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By June Casagrande | December 14, 2010
If, somewhere out there in Grammarland, adverbs have their own post office, I'm sure my picture is hanging in it, probably above the caption "Public Enemy No. 1" or "Wanted Dead or Alive. " I don't deny the allegations. They're true: I'm an adverbicidal maniac. I see a word like "uniquely" or "truly" or "totally" and I'm transformed from mild-mannered copy editor into a vicious and remorseless slasher. Many adverbs deserve to die. No one knows this better than an editor tasked with fixing the prose of unpolished writers.
NEWS
By JUNE CASAGRANDE | July 5, 2006
In a recent installment of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," master of the subversive parody Stephen Colbert puts on his grammar-snob cap to mock the new Keanu Reeves movie, "The Scanner Darkly." The title alone is an outrage, Colbert says, because, "Adverbs modify verbs" ? something the word "scanner" is not. Colbert isn't the first humorist to flaunt his knowledge of adverbs. The 1984 movie "Johnny Dangerously" comes to mind. (Quoth Marilu Henner's character: "You know your last name is an adverb?"
NEWS
By: JUNE CASAGRANDE | September 21, 2005
An NPR reporter, a music professor and a grammar columnist walk into a bar. The NPR reporter says to the bartender, "I'd like a drink served strongly." The music professor says to the bartender, "I would like a beer served frothily." The grammar columnist says to the bartender, "It's OK. I'm driving. So these two won't turn up on the side of the road deadly." As you can see, crafting side-splitting jokes is every bit as easy as using adverbs correctly.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | February 15, 2013
Count the adverbs in the following sentence: Therefore, we should wait outside awhile because the very lovely and kindly family will be there soon to tell us fast whether everyone is well. Would it surprise you to learn there are seven adverbs in that sentence? Would you be even more surprised to learn that neither lovely, family, kindly, nor well is among them? We all learned about adverbs in school. Everyone knows they're those -ly words that modify actions - quickly, slowly, sweetly, bitterly, and on and on. And if we didn't get the message in a classroom, a lot of us had “Schoolhouse Rock” to reinforce it. Yet for reasons I'll never understand, no one tells us - or most of us, at least - that the adverb story doesn't end there.
NEWS
By JUNE CASAGRANDE | May 7, 2008
Last week’s column was about adverbs. This may come as a surprise to those of you who actually read it. But if you think back, you’ll recall that, after a roughly 580-word rant about a banking error and the shocking decline in communication skills the experience revealed, I still had space for two whole sentences about my intended column topic, adverbs. Needless to say, this week provides ample opportunity to expand on the subject of adverbs. But there’s also more to report on the banking fiasco that began with a letter informing me that an ATM deposit was being reversed due to “empty envelope.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | November 12, 2011
A reader named Jayne wrote to me recently to ask why “more importantly” is used so often in place of “more important.” “Please comment on the use (over use) of 'more importantly,'” she wrote. “'Importantly' is the adverb of 'important.' It seems to be used inappropriately and too frequently.” Jayne's complaint is a common one with a long history. In 1968, “Winners and Sinners,” a periodic bulletin published by the New York Times, noted that, at the head of a sentence, “the adverbial phrase 'more importantly' modifies nothing in the sentence.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | September 14, 2012
Have you ever had this experience? You sit down to write something - an email, a marketing blurb for your business, a piece of fiction, whatever. You write exactly what you want to say. Then you lean back, reread what you wrote and gasp in horror. All those clear, elegant ideas you believed were dancing across the page are unrecognizable, buried under a mess of poorly chosen words and poorly assembled thoughts. It happens to me more than I care to admit. Sometimes, looking at the mush I left on a page makes me wonder whether I missed my calling as a construction worker.
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By June Casagrande | March 16, 2013
Most of what you think you know about grammar is wrong. That's the title of a recent Smithsonian magazine article by Patricia T. O'Conner and Stewart Kellarman. It's also destined to be my first tattoo. Just about every week, I spend several hours explaining to people that some beloved teacher, parent or grandparent pumped their heads full of hogwash. As a result, much of what they think they know about grammar is wrong. A tattoo saying as much would help me dispense with the long explanations.
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NEWS
By June Casagrande | February 15, 2013
Count the adverbs in the following sentence: Therefore, we should wait outside awhile because the very lovely and kindly family will be there soon to tell us fast whether everyone is well. Would it surprise you to learn there are seven adverbs in that sentence? Would you be even more surprised to learn that neither lovely, family, kindly, nor well is among them? We all learned about adverbs in school. Everyone knows they're those -ly words that modify actions - quickly, slowly, sweetly, bitterly, and on and on. And if we didn't get the message in a classroom, a lot of us had “Schoolhouse Rock” to reinforce it. Yet for reasons I'll never understand, no one tells us - or most of us, at least - that the adverb story doesn't end there.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | December 14, 2012
Your younger brother has a new boat. Your dad mumbles something inaudible whenever anyone mentions your haircut. And your mother has begun adding “really, really” to every sentence in which she talks about wanting grandkids. If you're feeling this bad about yourself, it must be the holidays. And, if you're going to feel bad, you might as well brush up on the correct way to say it, along with all the other things you will surely be forced to utter this season. So here, just in time for the holidays, is your grammar and usage social-gathering survival guide.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | September 14, 2012
Have you ever had this experience? You sit down to write something - an email, a marketing blurb for your business, a piece of fiction, whatever. You write exactly what you want to say. Then you lean back, reread what you wrote and gasp in horror. All those clear, elegant ideas you believed were dancing across the page are unrecognizable, buried under a mess of poorly chosen words and poorly assembled thoughts. It happens to me more than I care to admit. Sometimes, looking at the mush I left on a page makes me wonder whether I missed my calling as a construction worker.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | November 12, 2011
A reader named Jayne wrote to me recently to ask why “more importantly” is used so often in place of “more important.” “Please comment on the use (over use) of 'more importantly,'” she wrote. “'Importantly' is the adverb of 'important.' It seems to be used inappropriately and too frequently.” Jayne's complaint is a common one with a long history. In 1968, “Winners and Sinners,” a periodic bulletin published by the New York Times, noted that, at the head of a sentence, “the adverbial phrase 'more importantly' modifies nothing in the sentence.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | October 21, 2011
Years ago, I wrote a column about “whom” and the dangers of using it wrong. What happened next remains one of the weirdest moments in my writing career. A reader sent an email to scold me, but not for anything to do with the word “whom.” The word he objected to was “wrong.” I was, without a doubt, an idiot for using the adjective “wrong” to modify the verb “use” instead of the adverb “wrongly.” Then, the next day, another reader did the same. A lone hothead in such a mad rush to criticize that he couldn't be bothered to open a dictionary I could shrug off. But two?
NEWS
By June Casagrande | April 21, 2011
Dan in Burbank wrote to ask which of the following sentences is best: “The information soon will be available online.” “The information will soon be available online.” “The information will be available soon online.” “The information will be available online soon.” I would add another option: “Soon the information will be available online.” “I'm not sure how to look up something like this,” Dan wrote....
NEWS
By June Casagrande | December 14, 2010
If, somewhere out there in Grammarland, adverbs have their own post office, I'm sure my picture is hanging in it, probably above the caption "Public Enemy No. 1" or "Wanted Dead or Alive. " I don't deny the allegations. They're true: I'm an adverbicidal maniac. I see a word like "uniquely" or "truly" or "totally" and I'm transformed from mild-mannered copy editor into a vicious and remorseless slasher. Many adverbs deserve to die. No one knows this better than an editor tasked with fixing the prose of unpolished writers.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | December 30, 2009
Surely, some of you saw my recent column in which I said that it?s fine to use ?more importantly? at the beginning of a sentence. Clearly, it was the best I could do to explain the concept of sentence adverbs. Unfortunately, two readers wrote to tell me that, despite my explanation, they still disagreed. Tragically, it?s now clear that the best I could do wasn?t good enough. Consequently, I can?t resist trying just one more time. In that first column on ?more importantly,?
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