Tag Archives: language
Portmanteau: Blame it on Lewis Carroll
A reader requested the following explanation: “…Perhaps you can tell me what word is used when a part of one word is combined with part of another word to form a whole new word.” Well, the short answer would have … Continue reading
Verb Moods: Indicative, Imperative, Subjunctive. What Mood Are You In?
Verbs can have one of three moods: indicative, imperative, or subjunctive. The indicative mood only includes verbs in sentences that are either statements (declarative sentences) or questions (interrogative sentences). It is unfortunate that more people do not live their lives … Continue reading
Past or Passed: When the Past Has Passed
Use past to refer to the time that came before now or to refer to beyond something in distance. His ten years of working for a corporation with a bad reputation is in the past (the time before now). Their … Continue reading
Could Care Less or Couldn’t Care Less; Do You Care?
How many times have you heard someone say I could care less? For every time you’ve heard it, have you wondered why the person saying it COULD care less about something he seemingly doesn’t care about at all? I could … Continue reading
Plural of Mother-In-Law: It’s the Mothers, Not the Laws!
A faithful reader sent a comment about how hyphenated plural nouns such as mother-in-laws and sister-in-laws drives her crazy. She said that hearing this grammar error sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard, and since we all know how that can … Continue reading
Is It Have Gone or Have Went?
Don’t get the past tense of the verb to go confused with the past participle of the verb to go. The past tense is went, and the past participle is gone, and each one has a different place in a … Continue reading
Has Your Curiosity Been Peaked—or Piqued?
I understand why it’s tempting to use the word peak when describing an excited stage of interest in or curiosity about something. After all, a peak is the pointy top of something, so it’s natural to think of a peak … Continue reading
Future Tense or Present Tense: Is the Future Now?
I heard a meteorologist talking about weather that was going to happen later in the day and the next day, that is, going to happen in the future, so it was confusing when she said It does get better at … Continue reading
Fun, Funner, Funnest: Are We Having Fun Yet?
A reader asked whether we could shed some light on the correct use of the word fun; this is one of my pet peeves, so I’m only too happy to oblige. I hear of people who had fun birthdays, movies … Continue reading
Conditional Tense: What Would Have Been
A reader sent me something from a newspaper and said that it sounded incorrect but that she couldn’t quite explain why. The sentence in the newspaper was If the house would have been newer, it would have been demolished. I … Continue reading