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Smiley Faces and Parentheses

I get questions like this a lot (and they amuse me ). I get questions like this a lot (and they amuse me.) Mignon Fogarty is the author of six writing books, including the new books 101 Misused Words You’ll Never Confuse Again, 101 Words Every High School Graduate Needs to Know, and Grammar Girl Presents [...]

The Rise of “Schadenfreude”

File this under “random things I do.” I read an offhand comment somewhere that “schadenfreude” (a word from German that means to take joy in other’s misfortune) had seen a jump in use in the late 1990s, and I wanted to see if that was true. The chart above is the log of the number [...]

On Keeping Your Opinions to Yourself

My brother will be looking for a job soon, and so far he’s ignoring my advice to clean up his Facebook profile. The problem isn’t wild party pictures, he’s quite the diligent student, it’s his wild political views. My philosophy is that when you’re selling something, including yourself, you should be as inoffensive as possible. [...]

Can Your Computer Be Too Easy to Use?

A couple of days ago I had to go to a hotel because the water was turned off in my building. I grudgingly left behind my beloved desktop Mac and packed my laptop. I grumbled that I wasn’t going to get any work done. Surprisingly, I got a ton of work done with time to [...]

Is It Worth Going to an Expensive College?

I had a fun surprise this morning when I saw Pandora’s Tim Westergren on CNBC. I worked a summer job with Tim many years ago when I was a graduate student at Stanford. He was running a program to encourage minority students to study science, and I was one of the mentors, but I remember [...]

BTG014 “Words Gone Wild” Interview

This is an audio podcast. The audio file link may be at the bottom of the post. A “Behind the Grammar” interview with Jim Bernhard, author of the new book Words Gone Wild. Sponsor: Hold your meetings online for just $49 a month Try GoToMeeting free. Jim talks about the origin of his book, shares [...]

Wylie and E-Books: What Am I Missing?

There’s hot publishing news this week, folks! I’ll talk about the details in the 8/3 Behind the Grammar podcast, but for now, here’s the rundown: Big shot agent Andrew Wylie founded a publishing company, Odyssey, to make an exclusive two-year deal with Amazon for the e-book rights of ~20 of his big shot authors (or [...]

Top 10 Made Up Words

Top 10* Made Up Words Sarah Palin confusing refudiate for repudiate and then calling it a new word got me thinking about other made up words. Refudiate may not have much staying power, but most of the following 10 words (listed in order of acceptability) are likely to be with us for a while. 10. [...]

The Volume of a Drop

Sometimes I get a question that doesn’t have an answer. Today’s question was about the rules for using a shortened name. For example, when do you write “Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC)” and use “TMCC” in the rest of the document, and when do you write out the full name every time you use it [...]

March Forth: The Grammar Song

Martha Brockenbrough asked me to host National Grammar Day (March 4) this year, so in an irrational fit of exuberance–and with the help and patient support of Erika Paul Carlson (The Jazz Lady) and Michael Eardley (Tanglewood Productions); my husband agreeably following us around with a camera; and clips from my friends Rob Reinalda, Mark [...]