Tuesday’s Tips: Possessives

When we want to express that something belongs to, or is associated with, something else, we use an apostrophe followed by the letter “s” to express that. For example: The cat’s toy America’s future Note that the nouns doing the possessing above are both singular. When we make the noun plural by adding “s,” or […]

Tuesday’s Tips: Fewer or Less Than?

Some writers are confused about when to use “fewer” rather than “less than.” They aren’t interchangeable! Here’s the simple rule: Fewer is used when referring to something that can be counted: There are fewer students in my class this semester. Dr. Smith gave fewer assignments than Dr. Brown. Students and assignments are discrete things, which […]

Tuesday’s Tips: Freedom Isn’t For Free

In honor of the 4th of July, my tip this week has to do with the word “free.” Specifically, it’s about all the ways we abuse it, and how not to. “Free” is pretty self-explanatory. We often use unnecessary words before or after it. So clean up your writing by eliminating these words: For free. […]

Tuesday’s Tips: Plurals and Possessives

A lot of people confuse plurals and possessives in their writing, using apostrophes incorrectly. Here’s how it works: When you want to express that there is more than one of something, you use the plural form of the noun (e.g., two keys, three elephants, a roomful of Williamses). Usually, this is done by adding s […]

Tuesday’s Tips: It’s All Greek to Me

Another language we’ve borrowed from is Greek, mostly in the fields of science and academia. What is most confusing about Greek words is their plurals. For example, most people don’t realize that “data” is actually plural. The singular is “datum.” So we should say, “The data suggest …” instead of “The data suggests …” Another […]

Tuesday’s Tips: A Little Latin Lesson

English is such a mongrel language; starting from a Germanic root, we’ve added on words from nearly every branch on the language tree. These additions can be confusing for English speakers, native or not. Some of the earliest adoptions into English are Latin words, usually used within the fields of science, law, and academia. Latin, […]