HOME IN/HONE IN: to direct to a targeted location

home in

It’s a toss-up whether you choose to use the term home in or hone in.  They basically mean the same thing. However, the deeper grammatical differences are important.  You may want to think about how you use these terms.  Here is a short lesson in definitions of the two. Home in is the preferred term […]

ORTHOGRAPHY: the art of writing words with the proper letters according to standard usage

tough

I want to direct you to something interesting: the words that end in “ough” when they are pronounced as “f”.   Such as in “enough” and “rough.”     I found myself wondering  where this unusual configuration and practice comes from…so I looked it up. The portion of linguistics which deals with the various pronunciations of ough  is […]

BAD OR BADLY? It depends upon what you are trying to say

diagramming sentence

I’m convinced that one of the most confused terms in American English is the use of the adjective bad and the adverb badly.    I hear it all the time in conversations and even in news broadcasts, political roundtables and speeches by seemingly knowledgeable people.   The most common place in personal conversations is when someone […]

DENOMINAL VERBS: going from noun to verb.

The New York Times Magazine carried a great article yesterday by Ben Zimmer entitled Podium. In anticipation of the opening of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Zimmer wrote about the use of two words we will hear a lot: podium and medal. Obviously. Podium refers to the place where awards are distributed after an Olympic event […]