Writing for Business

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

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 »

July 29, 2012  5:53 PM

Ingenuous or ingenious — what’s the difference?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
The reason spam continues to make money for the people who send it is that a tiny number of recipients are _________ enough to respond to it. The trick is to send out a large enough volume of spam that if even a tiny fraction of recipients respond, it’s lucrative.
a. ingenuous
b. ingenious
Continued »

July 29, 2012  10:52 AM

Quiz: Commonly confused words

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

It’s a wonderful thing, in many ways, but the Internet has a lot to answer to in other areas — grammar not the least of them. We’ve got eggcorns, words that were created from mistakes, and bizarre misunderstandings that the Web seems to spread, if not actively promote. Can you select the correct options in this 10-question quiz?

1. Top Security Specialists offers the best in personal service and puts our R&D at your ___________.
a. beck and call
b. beckon call
Which is correct?

2. The fact that the email had been deleted ______ that the evidence contained in it might have been damaging to the defendant.
a. implied
b. inferred
Which is correct?

3. The book “Virtualization for Dummies” provides a ___________ explanation of virtualization that helps readers achieve a basic level of understanding.
a. simplified
b. simplistic
Which is correct?

4. The Singularity is a __________ future point when technology will have advanced beyond our ability to foresee or control its outcomes and the world transformed beyond recognition by the application of superintelligence to humans and/or human problems.
a. theoretical
b. hypothetical
Which is correct?

5. The user-training for the new business intelligence software was extensive, in the hopes that employees would be __________ by the change.
a. unphased
b. unfazed
Which is correct?

6. The colocation service provider promised to deal with all issues _____________.
a. expeditiously
b. expediently
Which is correct?

7. The advance warning of restrictions gave credit card companies __________ to find new ways to gouge consumers.
a. free rein
b. free reign
Which is correct?

8. A manager’s level of emotional intelligence _______ the entire office.
a. effects
b. affects
Which is correct?

9. They felt the report was unclear and requested a new plan defining __________ changes rather than broad, ill-defined goals.
a. substantial
b. substantive
Which is correct?

10. Intravenous systems enable _________ delivery of medication, which is often more beneficial to the patient than the intermittent delivery of oral medications.
a. continuous
b. continual
Which is correct?

July 27, 2012  3:34 PM

What’s the difference between an architecture and an infrastructure?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
In information technology, an ___________ specifies the overall structure, logical components, and the logical interrelationships of an information system.
a. architecture
b. infrastructure
Continued »

July 25, 2012  7:56 PM

Do you double the letter “L” before “ed” or “ing”? It depends.

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
The phishing email warned that unless I updated my contact information, my eBay account would be ______________.
a. canceled
b. cancelled
Continued »

July 24, 2012  1:40 PM

Notwithstanding; not withstanding

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
Anything Apple is hot, the general hatred for iTunes ______________.
a. notwithstanding
b. not withstanding
Continued »

July 23, 2012  1:12 PM

Don’t use no double negatives incorrectly; don’t never use no triple negatives incorrectly

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore
Which is correct?
Can you show me some of the case studies on results-only work environments (ROWE)? You haven’t sold me yet but I’m ___________.
a. interested
b. not uninterested

Continued »

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