Monthly Archives: November 2011

What’s that smell? What you need to know about “skunked” words.

Do you know the phrase “skunked term?” As a writer, this is an important concept that you should be familiar with. I’ve used the phrase before on this blog without explanation (in the post about decimate). Today, its time has … Continue reading

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Usufruct

“I set out on this ground, which I suppose to be self-evident, that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living; that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it.” – Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, from … Continue reading

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And, But, Because: And can start a sentence. But don’t overdo it. Because it isn’t always pretty.

Can you use and, but, or because at the start of a sentence? Of course you can. Should you? That’s a separate matter, which I’m not even going to touch. Writers in English (not to mention speakers of it) have … Continue reading

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Picturing a picogram.

Have you ever wondered what a “nano” really is? That prefix gets batted around a lot. It’s joined the always-lengthening list of words that were coined to show a precise meaning, but then were co-opted into generic use. “Micro,” for … Continue reading

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Semicolon: Queen of Punctuation Marks

Hail to thee, [;]. In yoga, the shoulderstand is often referred to as “the queen of poses,” because of the range and extent of the healthy effects attributed to it. If punctuation has a queen, it’s the semicolon.

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