Minced Oaths: Clever Ways to Avoid Swearing

A “minced oath” is a word or expression people use in place of potentially offensive language. Sometimes, a minced oath is used for so many years and is so common in everyday speech that we forget—or never even realize—it’s a euphemism. So, gosh darn it, let’s explore this topic more. Many early minced oaths were … Continue reading Minced Oaths: Clever Ways to Avoid Swearing

Myriad

Which of the following is correct? Maya ordered a pizza with a myriad of toppings.Maya ordered a pizza with myriad toppings. Your answer might depend on what your seventh-grade English teacher told you. Before we explore my answer, let’s establish two facts. In the first sentence, myriad is functioning as a noun. In the second sentence, myriad is functioning as an adjective. Now, … Continue reading Myriad

Fewer vs. Less

The distinction between fewer and less is often overlooked. Fewer is used to describe things that can be counted: fewer books, fewer cupcakes, fewer people. Less is used to describe things that may be measured but that aren’t counted: less time, less water, less music. Here are some examples in context: Carla has fewer tattoos than Lonnie does.Jasmine’s desk drawer would probably close if it … Continue reading Fewer vs. Less

The History of ‘Its’

Last week, I wrote about when to use it’s (with an apostrophe) and when to use its (without an apostrophe). In a nutshell, it’s is a contraction of “it is,” and its is possessive. Maybe you already knew that, so I’ll follow it up with something you might not know: There was a time when it’s was possessive and its didn’t exist. Here’s the story: In today’s … Continue reading The History of ‘Its’

Its vs. It’s and Whose vs. Who’s

People often have difficulty with it’s and its. Likewise, whose and who’s can cause confusion. I’ll break it down for you. It’s is a contraction of “it is,” the same way don’t is a contraction “do not.” It’s is not possessive. Here are some examples: It’s unfortunate that Dirk can’t join us for dinner.Hector is trying to teach me how to tie my shoe, but it’s pointless. Its is the possessive form of it. … Continue reading Its vs. It’s and Whose vs. Who’s