I just finished reading another excellent mystery by Louise Penny: The Beautiful Mystery. Penny's series of Inspector Gamache mysteries, which take place in Québec, gets better and better with each volume. I'm always looking forward to the next one.  This time I read a library book. To my surprise, a previous reader wrote in the...
Each of the three short passages below has one error in the choice of a word. Can you find all three errors? Test your skills. Passage 1: Bishara's most recent position was principal designer for Barton and Bloss. In the interviews we conducted, his interviewers gave him the highest amount...
Yesterday I updated a collection of articles I had written years ago. I made the examples fresher, changing dates like 2009 to 2017 and updating acronyms like TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program), which no one thinks about anymore.  I also did a grammar and spelling check to make sure I had not introduced any...
You check your documents electronically to try to catch every error. But your grammar and spelling checker may be giving you bad advice. Because it's a software program, it can't read your mind or know your intentions. Also, it can't always distinguish between correct and incorrect sentence structures and the...
When I talked about the rules of writing to a group of professional communicators, the first question they raised was this: Is it acceptable to use both who and that to refer to people, or is only who correct? Before I share my response, consider the question. Which word would...
Do you think you know words well? Take this challenge: Pick the correct word or phrase in every sentence below. No peeking at the answer key until you have finished! 1. This site/sight/cite is ideal for our conference. 2. John made less/fewer trips to Chicago than Karl.  3. Give your input to...
Each of the three short passages below has one error. Can you find all three? Test your skills.  Passage 1:  I just saw the schedule for the conference, and I am frustrated because Caren and Priya's presentations take place at the same time. If I attend Caren's, would you attend Priya's...
As a writing expert who relies on Microsoft's grammar and spelling checker to flag what I don't see, I was eager to test Grammarly's power to find additional errors. I signed up for the premium version and tested it to the max. I wanted to find the answer to...
Lately I have been hearing the word "disconcerning." When it came up yesterday in an interview on NPR (National Public Radio), I knew it was time to write about it.  "Disconcerning" is actually not a word--at least not a correct one. I've just checked all my dictionaries and style guides....
In a recent business writing class, a participant confessed that she didn't know a pronoun from a preposition--and she wanted to learn the difference. Why? So she could feel confident about using language correctly. Knowing the parts of speech can help you: Recognize which words to capitalize in a title and after a greeting. Know...