meanings. Let’s take a look at taught and taut, and a side order of taunt, with some help from the folks in the Magnificent Seven.

Teaching stretches me so thin.Collapse )

Last year, Guardian opinion desk editor David Shariatmadari, who often writes about language and communication, considered some of the ways that pronunciation of the English language has changed with time. His article examined eight specific types of changes, some of which are quite recent. I already knew about some of these shifts— for example, that "adder" and "apron" used to start with "n" (nadder and napron)—but others were new to me. In general, I enjoyed the article.

Learn more about Shariatmadari"s discussion …Collapse )

Commonly confused words: aisle/isle

It's amazing how many homonyms (aka homophones) there are in English - and probably other languages too, but English is the one that concerns us. Let's see if our friends from The Sentinel can give us a little help to distinguish between aisle and isle. Read more...Collapse )


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