at least hillary knows the difference between “alternative” and “alternate”

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LAST NIGHT’S SLUGFEST con­sisted of ninety min­utes of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton calling each other names (“liar” popped up more than once) and de­claring each other un­trust­worthy and unfit for of­fice. Policy dif­fer­ences and other mat­ters that should con­cern these two can­di­dates were set aside so that each could im­pugn the basic char­acter of the other! READ MORE

some (piss) poor writing about hillary’s “role” in benghazi

THE LAST WORD ANYONE would use to de­scribe me is “conservative”—at least not re­garding most is­sues re­lated to pol­i­tics. But there’s more to life than pol­i­tics: I re­main old-fashioned on the issue of pre­scrip­tive versus de­scrip­tive dic­tio­naries (strongly be­lieving in the former) and the misuse of the des­ig­nated hitter in major league base­ball (not at all what you think). READ MORE

are there supposed to be spaces between the dots in an ellipsis?

EVERY READER OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE has seen those three dots in the midst of an oth­er­wise normal sen­tence that tells them some­thing spe­cial is hap­pening. These dots are called an ‘el­lipsis’ and are usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with text quoted from an­other source. Most readers know that these dots in­di­cate that words in the orig­inal text have been deemed un­nec­es­sary and omitted from the quote. READ MORE

Why I Capitalize Every Word In Every Title

I CAPITALIZE EVERY WORD in every title that I write in the text sec­tions of my books and es­says. That in­cludes cap­i­tal­izing the def­i­nite and in­def­i­nite ar­ti­cles and those perky prepo­si­tions! I al­ways have and no doubt I al­ways will. I do this for sev­eral rea­sons, which I share here in a ges­ture of bon­homie. READ MORE

far out! I’m another blog’s blog of the month!

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LAST YEAR, I pub­lished an ar­ticle ti­tled “on william strunk and el­e­ments of style (and con­cise vig­orous writing)” here on Neal Umphred Dot Com. It’s as boring as the title makes it sound—you’d have to give a damn about the most im­por­tant figure and the most im­por­tant book in the his­tory of Amer­ican writing on the inses and outses of writing read­ably! READ MORE

can you be “electrified” by a slam dunk victory?

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I PUT DOWN MY MUG OF COFFEE and reached into my desk drawer and dex­ter­ously pulled out my minia­ture samurai-sword letter-opener with the dropbear-tooth handle. After staring into space for a few sec­onds and mum­bling, “That’s not a knife—this is a knife,” I took a few swipes in front of me with the foot-long blade, voicing the ap­pro­priate martial-arts-movie swooshing-sounds as it cut the air. READ MORE

the hyphen/forward-slash conundrum resolved

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MY PREVIOUS ARTICLE ON DASHES was ti­tled “On Those Pesky Dashes As Punc­tu­a­tion Marks” and ad­dressed the em-dash (—), the en-dash (–), and the hy­phen (-). It should have in­cluded some sug­ges­tions on the proper use of the for­ward leaning slash (/). After all, graph­i­cally the forward-slash, or vir­gule, is just an up­right, slanted dash! READ MORE

on those pesky dashes as punctuation marks

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USE OF THE DASH FOR PUNCTUATION is a lost art in con­tem­po­rary Amer­ican Eng­lish (AmE) and British Eng­lish (BrE) for many writers and ap­par­ently many type­set­ters. It’s a shame, as a well-placed dash or ten can ease the flow of reading and there­fore lead to in­creased un­der­standing and plea­sure. READ MORE