Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog


August 9, 2012  12:57 PM

Blatant vs. flagrant

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
The ad was a ________ attempt to spread FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about the competitor’s product.
a. blatant
b. flagrant
Continued »

August 8, 2012  1:25 PM

What’s the difference between software, programs and applications?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
An operating system (OS) is the ________ that, after being initially loaded into the computer by a boot program, manages all the other programs in a computer.
a. program
b. software
c. application

Continued »


August 7, 2012  1:06 PM

Graciously accept or graciously decline? You may do either — but can you say you’re doing so?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
I have already committed to two holiday parties on that evening, so I’m going to have to _________ decline your invitation.
a. graciously
b. gratefully

Continued »


August 6, 2012  12:29 PM

Compound possessives

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
______________ computers both really need to be defragged.
a. Bill and my
b. Bill’s and my
c. Mine and Bill’s

Continued »


August 3, 2012  8:32 PM

Is a network of doctors and hospitals a singular subject or a plural one?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
An accountable care organization (ACO) is a network of doctors and hospitals that _____ responsibility for providing care to patients.
a. share
b. shares

Continued »


August 3, 2012  12:38 PM

Capitalization and long job titles

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
1. Alex Keh, principal product manager for Oracle Development Tools, described the benefits of the new tools for .NET development.
2. Principal Product Manager for Oracle Development Tools Alex Keh described the benefits of the new tools for .NET development.
Continued »


August 1, 2012  1:48 PM

Are you in the “all together” or the “altogether”?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
Tapes go bad and data can become corrupt or get erased ___________.
a. altogether
b. all together

Answer: a

Explanation:
All together means collectively, simultaneously — we sing “Happy Birthday” all together when we sing it in unison.

Altogether means entirely, completely. The data is gone, Baby, gone.

If you’re nude, you’re in the altogether — you’re completely naked.

@GrammarGirl Mignon Fogarty explains these and related words in a post on all right vs. alright.

Follow us on Twitter @tao_of_grammar


July 31, 2012  2:32 PM

Do you use archaic language in your writing? Get it right!

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

I was exploring archaic speech and grammar a little bit and stumbled across Dan Tobias’ terrific post on archaic English grammar. You really want to read the whole post but I’ll reproduce his handy table here. If you’re going to use archaic language, Tobias will help you get it right.

Pronouns and their Verb Conjugations

These are the things people use most often to “affect” an archaic feel to their language. Here are the correct usages:

Subjective (nominative) Objective (accusative) Possessive (genitive) Verb Ending Irregular Verbs
1st Person Singular I me my, mine 1 none am
2nd Person Singular thou thee thy, thine 1 -est art, hast, dost, shalt, wilt
3rd Person Singular he, she, it him, her, it his, her/hers, its -eth is, hath, doth
1st Person Plural we us our, ours none are
2nd Person Plural ye 2 you your, yours none are
3rd Person Plural they them their, theirs none are

 

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar


July 31, 2012  2:17 PM

Archaic speech and grammar

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

The conversation on Twitter wandered, as it will:

@KenCarpenter: I grew up with “AN historic …” but today’s @WSJ has “A historic …” / Weigh in, please, @editormark @tao_of_grammar

@EditorMark: It’s “an” before a vowel sound. Sound is key. Silent h: “an honor.” Sounded h: “a historic.

@sumarumi: I’m old-school RP — I drop the ‘h’ in historic, so it’s ‘an historic’ for me.

@tao_of_grammar: In the 15th century, used to be “an” before any singular noun. OE for “one.” bit.ly/93tQoS

@Mededitor: Also note “humble pie” stems from “an umble pie” (umbles were offal).

@tao_of_grammar: I love that stuff! (archaic grammar, not offal)

***

I do love that stuff. One of the most thrilling moments I had when I lived in Newfoundland  — and there really were some — was having an elderly gent in Bonavista ask my husband and me “Have ye (pronounced “yee”) come from town this day?” I remember from a linguistics course in the mid-nineties that in some Nfld. outports and one isolated area in Virginia, there were still people who spoke what was, essentially, Elizabethan English. I swear, people sometimes even looked like they’d stepped out of portraits from that period. Even in Gander, where we lived, anachronisms hung on. We’d visit the corner store early and often looking for the Globe and Mail. The clerks would often say something along the lines of “Oh, moy darling, it won’t be here till this evening.” We were initially puzzled but then learned that “this evening” translated to “any time past noon.”

I’m not sure that the tendency to call everyone “moy darling,” “my dear,” “my duck” and so on is Elizabethan — but I love it too.

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar


July 30, 2012  8:50 PM

ingenuous vs. disingenuous

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
The media is being __________ when it follows a vendor’s lead and calls a blatant marketing event a “news conference.”
a. ingenuous
b. disingenuous
Continued »


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