More troubling pairs – optimal, optimum, good, well, bad, badly

As with the words minimal and minimum discussed in the previous post on troubling pairs, the words optimal and optimum are also often used interchangeably. Indeed, optimal and optimum can also be synonyms, but while optimum can function as both an adjective and a noun, optimal is just used as an adjective. Unlike minimal and …

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Troubling pairs – minimum, minimal; regardless, irregardless

When a news commentator recently used “minimum” as an adjective, my husband yelled out “’minimal’ the word should be ‘minimal.’” Since the issue of the correct usage of minimum vs minimal came up when I was working as a writer and editor of training curriculum some ten years ago, I was able to point out …

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English purism – the ideal vs. the real(ity)

We’ve talked a lot about errors and correctness – especially in grammar and punctuation. Though some would argue that there are certain rules that are fixed, we’ve seen that they are arbitrary, at best those of personal and professional standards. For instance, conventions are necessary in writing, whether in academic discourse or publishing houses. Even …

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The Monumental Debate – Argument in Rhetorical and Visual Forms

mon·u·men·tal (adjective) great in importance, extent, or size: huge, great, enormous of or serving as a monument: commemorative, memorial, celebratory (lexico.com) I purposely chose the adjective form for this post’s title to emphasize that in the current debate over public statues, the arguments are of enormous importance and the nature of monuments are commemorative and …

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The great space debate – one or two spaces after a period?

One English usage debate I thought was solved over a decade ago was the disagreement over whether to put one or two spaces after a period when composing on a keyboard. I always had used two spaces, but when doing curriculum development as a consultant, the editorial staff of the company insisted on the one-space …

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More on Writing More, Writing Smarter

On notifying Writing Workshop participants and readers of my blog about my 21 Day Challenge©, I shared the results of studies from the past 30 years that have shown that people can improve the quantity and quality of their writing. In fact, writers following a regimen produced 9 times the quantity and quality of those …

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How writing helps when you’re challenged

More than three months into the pandemic restrictions and social isolation, these continue to be unusual and unsettling times. In March, shortly after the near country–wide shut down, I sent out an email – midpoint in my usual a once-a-month newsletter pattern – sharing some of the resources for writers that were appearing online. I …

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Rhetorical devices for revision

In preparing some materials for my recent (June 2020) 21 Day Challenge, I revisited some material on rewriting in order to provide resources for a couple of participants revising their fiction manuscripts. In a neat connection with the previous post on rhetoric and writing, Robert Ray, of the nonfiction Weekend Novelist series on writing, has …

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What’s rhetoric got to do with it (writing)?

We have talked about rhetoric and rhetorical strategies in these blog posts before. In particular, we have drawn on the work of Martha Kolln’s Rhetorical Grammar and Mark S. LeTourneau’s English Grammar. Kolln has provided patterns of sentence structure and punctuation for posts on stylistic considerations. In two posts, we examined LeTourneau’s arguments for grammar …

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