There could potentially be too many modals here

People often write or say ‘could potentially’ when just ‘could’ by itself is enough. For example, some people say ‘it could potentially rain’, instead of saying ‘it could rain’. Both these both modal expressions—the modal verb ‘can’ and the modal adverb ‘potentially’—express uncertainty. If we use one of them, the other is redundant. In this…… Continue reading There could potentially be too many modals here

What is this, like, based on?

In the last couple of years I’ve started hearing the phrase “based off of” instead of the seemingly more logical “based on”. Perhaps this upstart conveys greater dynamism, like some kind of springboard. (I’ve only heard it from Americans.) I tried searching Google Ngram to see how long it has been around but Ngram didn’t…… Continue reading What is this, like, based on?

‘Similar to’ in starting a sentence

Over the last 10 years or so, I have seen more and more sentences starting with the phrase Similar to. These sentences often say something like: Similar to A, B does X. Here is a slightly abbreviated version of a recent example I saw in The Times [of London]. Similar to much of myalgic encephalomyelitis…… Continue reading ‘Similar to’ in starting a sentence

Time for batters to join the bowlers and fielders

In cricketing circles, there has been a trend recently to using the term batter instead of the traditional term batsman. I often side with (bat for?) the dinosaurs on this sort of terminology question, but on this one I’m now batting for the innovators. Here’s why. In the past, when I heard someone talk about…… Continue reading Time for batters to join the bowlers and fielders

Excited for

I’ve recently heard my daughter asking her children whether they are excited for things, for example about something that will be happening at school or about a friend’s forthcoming party. That usage sounds odd to my dinosaur ears. I would say I’m: excited about an event or thingexcited for a person I had a quick…… Continue reading Excited for

Representing you lazily

The pedantic old dinosaur in me gets grumpy when people use the verb ‘represent’ as a pretentious synonym for ‘be’. My inner dinosaur gets even grumpier when the literal meaning of this verb contradicts the intended sense. One striking example I saw: “women represent only 32 percent of lawyers”. Are these ladies really representing the…… Continue reading Representing you lazily