This blog post begins on a personal note. I am legally obligated to tell you that in case you are a very important person who can’t be bothered with personal notes. You have been warned!
I’m currently dating quite the sweetie and life is pretty good, I guess! We have fun times, and we’re both wordy people. Ahhhhh, the joy of conversing with someone who knows what adverbs are! It’s quite nice.
But a spanner was thrown in the works, guys. We had our first fight. And it was about punctuation. Continue reading
Cliches (or, if you’re French and care about accent marks, clichés) are Not Good. They are so not good that I’m devoting a large part of my incredibly limited mortal existence to tell you why they are Not Good. Eighty, ninety years on this planet if I’m lucky, and I’m choosing to spend it on this. So, yeah. You’re welcome.
Okay, cliches! Get ready for an interesting fact: the word “cliche” originally meant a chunk of typeset text of moveable type Ye Olde printer could use over and over again often. This is also where we get the word “stereotype,” literally type that’s used many times for different purposes. Now it means a phrase or an idea that is used to the point of overuse; that is, it has lost its meaning. Continue reading
Purple is the color of a cloak which your words should never wear, treading on a barren stair in the dark to meet a woman whom they know is from a city they’ve never been and should not dare make haste toward.
Or, in other words, quit the #@$%ing purple prose already.
Purple prose means writing that is way too flowery, effusive, extravagant, or showy. It’s a phrase used to describe works or passages that are out of place or just plain stupid. The poet Horace coined the phrase (sort of) and the lesson is don’t ever, ever go overboard.
“Elaborate poetry?” you may ask. “Florid diatribes? Surely these never appear in my businesslike writing of business!”
Are you sure? Continue reading
It’s one of those things we all agree we hate yet are all guilty of doing. Like not holding the elevator doors. But guys, seriously, this !!! and ??? stuff is getting out of hand.
One exclamation point? Fine. Necessary if you’re an excitable person! One question mark: cool. No problem.
Two exclamation points or question marks? Okaaaaaay, but you’re on thin ice, mister.
Three or more? Oh. Oh, we gonna fight. Continue reading
Lately a lot of folks have asked me questions that come down to a matter of Britishocity. Is it “gray” or “grey?” Is it “theatre” or “theater?” It’s okay if you’re confused about these things because, to be honest, you probably had little to do with dumping a bunch of Twinnings into Boston Harbor. Or is that Harbour?
We’ve whined about the differences between American and British English before, but spellings are a whole ‘nother animal. Or is that animaul? (Hint: it’s not.) If you care, here are some commonly mixed-up spellings that differ across the pond.
CT Michaels asked for a post on when to use affect and effect. So here it is, the shortest post of all time.
Affect is a verb. Effect is a noun. Continue reading
Last week, we here at the PRBC HQ received one of Cog‘s many passive-aggressive e-mails about meeting our deadlines. We don’t really mind those e-mails; we usually ignore them while our deadlines go whooshing by. But this one was more ingeniously manipulative than most. “For those of you without posts in the queue,” it said, “(and you two know who you are) this is a reminder to get your posts in on Sunday as early as you can.”
Obviously our internal e-mail thread devolved into lots of people apologizing for being one of those two. Which was weird, because at least 10 people came forward to claim their place of shame in those two slots. Waitacottonpickin’ minute, I said, clearly we are all slackers, not just two of us! You really made us scared, Cog, that we were only one of two deadbeats in the group. Cog tried to defend himself by saying that “you two” referred to the two goody-two-shoes that DID finish their posts under the deadline. Continue reading
Just admit it. ADMIT IT. You don’t know when to use “that” and when to use “which” in a sentence.
Don’t cry! Nobody does. Seriously, no one can remember the rules for that/which because they are so. Freakin’. Difficult to remember when you’re in the middle of writing. But some of you actually care about your writing, and for you, I will break it down. The rest of you can go, I don’t know, eat cheez doodles and watch the local news.
Here’s what the Chicago Manual of Style (praise be His name) has to say about that/which: Continue reading
Let’s cut to the chase: you don’t understand irony. You think you do, because you’re A) a hipster or B) a cynic. Don’t beat yourself up; it’s a common mistake. So let’s break down what’s ironic, what’s unfortunate, and what’s just plain hilarious.
Irony sounds really complicated when you try to research it on Wikipedia. There are lots of different kinds: verbal irony (when you say something that’s the opposite of what you really mean) and dramatic irony (when one person is not aware of something that everyone else is). Continue reading
A lot of hardcore wordy people really hate internet-speak, but guys, I am not one of them! I’m all for language evolution mostly because there’s really no way to stop it, is there? Also, considering that Twitter only allows 140 characters, we now have an excuse besides laziness for our Internet acronyms. Chances are, you’ll run into someone online who’s moved beyond LOL or BRB and you’ll want to know what the heck they’re talking about. So here’s a handy guide for all y’all that weren’t rocking the BBS back in ’94 when all these things got carved in stone. Continue reading