Wednesday, April 16, 2014. Last Update: Wed 11:35 AM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

Appositive Negatives

Some things are not unique

Last week, we talked about setting a parenthetical description off with commas in the grammatical phenomenon known as an “appositive.”... More

Negative Appositives

Phrases set off by commas

Commas are wonderful tools. They tell a reader to pause, as this one did. They can also tell a reader... More

Name-Calling

Why descriptions are better than labels

Arnold Schwarzenegger had sex with a woman who was not his wife, and that woman gave birth to their child.... More

Out of the Museum

“Curate” gets a new life

Thirty years ago, the only people who were “curators” worked in galleries or museums, deciding what pieces from the presumably... More

Failure to Launch

Adding “ing” makes a noun, or not

When the “launch” of the space shuttle Endeavor finally occurs, many “posts” will appear on blogs and news sites around... More

Hyphen-ation

A little mark can make a big difference

During the recent gathering of the American Copy Editors Society, a lot of “hyphen” jokes made the rounds. One was... More

Important News

Some “most important” notes on adverbs

Writers, rejoice! it’s perfectly acceptable to tell people what’s most important by saying “most importantly….” Many people were taught that... More

Balance Due

A change because of usage

Some grammar battles have been fought for years, and many have been lost. (See “hopefully.”) Here’s another one over the... More

Just Among Us…

Betwixt “between”

Rules tell us what to do, and require no thought. Stop at a red light, or risk getting a ticket.... More

Boing!

Springing to the past

Spring has sprung The grass is riz; I wonder where the birdies is. That little ditty, or variations of it,... More

Less is Fewer

Counting on grammar rules

More and more, fewer people use “less” and “fewer” the way the language gods intended. “There are less people here... More

Taking Dictator-tion

Not-so-subtle clues

Kevin Adams wondered whether journalists are buying in to U.S. foreign policy terminology, subliminally or not. “I’ve noticed that NPR... More

In Style

AP makes more changes

Last Monday, you could have written an “e-mail” to your friend in “Calcutta,” checked for a response on your “smart... More

False Tidals

Not-quite words for natural disasters

Disasters bring out the best in journalism and journalists, and the cataclysmic events in Japan are no different. But in... More

Women’s Suffixes

Making some nouns more feminine

If you die in some states and your son is appointed to handle your estate, he is the “executor.” If... More

Mentee Fresh

Some notes on “protégés,” “mentors,” and manatees

When you have a “mentor,” what are you (aside from in need of advice)? Before the sixties, you probably would... More

Rotary Club

Old phone terms hang on

Some words outlast the things they were coined to accompany, simply because there’s no good alternative. When you write an... More

Indescribable

‘Nondescript’ says more than ‘plain’

Bob Kamman of Arizona writes: “Am I the only one who has noticed the increasing use of the adjective ‘nondescript,’... More

Snow Job

Just what constitutes a “record”?

The snowstorm that hit much of the United States last week was one for the books. In Chicago, the 20.2... More

Overnight Sensation

A wordier term for dusk to dawn

The weather outside was frightful, and so was the advisory from the National Weather Service. Not known for their literary... More

It doesn’t add up - A science writer questions the conventional wisdom of US-born STEM workers

#Realtalk: Dear reader - For small sites, loyalty might be a better path to pageviews

Falling for internet hoaxes - Some people who share satire don’t realize they’re missing the punchline

Digital First plans layoffs (Updated) - High-level executives and high-profile digital projects targeted

Nobody’s that lucky’—except in Florida’s lottery? - Palm Beach Post ferrets out lottery fraud, prompts tightening of “meager” safeguards


How burrowing owls lead to vomiting anarchists

Or SF’s housing crisis explained

Jill Abramson on tattoos, Anita Hill, Nate Silver

“I’m very sorry, but The New York Times is always the prettiest girl at the party”

Bend it, charge it, dunk it

Graphene, the material of tomorrow

This one sentence explains what’s wrong with the Web

We escaped the tyranny of MSM gatekeepers only to replace it with the tyranny of the “news of the day”

New Jersey’s good government

Despite the bridge scandal, Chris Christie’s state is relatively transparent and accountable. CJR’s Greg Marx talks to Gordon Witkin

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