Printer Friendly

Slips that pass in the night ...

* Time frames. I see this gaffe regularly but most recently in a prominent subscription newsletter: "Carl Bildt, Prime Minister of Sweden from 1991-94, gave ...." Parallel construction requires "to" to follow "from," rather than an en-dash. "From 1991 to 1994."

In citing "parallel construction," we're not just spouting a tired dictum from Miss Thistle-bottom. Lacking it forms a speed-bump for the reader. In this context, "from" in the mind--in a nano-second--looks for "to" and instead slows down at the "-" mark. Never make the reader hesitate, even with a tic as small as an en-dash.

* Toward or towards? This is another case of Britain and America being separated by a common language. The British strongly favor towards. While both words are commonly used in the U.S., toward is, in the words of Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, "undoubtedly prevalent."

Webster's concludes: "At one time some critics (as Ayres 1881) preferred toward because they believed the -s of towards had died away. Letters from our correspondents sometimes seem to be seeking some semantic basis for a differentiation between these forms, but there is none."

* Understated or overstated? This from the Society of Professional Journalists' magazine Quill: "The importance of their report, 'Inside the Interrogation of Detainee 063,' cannot be understated." Considering that the report was cited for winning a journalism award, we have to conclude that its importance cannot be overstated.

But we admit that we're a little confounded with this usage. Let's make a case for each word possibly meaning the same thing.

Overstate: to state too strongly, to exaggerate: to overstate one's position in a controversy. "The importance of their report ... cannot be exaggerated."

Understate: to state or represent less strongly or strikingly than the facts would bear out; set forth in restrained, moderate, or weak terms. "The importance of their report ... cannot be represented in moderate terms."

Help me out on this one, all you grammar geeks out there. Am I misstating the logic?

Swift@Newsletterbiz.com.
COPYRIGHT 2006 The Newsletter on Newsletters LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Swift, Paul
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 8, 2006
Words:328
Previous Article:ClipWords offers copywriters tens of thousands of words and phrases to prime the creative pump.
Next Article:Don't fail to trumpet the really good news!
Topics:


Related Articles
C.V. WINS MAJOR DUEL GOSSARD HAS A BIG NIGHT C.V. 35, BURROUGHS 21.
WARE TEARS INTO HART LOYOLA 24, HART 16.
IRWINDALE SPEEDWAY: WOOD, MOORE TIME IT RIGHT.
MAJOR UPSET FOR PALMDALE : PALMDALE 20, ANTELOPE VALLEY 16.
SOCCER\Good advice pays off for S.V.'s Gonzalez\SIMI VALLEY 2, ROYAL 1.
NOTRE DAME MISTAKES HELP B.H. : NORMANS' DEFENSE CONTAINS FARGAS BEVERLY HILLS 14, NOTRE DAME 7.
NOTEBOOK: CB MANNING BADLY BURNED BY WOODS.
BAUER'S BIG YEAR CONTINUES COC 61, VENTURA 19.
VALENCIA HAS IT SLIP AWAY CENTENNIAL'S BASS SCORES SIX TIMES IN COMEBACK CENTENNIAL 46, VALENCIA 35.
Pirates choke off Millers' last gasp.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters