Pouring over a book and other misused pears

Some pears of words are so much alike that authors frequently choose the wrong one. Oh. That should be pairs, shouldn’t it? Pour/Pore A highly respected Bible teacher urged readers of a workbook to “pourĀ over their Bibles” in order to find answers. Pouring over the Bible, or any other book, could make it impossible to read it until the mess is cleaned up. She doesn’t suggest just what students should pour over their Bibles, but almost any liquid would do irreparable damage. “Pour” means to make a fluid (liquid or granular solid) flow. Pour water into a glass or perhaps … Continue reading

Affect and effect: two spellings, four words

[ad name=”Google Adsense 468×60″] Two spellings, four words? Unfortunately, yes. “Affect” is usually a verb, but it can be used as a noun. “Effect” is usually a noun, but it can be used as a verb. Although they come from the same Latin root and differ only by their first letter, their meanings are practically unrelated. The accent on “affect” as a noun is on the first syllable. Both meanings of “effect” and “affect” as a verb have their accents on the second syllable. In speech they sound exactly the same. Both spellings take suffixes, which in turn create new … Continue reading

This is not a subject; neither is that

This is not a subject. What kind of sentence is that? A bad one. Why? Because the subject of a sentence and the object of a preposition or verb ought to be a noun. “This” and “that” are adjectives. Sending an adjective to attempt to do the work of a noun is a kind of bad writing. I had a professor in graduate school who used to bleed red on everyone’s papers, mostly crabbing about the writing. At least once on every paper I turned in, he wrote, “this what?” At first, I thought it was a pretty stupid question. … Continue reading

On writing quickly and well

As an academic writer, I have the luxury of time to develop ideas, do research, draft an article or book chapter, and polish the prose before submitting my work to an editor. As a blogger and writer for online article sites, I must write and publish multiple articles every day. Part of the business of online writing includes reading and commenting on other people’s blogs and articles, and I have seen a lot of clumsy writing and poor spelling. It’s hard to understand the poor spelling, since now even the most rudimentary word processors have spelling checkers. I hope I … Continue reading