Tag Archive - usage tips

Whether or Not You Like This

Contrary what many of us were taught (me included),  the word whether doesn’t always have to be followed by or not.

According to Bryan Garner, whether implies or not. So it is perfectly correct to say the following:

  • They discussed whether the plans would be suitable.
  • I didn’t know whether I should go.

The exception to this, though, is when you use whether to mean “regardless of whether.” In this case,  it’s important to include those two little words.

  • You can write a check whether or not you have the funds available in your account.
  • I’m going on that vacation whether or not it snows.

Don’t get overexcited and pile all those words together. Saying “I want to go regardless of whether or not I have the money” is a bit superfluous. Either leave out the regardless of or leave out the or not.

And while the expression as to whether is one that’s been around a long time, this phrasing is often considered unnecessary. Instead of saying “He doesn’t have the facts as to whether the man was guilty,” just say “He doesn’t have the facts that prove the man was guilty” (or something to that effect).

Whether  or not you wanted to read about all this, I hope you’ve learned something. If not, weather it out!

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 You 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…

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