Entirely Unnecessary

Lately I’ve been coming across writers misusing entire and entirely. They include it in a mistaken attempt to add emphasis or distinction to a noun, but it often acts as only an empty modifier. If you write that you could write an entire article about something or that you love an ingredient so much that … Continue reading

Exclude the Includer

I’ll continue my series on small and often unnecessary words with a look at all. Writers will insert this word to signal to readers that every item listed is inclusive, but this is unnecessary when the context of the sentence makes the inclusiveness apparent. In the following sentences, we can delete all and still easily … Continue reading

Any Old World

Writers lacking confidence in their mastery of a subject too often use any as a hedge. They throw in the word to needlessly broaden nouns, as if to say, “If the word I’m using isn’t exactly correct, I am protecting myself by inserting any.” I would argue that this use of any doesn’t protect an … Continue reading

Time Notes

A trio of tips about time to get you over the hump: You don’t need :00 for a top-of-the-hour time (4 p.m. instead of 4:00 p.m.). When noting a time range that occurs wholly within a.m. or p.m., you need that designation only once (1 to 4 p.m. instead of 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.). … Continue reading

Regarding “Myriad”

Until about 10 seconds ago, I thought I knew all there was to know about myriad. I thought the word was an adjective and not a noun, and that people who said, “There are a myriad of reasons why I won’t go to the festival,” were plain wrong in their usage. It turns out that … Continue reading

Clarity Trumps Conciseness

Don’t let conciseness get in the way of clarity. Often, a neat trick to pare down a sentence is to take a descriptive clause, turn it into a tidy little modifier, and tuck it in front of a noun. Say what? LOOSE: The company, which is based in Roanoke, was founded in 1978. TIGHT: The … Continue reading

Monday Quickies

The preferred spelling is ambience, not ambiance. When you place it before a noun, the phrase is written multimillion-dollar (note hyphen usage). The phrase period of time can be shortened to time in every instance.

The Right Seasoning

The name of the season will suffice. WORDY: Setting your heat lower during the winter months will save you money. CONCISE: Setting your heat lower during the winter will save you money.

Write It Once

Don’t repeat an idea within a sentence. If a single word conveys something, there’s no need to also insert a phrase that acts as a redundancy or overly apparent definition. NO KIDDING: There are requirements that must be met to work directly with the major casinos. BETTER: There are requirements for working directly with the … Continue reading

Say It Once

Repeating a thing or idea in a sentence with a similar word or parallel phrase doesn’t strengthen—and in fact muddies—your point. NO NEED: Hayley lives her life like many other young girls, blissfully unaware of any problems or real tribulations. THERE YOU GO: Hayley lives her life like many other young girls, blissfully unaware of … Continue reading