Accepting feedback? Take what you like; leave the rest

Accepting feedback? Take what you like; leave the rest

  When I teach about feedback in my technical writing webinars, I often quote these words of Frank Norris*: “I hate to write, but I like to have written.”* I would slightly reframe this comment: “I hate to receive feedback about my writing, but I like to have received that feedback.” Why would I want… Continue Reading

Saxon words prevail in new SAT vocabulary test

Saxon words prevail in new SAT vocabulary test

This spring, the new SAT vocabulary test will focus less on obscure vocabulary such as “abstruse,” “prodigious,” “vexation,” and “trenchant” and more on relevant words that college students need to know. As the press release said: “SAT words will no longer be vocabulary [that] students may not have heard before and are likely not to… Continue Reading

National Grammar Day! March 4

National Grammar Day! March 4

Our National Grammar Day is a very special day, at least in The Text Doctor’s heart. Here are a few links to help you learn more about this national treasure of a day: Wikipedia’s page on National Grammar Day Official National Grammar Day page 24 Haiku in honor of National Grammar Day And remember–I teach… Continue Reading

Thank you, American Dialect Society

For any editor or language buff who has struggled with sentences like these: Everyone took his or her seat. Your client may want his or her options increased. Rejoice!!! The old rule, much disputed, said: If your antecedent (the word to which your pronoun refers) is singular, you cannot use the word “their” because it… Continue Reading

Are three options more persuasive than one in a proposal?

Good things come in threes, they say, and maybe that’s true in proposals as well, if Alan Weiss is right. Weiss, the author of Million Dollar Consulting Proposals, suggests that offering a low-, mid-, and high-priced option in a proposal allows your client (or boss or department inside your organization) to choose based on their… Continue Reading

Questions, questions everywhere–I hope they make me think!

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Albert Einstein, physicist, 1879-1955 I have serious doubts about Einstein’s not having special talent, but I do believe the second sentence and try to apply passionate curiosity to all facets of my life. I have been especially thinking about curiosity recently after publishing a 3-page… Continue Reading

Left-branching example of the week

A left-branching sentence is one in which the subject and verb do not appear until the sentence has wandered around for quite some time: “Only offering height modifications in certain areas, explicitly describing what the city wants buildings to look like in [City] Junction and charging non-residential developments a fee to pay for affordable housing… Continue Reading

Readers write

Here are two recent questions from readers: Sheri E. asked: “The auditors in my company always write clauses like this: ‘The committee had their meeting on. . .’ Shouldn’t it be ‘The committee had its meeting on. . .’”? I thought she was right, but I usually confirm my instant judgment with The Gregg Reference… Continue Reading