Tag Archives: English

What makes someone an authority on the English language?

A vocabulary slip on my part in a recent post led to an email conversation with long-time reader Steve G., which eventually meandered over to this question. I’ve done a fair amount of thinking on the idea, and can offer … Continue reading

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Please try to understand: it’s “try to” not “try and”

I’ve often stressed that the observations and advice posted here are primarily about written English, as opposed to spoken English. For a number of reasons written English and spoken English can almost be thought of as two separate languages, or … Continue reading

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Forgo, foregoing, foregone…but please not “forwent”

There isn’t a category of words, phrases, and grammar known simply as “ugly English.” But there probably should be. Qualifying immediately for that category would be “forwent.” It’s the past tense of “forgone.” You’re probably familiar with foregone, as in … Continue reading

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The long and the short of the British billion / thousand million

If you pay attention to such things, at some point in your life you’ve probably heard a speaker of British English use the phrase “thousand million” (or perhaps you’ve seen it in print). If you’ve had someone willing to translate, … Continue reading

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Are you on vacation or on holiday?

Ah, summer vacation. It leads inevitably to a reduced amount of blog posting. But it raises all kinds of other questions, including this one: why do Americans usually call their breaks from work “vacations” while others prefer “holidays?” If you’re … Continue reading

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