Monthly Archives: April 2018

All right, already!

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I’m not sure how Bob Marley originally wrote this song, but someone needed to mention that alright is not generally accepted as a correct spelling. It’s two words, ALL RIGHT. All right?

As for the title of this post, already means “up until this time.” All ready means “complete, finished.” The posters for the campaign were all ready to be picked up. George already got them this afternoon.

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Origin of a Cliché

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Apropos of tax day plus one (anyone feeling the pain?), did the expression that you were “paying through the nose” occur to you?

Most clichés can’t be traced to a specific source, but this one can. When the Danes conquered the Irish in the ninth century, they instituted a “nose tax.” If the Irish did not pay, their nostrils were slit. I wonder if this was the inspiration for what Jack Nicholson’s character did in the movie “Chinatown.”

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Who’s or Whose?

People seem to have a love affair for apostrophes. If a family’s name ends in a vowel, an apostrophe will surely appear: the Martino’s. There is no such entity as “the Martino,” so no ownership exists. The family is simply the Martinos. Easy.

It’s and its is a constant problem. It’s means it is or it has. That’s it. Its indicates possession: The dog wagged its tail. Also easy.

And there are who’s and whose. The apostrophe tells you who’s means who is. Whose is a pronoun indicating ownership: Whose shoes are these? Ricardo is one of three people whose paintings were accepted for publication. Again, easy.

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When to Capitalize Titles

 

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If the title comes immediately before or after a person’s name, capitalize it:

former President Barack Obama

Chairman Mao

Mayor Eric Garcetti

Eric Garrett, Mayor of Los Angeles   but   the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garrett

Pope Francis    but    The current pope is Francis

 

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More on Capitalization

 

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Whatever you do, DO NOT study Trump’s tweets for a lesson in capitalization. He seems to have zero idea of when to use capital letters and just does so at will, most often for emphasis. Of course, when you emphasize everything, you end up emphasizing nothing.

Here’s the deal: If you are writing the official name of something, capitalize it:

I went to Hollywood High School.   But I went to high school in Hollywood. My high school was in Hollywood.

She was born in Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. But She was born in a hospital in Philadelphia. The hospital she was born in was in Philadelphia.

If the word you are using is not the official name of the thing you are citing, use lower case. In addition, the word the is rarely part of anything’s official name. It’s not The Statue of Liberty. Use lower case for the word the.

 

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To Capitalize or Not to Capitalize…

 

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Readers of my blog sometimes wonder about whether to capitalize certain words. For the next few entries, I’ll go over some of the trickier uses of capital letters.

What about geographical areas vs. directions? Look at these two sentences:

  1. Despite my New York accent, I was born in the South.
  2. To get to San Diego, I drove south on the dreaded 405 for over two hours.

If it’s a geographical area (the East Coast, the far North, Southern California, the Mid-Atlantic states), you do capitalize. If it’s a general direction, use lower case.

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