Oxford Comma Comic

I can’t resist. Kind of a double whammy…


Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is a good intellectual humor comic. You ought to subscribe to it.

In case you didn’t get it, the oxford comma is the one that goes before the “and” when you have a list of things.

History Of Women’s Golf Apparels

Golf without any doubt is one of the most popular sports perhaps in your city, country and also in many other places in the country. It is known for testing the skill sets of the golf player apart from also testing their patience, perseverance and staying power. It is quite long and grueling and spread over a couple of days. Apart from the intricacies and skill sets associated with golf, the sport also is known for its flamboyance. The dresses that men and women wear during practice matches and also during the actual tournaments is a subject matter of discussion. In this article, we will be looking briefly at the history and evolution of this sport over the past many decades.

 The Initial Years And Decades

 During the initial phases of women’s golf (18th and 19th centuries) women were asked to wear Victorian golf dresses. These included crinolines, multiple petticoats, and bustles. These might have looked decent and in line with times those days, but these dresses were uncomfortable on the women. They did not give women the chance to engage in a free swing and this also impacted the net results and putting in more ways than one.

 The First Whiffs Of Fresh Change

 There are some articles on women’s golf dresses that talk about the role of Miss Isette Pearson in 1898. She brought about some radical changes in the way she dressed during golf matches and tournaments. She also seemingly had many affairs after her husband’s death. Her new approach to golf dresses is being talked about even today because it certainly was trend-setting apart from being radical.

 Miss Joyce Wethered

 Miss Joyce Wethered is credited with winning the British Ladies Amateur Championship four times during the period 1922 to 1929. She also won the English Ladies’ Championship five years a row from 1920 to 1924. She brought about some big changes in the way women wore golf dresses on the field. The hat she wore and the bottoms that exposed her knees were considered to be quite radical those days, but she was the one who perhaps was more concerned about the quality of golf she played rather than being bothered about what people were telling about her dresses.

 Miss Gloria Minoprio

 Though she adhered to the conventional dressing sense by covering the entire body on the golf course, her dresses were known to be comfortable. They did not hinder full and complete freeing of the arms for taking long shots. The way she protected the head during the winter season was also quite exciting at that point in time.

 The World Of Short-Sized Golf Dresses

 The changes in women’s golf dresses happened much slower when compared to men. It was only during the early 1970s that short skirts were allowed in the golfing arena for women. The Pants were also tight fitting and shorts also made a quiet appearance on the golf ground for women. The real changes happened perhaps around the year 2000. The skirt colors and the collar of the tops also changed. Though the skirts were short, care was taken to conceal the areas that mattered the most.

 Thus there have been quite a few changes that took place in the world of women’s golf dresses and today it is liberal according to many, though there does exist scope for improvement.

Don’t Switch Person!

I don’t happen to know the technical term for it, but when you refer to something in, say, the third person, don’t switch to using, say, the first person when you refer to it.

Perhaps best explained with an example:


Here’s the sentence:

China has changed that market dramatically, and their decision has forced the rest of the world to become more self-reliant and responsible in our waste management.

  • China—third person; their—third person. They refer to the same entity, so okay.
  • rest of the world—third person; our—first person!
  • They refer to the same entity, so not good

The sentence could have used “us” instead of “rest of the world” and it would have been okay. The sentence could also have used “their” instead of “our” and that would have been okay, too, but I prefer using first person because the sentence already used the third person for China, so using the first person when you refer to someone else is a little smoother.

So what do you call it? Person agreement? Personal coordination? How about clear instead of confusing?

Good Example of a Great Truth

I mentioned this a while back, but ran into another example, so I thought I’d share.

The difference between the truth and a great truth is that the opposite of a great truth is also true!

The example is in the first two panels, which have nothing to do with the rest of the comic.


PS—I found another example. I think. I found it in A Word A Day for April 8, 2019. The URL is wordsmith.org.

 “What is bred in the bone will not come out of the flesh,” implying something deep-rooted cannot be removed. Also recorded in the form “What is bred in the bone will come out in the flesh,” meaning deeply ingrained traits will ultimately reveal themselves.

Vague Numbers

When I was a kid, I learned that “pair” and “couple” meant two of something, and “few” meant three of something.

Over the years, I’ve seen that except for “pair,” those definitions aren’t quite true. I just ran into this example for the meaning of “couple” to be rather flexible:


Maybe you can think of some examples of vague fews.

But when you’re writing expositorily, always use “two” and “three,” of course.

Linguistic Flexibility

This comic about adding a prefix to the verb “blow” reminded me that we have a tendency to wonder about the form of a word when we add a prefix to it or change the context. Does it change, or does it stay the same?


I’ve heard people use “mouses” when referring to computer mice. And when making backups, I’ve heard both “backed-up” and “backupped.”

Maybe you can think of an example or two. Put it in the comments.

How Not to Caption a Picture

—By referring to something that’s not in the picture. The art director at KSTP channel 5 in Minnesota taught me this when I was a kid (Hi, Chan!)

If you have a caption that says “Boy makes a big jump,” show a picture of a boy jumping. If you have a caption “Boy misses a big jump,” you still show a picture of a boy jumping! Whatever is in the picture should be what’s in the caption, regardless of what you say about what’s in the picture.

And it should be the first thing in the caption. The subject.

So here’s an example of a supposed professional getting the caption egregiously wrong. Here’s the picture:

Here’s the caption:

Suspect indicted in Sussex woman’s death, dismemberment

Does she look like a murderer to you? You don’t find out until you read the article that the suspect is a man in this thirties. This is a picture of the victim!

Why would the newspaper get it backwards and not show the bad guy? I suspect it has something to do with getting more people to look. Marketing. And you know what I say about marketing communications folks, right?

All marcom people are insane.

NB—The next day they got it right. Picture of a man, and the caption is “Suspect in woman’s murder, dismemberment was arrested for DUI in Virginia”

What? No Plural?

This post isn’t a writing lesson, exactly; more of a linguistic commentary.

Some words don’t have plurals, or they look like plurals but aren’t, or they look singular but can still be plural. I suspect this makes English a bit tricky for English as a second language folks.

  • Look like plurals but aren’t: physics, measles, shingles (adult measles), loggerheads, trousers, scissors, forensics (see the comic)
  • Look like plurals whether singular or plural: species, premises
  • Look like singular whether singular or plural: fish, deer, moose
  • Don’t have plurals: information, cosmos
  • Always plural: krill, plankton
  • Can go both ways: Pair of trousers, pair of scissors, fishes

The trick, of course, is to use the correct singular or plural verb.


I pulled these off the top of my head. Can you add any? Send a comment.

A Non-lesson Post

This is why I promise never to correct someone’s English unless they ask…


And I have posts about both of those mistakes, too. Use the search box in the upper right if you’re curious.

Figures of Speech in Expository Writing

When you write to explain something, your goal is to be clear, not necessarily beautiful or picturesque. Some figures of speech are so common we don’t think of them as such; see the use of “window” in the sentence below. But how about the word “born”?

Because the cesium-rich particles were born early in the meltdown, they offer scientists an important window into the exact sequence of events in the disaster.


Being born is normally a biological term. Might be a little better to have said “…particles were created,” eh? Or how about getting rid of the passive while we’re at it, and say that the particles formed early in the meltdown?

Not as distracting now, is it?

Rule of thumb: The more technical you are, the less poetic you should be.

Here’s a photo of the event:

The Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power plant after a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 14, 2011 in Futaba, Japan. Credit: Getty Images