Monthly Archives: March 2015

Various

Language Tip 25 (2014-15)

Reflections on “reflect”

Remember to use “reflect” in the passive or with a reflexive pronoun when you mean “is manifested” or “is shown”:

Incorrect: “The mood of the poem reflects in the sombre diction.”
Correct: “The mood of the poem reflects itself in the sombre diction.”
Correct (and somewhat more elegant): “The mood of the poem is reflected in the sombre diction.”

Your safest bet is the passive as this is the more common option – Google, for instance, returns some 25 million hits for “is reflected” compared to 92,000 for “reflects itself”.

Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir

Various

Language Tip 24 (2014-15)

[comma!] etc.

Be sure to add a comma before “etc.”

Example 1: “We bought bread, cheese, ham, etc.”

Also be sure NOT to italicize “etc.”

Example 2: See Example 1.

As well, be sure to add a comma AFTER “etc.” if your sentence does not end.

Example 3: “We bought bread, cheese, ham, etc., but then forgot them all at the supermarket counter.”

Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir

Various

Language Tip 23 (2014-15)

Conversion.

English has always been adept at converting parts of speech – that is, making a noun function as a verb, or having what looks like a verb do the work of an adjective.

Though especially noun-verbs can scrape our ears on first hearing, we generally get used to them (think of “to task,” “to gift,” and “to friend”).

And yet… before converting parts of speech, verify whether there is a ready substitute.

For example, even though the verb “to higher” exists, it is so rare the majority of English speakers would probably claim there’s no such thing. You can raise (sic) your essay grade by avoiding “to higher.”

Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir

Various

Language Tip 22 (2014-15)

raise vs. rise.

Both verbs have to do with growing, but RAISE is transitive (“Raising children is difficult”), while RISE is intransitive (“Prices have risen again.”).

Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir