Hark back, harken back, hearken back
Grammar Underground with June Casagrande
by June
4d ago
Most people use “hark back,” “hearken back” and “harken back” to mean “recall” or “refer back to” some previous event. But the original meaning of “hark,” “harken” and “hearken” was not to recall but to hear or to listen carefully. Think: “Hark! The herald angels sing.” In fact, you can still use them that way today: Hark my words. Hearken my words. Harken my words. “Hark” is the youngest of the three, dating back to the 14th century, with “hearken” and “harken” going back another two centuries or so. Sometime in the 1800s, people started adding “back” to “hark” for the purpose of giving it wh ..read more
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The poor, the meek, the red: Nominal adjectives
Grammar Underground with June Casagrande
by June
1w ago
Think for a moment about the following adjectives: poor, downtrodden, wealthy, well-to-do, meek. They’re definitely adjectives, right? Well, here’s a cool thing about English: Sometimes you can use adjectives as nouns (and, I should add, vice-versa). And when you do, there’s even a name for them. They’re called nominal adjectives. That is, poor people can be referred to as the poor. And that can work as a noun in a sentence: The poor often live in bad school districts. Ditto that for the wealthy. The wealthy often live in good school districts. And everyone knows who shall inherit the earth: t ..read more
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A Friend of Joe's or a Friend of Joe?
Grammar Underground with June Casagrande
by June
1w ago
"Of" shows possession, so technically the apostrophe and S in "a friend of Joe's" contains a logical redundancy. But that doesn't mean it's wrong. The post A Friend of Joe's or a Friend of Joe? first appeared on Grammar Underground with June Casagrande ..read more
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Rally goer, rally-goer, rallygoer?
Grammar Underground with June Casagrande
by June
2w ago
Goers drive me nuts. I’m not talking about the kind of goers that so fascinated Eric Idle in an old Monty Python sketch. I’m talking about the goers you add at the end of words like party, beach, festival, mall — you name it. Any place people go, you can tack a “goers” on the end of. Because I edit feature articles, goers come up quite a bit. And no two writers “goer” alike. “Festival goers can also check out the 40-plus carnival rides.” “Beach-goers flock to Santa Monica ever weekend.” “Partygoers enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.” Some terms ending in “goer,” for example “moviegoer,” are ..read more
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Don't Confuse 'Compliment' and 'Complement'
Grammar Underground with June Casagrande
by June
2w ago
Think of "compliment" as praise and "complement" as something that goes well with something else. Think of "complimentary" as praising or, in its other meaning, free of charge. Think of "complementary" as going well together. The post Don't Confuse 'Compliment' and 'Complement' first appeared on Grammar Underground with June Casagrande ..read more
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Can a Sentence Begin with 'But'?
Grammar Underground with June Casagrande
by June
3w ago
A reader was taught in school that "but" can't begin a sentence — that you either have to connect the clause to the previous sentence, preceded by a comma, or you have to use "however" instead. Unlucky for her but luckily for us, she was taught wrong. The post Can a Sentence Begin with 'But'? first appeared on Grammar Underground with June Casagrande ..read more
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Guys can bring their girlfriends or girlfriend?
Grammar Underground with June Casagrande
by June
1M ago
“‘Guys are allowed to bring their girlfriend/girlfriends to the event.’ Are both OK?” That’s what a user on an English language message board wanted to know a while back. And if you’ve never thought about this issue before, prepare for some brain pain. As you know, subjects and verbs should agree. You walk. He walks. The verb changes form to match the number of the subject. That’s agreement. But objects don’t agree with subjects. You may walk the dogs if there’s more than one. Or you may walk the dog if there’s just one. The subject and verb have no bearing on how many objects you have. In som ..read more
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Is 'One of the Only' Illogical?
Grammar Underground with June Casagrande
by June
1M ago
"The only" seems to refer to just one thing, so "one of the only" would mean "one of the one," which makes no sense. But although one of the definitions of "only" is "alone in a class or category," another of its definitions is "few." So "one of the only" is another, correct way of saying "one of the few." The post Is 'One of the Only' Illogical? first appeared on Grammar Underground with June Casagrande ..read more
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I Am Good, I Am Well, I'm Doing Well
Grammar Underground with June Casagrande
by June
1M ago
In "I'm doing well," "well" is an adverb. But in "I am well," it's an adjective with a slightly different meaning. And while both are more proper than "I am good" when talking about your health, "good" is flexible enough to use here, too. The post I Am Good, I Am Well, I'm Doing Well first appeared on Grammar Underground with June Casagrande ..read more
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Does 'Biweekly' Mean Every Two Weeks or Twice a Week?
Grammar Underground with June Casagrande
by June
1M ago
The prefix "bi-" to refer to time periods often means "twice." So why do we use it to mean "every two" in "biweekly"? It's complicated. Here's how to navigate "bi-" and "semi-" as they related to time. The post Does 'Biweekly' Mean Every Two Weeks or Twice a Week? first appeared on Grammar Underground with June Casagrande ..read more
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