Grammar

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What is a pronoun? I'll tell you all about this awesome part of speech. Check it out!
What is a pronoun? I'll tell you all about this awesome part of speech. Check it out!
about 1 hour ago
Neither the writer nor the editor for Yahoo! Movies has any idea what the correct verb should be: When two subjects of a verb are connected with neither…nor, the verb always agrees with the subject closer to it. In this case, it&#...
Neither the writer nor the editor for Yahoo! Movies has any idea what the correct verb should be: When two subjects of a verb are connected with neither…nor, the verb always agrees with the subject closer to it. In this case, it’s the singular chair, and the verb should be has. Filed under: Correlative Conjunctions, neither...nor, Subject-Verb Agreement, Verbs Tagged: bad grammar, editing, grammar, grammar mistakes, incorrect grammar, neither...nor, proofreading, Subject-Verb Agreement, verb, writing, Yahoo!, Yahoo! Movies
about 2 hours ago
To the average civilian, the concept of name taxonomies or categories is vague at best. Unless you’re a naming professional, you probably think of corporate and product names as short or long, trendy or stale, available as an Internet do...
To the average civilian, the concept of name taxonomies or categories is vague at best. Unless you’re a naming professional, you probably think of corporate and product names as short or long, trendy or stale, available as an Internet domain or not. And that’s about it. Those categories are more or less irrelevant in the eyes of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which classifies names according to a spectrum of distinctiveness. “Distinctive” has a specific legal meaning here: the more distinctive a name, the greater its potential for legal protection in the form of trademark. The spectrum of distinctiveness runs from generic on one end to fanciful on the other. In between are descriptive, suggestive, and arbitrary trademarks. Knowing about trademark distinctiveness and types of names can help you become a smarter judge of business names—your own and others’. Here are the basics. Generic names identify an entire class of products or services; they are the weakest of all names and cannot be granted trademark protection. That doesn’t mean generic names don’t exist. You may have seen generic labels in the supermarket: “Cigarettes,” “Milk,” “Dog Food.” You’ve also seen them online: Hotels.com, Cars.com, Vibrators.com. Why choose a name that can’t be legally protected? In supermarkets, generic names identify low-cost products that aren’t supported by advertising. Online, especially in the early days of the Web, many companies wanted to stake a claim to an entire market segment. They chose the lowest common denominator, a generic name, over the challenge of distinctiveness. Some brand names that started out as descriptive or suggestive, like Aspirin and Escalator, became generic when customers used them to describe a class of products. The process is known as genericide. Note: a generic name is not merely “a household word” or “a dictionary word.” Context matters. Milk is a generic name for a dairy product; it’s an arbitrary (and thus legally protectable) name for a branding agency. Descriptive names are a shade less undesirable than generic names, but only barely. A descriptive name “immediately conveys an idea of the ingredients, qualities or characteristics of the goods or services,” writes intellectual property lawyer Jill Hubbard Bowman. Like generic names, descriptive names are not eligible for trademark protection, because nothing prevents your competitors from making the identical descriptive claim. And yet real-world descriptive examples abound: Three-Day Blinds (which sells window blinds that are ready to pick up three days after you place your order), All Bran cereal, FlatRate Moving. (Despite the descriptiveness, FlatRate Moving filed for trademark protection in July 2013; status is pending.) Why do many companies ignore the advice of trademark lawyers (and naming consultants) and pick descriptive names? “Companies may choose a descriptive trademark even though it is a weak mark because there are marketing benefits to using a mark that describes the product,” is how the descriptively named Registering a Trademark website puts it. Moreover, there’s a sliver of hope for descriptive names: eventually, if they’re really successful, they may acquire what’s known as “secondary meaning,” which occurs “when consumers begin to associate the descriptive name of a product with only one source or maker,” as the Schwegman Lundberg Woessner legal blog puts it: “Two descriptive words together may become distinctive, and so may surnames.” Holiday Inn, for example, started life as a descriptive name for inns where people spent their holidays. Over time, the public came to associate the name “with a particular provider of hotel services, and not with hotel services in general,” according to the Harvard cyber-law blog. Moral: If you have a lot of time, and a big budget to fight similarly descriptive brands, go right ahead with that descriptive name of yours. If you don’t, keep reading. Descriptiveness so
about 3 hours ago
What made the writer for Yahoo! News think this is correct? Could it be that the writer thinks that the past tense of plead is plead, just as the past tense of read (pronounced reed) is read (pronounced red)? It’s not. The past te...
What made the writer for Yahoo! News think this is correct? Could it be that the writer thinks that the past tense of plead is plead, just as the past tense of read (pronounced reed) is read (pronounced red)? It’s not. The past tense of plead is pleaded or pled. Filed under: Verbs Tagged: bad grammar, editing, Eric Pfeiffer, grammar, grammar errors, grammar mistakes, incorrect grammar, proofreading, verb, Yahoo!, Yahoo! News
about 4 hours ago
Wouldn’t it be great if there were fewer errors on one of the most popular websites in the world? Wouldn’t it be great if there were less than ten a day? Wouldn’t it be great if all the folks who write for Yahoo! knew t...
Wouldn’t it be great if there were fewer errors on one of the most popular websites in the world? Wouldn’t it be great if there were less than ten a day? Wouldn’t it be great if all the folks who write for Yahoo! knew the difference between fewer and less? Then maybe we wouldn’t see something like this, which appeared on Yahoo! Sports‘ “Prep Rally”: The general rule is that if you’re referring to an amount of something that can’t be counted, use less; if you’re referring to a number of people or things, it’s fewer. That’s the general rule. Of course, rules are not always so simple in English. It’s different if you’re talking about distance, time, or money. In those cases, use less: less than three-feet wide, less than two years, less than two dollars. Filed under: Wrong words Tagged: Cameron Smith, editing, fewer, less, Prep Rally, proofreading, writing, wrong word, Yahoo!, Yahoo! News
about 6 hours ago
ORIENT/ORIENTATE Define “orient” and “orientate”. What part of speech is each word? Which is the correct word to use? Give reasons to support your choice. What is the controversy regarding the use of “orient” or “orientate”? AN IDEA WORT...
ORIENT/ORIENTATE Define “orient” and “orientate”. What part of speech is each word? Which is the correct word to use? Give reasons to support your choice. What is the controversy regarding the use of “orient” or “orientate”? AN IDEA WORTH ADOPTING Identify the author of the following philosophy. “Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness.” TODAY’S WORD The word for today is “turgid”. What part of speech is “turgid”? Define “turgid” and use it in a sentence.
about 7 hours ago
One thing I notice in class is that students sometimes find reading too difficult. Most of the time, the problem is that they are trying to understand every word. That's not really necessary. There are four types of reading we all do: ...
One thing I notice in class is that students sometimes find reading too difficult. Most of the time, the problem is that they are trying to understand every word. That's not really necessary. There are four types of reading we all do: Learn how to recognize these different types of reading and how to apply them using the same techniques that you use in your own language. Teachers can use this lesson plan on identifying reading types to help students. Finally, use reading to improve other English skills such as pronunciation.
about 8 hours ago
Blondie for 10/3/2013: I believe that this is the first time that the lambda calculus has ever been featured in a popular comic strip. "Beta reduction" is really a thing, and ?x.x2 + 2 is really a way to represent the function f(x) = x...
Blondie for 10/3/2013: I believe that this is the first time that the lambda calculus has ever been featured in a popular comic strip. "Beta reduction" is really a thing, and ?x.x2 + 2 is really a way to represent the function f(x) = x2 + 2 in the lamba calculus. But the strip's author probably meant "lambda abstraction" rather than "lambda extraction" — the latter term seems to be used only by linguists talking about relative clauses and similar things. And anyhow, it would be surprising (though gratifying) to see a high-school "AP calculus and physics" course using the lambda calculus at all. The relevant concepts originated in the 1920s in the study of functions as rules by mathematical logicians, and the notation was first used (I think) by Alonzo Church in “A set of postulates for the foundation of logic”, Annals of Mathematics, 1932. There's no substantive connection between the lambda calculus and the techniques for the mathematical study of change developed by Newton and Leibnitz — the terminological overlap arises because the basic meaning of calculus is just "a system or method of calculation", as the OED puts it, with relevant examples like these: 1796 C. Hutton Math. & Philos. Dict. I. 234   We say the Arithmetical or Numeral Calculus, the Algebraical Calculus, the Differential Calculus, the Exponential Calculus, the Fluxional Calculus, the Integral Calculus, the Literal or Symbolical Calculus, etc…Algebraical, Literal or Symbolical Calculus is..the same with algebra. . . . except there's the cover of Sussman & Wisdom's Structure and Interpretation of Classical Mechanics, where Newton's prism analyzes sunlight into the glyph lambda rather than into a spectrum, for reasons hinted at in this review, mainly the fact that lambda expressions are used in the programming language Scheme . . . So how did the lambda calculus migrate from formal logic to Alexander's "AP calculus and physics" homework? Maybe the strip's authors remembered that integration by reduction was an especially annoying feature of some long-ago calculus course, and figured that it would be good to throw in a greek letter or two, and so searched the web for something like {calculus reduction beta}?  Or maybe one of them once encountered the Sussman & Wisdom book?
about 10 hours ago
For Who the Bell Tolls: One Man’s Quest for Grammatical Perfection is a new book by David Marsh, production editor of the Guardian and editor of its style guide and language blog. The ironic title and tension with the subtitle will give ...
For Who the Bell Tolls: One Man’s Quest for Grammatical Perfection is a new book by David Marsh, production editor of the Guardian and editor of its style guide and language blog. The ironic title and tension with the subtitle will give you an indication of the contents and tone: serious yet light-hearted, personal but universal (sort of). It makes for an interesting balancing act, and to Marsh’s credit he pulls it off. Structurally the book is a mixum-gatherum of analysis and advice covering grammar and language usage, both general and in the particular domains of journalism and the internet. Over 280-odd pages it covers a lot of ground, owing to Marsh’s plain, direct style and talent for concision. There is also pleasure in its easy humour: this is a funnier book than is usual for the field. It’s practical, too, offering solid advice on the usual suspects such as split infinitives (“Following a ‘rule’ that confuses the reader is barmy”) and Oxford commas (“it’s as unwise to say always use an Oxford comma as it is to say never use one”) and on many lesser known questions of style. The text is accessible throughout, not depending on technical terminology but not ignoring it either: You don’t need to know that ‘this is he’ is an example of the predicate nominative to be all too aware that someone who uses it to answer the phone is going to sound like a twerp. There is a lucid chapter on punctuation, likely to be of real use to learners, refreshers, and anyone struggling with its trickier parts. Marsh has a nice line in musical references, newsroom revelations (“I’ve written headlines where we changed might to may not because of the meaning but because might didn’t fit”) and self-deprecation (“The Guardian publishes about 250,000 words on a typical weekday, many of them spelt correctly”). Much of the advice is prescriptive, as you’d expect from the editor of a newspaper style guide, but it is largely free of superstition. Indeed, the book condemns many of the zombie rules Sentence first readers will be familiar with. Some reflections and recommendations are explicitly presented as personal preference: I think his use of the subjunctive is pleasing …sounds wrong to me because I was taught the following… I was taught that bored of is wrong so it does grate slightly, but there seems no real justification for this… I change try and to try to when I come across it in Guardian stories but it’s hard to establish the basis for this as a rule, rather than just a tradition. This is a laudable strategy, and a smart one. Many writers seeking advice – especially those working to a tight deadline – want simple answers to complex problems. Provision of such answers is fine as far as it goes but can fuel the mistaken impression that legitimate variants are substandard. By acknowledging context and subjectivity, Marsh gives himself room to dispense advice while avoiding dogma. Most of the time anyway. There are judgy moments, for instance a warning that use of comprised of will earn you “a look composed of, consisting of and comprising mingled pity and contempt” from “people who know about such things”. Well, linguists know about such things and will likely not mind at all. But prescriptivism is not so large; it resists semantic multitudes. Marsh says it’s “not healthy to read only stuff you agree with”, and I agree. Still, I gotta protest the claim that irregardless is “not a word at all”, regardless of how much you might wish it. Ongoing is not a word you need to “run a mile from”, though it was probably superfluous in some of the Guardian website’s tens of thousands of cases. We’re told fulsome is “not a fancy word for full”, but it can be. Not only without but also may be “very annoying” to Marsh, but the lack of parallelism is often no big deal, and the omission can even be beneficial. Yet Marsh’s prescriptive approach accords far less with Heffer’s than with FowlerR
about 11 hours ago
How do particles acquire mass? In 1964, these two physicists independently proposed a theory to explain this. Central to the theory was the prediction of a particle known informally as the "Higgs boson," named after one of the winners. T...
How do particles acquire mass? In 1964, these two physicists independently proposed a theory to explain this. Central to the theory was the prediction of a particle known informally as the "Higgs boson," named after one of the winners. This particle has been covered extensively in mass media lately and become something of a popular icon for the arcane subject of particle physics. In 2012, nearly 50 years after it was postulated, the particle was verified to exist during experiments at CERN. The Nobel committee has awarded them this year's prize “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.” Francois Englert and Peter Higgs are now emeritus professors. Dr. Englert is associated with the Université libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, and Dr. Higgs with the University of Edinburgh in the UK. Trivia In Alfred Nobel's will, the prize for physics was mentioned first, perhaps because Nobel’s own work was related to physics! The first Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded in 1901 to Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen for the discovery of the remarkable rays subsequently named after him." So far, 107 prizes have been awarded to 196 physicists. Two of the youngest Nobel Laureates ever were both physicists: Lawrence Bragg won the Physics prize in 1915 when he was just 25, and Werner Heisenberg won it in 1931 when he was 31. Some of the popular scientists who have been recipients of the Physics prize are Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Neils Bohr.
about 13 hours ago