Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog


August 23, 2012  12:07 PM

The irony of using quotation marks for emphasis

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which would you use to advertise a sale?
a. “Excellent” deals on new and used iPhones!
b. Excellent deals on new and used iPhones!
c. Excellent deals on new and used iPhones!
Continued »

August 22, 2012  1:11 PM

The difference between colons and semicolons

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
The point of disaster recovery is the same for both large enterprises and _________ need to stay in business.
a. SMBs: They
b. SMBs; they
Continued »


August 21, 2012  2:11 PM

Sneaked or snuck?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
I’m cleaning up my Facebook account, unfriending people I don’t know and the ones I wish I didn’t know that have somehow ______ in.
a. snuck
b. sneaked
Continued »


August 20, 2012  1:56 PM

The difference between irony and sarcasm

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?

Dear Mr. Gates:

I’d like to offer my congratulations on the Vista operating system, which has delighted both end users and tech support staff throughout my company and, dare I say, the world.

Yes, as you may recognize, I’m being _______.  I’m writing to say that I’m breaking up with you.

Sincerely,

New Linux lover

a. ironic
b. sarcastic
Continued »


August 17, 2012  7:15 PM

Another take on “try and” vs. “try to”

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

I love the Motivated Grammar blog. (Motto: Prescriptivism must die!)  If you’re ever looking for a contrary opinion on a grammatical issue, and especially a well-argued and research-supported contrary opinion, blogger Gabe Doyle is your boy.

I wasn’t particularly looking for a contrary opinion yesterday, when I was writing about “try and” vs. “try to.” As a matter of fact, when I found the post discussing “try and,” I noted it and then mostly ignored it. But I returned to it today and want to share it with you. The post is entitled “If everyone says it, it can’t be wrong.

Doyle quotes Erin Brenner:

The problem I have with Walsh’s reasoning is that try and is an idiom. There’s no point in trying to make sense of an idiom’s grammar; an idiom has its own unique (‘peculiar,’ says the American Heritage Dictionary) grammar. It doesn’t have to make literal sense.”

And goes on to say:

I agree with Brenner here. Sure, try and X doesn’t seem to make much sense.* But it doesn’t matter if it makes sense; if we’re trying to study language, we don’t get to say “I don’t understand this data” and throw it away. We’re stuck with the fact that people say and write try and X (the OED even offers an example from Paradise Regained, and Google Books has one from 1603) and it feels natural to most people.

Doyle says the same holds true for “I could care less,” another phrase that drives a lot of people around the bend. Funnily enough, my mom just cited it today as one of her pet peeves. Doyle points out that people know that people mean they don’t care when they say it, so it’s not worth getting worked up about.

I kind of like “I could care less,” although I may never have actually said it. I always hear it as an ironic statement, so actually emphasizing the total lack of caring rather than implying that there is some minimal amount of caring going on.

My stand on both phrases is that you should avoid them in any kind of formal writing. For casual writing, though, or in speech — well, I could care less. (And I know you know what I mean!)

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

 

 


August 16, 2012  6:31 PM

“Try and” vs. “try to”

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
When I ______ print from the Web, my laptop reboots.
a. try and
b. try to
Continued »


August 15, 2012  5:35 PM

Diffuse and defuse — homophones or homonyms?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
Diffuse and defuse are often confused because they’re ________: words that sound the same but mean different things.
a. homophones
b. homonyms
Continued »


August 14, 2012  11:46 AM

Convince vs. persuade

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
It’s typically difficult to _______ programmers to document their code, even though it makes it easier to work with in the future.
a. convince
b. persuade
Continued »


August 13, 2012  5:39 PM

Me or I and the problem of overcorrection

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
Would you like Joe and _______ to attend the Tweetup in New York next week?
a. me
b. myself
c. I

Continued »


August 10, 2012  12:24 PM

Can you use “between” when you’re talking about more than two things?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
Instead of choosing _______ Dropbox, Google Drive and iCloud, people often use more than one cloud storage service.
a. between
b. among

Continued »


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