Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

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5001 Banned Words and Phrases

Filed under: Personal   Tagged:

15. The word “phenomena” is plural. One phenomenon, two phenomena, red phenomenon, blue phenomenon. A fishy school of phenomena.

16. The word “criteria” is, too. One criterion, two criteria, one Criterion Collection, several (I think) Criterion Cinemas. That’s the one in New Haven, which is a good one.

17. “Are we still on?” An understandably common phrase in the city of plan-canceling (aided by generally handy cell phones), but as I wrote earlier this year, echoing a great Times editorial by Bob Morris at about this time last year, we’ve really got to stop doing that.

18. What is “advanced notice”? It’s “advance notice.” “Advanced notice” makes no sense. Also, “advanced tickets”?

Visit banned words and phrases 12-14, 7-11, 4-6, and 1-3, and by all means, send in your own!


‘presently’ instead of ‘currently’, as in:
“I am presently a student at such and such….”
currently= now
presently= future (though almost now)

what about “all intensive purposes”? i hate that.
or: “we’ll get that to you soonest,” when people really just mean “soon.” soonest? sooner than what?
come ON, people!

I hate “intensive purposes” too.
Also: I’ve seen and heard “should of” far more times than I ever would have expected.

I don’t know if it can be banned, but when I hear the “t” in “often” pronounced, I want to say “Hasten to listen to my advice …” loudly sounding the hard “t.”

I think it’s “For all INTENTS and purposes.”

reallygonecatJanuary 10, 2007

Anybody bugged by the confusion of “less” and “fewer?” I don’t recall a “rule”, but I know when apparent mis-use grates. YAAARRRGGGH!

Ronzoni RigatoniJanuary 10, 2007

“All intensive purposes” somehow falls into the malapropism camp for me, and puts a silly grin on my face.

The “less” v. “fewer” rule, concisely explained by the Oxford University Press or colorfully presented by the BBC (for their “Learning English” series, and the text they chose could have been slightly more cheerful):
Less is used with uncountable nouns, like money or work or travel, and fewer is used with countable plural nouns, like coins or jobs or trips. Less is the comparative form of little and fewer is the comparative form of few. Compare the following:
I have less work now than I had this time last year.
There are simply fewer jobs around that I am suitable for.
I therefore have little money and few friends.

I nominate “these difficult times” as being utterly meaningless, considering it’s applied to virtually any and every time period.

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