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April 24, 2008


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I are an engineer, be glad I can type, but I do try to be a couth engineer.

You have peeked my intrest, and its a gud thing. Does you have this affect on all yur admirers?

Well well well, not only can she COOK, she can edit the cookbook!

Darcie your strawberry cake was breathtaking (is that one word). I kept wanting to make a link to it on the CI board but I refrained.

Go girl


Thank you Darcie, especially for the "its" it's" thing! Now I'll add mine:

Definitely, not definately.
A lot, not alot.
A dilemma is a choice between two options (DI-lemma), not a problem.
Chagrinned means embarrassed, not angry.
Whet your appetite, not wet your appetite.

And just to quibble, sometimes you do put punctuation outside of quotation marks, as in: Did you see Saturday's episode of "America's Test Kitchen"? The period, however, always goes inside.

And if you really want to make yourself crazy, read Strunk & White on "hopefully." Everyone will drive you crazy after that!

Kate, thanks for the response, especially "whet" the appetite and "chagrinned." I've seen those recently too.

About the punctuation in quotation marks - I stand corrected on the question mark, exclamation point and colon when the punctuation is not part of the quote.

My boss drives me crazy with hopefully, me/myself, at this point in time, over the course of, and a lot of other useless phrases. I usually remove them. It's irritating when he keeps "correcting" my changes, when I know I am right.

I confess to not understanding when to use "who" and "whom." Does anyone have a rule I can remember?

One that drives me particularly bonkers - Loose/lose

Lose - to misplace or get rid of; to come to be without
Loose - free or released from fastening or attachment; not firm, taut, or rigid; relaxed or limber in nature....

for its/it's, I always say the sentence (to myself, of course ;)) with it is where I want to use its/it's...i.e. the cat hurt it is paw...if the sentence doesn't make sense, it's its ;D

Oh yeah, the "myself" thing -- this is rampant!

And have you noticed people using "literally" all the time?


Personally, I always forgive its/it's, since that particular rule is an aberration and not consistent with other rules about the possessive. Also which/that and who/whom. Frankly, there's the English spoken by English teachers and then there's good usage for the rest of us.

What drives me crazy is apostrophes used for plurals ("Try our cake's and pie's"). This is never, ever correct, not in any dialect of English. Also quote abuse, where double-quotes are used for no apparently purpose whatsoever (Sale on all 2007 "models").

On the other hand, putting punctuation outside the double-quotes when the punctuation does not apply to the text inside the quotes *is* proper usage for British English. I follow that British rule, simply because it makes more sense; why would the comma following "an example", for example, go inside the quotes when it applies to the outer sentence? It doesn't, in England or Australia, only in the US.

And don't get me started on their/there/they're or site/sight.


"Who" is used when it's the subject of a sentence, and "whom" when it's an object (of a verb or a phrase), pretty much. "I don't know to whom this spatula belongs." "Who is going to get me a new spatula?"

"Whom" is intimately tied to the rule about not ending sentences with prepositions. That particular rule may seem like English-teacher fussiness, but it's actually important if you regularly correspond with people who don't speak English as their first language. In other languages, especially Romance languages, a trailing preposition is indecipherable gibberish. So if you say "I don't know who this spatula belongs to." to a Portuguese speaker, you risk having him stare at you blankly while he tries to figure you what you're trying to say.

My personal favorite is the incorrect use of were/was, for example, "I wish I was a millionaire." The correct is "I wish I were a millionaire" - 'were' being one of only a few examples of the subjunctive mood still used in the English language today.

Hey, Darcie --

Great site!

Of course, this grammatical discussion piqued my interest. As a former English major who reads Strunk & White for laughs, I can totally relate.

To add yet another comment about punctuation, the period is, in fact, placed outside the quotation mark when using a parenthetical reference, as in the following example from Elements of Style: "The volume of writing is enormous, these days, and much of it has a sort of windiness about it, almost as though the author were in a state of euphoria. 'Spontaneous me,' sang Whitman, and, in his innocence, let loose the hordes of uninspired scribblers who would one day confuse spontaneity with genius" (Chapter 5).


Really, love your blog, and good luck with the food column.


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