Category Archives: drafting

Blog o’ the day: The Grammarphobia Blog

Every so often, we all run across one of those odd questions about our English language. You know, like what does the prefix “un” do to a word–intensify or negate? Or is it “sports’ report” or “sport’s report?” Maybe while at the water cooler you’ve asked your coworkers why duck sauce doesn’t have any duck in it.

If you’ve ever parsed words, phrases, or syntax, then The Grammarphobia Blog will be a fun treat for you. The product of Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman, who are both journalists, their format is to take questions from readers, do the research, and report back in an entertaining and interesting review of topic.

For example:

Q: A friend of mine (and I mean it) insists that “they/them/their” can be used in place of “he/she/him/her,” etc. For instance: “Has anyone lost their pit bull?” This sounds wrong to me. Can you help me persuade my friend that it’s wrong?

A: It sounds wrong to us too, though we’d be more concerned about that lost pit bull than about the questionable grammar.

Followed by a quick review of etymology, rules and usage in modern English. Here’s an excerpt from the answer to the above question.

Granted, “they/them/their” are third-person plural pronouns. But many, many people use them in a singular sense, especially in reference to unspecified or indefinite people (as in “If someone calls, tell them I’m out”).

Furthermore, this usage, while now considered a misusage, has some history on its side. We’ve written about this several times in the past, including in the New York Times Magazine.

It’s a great little blog, updated regularly, and always an interesting, educational, and entertaining read. Check it out, add it to your blog reader, and start learning a little more about your mother tongue.

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I get paid to do this…in reverse.

Speaking of legalese that no one reads…

Yesterday, I happened to read the legal disclaimers and warnings on the bottom of an email exchange. It was the first time I had actually looked at them, and I wondered “aloud” if anyone reads them.

Nope, said an associate. We just put them in emails to cover us in case we screw up.

XKCD added some further light on such disclaimers, pointing out that even elevators carry disclaimers…that it is unlikely that anyone reads.

xkcd: (

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Want to annoy a lawyer?

Why this post is short

I had an irritating experience today and, because I thought it would carry some relevant insights, I quickly wrote it up into a post. As I prepared to hit the PUBLISH button, something suggested that I should ask my Number One to read it, which she did. And glad I was. On her wise advice, it’s been redacted, reduced, and re-shelved until I can reassess both the wisdom of my words and the tact of posting them.  Apparently, writing in the heat of the moment can be almost as dangerous as forgetting to think before you speak.

SO…that’s why this is shorter than usual. With any luck, I’ll get another post up here later tonight or in the morning…something more substantial and interesting than an admission of my own foibles.