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Friday, July 23, 2010


Beginning this week, Grammar Glitch Central will launch a new blog site at All of the older posts will be available there, so you can continue to check by topic when you want a reminder about good grammar and usage.

Thanks for your loyal support, and I will look forward to seeing you on the new site.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Introductory Phrases and Clauses Have Their Purpose

The following sentence appeared in a news article during the recent campaign leading up to the primary run-offs in Alabama:

Senior staff just before his news conference was set to begin were quietly informing reporters that (Tim) James had decided to end his challenge.

This sentence is difficult to read because the inserted dependent clause (printed in red) separates the subject STAFF from the verb WERE INFORMING for no good reason. It just does not fit in this position, and the focus ends up in the wrong place.

I would suggest rewording it this way and using a comma to set off the resulting nine-word introductory clause before the main idea:

Just before his news conference was set to begin, senior staff were quietly informing reporters that James had decided to end his challenge.

I hope you agree that this sounds much clearer. This is the kind of improvement that can be made if you make time to proofread what you write.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

More "Physical" Responsibility for Financial Matters?

I won't name names here because I have not been able to verify this quote, but apparently a City Council member in one city recently commented that the city needed more "physical responsibility."

This, of course, conjured up the image at left for me. Perhaps the Council member wanted the Council members to carry the weight of the city's financial woes literally on their shoulders much as the Titan Atlas was condemned to support the heavens on his shoulders.

Common sense (and a good reference dictionary) would suggest that the Council member meant to say that the city needed more fiscal responsibility--the word FISCAL referring to the treasury or finances of a branch of government. A quick read of most local newspapers would suggest that city (and county) governments need to take more responsibility for handling fiscal issues.

NOTE: Here again, as I have mentioned many times before, a spelling checker would not catch this error because PHYSICAL and FISCAL are both words.

A word of welcome to any new readers among those who participated in the Business Writing Workshop at Auburn University Montgomery last Thursday. It was a pleasure to work with all of you!