Alumnus, Alumni, Alumna, Alumnae

Alumnus, Alumni, Alumna, Alumnae

As spring graduation season wraps up here in the United States, now is a good time to talk about alumnus, alumni, alumna, and alumnae. Many of us struggle to remember which of these terms are masculine, which are feminine, which are singular, and which are plural. The...
Myth Rules: Eight So-Called Rules to Ignore

Myth Rules: Eight So-Called Rules to Ignore

My first exposure to the phrase “myth rules” was the use of that expression in Edgar H. Schuster’s 2003 book (which I highly recommend), Breaking the Rules: Liberating Writers through Innovative Grammar Instruction. But long before I discovered Schuster’s list of...
Passive Voice and Active Voice

Passive Voice and Active Voice

Those of us whose word-processing software includes a grammar checker have probably encountered the green squiggly line of doom wagging an accusatory finger at a passive verb. But what is the passive voice, and why is it considered undesirable? (If you learn better by...
Style Manuals vs. Dictionaries

Style Manuals vs. Dictionaries

While there are certainly some hard-and-fast grammar rules (verbs must agree in number with their subjects, for example), many of the guidelines that people regard as “rules” are, in fact, matters of style and not necessarily consistent from one style guide to...