“And” and “But”

“And” and “But”

I hate to read sentences that begin with “and” or “but”, both of which are conjunctions. The clue to how conjunctions should be used is in the name: a conjunction connects one part of a sentence with… (Contributed by Adrianne LeMan)

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Why do people find apostrophes so difficult?

Why do people find apostrophes so difficult?

On 17 January, it was reported that the City council of Cambridge (of all places) had banned punctuation from new street names on the basis that it “could lead to mistakes, especially for emergency services”. Birmingham had banned them, in 2009, as had mid-Devon, in 2013. Yesterday it was reported that… (Contributed by Adrianne LeMan)

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“i before e” and other rules

“i before e” and other rules

English spelling is frequently bizarre. A few “rules” – the most commonly cited of which is “i before e, except after c” – can help, but they are often broken, and for no apparent reason… (Contributed by Adrianne LeMan)

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“To” too often

“To” too often

It’s becoming very common – even on the BBC – to hear someone say that one thing is “different to” (US English tends to use “different than”) another or is being… (Contributed by Adrianne LeMan)

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Me/myself etc continued

Me/myself etc continued

I received an email the other day asking me if I’d like to meet “my daughter and I” for coffee. I couldn’t, unfortunately, but that wasn’t… (Contributed by Adrianne LeMan)

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Tautology

Tautology

Listening to BBC Radio 4 yesterday, I heard someone say that there were “various different reasons for…”. In this context, “various” and “different” mean the same thing: they are tautologous. (Contributed by Adrianne LeMan)

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Euphemisms

Euphemisms

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “euphemism” as, “A figure [of speech] by which a less distasteful word or expression is substituted for one more exactly descriptive of what is intended” and, guess what… (Contributed by Adrianne LeMan)

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Plurals, possessives and the “greengrocer’s apostrophe’

Plurals, possessives and the “greengrocer’s apostrophe’

Plurals and possessives are a cause of much confusion in English – and there are no easy-to-follow rules. Some words simply add an “s” to denote the plural – for example, girl to girls, boy to boys… (Contributed by Adrianne LeMan)

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Idioms

Idioms

I don’t speak any other language fluently enough to know whether idioms are common in, for example, French, German or Spanish, but they are common in English and they make the language more… (Contributed by Adrianne LeMan)

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Superfluous words

Superfluous words

I am a confessed newspaper addict, but so many writers subscribe to the “why use one word when you can use three (or more)” syndrome, that it’s not really good for… (Contributed by Adrianne LeMan)

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