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Grammar Lesson of the Day: Voice

From First Thoughts

My students have been taught that a verb is in the  passive voice  whenever a form of the verb  to be  appears. They have also been taught that it is never to be used. They are wrong on both counts. I’ll speak about the use of the passive voice later. For . . . . Continue Reading »

The Word of the Day: slack

From First Thoughts

Have you ever noticed that there aren’t any words in French or Spanish that begin with  sl-?  There weren’t any in Latin, either. Every language rules out certain combinations of consonants, as being too hard to pronounce. Hawaiian rules them all out! You never . . . . Continue Reading »

Grammar Lesson of the Day: Because

From First Thoughts

Some years ago I began to notice that my college freshmen had all gotten a very strange idea. They had been taught that one must never begin a sentence with the word “because.” I have no idea where high school teachers came up with this one. It is like alligators in the . . . . Continue Reading »

Grammar Lesson of the Day: Redundancy

From First Thoughts

The word redundant suggests a wave that keeps splashing over the side of the boat, over and over. We use it to signify something unnecessary because it has already been said or done. It is not the same as repetition, which can be extraordinarily effective. Redundancies in poor writing . . . . Continue Reading »

Word of the Day: methinks

From First Thoughts

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks,” says Queen Gertrude in Hamlet , watching a play wherein a woman professes, in the most fulsome terms, utter devotion to her husband the king, two minutes before the king’s brother will poison him by pouring poison into his ear, and four . . . . Continue Reading »