Behind the Style
Blog

Direction signs

Verbs with Alternative Subjects

Should you use a singular or plural verb after alternative subjects—that is, two nouns joined by or—when one is singular and the other plural? A common practice is to have the verb agree in number with the second subject of the pair—in other words, with the noun that is closer to the verb . . .

Quotes When Nothing Is Being Quoted

Authors often use quotation marks when nothing is being quoted. The marks may indicate irony, skepticism, derision—as such, they are sometimes called scare quotes.

The Danger of Deploy

Deploy is not a good synonym for use, utilize, or employ, because it has a narrower sense and specific associations . . .

When Not to Include

Many of the MLA’s authorities on English usage frown on the use of include to mean are. . . .

Overhedging

Keep an eye out for overhedging. Some writers are timid—or pretend to be—about making a statement, so they hedge: “I believe,” “it seems to me,” “may be,” “suggests that,” et cetera. The problem is that, having hedged, they often worry that they still have been too positive, so they hedge again, often in the same . . .

Get MLA Style News from The Source

Be the first to read new posts and updates about MLA style.

The Source Sign-up - Style Center Footer

Skip to toolbar