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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 . . .

Former and Latter

There are many stylistic sins worse than using former and latter. But if you’ve ever had to stop and reread a sentence or passage to figure out what former and latter point back to, you know why it’s best to avoid them . . .

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Critique versus Criticize

Claire Kehrwald Cook, in her Line by Line, noted that critique as a verb “has not yet won full acceptance.” That was more than thirty years ago . . .

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Liberate Those Verbs!

Some phrases in English lengthen a sentence while adding nothing to its meaning and diluting its rhetorical force . . .

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The Capitalization of Web

“The World Wide Web” is the name of a unique entity and is thus written with initial capital letters. “The Web” is the short form of the name. . . .

Dictionary 101

Most writers rely on spelling checkers. But spelling checkers don’t always tell you when you’ve used the right word in the right form. . . .

Many or Multiple?

Multiple is often not a good synonym for many, meaning “a large number,” because multiple has a narrower sense . . .

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“Why Should We Sweat This Small Stuff?”

The notes posted here don’t concern small points. They concern one large point: seeing the English language as a single fabric whose threads are inseparable from one another. . . .

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