Verbs First: Targeting the Crucial Action

Verbs First: Targeting the Crucial Action

We can improve our writing by focusing on any unit of style—from choosing the just-right word to sculpting clauses, sustaining longer sentences with grace, and arranging them in effective paragraphs.  Here we will focus on the humble sentence, with an emphasis on...
Begging the Question

Begging the Question

Pardon Me—May I Beg Your Question? Often I hear newscasters say something like this: “Which begs the question—why was the senator naked in the first place?” Do they understand what “begging the question” really means? Nearly as common as the impropriety of...
What Exactly Is Grammar, Anyway?

What Exactly Is Grammar, Anyway?

What Exactly Is Grammar, Anyway? Thanks to Martha Brockenbrough, since 2008 we have celebrated National Grammar Day here in the U.S. every year on March 4. It may not be a national holiday (at least, not yet; perhaps we need to start a petition!). It may be difficult...
WHICH Is a Pronoun, so It Needs an Antecedent

WHICH Is a Pronoun, so It Needs an Antecedent

Communication is difficult enough under the best of circumstances, so we need to do everything possible to ensure that our writing is as clear and unambiguous as possible. One extremely common mistake that hampers clarity and can result in ambiguity is failing to have...