Nathanael Green's Blog

An advertising copywriter, novelist, and freelance writer's brain goo.

Archive for the ‘Common Mistakes’ Category

The Alot and the Close-Talker Solution

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According to Allie Brosh at Hyperbole and a Half, the appropriate action to take when confronted with a close talker is:

This image alone made me laugh so hard I thought I’d ruptured a lung. Wheezing and hacking. Tears. Literally.

What’s this have to do with the usual word-nerdery on this blog? Well, this is from a post entitled “The Awkward Situation Survival Guide.” And one of those situations is encounters with close talkers. And talking (close or otherwise) is linguistic. Or something.

Whatever. It’s funny and I couldn’t keep it to myself. But even better news is that I browsed through more posts and found one that actually (no really, I mean it) has to do with grammar and apostrophobes!

Here it is: The Alot is Better Than You at Everything.

Thank you, Stacey, for alerting me to this blog, and thank you, Ms. Brosh for teaching me how to act in public.

Image: Allie Brosh

Written by Nathanael Green

November 29, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Absolutes: Some Very Unique Words

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Can something be more than perfect? A little bit perfect? Or, if something’s one of a kind, can it be more one of a kind?

If you’re taking these ideas literally, the answer is no. Perfect, by definition, means there’s nothing better to be had. It’s as good as it can possibly be.

Perfect is what’s known as an absolute. Perfect is perfect; it doesn’t come in degrees of perfectness.

But what gets tricky, is that in everyday speech, absolutes like perfect get modified all the time. So, you may ask, is it ok to say “more perfect?”
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Written by Nathanael Green

August 11, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Prepositions: Put ’Em Where You Like

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Let’s make this abundantly clear: it is perfectly acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition. Or rather: a preposition is something you can end a sentence with.

The supposed rule to not end a sentence with a preposition is one familiar even to people who don’t spend their Saturdays reading grammar books (cut me some slack – grammar can be more exciting than some fiction I’ve read).

But despite how often we’ve all heard this supposed rule, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, and what’s more, it’s not even supported by many grammarians.

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Written by Nathanael Green

July 28, 2009 at 5:45 pm

The Two Strategies for Using Whom

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fwtbtIt’s a tricky little word, folks, and a lot of people aren’t sure when or how to use it. So, consciously or not, most of us adopt one of two strategies for whom:

Strategy One:

I don’t know what the heck this whom is all about, so I’m going to avoid it. Besides, it sounds pretentious and awkward, so screw it. I’m sticking with who all the time.

Strategy Two:

I’m not sure when to use it, but when in doubt, whom seems more formal and has to be right. So I’m going to just tack that little m on wherever it feels right.

So which is the best strategy? And what really is the right way to use whom?

Let me put it clearly – Strategy Two is bad. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Nathanael Green

March 19, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Posted in Common Mistakes, Grammar, Writing Tips

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Are You Feeling Well, Good or Badly?

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When someone asks you how you are, how do you answer?

Do you say you’re good? You feel well? Or maybe you feel badly for your friend who just lost her job?

For the sake of argument, let’s pretend you use one of the above constructions and you don’t just say, “Life sucks.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Nathanael Green

February 4, 2009 at 12:42 pm

The Supreme Rule of Marketing Writing You Need to Know.

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Whether you’re selling crime fiction, pitching an idea to your boss, or hawking toupees, you need to let an audience know that what you’ve got is available. But that’s not enough. You need to say, “Hey, this is for sale and here’s why you care.”

And that last part is key.

So here’s my Supreme Rule of Marketing Writing:
It’s all about the benefit to the customer.

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Written by Nathanael Green

January 22, 2009 at 12:30 pm

The One-Button Fix for Better Writing.

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This is the first of my posts aimed at business writing. As the first, I thought I’d start with the easiest, quickest thing you can do to improve your communication. This is a trick that’s not just useful for marketing writing, but something you can, and should, use for just about any piece of writing you do from emails to fiction to blogs to (especially) term papers.

So what is this magic thing that can automatically improve your writing?

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Written by Nathanael Green

January 19, 2009 at 2:22 pm