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Joint Ownership 

Let’s talk a bit about joint possession and the proper way to express this. Possession can get a bit tricky, and writers often don’t stop to think about the nuances. Take a look at this sentence:

  • We always go to my uncle and aunt’s house for the holidays.

Unless your uncle and aunt have separate homes, the sign of possession—the apostrophe—is placed with the second noun. The pair is treated as a unit; that’s  what joint ownership is, after all.

Things get a little trickier when you replace one of the nouns with a pronoun. Which is correct?

  • We’re going to him (referring to your uncle) and my aunt’s house
  • We’re going to his and my aunt’s house

Continue Reading…

Do Yourself a Favor and Learn about Reflexive Pronouns

I sometimes see writers misuse reflexive pronouns—pronouns that have the suffix self (or selves) tagged on. For example, note these incorrect sentences:

  • My wife and myself thank you for the gift.
  • Deliver the cake to my partner or myself.
  • You should include ourselves in the vacation.

Take a moment to learn what reflexive and intensive personal pronouns are. A reflexive pronoun renames the subject as an object: “She gave herself a birthday present.” Continue Reading…

Don’t Be in Error of Circumlocution

Here’s a simple way to tighten up your writing: look for phrases using be in your passages.

Verb phrases using be can often be simplified or better said with a simple verb. Here are some circumlocutory uses of be words that are common and create clunky writing, followed by the suggested replacement verb:

  • Be abusive of (abuse)
  • Be benefited by (benefit from)
  • Be desirous of (desire or want)
  • Be in agreement (agree)
  • Be in error (err)
  • Be in possession of (possess)
  • Be in receipt of (received)
  • Be supportive of (support)

It’s much simpler and smoother to say “We desire a change in the schedule, and if you would support us, you’ll receive a lot of praise” than “We would be desirous of a change in the schedule, and if you would be supportive of that, you’ll be in receipt of much praise.”

Now if we can be in agreement that the former sentence is better than the latter, we might be benefited by it.

I hope you didn’t like that last sentence either.