Is the double negative a definite no-no?

The Oxford Dictionary of English says a double negative “is a negative statement containing two negative elements (for example he didn’t say nothing)” and “a positive statement in which two negative elements are used to produce the positive force, usually for some rhetorical effect, for example there is not nothing to worry about!” It is … Continue reading Is the double negative a definite no-no?


Doublespeak is language that disguises or distorts the meaning of words deliberately and can often involve a degree of ambiguity. Doublespeak may use euphemisms (that is, indirect expressions used in place of words judged too harsh or blunt when referring to something embarrassing or unpleasant – for example, “downsizing” for laying off employees, “cleansing” for … Continue reading Doublespeak

House style – Part 2

In part 1 I considered why a house style is necessary for a business – for reasons of consistency, brand identity, and economy. Here I will cover a few areas that should be considered based on UK English usage Writing a house style • Abbreviations, acronyms, and contractions: A common style for abbreviations is capital … Continue reading House style – Part 2

Developing a house style

Why you need a “house” style By “house” style I mean a writing or editorial style that a company or organization will aim to apply to all the documents and communications it produces. The same can perhaps apply to an individual author who is writing a series of books, guides, or articles. The main reasons … Continue reading Developing a house style

The decline of the apostrophe

John Richards, a former journalist, started the Apostrophe Protection Society in 2001 after his retirement, with the aim of preserving the correct use of this much-abused punctuation mark in written English. However, he announced in November 2019 that he would close the Society because of firstly, his age (he is 96 after all) and secondly, … Continue reading The decline of the apostrophe

5 key steps for writing perfect emails

Today life is a bit of a rush, especially on the work front and mistakes are understandable but a hazard. Failure to check your work and proofread your business emails can result in all sorts of problems, and errors in emails can make your communications appear unprofessional and careless. But there are steps that you … Continue reading 5 key steps for writing perfect emails

Codes and ciphers

Many would consider that "code" and "cipher/cypher"  mean the same. The Oxford English Dictionary describes them as: code (noun): “a system of words, letters, figures or symbols used to represent others, especially for the purposes of secrecy”. cipher (variant cypher) (noun): “a secret or disguised way of writing: a code; … something written in code; … Continue reading Codes and ciphers

New words added to Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary is constantly adding new words, often reflecting new cultural phenomena, and some additions may be surprising. These are a few that were added in spring 2019. Many are all too familiar. Adorbs Cute or adorable; inducing great delight. Bestie A person’s best friend. Binge-watch To watch multiple episodes of a TV … Continue reading New words added to Oxford English Dictionary

Tips for writing fiction from a master thriller writer

In his 2017 book Camino Island by John Grisham – an undisputed master of crime and legal thrillers – the bookshop-owner Bruce Cable gave the following tips for writing fiction. The character said that he had read over 4000 books and here are Bruce’s pearls of wisdom for successful writing. Tip 1: Avoid prologues where … Continue reading Tips for writing fiction from a master thriller writer