Nathanael Green's Blog

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

Archive for the ‘Grammar’ Category

I Listen to Podcasts. Wanna Know 6 of ’Em?

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We’re all friends here, so you can admit it:

You’ve always wondered what I’m listening to while I’m folding laundry.

Keep reading for 6 of my favorite podcasts…

Epic Rap Battles of Linguistics!

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Bet you thought you’d never see that title. Still, there it is in black and white.

You’re welcome.

So, all you avowed word-nerds will certainly love this. But have you ever studied English as a foreign language? Maybe you’re an anglophile (mmm … scones). Or maybe you just have a hankerin’ for a rap battle, ANY rap battle.

Then you’ll dig this video.

As a part of their “What’s Your English” theme at the Macmillan Dictionary website, they apparently:

… asked Baba Brinkman (a Canuck) and Professor Elemental (a Brit) to produce a satirical rap-battle on the theme of stereotyped Canadian English versus stereotyped British English. The result was this ‘What’s your English?‘ video …

There you have it.

Also, I have to admit I stole my blog title from one of the best things on YouTube. It’s this guy, Nice Peter, who does videos called Epic Rap Battles of History. They’re probably not safe for work or children … and that’s exactly why they’re awesome-possum.

Written by Nathanael Green

May 19, 2011 at 7:35 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?”
Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Nathanael Green

July 28, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Using “Over” with Numbers is More Than Acceptable

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bridge in mexicoEarly in my copywriting career, I got into a heated debate with an editor about using the word over to mean more than.

I had drafted a headline on a flyer saying something along the lines of “over 5,000 whatsits” on a promotion for one of the magazines my company produced. The editor took issue with my copy, saying that it should be “more than 5,000.”

I thought that that was total crap.

Either is fine in most instances, and in the promotional piece I was working on — fewer words worked much better. But the editor was insistent on her point, trying to tell me that it’s not just a matter of style, but that using over is blatantly ungrammatical.

Why is using over before a number ungrammatical?

It’s not. But here’s why some people think it is: Read the rest of this entry »

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May 21, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Buzz, Plop, Boom, Hiccup … Smush?

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Today’s topic: words that sound like stuff.

In my previous post, I mentioned how words are just random noises that don’t mean anything until we associate meaning with them. Now I’m going to talk about words that aren’t random noises.

Onomato … wha?plink

Onomatopoeia, pronounced like on-uh-mot-uh-pee-ah. It’s the word teachers keep in their arsenal during spelling bees for the kids they don’t like. But also, it’s when a word is created in association with the sound it’s describing.

Think of buzz and sizzle and plink. They’re real words, but they started with people imitating a sound.

Do you remember your kindergarten lessons? Read the rest of this entry »

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April 29, 2009 at 9:53 am

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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