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By June Casagrande | April 26, 2013
Creators of a software program called Grammarly recently conducted a study of the grammar used in LinkedIn member profiles. They found that people with fewer grammar errors in their profiles ascended to higher positions, got more promotions and changed jobs more often. The implication: better grammar correlates with greater success. Without knowing more about the study it's hard to know how strong that correlation is. For example, the idea of "grammar errors" is surprisingly fluid.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | June 24, 2011
When people tell me they don’t care about grammar and punctuation, I get it. Some people have more urgent priorities. If a widower is working full-time while caring for an ailing parent and raising three kids, who am I to tell him that he needs to make time to learn about apostrophes? But that doesn’t apply to lawyers. For an attorney, basic grammar skills can mean the difference between performing well on the job and ending up a punch line in newspaper headlines. On June 15, the Springfield News-Leader reported that Anissa Bluebaum, an attorney representing convicted sex offender Alison Peck in a civil suit against Peck’s former probation officer, had some problems with her grammar.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | July 22, 2011
Scattered throughout Italy are a handful of natives who believe I speak their language. I've pulled off the same feat in France and Mexico, too. I accomplished this by stepping off the plane my first time in each of these countries and immediately conversing with locals. I'm not proficient in Italian, French or Spanish. I couldn't understand a movie in any of them. Yet despite growing up in a completely English-speaking universe, I was able to learn enough to understand, be understood, and in a few cases, actually dazzle.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | August 16, 2013
If I were to write that coffee smells good, I wouldn't hear a word about it. If I wrote that I am happy, Emily seems nice, pizza sounds delicious, liver tastes bad or all men are created equal, none of those statements would incite the grammar cops. But there's one sentence that, though identical in structure to all these, is guaranteed to get me rapped on the knuckles. It's “I feel bad.” If I make that statement or any variation on it, someone is certain to scold me for my “error,” as one Chuck in Albany did recently.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | February 12, 2012
Some people worry that high-tech communications are bringing down language standards. In a Twitter-centric world where people write “some1” in place of “someone,” these fears seem valid. But linguists beg to differ. Language, their work has demonstrated again and again, polices itself according a simple law: the need to be understood. But another way of looking at these issues hit me recently while I was reading a real estate-related website: In an age when everyone's a “published writer,” spelling, punctuation and grammar may be more important than ever.
NEWS
By: JUNE CASAGRANDE | October 2, 2005
{LDQUO}Went missing," "gone missing" and their root form "go missing" are horrible, grammatically indefensible expressions that should be banned from the English language, and anyone who uses them should be tarred and feathered, so say two prominent language columnists and countless grammar sticklers. "'Went missing' must go," the Writers Art columnist James Kilpatrick wrote in 2003. "The idiom has worn out its novelty." Self-appointed Word Guy and syndicated columnist Rob Kyff chose a differently conjugated victim, "go missing," but the sentiment was the same.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | October 13, 2012
Attention, politicians. It has recently come to my attention that you desperately need something you don't have: me. Yes, I know you think you already have people keeping you fully briefed and, in some cases, debriefed (I'm looking at you Weiner, Cain, Sanford, Edwards, Schwarzenegger and Clinton) on the finer points of everything from economics to baby kissing. But, in one realm, you're still fully exposed (and I'm not just talking about Weiner, Cain, Sanford, Edwards, Schwarzenegger and Clinton)
NEWS
By June Casagrande | September 29, 2012
The life of a language columnist can be a lonely one. Picture a head of unwashed hair and a pair of mismatched graying socks protruding from behind a stack of reference books and you'll have a rough snapshot. No one wants to talk to you, lest you rap their knuckles for not using “whom” in casual conversation. And heaven knows no one wants to look at (or smell) you. But in the last few months I've learned a trick to get people to communicate with me. It's been right under my nose all the time.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | July 7, 2012
Recently in this space, I touched on two widespread grammar myths that just won't die: the so-called split infinitive and the dreaded sentence-ending preposition. An astounding number of people think these are grammar no-nos, even though they never were. For example, here is what radio personality and author Patricia T. O'Conner started dealing with after her book “Woe Is I” came out in 1996. “People started sending me their questions, observations, and grievances about language,” she reports in her newest book, “Origins of the Specious.” “To my surprise, every other message seemed to involve a myth, misunderstanding, or mystery about English....
NEWS
By June Casagrande | February 21, 2014
Regular readers of this column know that I spend a lot of time talking about grammar wrongs that aren't - the countless mythical language no-nos that get passed down from generation to generation of people who never bother to look them up. Broken-record metaphors apply: I replay ad nauseam the same scratchy refrain: “People think it's an error to [insert grammar myth here], but it's not.” So, for a change of pace, I thought I'd talk about a popular usage that some people call wrong and (here's the twist)
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By June Casagrande | April 18, 2014
A user on Twitter asked me recently about the difference between “affect” and “effect.” Specifically, she wanted to know which to use in the phrase “the affect/effect of celebrity endorsements.” The difference between “affect” and “effect” is Grammar 101. It's one of the first things any aspiring copy editor is sure to note. And it's something I've written about so many times I'm always surprised when people have to ask about it. So naturally, I answered the question wrong.
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NEWS
By June Casagrande | February 21, 2014
Regular readers of this column know that I spend a lot of time talking about grammar wrongs that aren't - the countless mythical language no-nos that get passed down from generation to generation of people who never bother to look them up. Broken-record metaphors apply: I replay ad nauseam the same scratchy refrain: “People think it's an error to [insert grammar myth here], but it's not.” So, for a change of pace, I thought I'd talk about a popular usage that some people call wrong and (here's the twist)
NEWS
By June Casagrande | February 14, 2014
A group of university researchers working with some Facebook folks have recently determined that I'm not a dinosaur. Not yet, at least. Copy editors like me, who for years have been watching our hard-earned grammar skills get discounted with every poorly constructed Facebook post and semiliterate celebrity tweet, could still be useful one, two, possibly three years from now. All those awful grammar errors you see online every day may not be rendering...
NEWS
By June Casagrande | February 7, 2014
If you have two children, and Sarah was born before Bobby, then Sarah is the older of the two. But is she also the oldest? According to a number of 1950s high-school teachers whose former students now read my column, there's a simple, clear, indisputable answer to this question: No. “There's one rule I learned in high school in the '50s that nobody seems to follow, and I was wondering if what I learned no longer applies,” wrote a reader in...
NEWS
By June Casagrande | January 31, 2014
Making good grammar decisions usually requires very little grammar. If the sentence “Whom are you?” sounds wrong, it probably is. You don't need to know why. You need never have heard the term “predicate nominative” or even “object pronoun.” Call it grammar autopilot. But there are exceptions - specifics and subtleties of the language that require extensive grammar for a small payoff. The most striking example is “a while” and “awhile.” To know which one to use, you need to know what a preposition is, you need to know what the object of a preposition is, you need to know what an adverbial is and you need to know what an adverb is. That last one is harder than you may realize.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | August 16, 2013
If I were to write that coffee smells good, I wouldn't hear a word about it. If I wrote that I am happy, Emily seems nice, pizza sounds delicious, liver tastes bad or all men are created equal, none of those statements would incite the grammar cops. But there's one sentence that, though identical in structure to all these, is guaranteed to get me rapped on the knuckles. It's “I feel bad.” If I make that statement or any variation on it, someone is certain to scold me for my “error,” as one Chuck in Albany did recently.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | April 26, 2013
Creators of a software program called Grammarly recently conducted a study of the grammar used in LinkedIn member profiles. They found that people with fewer grammar errors in their profiles ascended to higher positions, got more promotions and changed jobs more often. The implication: better grammar correlates with greater success. Without knowing more about the study it's hard to know how strong that correlation is. For example, the idea of "grammar errors" is surprisingly fluid.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | March 29, 2013
A reader named Roy sent me an e-mail recently. He had a question - not for himself but for a friend. And, heaven help me, I really believe it was for a friend. Here's what Roy wrote: "Dear June, I have a friend who is bothered by the difference between the use of 'open' and 'opened' when a person has left the room. My friend wants to know the answer, but is reluctant to write to you for fear of making a grammatical error. "An example … 'When I left the room, the door was left open.' Or should it be, 'When I left the room, the door was left opened'?
NEWS
By June Casagrande | March 22, 2013
There's got to be something in the air. In recent weeks, I've gotten not one but two e-mails from readers about the word “got” and its cousin “gotten.” “I will never forget several teachers telling me that using 'got' in any sentence anytime was simply being lazy,” wrote John in Pasadena, “that it was bad English, uncouth, uneducated, etc.” We could probably write this off as a fluke, perhaps guessing that John went to a...
NEWS
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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