When I started working at a new company, I was disappointed to learn that an “enterprise” account had absolutely nothing to do with spaceships. Instead, enterprise accounts are the big fish your team reels in so that your proverbial corporate boat stays afloat. I hate to critique Captain Kirk, but when he utters “to boldly go where no man has gone before,” he's technically breaking a grammar rule. Or is he? I know William Shatner (who famously played Captain James T. Kirk) is Canadian; does that hamper his grasp on correct English grammar? “To boldly go” is an example of a split infinitive. Up until now, the only thing I was worried about splitting was my pants. So, what's an infinitive, anyway? An infinitive is almost always a two-word verb phrase with the word “to” in front of the verb. Examples of infinitives include to sneeze, to cry, to dance and to fail. A split infinitive occurs when you put an adverb between “to” and … [Read more...] about Grammar Guy: To infinitives and beyond
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“It seems like people use who and that interchangeably. When I hear people say, ‘You know Bill ... he's the guy that lives down the street,' it makes my ears cry. What's the rule on who vs. that?” — Aaron, Noblesville, Indiana I could spend a whole month on who. Who or whom. Who's vs. whose. Who's on first? Who let the dogs out? Who's the boss? From my best research, I've concluded who is either the name of a band who likes to sing about pinball or the guy who plays first base. Just kidding. As a general rule, use who when you're referring to a person and that when you're referring to an object. Case closed. I wish it were that easy. However, according to style guides, including Chicago Manual of Style and Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage, who and that can indeed be used interchangeably. Additionally, authors, including Shakespeare and Chaucer, and books such as the King James Bible often utilized that to refer to a person. I'm not about to argue with … [Read more...] about Grammar Guy: Who do you think you are?
Last Updated Mar 5, 2010 2:03 PM EST Today is National Grammar Day. Why should you care about grammar, which seems like such a dusty, musty trifle in this age of texting? As a practical matter, employers care a lot. Grammar could also be standing in your teenager's way of getting into his or her dream school. Grammar accounts for two-thirds of the writing score on the SAT test and more than half on the English ACT score. If you could use a grammar refresher, here are five painless resources to check out on National Grammar Day: Twitter. If you can only handle grammar lessons in small (140-character) doses, check out top grammarians on Twitter: @APstylebook, and @FakeAPStylebook. The fake version is vastly more popular than the real thing. Grammarlogues: This software relies on (or is it upon?) the writings of Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners to teach more than 200 grammar rules. The grammarians pull text excerpts from novels, poems, magazines and newspaper articles. Grammar Girl. … [Read more...] about 5 Ways to Celebrate National Grammar Day
Decades ago, we had an occasional and unofficial departmental memo titled "Heard around the newsroom" that recounted the most notable quotes of the day uttered by someone on staff. I've seen social media pages devoted to such things, so I'm sure this tradition was not unique to us. This is my version of that. En route to a meeting recently I overheard a conversation in which someone described something unfamiliar to her as being "unchartered waters." It's a wonder people don't run and hide when they see me coming. The term is "uncharted waters," which in its literal sense means an area that has not been mapped and therefore is unfamiliar. I imagine "unchartered waters" would be that which is too choppy for charter boats to sail on. Scattergories I heard a radio weather forecaster predict there would be a "scattering" of rain showers and thought to myself: column item! This is one of those instances in which I thought I knew something but ended up learning something instead. You … [Read more...] about Grammar Moses: Is the president having contractions?
Today's Grammar Police column is brought to you by the letters "E" and "I." Actually, it's not all about E and I, but we'll start there, because I have interesting grammar questions involving those letters. The first was sparked by a reader who criticized this front page headline: "GOP finalizes bill, gaining critical support. Holdout senators say they'll vote for it, likely insuring its passage." He reacted, "I didn't even know companies would insure something like that. Is it possible the headline writers meant 'ensuring?'" The Grammar Girl website explains that the words ensure, insure and assure all spring from the same Latin word "securus," meaning "safe" or "secure." She wrote that all three verbs have the general meaning "to make sure," and that there is a disagreement about whether they are interchangeable. Here is how Grammar Girl broke down the differences: "Assure is something you do to a person, a group of people or an animal to remove doubt or anxiety ... You can remember … [Read more...] about Grammar Police tackle ensure, insure