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Tag Archive - grammar tips

Do You Speak to Each Other or One Another?

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Sometimes people are confused about when to use each other and one another. Well, there’s a good reason for the confusion. Even the people who make up the rules—the grammarians—don’t agree on this one.

So let’s start with the things they do agree on:

Each other and one another are pronouns (used in place of nouns). They are reciprocal pronouns. That means that both individuals experience the same thing; it’s a mutual relationship.

  • Bill and Sue love each other.
  • Unfortunately, their parents couldn’t stand each other.

Both the affection and the dislike go both ways. Use each other when talking about two people. Continue Reading…

Neglect, Ignore, or Disregard This at Your Peril!

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English grammar and spelling are confusing, but they pale in comparison to explaining the subtle differences and appropriate usage of some synonyms. For example, thrifty, frugal, and miserly could all be used to describe someone who is careful with their resources. I consider myself thrifty, even frugal when necessary; others may consider me miserly.

It’s often a matter of perspective and relativity when choosing which of several words to use when they carry a similar meaning.

Neglect, ignore, and disregard present a similar conundrum. They all include the concept of not paying attention to someone or something. Merriam-Webster includes “to leave undone or unattended to especially through carelessness.” Neglect is failure to tend to someone or something for which you are responsible. Neglect takes place over a period of time and carries predictable consequences. Neglected neighborhoods fall prey to economic blight; neglected children fail to thrive physically as well as emotionally. On the one occasion I allowed a cat to become a house pet, my daughter neglected the litter box until I threatened to take the cat to the shelter. Continue Reading…

Prefixes That Put You in a Fix with Hyphenation

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Hyphenation is the bane of many a writer. Wilson Follett, author of Modern American Usage: A Guide, wrote, “Nothing gives away the incompetent amateur more quickly than the typescript that neglects this mark of punctuation or that employs it where it is not wanted.”

For hyphenation rules, the best advice I can give you is to consult the CMOS hyphenation chart (you can Google it and print it out!) and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. But I’ll try to cover some basics in these entries to help get you familiar with the most common hyphenation issues.

When considering hyphenation, here are your options:

  • Open (two words, no hyphenation)
  • Closed (one word)
  • Hyphenated (connecting two words with a hyphen)

Let’s take a look at prefixes. British English is more likely to use the hyphen than American English. Most compounds formed with prefixes are closed in AmE, whether they are nouns, verb, adjectives, or adverbs. But here are some exceptions. These constructions require a hyphen following the prefix:

  • Before a capitalized word or a numeral, such as post-Roman or mid-August
  • Before a compound term, such as non-self-disclosure
  • To separate double vowels, such as anti-intellectual or co-organizers (many “co” words are closed up though, so check your dictionary)
  • When a prefix or combining form stands alone, such as over- and underused, macro- and microeconomics

Here are a couple of prefixes that are quite consistent in their open, closed, or hyphenated forms:

  • all– most adjective compounds are hyphenated, while most adverb compounds are not.
    • Adjectives: all-inclusive, all-around, all-powerful
    • Adverbs: all over, all out, all along
  • cross– most compounds formed with cross are hyphenated; a few are closed.
    • cross-country, cross-checking, crossbar, crosspiece, crosswalk

Many of us tend to hyphenate words with prefixes, but much of the time we should close these words up. That includes words that begin with anti, co, counter, extra, hyper, inter, and many more. So best to look them up first in the dictionary, and if you can’t find the word as one combined word, then hyphenate it.

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