Try this Grammar Guide quiz (it's Quiz No. 47) on word usage. Click on the question mark to begin. I've set up this quiz so I can receive the results as readers complete it. Rest assured that I merely get a report with no identifying information. I want to see how many people take it, though.
A reader left a message for an editor last week, saying that we had made a grammar error in the first sentence of the lead story of the Weekend section. Here is the sentence:
Last weekend, I, with the help of several friends, went on an eating tour of Durham.
People who have worked hard at perfecting their writing and language use sometimes cringe when they read or hear what they consider lax usage. What stands out like a weed in the flower patch to them doesn't even register with other people. For example, some readers are keenly attuned to the difference between "different from" and "different than."
A reader sent me an e-mail message about word usage in caption that appeared on the
Sports pages recently. You can see the photo below.
A quote in a New York Times story that The N&O used in print inspired my latest idiom research. Here is how the quote appeared early in the editing at The N&O:
"It's a corporate problem," said Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who has been particularly critical of BP's operations in Alaska and will lead the House committee hearing. "Their mentality is to get in the foxhole and button down the hatch. It just seems there is this pattern."
Copy editors learn early in their training to distinguish commonly confused words. Stylebooks and writing manuals have entries and lists of such words.
I am a copy editor, and as part of that job, I write headlines. Last week, I wrote this headline, using a word that we rarely see except in headlines
I have mentioned that I have a bad habit of buying and collecting books on grammar and usage. For me, a new or updated usage book is like the newest iGadget to many tech fans: I must have it.