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Tag: Correct use

Know how to use rain, rein and reign

woman wearing black long sleeved blazer on white horse
Photo by Laila Klinsmann on Pexels.com

It’s spring in South Africa and in the season’s first flush, we had a smattering of rain.

That’s the stuff of celebration.

What’s not to celebrate is the state of our country’s newspapers.

Three key notes to persuasive copy

Slapping down anything that comes to mind may work for the Earnest Hemingways of the world, but its unlikely to produce persuasive copy for your website.

pexels-photo-895449.jpegEven Hemingway was not one to settle for the first draft. Very few writers do. So why would you put text on the most public forum – your website – that has not been properly crafted?

How do you like them apples?

The apple: On first appearance, there’s nothing special about it at all.

It’s typically green or red on the outside with a crunchy white interior (if it’s a quality mid-season apple).

This seemingly common or garden apple has been installed with the most amazing qualities, least of all for its medicinal properties although ‘an apple a day, keeps the doctor away’ was embedded in my consciousness from a very early age. And it has remained the basis of my healthy eating plan throughout my life.

Can writers be replaced by Artificial Intelligence?

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Stand aside fellow writer as a machine does your work.

This is highly possible, and as early as 2018, if writings on the power and glory of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is anything to go by.

How important is email accuracy?

Street poster
Read all about it

 

Is email an art or science? If we consider science as accurately written text and art as anything slapped down on the page, then I would be persuaded to think that email leans towards the latter.

Five word pairs to increase your word power

Today I’d like to share these word pairs that always confuse new writers. Not to sound arrogant there are plenty words in the English language that I need to check on for correct usage, despite considering myself an English language professional.

I have selected these five word pairs so that you can easily increase your word power.

Theft and larceny: correct usage

With so much exposure to people’s dirty legal laundry and equal amounts of televised fictional dramas – Law and Order my personal favourite – I often heard the charge of larceny and never understood what it meant. So today I delved into it.

How to alternate the alternative: Grammar

As with much of the English language the correct use of this pair of words has slipped into misuse, and in some very unfortunate circumstances, accepted as the norm, or worse correct.

 

It seem the pair create somewhat of a conundrum given the discussion of usage around one or the other … which brings me to the precise point. Alternative means one or the other, that is: Butter is not available for this recipe so let’s use margarine, as the alternative.

However, Mary who is on a cholesterol controlled diet chose to alternate butter with the alternative olive oil as the fat source in her daily consumption.

Easily said and done, right? Well not so, the discussion suggests.

A source says: “Alternate can be a verb, noun, or adjective, while alternative can be a noun or adjective. In both American and British English, the adjective alternate means ‘every other’ (there will be a dance on alternate Saturdays) and the adjective alternative means ‘available as another choice’ (an alternative route: alternative medicine; alternative energy sources).

In American usage, however, alternate can also be used to mean ‘available as another choice’ an alternate plan called for construction to begin immediately rather than waiting for spring. Likewise, a book club may offer an ‘alternate selection’ as an alternative to the main selection.

Some traditionalists maintain, from an etymological standpoint, that you can have only two alternatives (from the Latin alter ‘other (of two); the other’) and that uses of more than two alternatives are erroneous. Such uses are, however, normal in modern standard English.”

Here they are nouns:

The producers … are planning to tap the cast member Matthew James Thomas to serve as an alternate for the leading man. [NY Times]

There is no medium-term alternative to the dollar for the international monetary system. [Reuters]

Portman portrays Nina Sayres, prima ballerina, with a deer-in-the-headlights look, while Mila Kunis is her alternate, seductive and potentially lethal Lily. [Waffle Reviews]

The Motorola Droid 2 Global is a solid Android smartphone for globe-trotting executives looking for a BlackBerry alternative. [CNET]

And here they are adjectives:

For those of you who use this route, signs will be up to direct you to alternate routes. [News 12]

No alternative energy source currently in development is near ready for prime time. [Slate]

  • Shklovsky says:

‘alternate’ routes should be ‘alternative’ since the plural noun implies more than one choice. The use of ‘alternate’ and ‘alternative’ is different in the UK and much of the English speaking world, from the US.

‘Alternate’ is used when things move from one option to another in sequence, from the verb ‘to alternate’. When there is a choice,’ alternative’ is preferred. ‘Alternate’ as a noun (the stand-in actor example) would be ‘alternative’ since it would be an adjectival noun – implying the word ‘choice’- and could be someone else entirely.

The American use of these words is rapidly entering the UK and, since grammatical ‘correctness’ is only determined by use, we will no doubt convert to the American forms in time, but to speak or write of an ‘alternate’ choice still sounds wrong to UK ears! Much simpler to have ‘alternate’ only when changing in sequence and ‘alternative’ for all choices, whether two or more.

  • Grammarist says:

We came across this view of “alternate” (that its use in the sense “serving in place of another” is questionable to some) in our original research for this post and considered mentioning it. But we always try to discuss words as they are now used rather than as they are traditionally used, and we find the adjectival use of “alternate” as a synonym of “substitute” or “replacement” to be very common throughout the English-speaking world, at least in news writing.

Purists, please show your support … others, your feedback is welcome.

 

Write better English: the difference between license and licence

Writing good English requires a depth of knowledge of the language.

English is full of tricks: words that sound the same and are spelled differently and words that are spelled the same and have different meanings – and that’s just two.

There are many areas of confusion in the English language so let’s just clear up one.

Licence is a word that is spelled two ways. Licence and license. It starts out being quite simple using licence as the noun and license as the verb. And even that only works if you follow the UK English system. In America, license is used as a verb and a noun.

In UK English all derivatives of the verb from of license are spelled with an S, such as licensing and licensed. It’s really quite tricky so pay close attention to your writing.

If you can’t manage, get hold of an editor or a proofreader to help you out.

Here’s to better English.