I’m sure this comes as no surprise to anyone who has visited the writing guide here before, but I’d like to make official what has been painfully obvious for too long: this little experiment of a writing guide has come to an end.
It has been nearly 2 1/2 years since I last posted an entry here, and I have neither the time nor the motivation to post another any time soon. My interests, along with my profession, have changed quite a bit in the last five years, and I no longer feel qualified to make any kind of authoritative pronouncement about the English language. The entries will remain available for viewing, but comments will be closed. I’ve enjoyed seeing the discussion that a few of the entries have generated, but I’m afraid that leaving comments open invites the expectation that I will answer the questions of anyone who happens to ask. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to those discussions.
To those looking for help with English grammar, style, and usage, I hope you can find an answer in one of the previously posted entries or on another website.
Someone recently sent me an email asking about the proper use of “who” and “that”:
“When followed by a verb, how does one know when to say ‘who’ and when to say ‘that”? Ex: The lady that jumped on the couch *or* The lady who jumped on the couch?”
I just got a very nice note from Andrew, who asked a good usage question:
Hi! I love reading your answers to the grammar questions. Recently, I got into a debate about ‘lit’ versus ‘lighted’.
I lit a match.
I lighted a candle.
The room was lit by the flame.
The room was lighted by the flame.
Here is one of the many questions I’ve received recently:
I was reading a story in the paper and the writer wrote “He hanged himself.” My coworkers and I thought it should be, “He hung himself.” Are we all wrong or is the journalist?
Someone recently wrote in with the following question:
I was recently reading a book that used the word “towards” many times. I have always said, “I went toward the lake.” But, in this book the author wrote several sentences such as, “I went towards the lake.” The author is a professor of liturature at John Hopkins. So, I’m wondering if I have always been incorrect. On the other hand, English is her second language. So, perhaps I am correct. Or, maybe there are times when it should be plural and others when it should be singular. Please advise…
“The question concerns the appropriate use of the words ‘historic’ and ‘historical’. When is one prefered over the other?”
This is a great question, for which the American Heritage Book of English Usage has an excellent answer…
Question: When do I use “to” or “too”? Example: “too difficult” or “to stay”
The Question: Which is correct?
None of us does
None of us do
The Answer: …
Selline Odeny asked, “Please tell me about the subject-first and non-subject-first sentence patterns.”
I’ve received a number of questions about the proper use of “shall” and “will”…