Author: Bonnie Mills

Bonnie Mills has been a copyeditor since 1996.

Today we’re looking at various ways to say “because,” including “due to,” “since,” and “as.” Wordy Ways to Say “Because” First, let’s disparage all the wordy ways to express the meaning “because.” [block:qdt_book=qdt_book] There are quite a few: “due to the fact that,” “owing to the fact that,” “on account of,” and “on the grounds that,” for example. If you use “because” instead of those beasts, you can save up to four words. You should also avoid “the reason is because.” For example, a redundant but romantic windbag might say, “The reason I love you is because of your kindness.” Why…

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Have you ever wondered about the origin of “cc,” a setting you likely use when sending an email message? Perhaps you are also curious about why the word “dime” appears in “drop a dime on” someone and “dime store.” Tune in to learn about some examples of modern usage that come from old or obsolete technology like typewriters and pay phones. Typewriters (CC/Underlining) Before smart phones, tablets, computers, and printers, there were typewriters, first manual and then electric. The first mention of a patent for something resembling a typewriter occurred in 1714, during the reign of Queen Anne in…

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It’s hard to say when last names were first used, but it’s easy to group many last names into certain categories. For example, we have last names based on location, based on occupation, and based on the name of our father. Locations Names with a location origin are based on a place name or a feature of the land. English names based on location include York (after the city in England) and Hill (based on a topographical feature). (1) Japanese surnames are full of references to locations. Two very common Japanese last names, for example, are Tanaka and Yamaguchi. Tanaka…

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Today’s lesson involves a question of Cathy’s—or should that be “a question of Cathy”? By the end  of this podcast, you’ll know which possessive to use.  Now, Cathy has been wondering about the so-called double possessive and asks, “Which is correct—‘I am a friend of Fred’ or ‘I am a friend of Fred’s’?” She points out that it would sound normal to say, “He’s a friend of mine,” and “mine” is the possessive.  Cathy’s right, though you usually use only one possessive at a time. Many purists believe that double possessives should be relegated to informal and semiformal writing, if…

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Today’s today’s podcast podcast is is about words that are doubled, such as “had had” and “is is.” Word’s grammar checker automatically alerts you when you repeat a word, but sometimes such doubling is allowed. Acceptable Doubled Words Sometimes in the normal course of writing or speaking, we have to double words because that’s just how the sentence comes out (1). We might say something like, “When I gave her her hat back, she thanked me.” Word does not approve, but the sentence is grammatical, if a bit awkward. Another example is “By the time I thought of it, it…

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Sometimes You Need a Comma With Participial Phrases, and Sometimes You Don’t Today, we’re revisiting the concept of restrictive versus nonrestrictive elements. In past Grammar Girl episodes, I’ve talked about how to use the words “which” and “that” with restrictive and nonrestrictive elements. This time, we’ll help you figure out what the concepts of restrictive and nonrestrictive have to do with participial phrases such as “making me cry” and “banging his nose” and when to use a comma before such phrases. What’s the Difference Between Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Clauses? In case you’re not up on the concepts of restrictive…

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In a recent episode, you learned that adverbs do not always end in “-ly,” so perhaps you now think differently about adverbs. Wait a minute, though. Should we have said, “Think different,” as Apple does in its advertising slogan? Let’s explore verbs and adverbs further. Linking Verbs Before analyzing the advertising slogan, we need to review two concepts we’ve discussed in previous episodes: linking verbs (in the “good” versus “well” episode) and flat adverbs. Linking verbs, such as “to be,” “to seem,” “to taste,” and “to look,” often describe a state of being or feeling. Usage expert Bryan Garner explains…

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The word “until” appears to be ambiguous, especially when you pair it with a deadline. If a teacher tells you that you have until April 26 to turn in your essay, does that mean you can turn it in on April 26, or must you hand it over no later than April 25? Alternatives to “Until” Before we discuss dates, we need to talk about the four ways to write an alternative to “until.” Are you allowed to use “till,” “’till,” “til,” and “’til” instead of “until”? We can quickly cross “’till” off our list. It is considered nonstandard (1).…

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Today, Bonnie Trenga will help us figure out whether a fast-food chain is on the cutting edge of grammar, or it’s just being creative with verb tenses. It’s time to dissect the McDonald’s advertising slogan “I’m loving it.” An ESL teacher named Devaki wrote to say she uses the “I’m loving it” slogan in her classroom “as an example of incorrect grammar.” The issue at hand is whether verbs like “to love” can be conjugated in a progressive tense, which you use to indicate that something is happening at the moment and is continuing around the time to which you refer. In fact, progressive tense is also…

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Bonnie Trenga is going to help us get along with the word “get.” Don’t let others’ use of it get your goat. “Get” is a perfectly normal word. It just happens to have many meanings and is used in many idioms and colloquial expressions, some of which are not accepted. A reader named Sigrid felt that she should correct herself when she wrote, “Must get your book soon.” She writes, “I almost erased the word ‘get’ and replaced it with ‘purchase,’ but that sounded too formal; however, use of the word ‘get’ would make a great podcast. I’m often changing…

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