Tag: books

Hyphenate for Clarity


Post-High-School Students: Do you have the notes from yesterday's lecture? Post-High School Students: Dude...

This idea pretty much came from The Elephants of Style, and I’m going to quote it for another funny example:

I once saw somebody write of [Nancy Reagan]’s visit to an anti-child abuse center. (It’s one thing to be anti-child, but to open abuse centers?)

If two or more words are acting as an adjective before a noun, use hyphens. If they come after the noun, leave them out. So you might say:

That article was well written.
That was a well-written article.

There are many other uses for hyphens if you’d like to read more.

Update: My mom sent me this clipping from the Chicago Tribune (from 3/4/12, just over a week after I posted this comic. Ironically, it was National Grammar Day):

anti-animal cruelty charity

First abuse centers, now cruelty charities?!

Hyphenation Quiz

Where would you place hyphens in these sentences? Post your answers in the comments!

  1. After he was unable to find a publisher, he self published his memoir.
  2. I dumped a girl because she pronounced it “supposably.” Now she’s my exgirlfriend.
  3. She loves cake, but she’s anti ice cream cake. Is that unnatural?
  4. Although Tobias wasn’t a well known actor, he was given an opportunity to audition for the part.
Direct link for embedding: http://www.grammarcomic.com/files/grammar-block-008-hyphenation.jpg

Etymology (Not Entomology)


Do you know the etymology of 'vegetarian'? Not entomology, that's the study of insects. Hmm, I'm not sure. Let's go ask an expert! ETYMOLOGIST (not entomologist) Hi guys, are you interested in the origin of a word? I'm an etymologist, not an entomologist--they study insects. Why does everyone keep saying that?! Hi, we-- WORDS NOT BUGS!

Most of those books behind the professor just explain the difference between etymology and entomology.

If you google “etymology not entomology” (with quotes) you’ll get over 3,000 results (try it, it’s fun!). Without quotes you’ll get over 170,000. Apparently these words will be forever linked, like pancakes and syrup, fries and ketchup, or bananas and peanut butter…I really need to eat before I post.

Oh, and to answer the question from the comic, “vegetarian” comes from the Latin word vegetus, meaning lively or vigorous. It does not come from vegetable as many people (understandably) assume.

Here’s the quiz question for this week: What’s the origin of etymology (not entomology)? Post your answer in the comments!

Update: Netflix Confuses “Etymologist” with “Entomologist”

Direct link for embedding: http://www.grammarcomic.com/files/grammar-block-007-etymology.jpg