Questions tagged [writing-style]

Questions about the writing style of a particular sentence, phrase or construction in English. Questions asking for advice on writing style are off-topic.

76 questions with no upvoted or accepted answers
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What literary or author's style is this writer channeling?

In The Washington Post, Alexandra Petri wrote a satirical opinion piece criticizing anti-abortion laws in the United States by parodically lamenting the routine death of spermatazoa. I was struck by ...
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3answers
2k views

Parenthetical sentence (double commas) followed by definition in parenthesis - where to put commas?

I am working with legal texts a lot and I was wondering about the following phrase that will show up in most US related prospectuses: "according to the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, the ...
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32 views

usage of as and have

When I was reading a novel by Steinbeck, I have met the sentence below: "He stalked her then, game-wise, as he had the woodchucks on the knoll when day after day he had lain lifeless as a young ...
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1answer
115 views

When introducing an initialism for the first time in a paper, but the noun is possessive, do I make the initialism possessive as well?

E.G., "Mobile network operator's (MNO's) networks are overloaded." Or "Mobile network operator's (MNO) networks are overloaded."
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135 views

New Yorker “Who”/“Whom”

Has The New Yorker changed its "who"/"whom" policy? Recently, I noticed--for the first time in fifteen years of more or less consistent readership---two occasions I considered non-standard, both from ...
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304 views

Is the placement of the participial phrase correct here?

I am using a participial phrase to modify the noun. But instead of the more common way of starting the sentence with the participial phrase, I want to use a medial parenthesis: So instead of this ...
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130 views

Is there a name for this type of markup in writing?

In writing there are often little inline snippets to add to the meaning of the sentence - for example: There are many problems here, e.g. too fat; too stupid; smells bad. The elephant is a pachyderm, ...
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2k views

Should there be a space before and after an ampersand when writing numerals?

How should one write "one and two" in short form - 1&2 or 1 & 2? Are there any particular rules regarding this? In context: You may choose to do Information Technology Units [1&2/1 &...
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47 views

Is it grammatical to write a complete sentence and link it to a sentence with a dropped subject with a semicolon? Please check the examples. Thanks!

I called to check in; hope all is well. I have some great news; just wanted you to be the first to hear it. Call me back!
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26 views

Possessive determiner followed by a stand-alone adjective?

My grammar lecturer told us that "I thought her selfish." is correct and it is used like the sentence "I thought she was selfish." He said native English speakers use this ...
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186 views

Does the Oxford comma apply to ampersands?

I came across this text on a shoe description: Durable but light, & flexible enough to move with the foot. I am well aware of the Oxford Comma, so the text would use durable but light, and ...
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32 views

Quotation marks in “call it [something] for short”

It seems that many (most of?) newspapers and journals don't use quotation marks in constructions like "call it [something] for short". Or even italic. Is it really okay to keep it plain? No ...
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47 views

Using *if* AND *whether* in the same phrase

I am wondering if one could use if and whether in the same phrase or whether it is better to use two identical conjunctions.
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15 views

proper(more effective) verb location in passive sentence

I need put verb (developed) in proper place in that passive sentence: First Option: In that book were developed the basic ideas about the cell and its biological properties. Second Option: In that ...
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84 views

Styles of prepositional phrase, noun phrases and verb phrases

May I ask how does a prepositional phrase, noun phrase and verb phrase sound different to you as native speakers, when they are used to convey the same meaning in a sentence? Editors working on my ...
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31 views

APA reference for uppercase word in title of book

I need to complete references for an assignment in APA format, but one of the books has an uppercase word in it and I'm not sure if it should remain uppercase or be changed to lowercase: The SAGE ...
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121 views

Write without using pronouns extensively

I have just started learning English as my third language and struggling to write meaningful short essay without using pronouns extensively. I read mainly non-fiction English books and perhaps that ...
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128 views

punctuation: the 20 to 30 year old age group

I'd like to know how "the 20 to 30 year old age group" is punctuated in standard English. "30-year-old" should be hyphenated. What about "20 to 30"? Any principles at work? I'd appreciate your help.
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42 views

Is it ok to have a semicolon after a colon or em dash? (or other variations)

I've looked all over but have not found this example. Can one use a semicolon after a colon or em-dash (or similar doubling up combinations). Is it a matter of style or is there a fast rule? e.g.: ...
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29 views

bracket usage dilemma

If I include a reference at the end of a sentence where it is already included in a bracketed phrase, do you put one or two brackets to close? E.g. Goldilocks and her friend found that bears were ...
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111 views

Is ‘the reason why’ somehow objectionable?

It has just come to my attention that some consider ‘the reason why’ ungrammatical or otherwise unfortunate. David Crystal mentions it in his introduction to Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English ...
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28 views

“worth” with possessive(s) in coordinated nominals

According to Garner Modern English Grammar The idiomatic possessive should be used with periods of time and statements of worth — 30 days’ notice (i.e., notice of 30 days), three days’ time, ...
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42 views

Correct capitalization when starting a sentence or headline with a parenthesized word

What is the correct way of capitalizing the following sentence? (Most) people are good. Should people also be capitalized? Or is it incorrect that most is capitalized? Finally, does the same ...
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42 views

Why are English language essays written in past tenses?

As we are studying English from the nursery the thing that always confuses me is that whenever we write an essay it should be in past tenses and I always find difficulty in writing essays that way. I ...
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81 views

Juxtaposing (more than) two sentences that can include “and” by using “and”

QUESTIONS: Is the comma used in the below sentence necessary? Is it okay to use different forms or parts of speech for juxtaposed elements? I.g. In the below sentence, a noun "development" ...
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605 views

How to describe 'Mutual Benefits' in academic terms in the following?

I am writing a proposal for a joint collaboration with a University in Singapore. I aim to use their facilities to gain hands-on experience. In the following, the excerpt from my proposal is ...
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481 views

Why isn’t this instance of “so” preceded by a comma even though it’s beginning a new independent clause?

William Strunk writes in the 1914 edition of his Elements of Style: Place a comma before and or but introducing an independent clause. ... Two-part sentences of which the second member ...
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75 views

Punctuating when quoted fragment stands alone as complete sentence

What is the proper punctuation for quoting a fragment of a sentence when the omitted material is from both the beginning and the ending of the original sentence, yet the quoted fragment is still a ...
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48 views

Capitalized cumulative adjectives

In mathematical and scientific research, people like to take and give credit for discoveries by turning names into adjectives. This leads to sentences like "Suppose the extension is Galois with ...
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51 views

Would this type of construction be considered pleonastic?

I'm talking about the combination of such a and very in one nominal group: He is such a very remarkable man. When broken down into its emphatic constituents, we get: a. He is such a remarkable ...
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1answer
72 views

Why is a comma used in the sentence “Jack has been studying zebras since 1972, when he started the famous Animal Center”?

Why is there a comma in this sentence? Jack has been studying zebras since 1972, when he started the famous Animal Center. Isn’t the first clause independent, and isn’t when a subordinating ...
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1answer
65 views

Scientific Writing: Acceptance of “one does”?

Essentially what the title says: Are formulations like "To determine the unknowns one employs the following conditions" acceptable for scientific writing? My professor insists that sentences like this ...
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1answer
501 views

“That is an interesting question.” vs “It is an interesting question, that.”

I am not a native English speaker and I tend to construct sentences like "It is an interesting question, that.". My girlfriend who is a native English speaker always tells me that I am talking like ...
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1answer
52 views

Is there a name for the literary device of having multiple speakers alternating in the same paragraph?

In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C. S. Lewis has: . . . Lucy could only say, "It would break your heart." "Why," said I, "was it so sad?" "Sad!! No," said ...
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30 views

Is it correct to replace dashes with hyphens and how should it be done?

I often see sentences like this--made when people don't have the care or ability to input the correct character--where two hyphens are supposed to form an em-dash. Based on the sizes of various dashes,...
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12 views

Differences in word order?

The independent clause, “He is carrying a heavy load”, might be connected with a dependent clause of varying order: most of which is to be consumed. which most of, is to be consumed. of which, most ...
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24 views

Can I omit “which”+verb in a non-defining relative clause?

Which sentence below sounds better? Is there an incorrect/correct one? Is there a difference in meaning? I tend to like the second one the most. To me, it has the same meaning as the first one but bit ...
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2answers
28 views

Describing disdain on someones face

I have tried to create a description of a face that shows a condescending feeling towards the person they are looking at also hinting to a past of abuse due to power dynamics. I haven't done much of ...
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27 views

Can you tell me about the style of writing used in the Federalist Papers?

I've always found the Federalist Papers extremely hard to read. They have many complex words, long sentences, subordinate clauses, and large paragraphs. Here are two examples of sentences to frame ...
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21 views

To make an attempt vs. to attempt

As far as I understand, to make an attempt and to attempt mean the same thing, but I'm pretty sure there's still a difference between them that I don't know. Does make an attempt put more emphasis on ...
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22 views

Are there guidelines for mid-sentence code blocks and bulleted lists

Question Are there guidelines for the placement of nonstandard typography in the middle of a sentence? I'm working on a blog that will have multiple authors. Should we bother with style consistency ...
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0answers
33 views

Using single quotation marks for shorter quotes, and double quotation marks for longer ones?

Background This website has had a fair share of questions on the use of single versus double quotation marks. The most popular question on this topic is a good resource on their use in American and ...
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48 views

If I'd like to indicate a duration of more than x years, can I write it as “+x years”?

For instance, can I say "we provided +10 hours of programming services"?
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21 views

To keep or not to keep THAT is the question

Is it discretionary to drop "that" from the sentence below (and similar sentences)? The movie's script was so bad it blew. Or am I flouting some rule of grammar here? Thank you!
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2answers
114 views

Can we use a semicolon before “to”-infinitives?

I just read a sentence that goes like this: I have woven the grief of your departure into amulets; to wear around my neck, until they dissolve into my skin. So far I have learnt that semicolons can ...
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3answers
67 views

A word that's between 'recommended' and 'awarded'?

Is there a word that is between 'recommended' and 'awarded', take for example: The boss recommended the Prize to Jill. and The boss awarded the Prize to Jill. I don't want it to be emphasized that the ...
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12 views

Part of the word in parenthesis

I am looking at different movie titles that put part of a word in parenthesis: (Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies (In)Visible Portraits ->Visible Portraits (Mis) Treating Prisoners: Health Care ...
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13 views

“Meaning” or “Meaning that” - are both appropriate?

What is the correct way to use "meaning that", i.e. which (or both?) are appropriate: We're in the Brand Registry, meaning that our products are uniquely protected... We're in the Brand ...
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1answer
116 views

Synthesis and Transformation

Give the task of synthesizing and transforming these two sentences: John ran after the snatch thief. John tripped over a stone and fell. Into just one of this form: While ____________, ____________....
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28 views

Is it OK to omit a first part of compound word when it was used on its own right before?

From https://inst.eecs.berkeley.edu/~ee105/fa19/discussions/dis2.ee105.fa19.v1.pdf : Other than first/last line, order doesn't matter. As I understand, it should be "Other than first/last line, ...