Several Usage Tips from _The Chicago Manual of Style_ . . .

Miscellaneous Usage Tips from The Chicago Manual of Style (aka The CMS). . . .Book case with books

Those readers who watch Saskatoon’s television news or read the local newspaper may be especially tired of hearing or reading the following, common errors in usage. With a nod to the best guide on usage issues, The Chicago Manual of Style, I’ve been collecting these by my armchair for weeks:

  1. “Off”: never put “of” after “off.” Here are two correct examples: “We got off the bus.” Or: “He jumped off the deep end.” (Not: “We got off of the bus . . .”)
  2. “All right” is always two words. (Avoid “alright.”) Here is a correct example: “Was she all right, after she fell?”
  3. “Altogether” versus “all together?” The first “altogether” means “wholly” or “entirely.” And “all together” refers to a unity of time or place. So the following is correct: “He was altogether drenched by the rain.” And “we were all together on Labour Day.”
  4. “Amend” versus “emend.” “Amend” means “to change or add to.” (The corresponding noun is “amendment.”) And “emend” means “to correct (text, etc.).” (The corresponding noun is “emendation”). Some correct examples are these: “I amended Nick’s version of the story to include Nathalie’s ideas.”   And “I emended the error-filled manuscript to reflect Garner’s rules.”
  5. And last but not least (the most annoying and pervasive errors these days): Demonstrative pronouns like “There is, there are; that is, those are; ” must use proper subject-verb agreement. So one would write: “There are five responses to his social media posting” (and NOT “There’s five responses to his social media posting . . .). And “Those are the best samples in the bunch” (and NOT “that’s the best samples in the bunch.”) This error comes from creating a colloquial contraction that obscures the need for a plural pronoun and verb. On thinking about it, you’ll see the above examples are not difficult. But the errors (especially #5) are so pervasive that even academics and etymologists now make them.A friend recommends the site over MS Word’s spell- and grammar-checkers. Do you use such online resources? Or do you think that old-fashioned reading should teach us the principles, once and for all? (The CMS remains the best place to start studying . . . )

    What are your grammatical or linguistic bugbears? Please share them with me for a future posting.

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