Aren’t We Cute?


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Using "that" instead of "who" as a pronoun to refer to a person: I admit, I always thought this was a hard and fast rule. You would say, "That crazy lady who is writing about grammar," not "That crazy lady that is writing about grammar," right? That's not to say that the SAT and ACT are the authority on proper grammar, but hey, this is what folks are told is college-ready grammar. So I was surprised to read in Patricia T. Apparently, this is one of this is more a question of style than of rules.

Personally, I'll continue to favor "who" when referring to people.

Sorry, people whose work I copyedit! But at least I'll recognize that it's a stylistic choice rather than a firm grammatical rule. Using words like "slow" and "quick" as adverbs: Weird Al Yankovic has a series of videos in which he "corrects" street signs that read "Drive Slow" so that they instead read "Drive Slowly. Daily Writing Tips has a handy list of flat adverbs and their relationships to corresponding -ly adverbs. In the cases of "slow" and "quick," the meanings of the flat adverbs are identical to their -ly counterparts, "slowly" and "quickly. Here, in Merriam-Webster's "Ask the Editor" feature, associate editor Emily Brewster explains that flat adverbs were much more common before 18th-century grammarians insisted that words not ending in -ly were adjectives.

She lists a few instances in which flat adverbs have the same meanings as their -ly counterparts and a few instances in which they have different meanings. Flat adverbs are an endangered species, in part because people keep erroneously "correcting" them. Ending a sentence with a preposition: Writing at the Oxford Dictionaries blog , Catherine Soanes refers to the notion that one may not end a sentence with a preposition as "fetish" rather than a rule.

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And if you've ever tried to contort a sentence to avoid ending on a preposition, you might suspect that fetish is linguistic masochism. Like so many rules-that-aren't-rules, this one gets blamed on Latin-loving English grammarians who thought they could squeeze an English-language peg into a Latin-language hole.

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Latin infinitives are contained in a single verb; therefore, we must not split infinitives. Latin prepositions must always precede prepositional phrases; therefore, English prepositions must always precede prepositional phrases. Even if you never learned it in school, Latin is still messing with your life. There's a cheeky sentence on the matter that is frequently and apocryphally attributed to Winston Churchill: "This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put. Soanes offers four examples of when it is perfectly alright and perhaps even preferable to end one's sentence with a preposition:.

Fogarty adds that the one case in which you want to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition, at least in formal writing, is when the meaning of the sentence doesn't change when you drop the preposition, e. Treating "data" as singular instead of plural: Remember what I said about Latin screwing with your life? It comes from the Latin word "datum," a second declension neuter noun that becomes "data" in the nominative and accusative plural.

Latin has different plurals for different parts of speech. We've inherited a lot of Latin plurals, and many of them we no longer treat as plural: for example, we say "the agenda is" rather than "the agendas are" and "opera" is not the plural of "opus" in English.

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In some cases, using "data" as plural is legitimately useful. You're more likely to encounter "data" as plural in scientific and mathematical writing where you might talk about collecting each individual datum. My copy of the AP Stylebook uses "The data have been collected," as an example of a sentence where "data" is being treated as a group of individual items. In that case, "data" is being treated as what we call a "count noun. While some style guides will recommend always using data as plural, in daily speech we frequently use data as what's called a "mass noun," meaning it has no natural boundary, no individual units that we can count.

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Charles Carson, managing editor of the journal American Speech, uses "butter" as an example of a mass noun. Sure, you can talk about pats of butter or cups of butter, but when you talk about just butter, you say, "How much butter is in the pie crust? If you wish to use data as a singular mass noun, you should be able to replace it in the sentence with the word information, which is also a mass noun.

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For example,. If, however, you want to or need to use data as a plural count noun, you should be able to replace it with the word facts, which is also a plural count noun. O'Conner deems treating data as a grammatical plural a dead rule, writing, "No plural form is necessary, and the old singular, datum , can be left to the Romans.

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But really, this is a style choice. English is imperfect in this regard; we don't have a singular, generic, gender-netural pronoun that can be applied to a human being. We don't, in general, use "it" to describe a person unless we are deliberately dehumanizing that person. In spoken English, many of us use "they" to fill the void as an all-purpose neuter pronoun. Admittedly, many grammarians don't love "they" as a singular pronoun. Fogarty admits that she tends to rewrite her sentences to avoid the need for a singular generic pronoun, but that she will use "he or she" in formal writing.

O'Conner goes so far as to call it a mistake for now , though she notes that in earlier centuries, "they" was used as a singular pronoun. William Shakespeare used "they" as a singular pronoun, but we're not all Shakespeare. But some modern English usage guides do list "they" as an acceptable singular pronoun and, in the name of evolving language, Fogarty actually recommends that people writing style guides make "they" an acceptable singular but only if they are the sorts of people who can get away with such a thing. And with some people who sit outside the gender binary taking "they" are their own preferred personal pronoun, we may be seeing an increasing acceptance or rather re-acceptance of "they" as a singular pronoun.

Starting a sentence with "hopefully": This is a pet peeve for a lot of folks who feel that vernacular speech is somehow destroying language.

There are people who insist that "hopefully" has one meaning and one meaning only: "in a hopeful manner. O'Conner writes, "It's time to admit that hopefully has joined the class of introductory words life fortunately, frankly, happily, honestly, sadly, seriously, and others that we use not to describe a verb, which is what adverbs usually do, but to describe our attitude toward the statement that follows.

In , the Associate Press changed its style guidelines to allow writers to start a sentence with "hopefully" to mean "I am hopeful that something will happen. Bonus gray area: saying "I could care less. The ABC My Photo site provides a much easier and more integrated social media experience for users and it is for this reason that we have decided to close ABC Open and locate our new audience-generated photography on this new site in the future.

What this means to you. If you have been uploading your content to the ABC Open site, you have until 30 June to make a copy of your content. What happens after 30 June ? We will no longer be supporting ABC Open and you will no longer be able to access the site. We will be archiving all material that exists on the site as of 30 June If you use Instagram it is as simple as adding the abcmyphoto hashtag, but if you wish to upload your photos directly you can do it via the the form on the page.

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