June Casagrande

June Casagrande
Grammar book author, columnist and editor

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...

A Word, Please: Saying more with less

Ask any grammar buff what separates good writers from the not-so-good and you'll probably get an answer like misuse of "lay" and "lie" or...

A Word, Please: Preparation with prepositions

John in Albany, N.Y., had a question about something he heard in a TV commercial: "Dentures are different to real teeth."

A Word, Please: Blame powerful S for messing us up

Around this time of year, I usually give out advice about how to avoid the errors people make forming plurals and possessives on their...

A Word, Please: Clear up those antecedents

Randy in Orange County wrote recently to ask about the following passage, which he came across in a newspaper article: "Pat Haden didn't...

A Word, Please: You'll be loath to mess up homophones

If you think your shoes compliment your outfit, we need to talk. No, not about fashion. You probably have a better sense of that than I do....

A Word, Please: Care about this: semantics and syntax

Harold in Clifton Park, N.Y., wrote recently to ask me about the grammar of the sentences "I couldn't care less" and "I could care less."

A Word, Please: Editors' disease: We can't stop dissecting sentences

How do I know the color blue to you is the color blue to me? I suppose I don't. But I know that such questions lose their allure by the time...

A Word, Please: Stay active, avoid the pitfalls of passive voice

Often, the goal of writing is to inform the reader. News articles, hand-written notes, emails, Facebook posts — they can all give...

A Word, Please: Too many single quotes are needing a mate

A quotation mark is made up of two little doohickeys. No quotation mark is made up of no little doohickeys. So if you kind of want a...

A Word, Please: Nothing tricky here — just refer to the guides

A magician never reveals his secrets. He can't. If he does, it will be plain for all to see that he has no magic at all.

A Word, Please: A primer to help you master 'lie,' 'lay'

Lie and lay. They're the grammar stickler's equivalent of a secret handshake. Use these words just so and you're signaling to like-minded...

A Word, Please: Think you know the less-fewer rule? Think again.

Not long ago, I caught a snippet of a radio report about flooding in Colorado. Here's the first sentence I heard: "The number has dropped to...

A Word, Please: If you choose to exclaim, follow the rules

Recently I dusted off an old paperback copy of "Oliver Twist." Flipping through, I landed on page 121, where I read the following passage.

A Word, Please: Adverb placement can dictate meaning of sentence

One of the most common questions I get is: Which is correct: X or Y?

A Word, Please: 'Hanged' is difficult to execute

In a recent column, I explained that past participles are easy. They're all in the dictionary. So if you just know how to find them, you...

A Word, Please: Relatives that can easily be dropped

I got a great question from a reader named Bill in Florida. He asked about the following sentence, which I wrote in a recent column: "If I...

A Word, Please: Understanding past participles is key to grammar

A lot of adults gave up on grammar long ago. They didn't learn as much as they would have liked in school. Now there's too much too learn.

A Word, Please: Do you smell bad or badly? Big difference.

If I were to write that coffee smells good, I wouldn't hear a word about it. If I wrote that I am happy, Emily seems nice, pizza sounds...