In defence of brackets (2)

Here’s another case where brackets are clearer than commas. A sentence I saw recently said: We studied 693,111 tweets, by 13,102 users, that were geo-encoded in Croatia. That wording makes it unclear what geo-encoded modifies. Does it modify tweets or does it modify users? The intended meaning is 693,111 tweets that were geo-encoded… Using brackets…… Continue reading In defence of brackets (2)

He will not say anything to keep his job

Heard on the radio this morning. A British politician has just resigned from the shadow cabinet over a disagreement with his party leader. An interview asked another member of the party why the person had resigned. The interviewee responded that “He will not say anything to keep his job”. That comment was interesting, if only…… Continue reading He will not say anything to keep his job

Not so kind regards

Many people now use ‘kind regards’ as their default sign off on emails. This sets my teeth on edge. I was brought up to describe other people (or their actions) as kind, but never to describe myself (or my own actions) as kind. Such self-praise was viewed as an unforgiveable example of ‘blowing your own…… Continue reading Not so kind regards

Crooked usage

Crooked usage: a street name, not a commentary. Seen on a bus in Finchley (London) in 2016. Too slow to get a photo myself but here’s a link to someone who did. Is This London’s Oddest Street Name? | Londonist

Perfect tense: lifetime effects

The perfect tense in English reports past events that continue to have an effect in the present. This leads to some interesting effects that are sometimes called lifetime ‘effects’. This name is used because whether a sentence is acceptable (felicitous) depends on whether it relates to a person or subject that still exists. For example,…… Continue reading Perfect tense: lifetime effects

In defence of brackets

Editors (both professional and amateur) have often warned me against using brackets. They are averse to brackets because they view brackets as a sign of indecisiveness and of an addiction to parenthetical digressions. They often suggest commas instead of brackets. Up to a point, their aversion is justified. Yet commas are sometimes less clear than…… Continue reading In defence of brackets

You need not understand

In English, auxiliary verbs (have and be) and modal verbs behave differently from all other verbs. For example, they combine differently with negatives, as shown in the following table for auxiliaries (have and be), a modal verb (can) and another verb (go). TypePositiveNegativeAux (have)You have goneYou have not goneAux (be)You are goingYou are not goingModalYou…… Continue reading You need not understand

Infinitives in lists

The purpose of this post is to: discuss two ways of presenting infinitives in lists; explore the nature of infinitives preceded by to; andconclude on how to present infinitives preceded by to. Infinitives in lists My ex-colleague Michael Butcher, who was Editorial Director of the IFRS Foundation from around 2001 to around 2011, would have…… Continue reading Infinitives in lists