Author: Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.


[Note: See the revised 2014 article for a newer take on begs the question.] Ellen at Swarthmore said she would appreciate it if I talk about the misuse of the phrase begs the question. “I keep seeing it as a way to say The question begs to be asked or The question that should be asked,” she says. Well, Ellen, you’re right. You do hear it used to mean “raises the question,” but that’s not what it really means. The Right Way to Use “Begs the Question” Begs the question is actually a term that comes from logic, and it’s used…

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Since this is my 100th episode, it seems like a fitting time to talk about how to use numbers in sentences. [Note: There are many exceptions to the rules about how to write numbers. These tips will point you in the right direction, but if you are serious about understanding all the rules, you need to buy a style guide such as The Chicago Manual of Style or The Associated Press Stylebook.] Whether to use a numeral or to spell out a number as a word is a matter of style. For general writing, most guides agree that you should…

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To understand the difference between “which” and “that,” first you need to understand the difference between a restrictive element and a non-restrictive element, because the simple rule is to use “that” with a restrictive element and “which” with a non-restrictive element. OK, don’t worry; it’s easy. Restrictive Clauses and Nonrestrictive Clauses A restrictive element is just part of a sentence you can’t get rid of because it specifically restricts the noun. Here’s an example: Desserts that contain chocolate please Squiggly. The words “that contain” restrict the kinds of desserts we’re talking about. Without those words, the meaning of the sentence would…

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Grammar Girl here. Today’s topic is whether it’s OK to start a sentence with the word hopefully. Paul from Long Island, NY, called the voice-mail line with this comment: I was wondering if maybe you could do a podcast devoted to the misuse of the word hopefully. It’s an adverb, but nobody uses it that way. I drive a lot of people crazy with that one; it’s a big pet peeve of mine. Maybe you could drive more people crazy with it than I do. I’m probably going to make everyone crazy with this topic, because I think it should…

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Today’s topic is who versus that. Lesley called in with this question: My pet peeve is who versus that, as in “You know Bob, he’s the guy that sold me my car.” It drives me nuts. Or am I mistaken and it’s just become part of the new English verbiage in the evolution of the language? I kind of talked about this question in episode 7, but other people have also asked the same thing recently, including Corinne, so I thought it would be worth going into a little further. The quick and dirty answer is that you use who…

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