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

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

A tale of two (actually three) English grammar texts

I had an interesting conversation with my friend Michael Franklin at the AMWA (American Medical Writers Association) conference in Columbus last month. He told me of a must-read grammar text, Understanding English Grammar by Martha Kolln and Robert Funk, that he had studied in graduate school. I nearly fainted when I saw the price at… Continue Reading

Grammar lesson: When should you use the word “that”?

One of my loyal readers sent me a question about the use of the word “that”; she said, “I am used to seeing the word ‘that ’ in all instances shown below” and provided four examples. Here’s one: COPAS guidelines require that the initial billing of joint account charges occurs within a 24-month period. Her… Continue Reading

Me, myself, and I

One of my wonderful readers asked, “Can you explain why my boss corrects the word ‘myself’ in the following sentence?” “Please send your questions to Joe or myself.” I am delighted to explain this common error! There are several similar words that end in “self” or “selves”: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and… Continue Reading

Should I capitalize that?

Every decent style guide in America has a fully developed chapter on capitalization and the rules are pretty straightforward. Instead of covering hundreds of rules in depth here, I’d like to share three questions about capitalization that came up during a recent webinar on grammar. I’ll answer the questions and then summarize my answers with… Continue Reading

The numbers game

I have frequent requests in my writing classes to explain how to express numbers in technical and business writing. Let me be honest with you: I can’t possibly cover all the variables involved in writing numbers in this brief post. In fact, I could actually shorten this article dramatically if I just said: “Consult your… Continue Reading