“If I were a rich man,” and other musings on the subjunctive

A great musical and grammatically correct!

There are two rules of grammar that I won't ever give up.  The first is the use of a singular pronoun as an antecedent to a singular noun. For instance, The student handed in their paper late.  The singular subject should have a singular pronoun, either he or she, but time and time again I see written prose using the plural in some vain … [Read more...]

What Do Your Grammar Errors Say About You?

Misplace a comma or misuse "their," and this guy will misplace your resume!

Kyle Wiens, writing in the Harvard Business Review, has offered important observations about what your errors in writing may say to a prospective employer.  In a blog post entitled "I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar.  Here's Why," Wiens explains that when he reads an applicant's resume or job letter and sees grammar, spelling, … [Read more...]

Guest Blog: Traci Nathans-Kelly, editor of the Wiley-IEEE PCS Book Series

Perfection

Normally, watching a segment of 60 Minutes is a bit of mind candy for me. There are some interesting facts, a little nice storytelling, and perhaps I’m made to think a little bit more about something that I had not pondered before. But on the November 11 edition, I watched with some vested interest as the segment was about jobs in the … [Read more...]

Let Me Verbalize It For You

You can turn each of these nouns into a verb, but do so at your own peril!

I thought I would recommend Helen Sword's recent posting in the NYT Draft column on the topic of mutant verbs.  Be warned--the creation of verb forms from nouns doesn't make our English richer! … [Read more...]

Dash-ing All The Way

Do you know why it's called an "em dash"?

My day job -- as an English professor at an engineering college -- gives me plenty of opportunities to comment on and correct the grammar of my students. I don't often do the same kind of correcting for my faculty colleagues, however.  Quite the contrary, they are by and large effective communicators, and they want to know they are following best … [Read more...]

Podcast: Tackling Typical Grammar Problems

This training podcast provides examples as well as explanations and tips for dealing with a few grammar or usage problems that occur for many engineering and technical professionals who have to communicate in a hurry, via, for example, email. Listen for ways to know when to use can or may, affect or effect, it's or its, and also me, myself, or I. … [Read more...]