Tag Archive for: grammar

Is it Backward or Backwards?

2024 Grammar-for-Grownups Top 10

 

Number 5: Is She Moving Backward or Backwards?

 

Keep the wacky words coming! Thanks to all of you who have been commenting and adding to our wacky-word conversation these past few weeks. Please continue to post your questions and share your examples. This week’s winner is backward/backwards.

 

Is it backward or backwards? 

 

We’ve all heard it both ways. But only one way is correct: backward.

 

It’s backward. No “s.” Never say backwards. 

 

Allow me to share a helpful gimmick to cement this rule in your mind: If you can’t go forwards, then you can’t go backwards. That’s a fun yet memorable trick for remembering not to put an “s” on those words. We don’t say forwards, so we shouldn’t say backwards. It’s forward and backward. It’s toward, not towards.

 

To customize a keynote or professional development session that will have your audience laughing and learning, contact Mandi Stanley.

Certified Speaking Professional Mandi Stanley works with business leaders who want to boost their professional image by becoming better speakers and writers through interactive high-content keynotes, breakout sessions, workshops, technical writing seminars, and fun proofreading classes. 

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Image by Petra from Pixabay

What Are The Rules For Ellipses?

What Are The Rules For Ellipses?

2024 Grammar-for-Grownups Top 10

 

Number 7: Dot Dot Dot …

 

How many of you are my dot dot dot friends? 

 

Bad example: …..I will be leaving for Amory……I won’t be in the office tomorrow…if I miss you today….maybe we can talk next week…..

 

Bad example: Give me a minute……seriously……how soon do you need this???

 

Allow me to share a recent question from a reader. Question: What are the rules for ellipses? I work with people who use them a lot—I mean, sometimes multiple times in the same sentence.

 

Answer: The rule for ellipses is simple. Ellipses indicate omissions in quoted material. Please note ellipses consist of three dots, not 17 dots. You could have four dots at the end of the sentence because the fourth dot is the period. However, people tend to use the dot dot dots to express “and so on and so on and so on” or “et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.” These are incorrect uses of ellipses.

Sometimes people insert ellipses to let their thoughts trail off into the wild blue yonder. Most of the time, though, writers use them when they are uncertain of which punctuation mark they are supposed to use. Is it a comma? Is this a good place for a dash? I don’t know, so I’ll just dot dot dot it and keep on going! Again, this is incorrect use of ellipses.

 

We tend to see sentences like those above in emails. Most writers would never print the above-punctuated sentences on formal company letterhead. For some reason, we tend to be a bit lax in our email punctuation, especially with ellipses. However, email lasts forever. We need to follow the same good grammar and punctuation guidelines with emailed correspondence as we would with more formal documentation. Let’s strive to use ellipses within a quotation to represent omissions of words, sentences, or even paragraphs. 

 

How many of you will join me in limiting the incorrect use of ellipses? Are you willing to take the “No More Ellipses Pledge”? When it comes to using dot dot dots to fill in the gaps of sentences, can you nip it in the bud? Please respond in the comments below, and I’ll be your biggest cheerleader.

 

To customize a keynote or professional development session that will have your audience laughing and learning, contact Mandi Stanley.

Certified Speaking Professional Mandi Stanley works with business leaders who want to boost their professional image by becoming better speakers and writers through interactive high-content keynotes, breakout sessions, workshops, technical writing seminars, and fun proofreading classes. 

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irregardless

Is it “Irregardless” or “Regardless”?

2024 Grammar-for-Grownups Top 10

Number 10: Irregardless

 

We just completed the eight-week intensive #IAAP CAPstone Business Writing Specialty Certificate course. Congratulations to the 48 participants who completed the course requirements successfully! It was my pleasure to work with you and get to know you during our time together, even though most of it was on Zoom.

 

During the final two weeks of the course, we focused on the rewriting phase of the overall business writing process. Participants emailed questions throughout the week, and we answered them during our Friday Feature session on Zoom. We called it the Friday Feature because we featured the grammar, punctuation, and capitalization questions that puzzled some of us. I’ve whittled these questions into a Top 10 list. These were the most regularly asked questions during the course. We’ll begin with number 10.

 

Question: “As far as wacky words, I have an executive who always uses irregardless instead of regardless. Can you please clarify during our discussion on Friday?”

 

Answer: It won’t take long to answer this one. Irregardless is not grammatically acceptable. Don’t use it. Avoid it when speaking, and definitely don’t write it. Regardless is always the acceptable version.

 

Example: I’ll be at the school regardless of what time the student awards program ends.

 

Example: We decided to rent a car and drive to Kansas City regardless of the 11-hour time commitment.

 

Never use irregardless. You’ll notice even your spellcheck rejects it.

 

To customize a keynote or professional development session that will have your audience laughing and learning, contact Mandi Stanley.

Certified Speaking Professional Mandi Stanley works with business leaders who want to boost their professional image by becoming better speakers and writers through interactive high-content keynotes, breakout sessions, workshops, technical writing seminars, and fun proofreading classes. 

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capitalization

Capitalization Competency: A Capital Idea

Are department names supposed to be capitalized? Do we submit something to the Administration and Finance Department or the administration and finance department? Does it make a difference if it’s the Department of Administration and Finance or the department of administration and finance?

 

What about job titles? How do we know when to capitalize someone’s job title in a sentence?

 

Let’s all test our capitalization competency with a quick quiz on capital letters.

 

Jackson Lawrence, immediate past [Chief Executive Officer/chief executive officer] of the Eagle Leadership Institute, gave the keynote address.

 

Thompson Padgett, [Diversity Officer/diversity officer] for the College of Business and Industry, is leading an initiative devoted to creating a culture of belonging.

 

Shannon Pierce, [President/president] of the Rotary Club, facilitated a strategic planning session for the new year.

 

Answers:

 

Jackson Lawrence, immediate past chief executive officer of the Eagle Leadership Institute, gave the keynote address.

 

Did this one surprise you? It’s the most frequently overcapitalized tendency. The rule I hope you take away from this exercise is this:

 

The only time we capitalize the first letters of a person’s job title is when the title precedes the person’s proper name. When a job title is used as an appositive, it is not capitalized in the sentence.

 

In the pop quiz question above, the job title of chief executive officer is an appositive for Jackson Lawrence; therefore, it remains lower case.

 

Thompson Padgett, diversity officer for the College of Business and Industry, is leading an initiative devoted to creating a culture of belonging.

 

Diversity officer is an appositive for Thompson Padgett. It remains lower case.

 

Shannon Pierce, president of the Rotary Club, facilitated a strategic planning session for the new year.

 

President is an appositive for Shannon Pierce. Even the word president remains lower case in this instance.

 

We’ll discuss the capitalization of departments next week.

 

To customize a keynote or professional development session that will have your audience laughing and learning, contact Mandi Stanley.

Certified Speaking Professional Mandi Stanley works with business leaders who want to boost their professional image by becoming better speakers and writers through interactive high-content keynotes, breakout sessions, workshops, technical writing seminars, and fun proofreading classes. 

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Photo by Suzy Hazelwood

That’s a Whole “Nuther” Story

This wacky word is making a comeback in 2023. Already several times in the new year I’ve heard professional speakers and broadcasters—and even a preacher—use the word “nuther.” 

 

But, I’m posting this blog today because I saw someone actually write it in a paper: nuther.

 

Is nuther a word? Short answer: No.

 

We hear people say, “That’s a whole nuther story.” Or, “We’re looking at a whole nuther level of shenanigans.”

 

However, the solution is not necessarily to correct it with “a whole other story,” which is poor grammar. Rather, I believe the problem lies with the word “whole.” What is actually happening is the speaker is inserting the “whole” between the first and second syllables of “another,” and the result is “a-whole-nother” story. This sounds like “a whole nuther” story.

 

So, the solution is to get rid of “whole.” Just say, “That’s another story.” That’s another story for another day. Whether it’s spelled nother or nuther, don’t say it—and certainly don’t write it.

 

What about you? What’s another wacky word you are hearing and seeing a lot these days and, perhaps, you’ve always questioned?

 

To customize a keynote or professional development session that will have your audience laughing and learning, contact Mandi Stanley.

Certified Speaking Professional Mandi Stanley works with business leaders who want to boost their professional image by becoming better speakers and writers through interactive high-content keynotes, breakout sessions, workshops, technical writing seminars, and fun proofreading classes. 

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Eminent or Imminent

Eminent or Imminent? What’s the Word Week 1

Think back a few years and imagine you are sitting in your high school history classroom one day, just waiting for the bell to ring, and your teacher walks through the doorway and tells everyone in the classroom: “Class, put your books under your desk and take out a clean sheet of paper.” 

Read more

Toilets: Fun with Words Week 4

I play a game on social media with my extended family members called, “Where is Mandi this week?” I post a photo, and my family competes to see who can guess it first. Read more

Is It Home In or Hone In? Fun with Words Week 2

This photo is of one of the walls in the conference center at the #AloftSeattleRedmond. I was honored to facilitate a three-day Advanced Communications Program for a cohort of emerging leaders for one of my clients, and we all got a kick out of the creative artwork throughout the meeting area. But, can you tell what the wall is composed of? Look closely.

 

 

In fact, we’ll use this photo to introduce our #GrammarforGrownups question this week. Which word is correct?

If you [home in, hone in] on this photo, you can tell the entire wall is composed of old keyboard keys.

Scroll for the answer.

 

 

 

 

 

Answer: home in

If you home in on this photo, you can tell the entire wall is composed of old keyboard keys. 

I have always said hone in similar situations.

 

I have always been wrong.

 

To home in means to get closer to something such as an object or a goal or the truth. Picture a homing pigeon (why haven’t I realized that before).

To hone means to sharpen something—and you don’t hone in on anything.

My son honed his test-taking skills in preparation for the ACT.

And, I’m certainly honing my vocabulary this month.

 

Can you think of other examples of words you have been using incorrectly without realizing it?

 

 

To customize a keynote or professional development session that will have your audience laughing and learning, contact Mandi Stanley.

Certified Speaking Professional Mandi Stanley works with business leaders who want to boost their professional image by becoming better speakers and writers through interactive high-content keynotes, breakout sessions, workshops, technical writing seminars, and fun proofreading classes. 

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How to Pluralize Last Names for Christmas Cards

As we finish addressing our cards and stamping the envelopes, let’s wrap up our discussion of how to pluralize last names with tricky, sticky spellings. Read more

How to Pluralize Family Names with Tricky Spellings

This week we’re polishing off the last of the turkey sandwiches, hanging lights, taking our decorations out of the attic—and addressing our cards. Let’s continue our discussion of how to pluralize our family names with tricky spellings. Read more