Confused words: G to I

During proofreading I frequently come across the same words that have been confused time and again. I have already discussed words beginning A to F, now I will continue with words beginning with the letters G to I. Gourmand / gourmet These two words are easily confused, but “gourmand” is someone who overindulges in food … Continue reading Confused words: G to I

Confused words: D to F

During proofreading I frequently come across the same words that have been confused time and again. I have already discussed words beginning A to C, now I will continue with words beginning with the letters D to F. Deduce / deduct To “deduce” something is to come to a logical conclusion or result, such as … Continue reading Confused words: D to F

Polari – still a secret language?

I first became aware of Polari from the 1960s BBC radio show Round the Horne starring Kenneth Horne. Camp Polari-speaking characters Julian (Jules) and Sandy were played by Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams and popularized the use of Polari. It has fascinated me since then. What is Polari? Polari (or alternatively Parlare, Parlary, Palare, Palarie, … Continue reading Polari – still a secret language?

Tips for writers: The difference between abbreviations, contractions, and acronyms

Abbreviations, contractions, and acronyms are ways of shortening a word or phrase but sometimes can be confusing for a novice writer. I will take each one briefly in turn. Abbreviations Abbreviations are defined by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as “a shortened form of a word or phrase”. These are often formed by omitting the … Continue reading Tips for writers: The difference between abbreviations, contractions, and acronyms

Confused words: A to C

During proofreading I frequently come across some words that have been confused time and again. This is the first part of an occasional series looking at a few examples and I will start alphabetically with words beginning A to C. Affect / effect “Affect” as a verb means to alter or influence, while “effect” as … Continue reading Confused words: A to C

Tips for writers: Avoiding sexist and biased language: part 1

Sexist language refers to words, terms, or usages that discriminate against or exclude either of the sexes, and that assume maleness, or even femaleness is the standard.
Despite many years of feminist campaigners and attempts to raise awareness of the use of sexist language, it still widely exists in modern life.

Tips for writers: Collective nouns and mass nouns

At first glance by the layperson the terms collective nouns and mass nouns might appear to be the same, but there are differences. Collective nouns denote a group of individuals, such as crew or family, and the noun can be used with singular verbs or plural verbs. In Britain it is generally more usual for … Continue reading Tips for writers: Collective nouns and mass nouns

English usage and writing myths

There are several myths about English grammar and typography that are widely held but have little or no validity. A few are discussed here. Myth: You cannot start a sentence with the words and or but. According to the authoritative New Fowler’s Modern English Usage (third edition) by R.W. Burchfield there is a widely held … Continue reading English usage and writing myths

Tips for writers: How to cut the waffle

  I am sorry if you were expecting a discussion about a favourite foodstuff. I am going to talk about another kind of waffle – writing in a lengthy, vague, or trivial way. If you have ever wished that your writing was more concise or ‘to the point’ you could look at eliminating redundant and … Continue reading Tips for writers: How to cut the waffle