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96

An em-dash is typically used to act as a comma or parenthesis to separate out phrases—or even just a word—in a sentence for various reasons (i.e. an appositive). Examples where an em-dash should be used: School is based on the three R’s—reading, writing, and ’rithemtic. Against all odds, Pete—the unluckiest man alive—won the ...


49

Small children have a particular writing style that teachers often mark as wrong. We had a field trip. And we went to the zoo. And we saw monkeys. And they were funny. And then we went home. And the bus was noisy. Nobody thinks that's a well-written story. So the teacher circles all the "And"s and says "don't start a sentence with and". But somehow we ...


39

In the case of "acronyms" such as R&D the spaces would normally be omitted, but where the surrounding elements are words (for example, Tate & Lyle), spaces are invariably present. Here's a link to Marks and Spencer's small print, where they refer to themselves as both M&S and Marks & Spencer on the same web page. Just to clarify a point ...


37

It is perfectly all right to begin a sentence with a conjunction. It is a special form of emphasis, used to elevate a clause to a position of more influence and importance. I hold that all beets are red. And I will stick to that belief until you show me a green beet. We were tired, hungry, and exhausted. But we were home. It can also be used as a ...


25

I don't think any of us can say for sure, but it looks to me like User B is holding fast to the Thou Shalt Not Split Thine Infinitives commandment (hence, don't put an also in the middle of the can be, and don't insert a generally inside the are known). As for my personal opinion, I think the versions of User A sound more natural, and User B is sacrificing ...


22

Using Title Case (e.g. Export Data to Folder) rather than Sentence Case (e.g. Export data to folder) usually depends on the style of your organisation. There are many guides about when to use it e.g. MLA, APA, and AP. However, as it's a style thing, there may be no set rule for your app, so whichever you prefer will be perfectly acceptable.


20

The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition (2003) has this entry under "Exclamation Point": 6.77 Exclamation rather than question. A question that is essentially an exclamation usually ends with an exclamation point. How could you possibly believe that! When will I ever learn! If we take this guidance seriously, it seems to me, then for ...


18

As an American, I can report that everyone I know, even highly educated people, use these forms several times a day. People in business meetings, professors giving lectures,... everyone. Sometimes people are being slow, clear, and deliberate, in which case they will pronounce the full phrase, which does sound more formal by comparison. My sense, as an ...


16

It is helpful to consider in each case whether the emphasis of the sentence should be yourself or something else. I've struggled for a while now to completely purge the passive from my own writing, and by swinging completely the other way, I ended up with awkward sentences that failed to get my point across in some instances. I suggest emphasizing "I" when ...


14

There are well known manuscripts, such as The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which were written entirely in Old English. Also Beowulf, a few poems and so forth, but the Chronicle remains the longest piece of Old English writing we have. It was written by monks in calligraphic style. It was not written (and certainly not typeset) in the characters we come to think of ...


13

This usage of yesterday is idiomatic, it's basically a synonym for "as soon as possible". I need those reports, and I need them yesterday. ≈ I need them ASAP. I needed those reports yesterday. ≈ There was a situation yesterday in which I actually needed them.


13

It's never bad form to use passive form. It's just that in speech, we tend to use a lot of this, but there's nothing wrong with using the passive form in writing, or in speech. From the Passive Engineer: Despite the admonitions of grammar checkers, the passive construction has a legitimate function. When you want to emphasize results, use the passive. ...


13

I think your translator is correct. Most app development guidelines state that Labels and the like should be capitalized. An example - OS X interface guideline. But since they are just guidelines, you are not forced to follow them, even though it would be a good idea to do so.


12

While I'm not aware of a particular grammatical rule that would prohibit this, as a matter of style, I would prefer not to do what you're suggesting there, especially with something like ASP.NET AJAX. I would suggest something like: Instead, you’ll use a higher-level model called ASP.NET AJAX. This toolkit gives you a set of server-side components and ...


12

I don't normally answer my own questions, but in this case I feel compelled to do so. FumbleFingers' answer — the only answer this question has received* — while well-argued and not incorrect, feels like the answer of someone who is faced with a problem he recognizes but cannot solve, and so falls back on whatever has served in the past: in this case, the ...


12

Et cetera, etcetera, etc., &c are frowned on in an academic register, probably because they seem slapdash and offhand: they give the impression that you can't be troubled to do the reader the courtesy of providing a complete enumeration—or worse, are incapable of doing so.* This of course overlooks the possible discourtesy of requiring the reader ...


12

You should call them a pattern. Tell them I said so. Edit Apparently my drive-by downvoter didn’t care for “tell ’em I said so”. However, I quite assure you that it is germane, and indeed, a proper reference. In particular, I said so in the Glossary of Programming Perl [O’Reilly Media], in its 2nd, 3rd, 4th editions published respectively in 1995, ...


12

As has been suggested in other answers, it is not very suitable in formal writing. Here are some alternatives you might consider: amount to be reduced to be a matter of be in essence


11

I have always used "I reckon" to mean, "I have applied a process of thought and come to this conclusion". "I think" is a statement of my assumptions. "I believe" is generally something I cannot prove or defend, specifically referring to my "beliefs" in a religious or spiritual context. For some perspective, I am a native speaker from the Southern United ...


11

Internet should be capitalised, because it's a proper noun and defines a single, definite thing not something general (like the word tree, for example). If you look up the word, you'll find it always capitalised, I can link you to the OALD, as an example. If you're writing in some informal context, most people won't mind if you write it lowercase, though. ...


11

It doesn't matter. I'd argue the 1984 title is in more common usage nowadays. However there are many early covers suggesting maybe Orwell himself titled it Nineteen Eighty-Four. I think you can choose whichever you please; however, Nineteen Eighty-Four may sound pretentious today because of its scarcity. My favorite new cover: Penguin Books ...


11

Boil down to is not informal. It can be used even in formal writing.


10

These, I believe are called "discourse markers". I can't find a list, but I can think of a list: Like Well, Ok, Actually, So You know, oh, By the way, Anyway, Yeah no, I mean Now Then Frankly, Also, Basically, As a matter of fact In fact,


10

Words like it's and don't are called contractions. There's no rule or reason why you should either contract all possible phrases in a sentence, or else keep them uncontracted. In fact, I read your examples several times before I figured out the difference between them. It's fine either way, and the same goes for don't/do not. That said, there are some ...


10

I am in the U.S. and I agree with User A's original versions. In Claire Kehrwald Cook's book Line By Line (which I highly recommend), Ms. Cook, writes (p. 23): An adverb modifying a verb phrase goes after the first word in the phrase (was extremely surprised, has often been said, would certainly have asked) unless, in verb phrases of three or more words, ...


10

The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition (2003), has very clear preferences, which it lists at section 9.64 (rules paraphrased from a table): For ranges starting with a page number of 1 through 100 (or multiples of 100), use all digits of the end-range number: 3–10, 71–72, 96–117, 100–104, 1100–1113 For ranges starting with a page number of 101 ...


9

Rather than share your reactions to things, why not make statements about the things themselves? Make the subject of the sentence the topic of discussion, not yourself. Most people enjoy sharing their own experiences, but that can lead us to say "I" compulsively, and it can definitely get a little repetitive. So if your writing sounds stilted when you ...


9

Jargon, in that particular context, is not "using incorrect English words". It is this sense of the word: the technical terminology or characteristic idiom of a special activity or group. By definition, jargon is language usage that is not ubiquitous throughout the language, and as such is not standard (though it may have a very standard use within ...


9

In British English, these abbreviations have been in use so very long that for the most part, they are considered first-class words in their own right and thus no longer retain the full stop at all times. It is however, not uncommon to see the full stop retained when used in an address, or a salutation. Mid-sentence is generally omitted, as the sight of a ...



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