June Casagrande

June Casagrande
Grammar book author, columnist and editor

A Word, Please: English users need to rein in the mistakes

The hardest thing about English grammar isn't grammar. Not in the strictest sense of the word, anyway. Narrowly speaking, grammar has to...

A Word, Please: Don't waste time pondering 'the reason is because'

I graduated from college not knowing what money is, how a computer works or the meaning of the word "adverb."

A Word, Please: There exists more than one form of there

"A man is walking down the street." "There is a man walking down the street."

A Word, Please: Readers punctuate grammatical concerns

Some interesting stuff landed in the mailbag for this week. Let's dive in.

A Word, Please: The dummy word that holds things together

Have you ever thought about the word "do"? My advice is don't.

A Word, Please: Even people diligent about use of 'affect,' 'effect' get this wrong

A recent Google search for the phrase "affect positive change" turned up about 101,000 hits. Here's one near the top of the list, a December...

A Word, Please: Some commas can give an editor pause

A lot of people are taught that a comma goes anywhere you want to indicate a pause. On the surface, that system appears to work out fine....

A Word, Please: There's a thin line between right and wrong

Like everyone who lives in Los Angeles County, I've spent the last several weeks picturing myself in a jury selection pool for the Robert...

A Word, Please: Idiom takes the wind out of proper sails

They say marriage is all about give and take. Compromise. Meeting each other halfway.

A Word, Please: Speakers shall say whatever they will

History has never been my subject, a fact I attribute to my "cut to the chase" type of thinking. In history, the chase always goes: Dude One...

A Word, Please: An editor's single-minded effort to correct a pet peeve

Did you hear the one about the guy who went onto Wikipedia and deleted 47,000 instances of the phrase "comprised of"?

A Word, Please: Left dangling, a participle can lose its logic

Danglers are an extremely important language concept. Not so much for writers as for jokesters. Danglers in writing and speech don't...

A Word, Please: Parentheses can drive a sentence off a cliff

Parenthesis addiction is a rare but serious disease affecting approximately one out of every 20 writers I edit. Its painful side effects...

A Word, Please: Ten common usages mistaken for mistakes

Some people just love to correct others' grammar and usage. They know it rubs people the wrong way. But they justify it like this: "I'm...

A Word, Please: Internet lists can often lead you astray

If you search the Internet for the term "grammar mistakes," you'll get a lot of hits, many of them published lists that school you on the...

A Word, Please: Graduate at the top of your class in 'graduated' usage

National Public Radio recently asked listeners to submit their top grammar peeves.

A Word, Please: A guide on how to write names of holidays

The new year, that is, New Year's, is upon us. Soon after will come Presidents Day, also known as Presidents' Day, then Valentine's Day,...

A Word, Please: Trickiness of 'none' complicated by too many words before the verb

Not long ago in this space, I wrote about exceptions to a grammar rule. I added, ""But none of those exceptions apply in modern publishing."

A Word, Please: Regular pronouns often a better choice than 'myself' and 'yourself'

Dave in Elkland, Pa., wrote to me recently about pronouns ending in "self" — myself, yourself and so on — and how annoying...

A Word, Please: A holiday gift list for mindful language lovers

If you're reading this, there's a good chance you're a language lover. And if you're a language lover, there's a good chance your holiday...

A Word, Please: It's not possible to badly split an infinitive

Not long ago while editing a series of articles, I noticed that the writer had strange ideas about where to put adverbs. Many were placed...

A Word, Please: Some definitions provide options

Sometimes it seems like grammar is all darned-if-you-do, darned-if-you-don't propositions. If you say "Who are you visiting tomorrow?"...

A Word, Please: Here's an early grammar gift for the holidays

Before you start composing your holiday cards and invitations, here's a cautionary tale for you.

A Word, Please: What's before who makes all the difference

I saw a fascinating online grammar discussion recently that I was eager to write about in this column. But I can't. It contained a bad word,...

A Word, Please: Lay and lie can even trip up the dictionary

Typos dog everyone with a keyboard, and that horrible feeling of realizing too late that a resume, important email or blog post contained an...

A Word, Please: Taking a deeper look at the passive voice

Does the passive voice lend itself to biased, manipulative writing? A reader named Richard wanted to know after witnessing a discussion...

A Word, Please: It's better to avoid writing upside down

London is a place that gets a lot of rain.

A Word, Please: Don't forget to send punctuation a card

National Punctuation Day, which took place on Wednesday, turned 10 this year. The brainchild of Northern California education booster Jeff...

A Word, Please: There's nothing truly good about superfluity

A Word, Please: There's nothing truly good about superfluity

In a recent New York Times piece, novelist Zoe Heller wrote about helping her daughter with an English essay. "Try excising the words...

A Word Please: Their thinking on gerunds is a bit off

A few weeks ago, I mentioned here a CNN article "about the president making an unannounced stop."

A Word, Please: You learn something new every day

It's not every day that I pick on others' language errors.

A Word, Please: "Who," "that" more interchangeable than you might think

People. People who need people. They're the luckiest people in the world, according to some people. But according to other people, it's...

A Word, Please: The puzzle of who/whom is best avoided

I fielded a question recently about one of my favorite subjects: "whomever."

A Word, Please: Apostrophe rules are needed, just not all the time

I fielded a question recently about "minding your p's and q's." I had used that expression in a column a few weeks ago, and it prompted an...

A Word, Please: It isn't a downer to lowercase the T in 'the'

If I were to write that the Beatles were a great band, would that give you pause? That is, would you notice anything funny about how I've...

A Word, Please: I won't stand wrongly accused of misuse of 'wrong'

Good questions have been piling up in my in-box lately. Ed in Albany, N.Y., had a question about a recent column in which I mentioned people...

A Word, Please: Sometimes let your ear be your guide

Twice in the past week, people have asked me about "compare to" and "compare with." What's the difference, they wondered. How do you know...

A Word, Please: In general, 'affect' is a verb, 'effect' a noun

A user on Twitter asked me recently about the difference between "affect" and "effect." Specifically, she wanted to know which to use in the...

A Word, Please: Learning grammar through osmosis isn't always foolproof

We've all done it: You look at something you wrote, then stop and think: "It just doesn't look right."

A Word, Please: Use of initials is driving me crazy (DMC)

People sometimes tell me to tell other people what to do, linguistically that is. I'll get an email saying something like, "It drives me...

A Word, Please: 'Should I?' questions from pros present challenges

Most of the questions people ask me are easy. Can you use "nauseous" as a synonym of "nauseated" to mean "sick feeling"?

A Word, Please: Bending the 'rules' on predicate nominative

Many years ago, back when I used to answer my landline telephone, I found myself in a conundrum.

A Word, Please: Flush this bad habit right out of your lexicon

Regular readers of this column know that I spend a lot of time talking about grammar wrongs that aren't — the countless mythical...

A Word, Please: Finding some good amid the gloom

A group of university researchers working with some Facebook folks have recently determined that I'm not a dinosaur. Not yet, at least.

A Word, Please: Superlatives rule built on faulty foundation

If you have two children, and Sarah was born before Bobby, then Sarah is the older of the two. But is she also the oldest?

A Word, Please: From open to hyphenated to closed, an evolving process

According to my 1933 Oxford Universal Dictionary, "good-bye" and "co-operate" are hyphenated, neither "leg room" nor "birth rate" can be run...

A Word, Please: Smoothing the ride for the reader

Don't read this column. Really. It's not like the other articles out there that impart knowledge. Instead, this one could leave you...