Category Archives: Grammar & usage

Notes on the framework of language

Just des(s)erts

We all know what it means, but a lot of people are unsure about whether to use “just deserts” or “just desserts”. This is a thorough post about a confusing phrase: just des(s)erts. And once you know which word you want, … Continue reading

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Scrimshaw and seersucker

It is time we had some word history. This time there are some classic muddles: Scrimshaw. Seersucker. Derring-do. Donkey’s years. Visit my websites via the links at the top of this page.

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The language of politics

We live in interesting times, which seem more and more difficult to predict. And in these times bring up some language issues. Here are two which are coming up at the moment, mainly in the American context: bureau impeachment Visit … Continue reading

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The last three letters of the alphabet

The development of the alphabet is quite an interesting field of study. I started on a series of blog posts on the subject, and one day I hope to find the notes, which I don’t think I’ve seen since before … Continue reading

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Word histories

Some word history this week: Exception that proves the rule Bespoke Jungle Hazy Visit my websites via the links at the top of this page.

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The Oxford comma

Some people get very worked up about the Oxford comma. Some people make a statement about it in their house style guide. Outside publishing, many people aren’t sure what it is. Find out more about the ambiguous Oxford comma. I think … Continue reading

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Why do we get stir crazy?

Find out some background to this old expression here. Visit my websites via the links at the top of this page.

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Why do the chickens come home to roost?

No, it isn’t the follow up to the chicken crossing the road, but it is a phrase that has been around for a long time. In fact, in seems we have Chaucer to thank for this one. Find out more … Continue reading

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Commonly confused phrases

I’m not sure I believe some of these. But if people are getting muddled, let’s get it fixed. Here are 33 commonly misunderstood words and phrases. Visit my websites via the links at the top of this page.

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Where does the word insurance come from?

National Insurance has been in the headlines since the budget. In the US, the word insurance is also topical. Read some background to the word insurance in this post. Visit my websites via the links at the top of this … Continue reading

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