How Would You Sort These?

Dad classifies some nouns in the middle of the comic:

So going from weakest to most likely to be correct, Dad has whim, notion, hunch, gut feeling.

How would you sort these? What words would you add to the list? Lemme know in the comments.

Minced Oath Fail

A minced oath is a mild substitute for a nastier profanity. Myself, I avoid both the real thing and the mild version.

I say what I actually mean. Consequently, my English is a pretty good means of communication.

Good Example of “Who” and “Whom.”

Maybe the title should be “Whom and Who.” That’s the order in our example sentence:

Naipaul is best understood as an inquiline, as a man whom the English have tried to absorb, but a man who has clung to displacement like a floating buoy.”

The Voyage in — A Way in the World by V.S. Naipaul; The New Republic (Washington, DC); Jun 13, 1994.

I got the sentence from, a site that produces A Word A Day, and I highly recommend that you subscribe.

  • Look at the “whom.” The subject is “the English,” so “whom” is the direct object. (Rearrange it: The English tried to absorb him.”)
  • Now look at the “who.” “Who” is the subject. “Who” did the clinging.

Both usages are correct. Good for them.

Since you might be curious, shamelessly copied from Wikipedia:

Image result for Naipaul

Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul TC, most commonly known as V. S. Naipaul, and informally, Vidia Naipaul, was a Trinidadian and Tobagonian British writer of works of fiction and nonfiction in English.  Nobel Prize in Literature, Booker Prize, Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society

A nice List of Errors

Don’t need to say much for this post. Don’t you make these goofs!

By the way, if you click the link to the comic, click the link to the comments. They’re pretty good. One of the comments even explains the solecism in the last panel.

Plural or Singular?

First the puzzle: Is the spider’s sentence correct?

Okay, “all” here means he dreams about only one thing. That’s singular, right? So the verb should be “is,” right?

Then why does “is” sound wrong, and “are” sound right? Think about it before you read the next paragraph.

The reason is called attraction. It’s a legitimate rule in Latin, but not in English, though sometimes it happens. Attraction is when you base the form of a word to agree with the closest candidate (even if it’s incorrect). And “flies” is closer to the verb than the subject is.

Punctuation Matters

The comic is about a little girl who’s afraid of her grandmother’s big dog…

As you can see, the change in punctuation makes a difference. When you write, think about the punctuation!

Okay, now a test. How should you punctuate the labels?

A Conspicuously Singular “They”

Many writers use “they” as a singular, particularly when they don’t know or they want to conceal the gender of whom or what they are referring to. Writers have done this for a long time (centuries) and sometimes it feels natural, even, but this example jumped out at me:

Authorities have arrested an individual who is allegedly part of The Chuckling Squad, the hacker group that compromised the Twitter CEO’s account in August, according to Vice. The alleged member was arrested around two weeks ago, but isn’t named because they are a minor.

(I should add that the quote is from a summary on the Recode Daily website, though the usage occurs in a similar sentence in the original (linked) article.

When Not to Correct Someone’s Grammar

My policy is to be wise and not correct someone unless they ask. (I get asked a lot on, by the way.) This comic is a good example of when to use this policy of non-correction. Even though he’s right about the grammar.

Frankly, I recommend not cheating in the first place, either.