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Getting Serious about Series

If you went to the World Series three years in a row, did you go to three serieses or three series? That awkward word serieses is still floating around, but the accepted term for more than one series is just series.

I don’t know about you, but that sure makes it easier for my mouth. I like to talk about the many TV or book series I’m reading, and although it feels odd not to add that es to the end of series, I’m glad for it.

Series can serve as a plural when needed, but the word is usually singular. We say “that series is very popular in the UK.”

But when talking about a series of things, you want to treat the word as a plural: Continue Reading…

Are Your Reticent or Reluctant to Read This?

Here are two words that get mixed up at times—reticent and reluctant. If you’re reticent, it means you are reserved/restrained in appearance or presentation or unwilling to speak freely.

Although reticence often seems to have the same sense as reluctance, it’s important to understand the distinction between the two words.

Reluctance, by contrast, refers to an aversion, hesitation, or unwillingness to do or say something. It usually implies a strong negative connotation. Reticent imparts less of a negative feeling.

You could be reluctant to be harsh with another person, whereas you might be reticent about speaking up because you are shy. Think of it this way: people aren’t generally reluctant by nature. Continue Reading…

Don’t Raise a Ruckus about Rise and Raise

Here’s a little grammar lesson. Some verbs are transitive. This means they take a direct object. Writers often run into confusion, for example, with lay and lie. Lay takes an object (I lay the book on the table), so it’s a transitive verb. But lie (as in lie down, or telling a fib) is an intransitive verb. It does not take a object. You lie down. You don’t “lie” something down.

Okay, got it?

Now, think about the words raise and rise. The basic distinction is that raise is transitive.

  • I raise my hand when I want to be called on.
  • He raised the flag when they blew the trumpet.

Easy, right? Got that transitive thing down now? Good. So what about rise? Rise is an intransitive verb, and now you know what that means. Continue Reading…

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