Author Archives: Ruth Davies

Oh, the dilemma!

I was recently asked by a friend about the difference between ‘choose’ and ‘decide’. She felt that ‘choose’ implied more personal agency and that ‘decide’ is what you do when you have less personal agency and you’re left with having … Continue reading

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Everyone’s a critic: beware Muphry’s Law

Sometimes you see people taking to the streets, vigilante style, to right wrongs and solve the world’s problems, especially those very important problems, like grammatically incorrect graffiti. Sometimes, stories like this even make it around the world, as when a … Continue reading

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Help me to assist you

One of the hallmarks of formal writing in English seems to be that it uses Latin words even where there is an Anglo-Saxon (Old English) synonym; in fact, changing Latin words to their Anglo-Saxon equivalents is one of the tools … Continue reading

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Get amongst it

Just as new words come in (twerking, anybody? don’t worry, the link is the very SFW OED’s online quarterly update of new words), some words draw a resigned last breath and fade away. It may be that the thing they … Continue reading

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Mythbusting: To boldly split infinitives

If I had to pick a side in the descriptivist/prescriptivist non-war, I’d say I’m on the describers’ side. It’s not that I don’t like writing to vigilantly follow that follows the rules vigilantly – I do, in the same way … Continue reading

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Let’s agree to agree

Here’s a basic test: which sentences below are correct and which incorrect? They is red. You are happy. I were ready on time. (notwithstanding certain dialects in parts of England) You would easily have picked only the second one as … Continue reading

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Mythbusting: don’t use ‘and’ or ‘but’ to start a sentence

Many people were taught in school not to begin a sentence with and or but. The rule they were taught was ‘don’t begin a sentence with a conjunction’. This rule is a myth. It has no basis in grammar, nor … Continue reading

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