Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

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By: QuickAndDirtyTips.com

Five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. Grammar Girl provides short, friendly tips to improve your writing and feed your love of the English language. Whether English is your first language or your second language, these grammar, punctuation, style, and business tips will make you a better and more successful writer. Grammar Girl is a Quick and Dirty Tips podcast.

Surprising Words Related to 'Freedom.' Double Subjects. Foop.
#882
Last Friday at 3:00 AM

For Independence Day, we look at the word "freedom" and the surprising words that came from the same roots. Plus, we look at odd sentences with double subjects and when you should (and shouldn't) use them.

Transcript:  https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/surprising-words-related-to-freedom-double-subjects-foop

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'Ant' or 'Ahnt'? Capitalizing Cocktail Names. Archie Bunker.
#881
06/24/2022

What's up with the fancy-schmancy "ahnt" pronunciation of the word "aunt"? And why are the rules about capitalizing cocktail  names so wonky? We have all the answers today!

Transcript:  https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/ant-or-ahnt-capitalizing-cocktail-names-archie-bunker

References for the "ahnt" segment by Valerie Fridland:

Phillips, Betty.¬† (1989). The Diffusion of a Borrowed Sound Change.¬†Journal of English Linguistics,¬†22(2), 197‚Äď204.

Freeborn, Dennis.¬† (1992).¬†From old English to standard English‚ÄĮ: a course book in language variation across time. University of Ottawa Press: Ottawa.

Grandgent, C.H. (1899). Franklin to Lowell. A Century of New England Pronunciation. Publication...


The Many Meanings of 'Father.' How Watergate Changed English. Punim
#880
06/17/2022

"Father" as a word shows how we humans love to extend our metaphors. Did you know it was only relatively recently that priests were  referred to as "father," for example? And then, for the 50th anniversary of the Watergate scandal, we look at the "-gate" suffix and what made it so successful that it has spread all over the world (even to non-English-speaking countries).

Transcript:  https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/the-many-meanings-of-father-how-watergate-changed-english

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Demonyms: Why People from North Carolina Are Called Tar Heels. 'Healthy' Versus 'Healthful.' Sussies 3!
#879
06/10/2022

Are people from Liverpool really called "Liverpudlians"? Where does the name "Tar Heel" come from? We have the answers to some of the most interesting questions about demonyms: the names for people from specific places. Also, has anyone ever criticized you for using the word "healthy" instead of "healthful"? We explain why that happens. And finally, we've solved the mystery of "sussies."

Transcript:  https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/demonyms-why-people-from-north-carolina-are-called-tar-heels-healthy-versus-healthful-sussies-3

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Are Wisdom Teeth Smart? Capitalizing Degree Names. Sussies 2
#878
06/03/2022

This week, we look at what makes wisdom teeth so smart, how to properly write the name of your degree, and what's up with the "sussies" familect?

Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/are-wisdom-teeth-smart-capitalizing-degree-names-sussies-2

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Whatever Happened to "Thou"?
#877
05/27/2022

In an age when eels were sometimes used as currency and castles pierced the sky, ‚Äúthou‚ÄĚ was all the rage. But over time, it disappeared from use. Where did it go? And will it ever make a comeback?

This week, we're sharing an episode of Curious State, a brand new podcast from Quick and Dirty Tips. Listen and subscribe to Curious State on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, or wherever you're listening to Grammar Girl.

Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/whatever-happened-to-thou

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How Spellers Tackle the 'Dreaded Schwa'
#876
05/20/2022

You'll never view spellers in the bee asking questions the same way again after you learn about the schwa from Brian Sietsema, an associate pronouncer for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. 

Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes

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Why "'Em" Isn't Short for "Them." The Subjunctive. Sussies.
#875
05/13/2022

When you say "Go get 'em!" you think that's short for "Go get them," but you're wrong! We look at the fascinating history of some English pronouns. Plus, we look at how Neil Gaiman uses the subjunctive mood in "American Gods" to underscore moments of uncertainty.

WHY "'EM" ISN'T SHORT FOR "THEM"

Written by Valerie Fridland, a professor of linguistics at the University of Nevada in Reno and the author of a forthcoming book on all the speech habits we love to hate. She is also a language expert for "Psychology Today" where she writes...


Tomi Adeyemi: The Writing Life and Her New Writing Course.
#874
05/06/2022

With her book "Children of Blood and Bone" spending 120 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, Tomi Adeyemi knows what it takes to write a great book. Listen in on my conversation with this charming writer about her thoughts on the writing life and what she has to offer in her new masterclass, The Writer's Roadmap.

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Scissors, Jeans, and Other Nouns That Are Always Plural. Flat Adverbs. Boteep.
#873
04/28/2022

Today, we'll talk about some weird nouns that are always plural, and then we'll go two-dimensional and talk about flat adverbs.

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If earth looks like a blue marble, why is Earth Day associated with the color green? Also, 'funnest.'
#872
04/21/2022

The famous NASA "blue marble" image could have influenced people to make blue the color of environmentalism and Earth Day, but green won the day. In honor of the special day, we look at how the meaning of "green" has changed over time. Plus, we investigate the "fun" continuum and whether it's OK to use the words "funner" and "funnest."

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You Know. Doppelganger. Trademarks. Funnily. Chicken Milk.
#871
04/14/2022

It's "listener question extravaganza" time, so I have some quick hits on discourse markers such as "you know," where we get the word "doppelganger," how to punctuate around trademarks, and the difference between "funny" and "funnily." It's a good one!

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I Cannot Tell a Lie (but I Can Mislead)! And Sometimes People Do It With Percentages.
#870
04/08/2022

We look at the linguistic difference between lying and misleading, and then because people often lie with numbers, we look at the difference between "percent" and "percentage" and how to use them.

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How Aphasia Causes Difficulty Speaking. Chairdrobe.
#869
03/31/2022

Prodded by Bruce Willis's family's announcement that he is leaving acting after being diagnosed with aphasia, we revisited language disorders, and the kinds of things we can learn from them.

Today's segment was written by Syelle Graves, who has a PhD in linguistics and is the assistant director of ILETC (Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Context). She was also a 40 under Forty alumni award honoree at SUNY New Paltz. You can find her at syellegraves.com.

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Why Tired People Talk About Being 'Out of Spoons.' Why Nouns Are More Complicated Than You May Think.
#868
03/24/2022

A few months ago, I started to notice people talking about spoons in a weird way, so I investigated and found that people are using an interesting concept called "spoon theory." Also this week, we look at why nouns are more complicated than you may think, and we dig into concrete, abstract, collective, and compound nouns--how you can identify them, how you can tell them apart, and what makes them fun.

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Barracking, Sheilas and Shouts: How the Irish Influenced Australian English
#867
03/17/2022

"Barracking," "sheilas" and "shouts": How the Irish influenced Australian English. Plus, what makes "NASA" different from "FBI."

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The Oxford Comma. And Should You Start a Sentence with 'And'?
#866
03/10/2022

Have you ever wondered why it's called the "Oxford comma"? We have the answer to that and many more questions you may have about this controversial punctuation mark. Plus, we'll also talk about why it's fine to start a sentence with "and" (and why you were probably taught that it's not).

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Is 'Materiel' Just a Fancy Pronunciation of 'Material'? Are Binomials the Same Across Languages?
#865
03/03/2022

A listener wondered about the word "materiel." What's its deal (and is it related to "personnel")? Plus, "pepper and salt." "Groom and bride." "White and black." Are binomials the same across languages?

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Why Do We Cringe at 'Pepper and Salt'? Why 'Square' Is Uncool. Quickquish.
#864
02/24/2022

"Sticks and stones." "Bride and groom." "Heads or tails." Some word pairs almost always appear in a specific order, and linguists have been investigating why for decades. Plus, after last week's segment about square meals, a listener asked why it's uncool to be a square.

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What's Square About a Square Meal? How to Use Parentheses, Brackets, and Braces. Guck.
#863
02/17/2022

The idea of a square meal goes back to the 1800s and possibly mining towns, but the word "square" itself has a longer history. Plus, admit it! You don't know how to use curly braces. (We didn't either, but we figured it out.)

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Are People Using 'Commiserate' Wrong? The Origin of (the Word) 'Influenza.' Hersband.
#862
02/10/2022

How the "Witch of Wall Street" relates to the word "commiserate." Plus, the interesting origin of "influenza" and other disease names.

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Do You Call In, Out, or Off Sick? How Kids Learn Language. Hexaboobiated.
#861
02/04/2022

People often tell me they hear others say they'll be absent from work in a different way than they're used to hearing, so I looked into who says what where. Also, we take a deep look at how children learn language and what parents can do to help their children learn better.

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Tips for Learning a New Language: The Fluent Show
#860
01/27/2022

Kerstin Cable, host of "The Fluent Show" shares her tips and enthusiasm for learning new languages. We talked about what to do if you're stalled learning a language, what the good things and bad things are about language learning apps (to help you learn how to use them better), the massively underestimated thing that will help you learn a language, and how learning a language can make you more creative.

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Why 'Tiny' Sounds Smaller Than 'Huge.' Nixing the Horrid 'Of.' Kokopelli.
#859
01/20/2022

The sounds of certain words make us think of things that are big or small, round or spiky, and the tendency is nearly universal. For example, people can often pick words that refer to something big or small even in languages they don't speak. Here's why. Plus, we look at the ways people sometimes overuse the word "of" and how to fix it.

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'Strollout,' 'Insurrection,' 'Yassify,' and Other Words of the Year for 2021
#858
01/13/2022

"Strollout," "insurrection," "yassify," "hard pants" and other words of the year for 2021.

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Cardsharp. The Old-New Singular 'They.' Grignug.
#857
01/06/2022

Was that uncle who wiped the floor with you in a card game a cardsharp or a card shark? Also, we look at what it is about using "they" as a singular pronoun that makes it sometimes stand out and sometimes get overlooked.

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Questions, Questions, So Many Questions!
#856
12/30/2021

I have a big metaphorical pile of questions from listeners in which the answers are too short to be a whole podcast segment, so today, I'm going to string them together and do a bunch of quick hits. We'll talk about color idioms, formatting bullet points, and the words "fulsome," "presently," "anyways," "afterward," and more.

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Is "Milk and Cookies" One Thing or Two? A New Language Term: The Santaback. Shoedabakers.
#855
12/24/2021

Today we use milk and cookies for Santa to figure out when compound subjects are singular or plural. We also invent a new language term: santaback. We hope you'll share your examples!

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How Lori Rader-Day Wrote a Historical Novel About War Evacuees in Agatha Christie's Vacation Home
#854
12/16/2021

Accomplished mystery writer Lori Rader-Day was drawn to the story of children who were evacuated to Agatha Christie's vacation home during WWII, but having never written a historical novel before, she faced challenges. We talk about what she learned along the way while working on "Death at Greenway."

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Pretending to Be British. How to Use Ellipses. Spiders.
#853
12/09/2021

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Shibboleth. Greeting Card Grammar. Bunkaree.
#852
12/03/2021

Does your group use shibboleths? Plus, I'll help you avoid common embarrassing greeting card mistakes.

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How to Use a Semicolon, Amirite? Partu.
#851
11/25/2021

Amirite? You have the tickets, don't you? Today we talk about those tiny questions at the end of sentences, what purpose they serve, and who is most likely to use them. Plus, we tackle that anxiety producting punctuation mark, the semicolon.

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Penultimate. Veni, Vidi, Vici. Smidge.
#850
11/18/2021

In this week's podcast, we discuss why you should never call your girlfriend your penultimate friend. Plus, we have fun and fascinating facts about Caesar and some of the phrases he gave us, such as "veni, vidi, vici" and "crossing the Rubicon."

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New Words from WWII. How Places Like Featherstonehaugh Get Their Names. Uncoming.
#849
11/11/2021

WWII was a rich source of new words for the English language. Before the 1940s, you couldn't tell an eager beaver to shut his pie hole while you were being debriefed by the head honcho. And you'll be amazed by the origin of the word "Jeep." And in honor of NaNoWriMo‚ÄĒbecause you have to name so many things in fiction‚ÄĒwe talked about the most common ways places get their names.

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Editing an Anthology: 'Wild Tongues Can't Be Tamed'
#848
11/04/2021

Today, I talked with Saraciea Fennell, who works in publishing, is behind the Bronx Book Festival, and is also the editor of a new anthology, "Wild Tongues Can't Be Tamed," featuring essays from an all-star line-up of Latinx writers. We discussed the thought that goes behind ordering the essays in an anthology, the challenges of trying to edit writers using different dialects into one book, and more.

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Is That a Tombstone, Gravestone, or Headstone? Why Is the Sound of a Human Scream So Terrifying?
#847
10/28/2021

The words tombstone and gravestone used to refer to large stone slabs that served as a lid for a tomb or covering for a grave. Also, the human scream has a very particular sound that makes it especially scary (and it's a sound shared by the music in scary movies).

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Using Present Tense in a Story About the Past. Beck and Call. Tie-Dye Trees.
#846
10/21/2021

Have you noticed people switching to the present tense when they're telling stories? It actually has a name: It's called the "historical present tense."

This is the article we mentioned if you want to read more about the historical present tense: Schiffrin, Deborah. 1981. Tense variation in narrative. Language 57(1). 45-62.

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Surprise! These Names Are Trademarks. How to Write 'Dos and Don'ts' (or Is That 'Do's and Don'ts'?). Wording Your Mixes.
#845
10/14/2021

Many words we use every day are actually trademarks. Did you know about all the words we talked about today? Plus, we talk about some really weird spellings and dunk on "Eats, Shoots & Leaves."

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The Hedonometer and Your Feelings. What Does 'Schnozz' Mean?
#844
10/07/2021

Researchers and companies are harnessing computers to identify the emotions behind our written words. While sentiment analysis is far from perfect, it manages to distill meaning from huge amounts of data ‚ÄĒ and could one day even monitor mental health. In the second segment of this episode, we answer a listener question about the word "schnozz": is it really from 1980s children's television?

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How Do You Pronounce 'Tomato'? Why Is 'Chiropractic' Singular. Fish.
#843
09/30/2021

In the world of great debates, there is one that has been long enduring and still keeps language prescriptivists awake at night: Is it "tom-ay-to" or "tom-ah-to"? Now, this may not seem as pressing as whether nuclear fusion is possible, but to people in the linguistic trenches, it is pretty darn close. After all, how many linguistic pronunciation ambiguities have been so long running and widely known that they have actually inspired a song? In the second segment of the show, we explore why "chiropractic" is such an outlier for "-ic" words.

Read the companion article on...