Various

Language Tip 31 (2014-15)

Two very useful expressions for (often useless and unproductive) reciprocal actions are:

1) to and fro
2) back and forth

Make sure, however, not to mix and match them!
NOT: “They threw insults back and fro.”
But: “They threw insults back and forth.”

With “to and fro” spelling is tricky when it switches word classes. If you want to use it as a noun or verb, look it up in the Oxford English Dictionary to make sure you’re sticking the hyphens and -s endings in the right places.
Example: the to-and-fro of the haggling process

Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir

All tips to date…
http://www2.arnes.si/~bjason/tips%20-%202014%202015.pdf

Various

Language Tip 30 (2014-15)

“According to” vs. “in accordance with”

Note the difference between these two expressions.
Perhaps it’s easiest to think of “according to” as a synonym for “says”, and “in accordance with” as a synonym for “in conformity with”.

1) According to Sarah, the party was fabulous.

In Sarah’s opinion, the party was fabulous.
Sarah reports that the party was fabulous.
I have it from the horse’s mouth that the party was fabulous.

Usually, there’s a flesh-and-blood, literal speaker with “according to.”

2) Searching online for “in accordance with” + “party” yields results like (i.e. similar to):

“In accordance with subsection 7, each party will pay his/her share of the rental.”

Usually, “in accordance with” pertains to a document or theory.

“According to Smith (2012) and Novak (2007), it is impossible to make hot dogs out of wool. In accordance with their theory, our wool – in spite of the loose affiliation with mutton – could not be turned into a hot dog or sausage of any variety.”

Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir

All tips to date…
http://www2.arnes.si/~bjason/tips%20-%202014%202015.pdf

Various

Language Tip 29 (2014-15)

Consider these structures. Which is correct?

1) “I was involved in a six year long fan relationship with a bad football team.”
2) “I was involved in a six-year long fan relationship with a bad football team.”
3) “I was involved in a six-year-long fan relationship with a bad football team.”

The winner is option 3, the one with all the hyphens.

This, however, is snappier (since “year” already indicates duration or long-ness).

“I was involved in a six-year fan relationship with a bad football team.”

Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir

All tips to date…
http://www2.arnes.si/~bjason/tips%20-%202014%202015.pdf

Various

Language Tip 28 (2014-15)

Amount vs. number vs. a lot

“Amount” is normally (especially in formal writing) used to talk about quantities of uncountable things, whereas “number” is used for countable items.

E.g.
“No amount of money could make me take a cold shower at any time of day.”
“No number of horses could make me take a cold shower at any time of day.”

Two little stylistic notes:
1) “A lot” sounds less formal than “many” or “several.”
2) Slovenians overuse “a number of…”

All tips to date…
http://www2.arnes.si/~bjason/tips%20-%202014%202015.pdf

Various

Language Tip 27 (2014-15)

War.

Capitalize the titles of wars, and use Roman numerals:

1) World War I or the First World War
2) World War II or the Second World War
3) the Cold War (“cold war” is fine if you use it generically – e.g. “A domestic cold war developed over who would do the dishes.”)

INCORRECT: World War 2
INCORRECT: the first World War

Although some style guides, such as Chicago, call for WW I, especially in less formal writing WW1 is fine (and generally more common than WW I).

Also, avoid writing “2nd World War” or the utterly Slovenglish “1. World War.”

Various

Language Tip 26 (2014-15)

Present vs. represent

The verb “to present” can mean either “give” or “introduce” and is used with an object. When you want to say “to be,” however, the word to use is “represent” (and what follows is a subject complement).

Incorrect: “The sun imagery in the poem presents warmth.”
Correct: “The sun imagery in the poem represents warmth.”

Incorrect: “Allow me to represent John, who’s a good friend of mine.”
Correct: “Allow me to present John, who’s a good friend of mine.”

Also check out slang uses of represent: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=represent and http://onlineslangdictionary.com/meaning-definiti…/represent.

All tips to date…
http://www2.arnes.si/~bjason/tips%20-%202014%202015.pdf

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