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.

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Strict Style Guides

In earlier times, writers did not always use the most concise or active language, nor did they always write short sentences. Today, style guides discourage these freedoms in potential literature, ...
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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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Is “thanks for signing up for” stylistically acceptable English?

When writing an email for a newsletter, I wrote the following: Thanks again for signing up for our event! After reading it over a few times, it seemed kind of off due to the repetition of the word &...
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2answers
109 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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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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6answers
72k views

Is an apostrophe with a decade (e.g. 1920’s) generally considered “incorrect”?

I typically don’t use an apostrophe with plurals in any situation, but I always assumed that the use of an apostrophe in constructions like acronyms: Forty BA’s were given out to students this year....
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5answers
2k views

What is the name/term for someone's personal writing style?

I know I got a message from a friend. I could tell by the way they wrote the message, and their vocabulary. There is a name for a personal writing manner, but when I Google to find out, it’s like ...
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3answers
108 views

“go too far” — suitable for academic writing?

I am revising the following sentence in an academic paper: The de facto XXX seems to go too far and notably undermine the readability. where XXX is a named of a new technique. I feel like "go too ...
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4answers
5k views

Is it CoViD? Or COVID? Covid? How should the word be spelled?

I have seen it spelled COVID-19, but I have also seen Covid-19. In addition, I believe I have seen CoViD-19, capitalising only the first letter of each word from which it was abbreviated (for it isn't ...
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1answer
116 views

Term for intentional inaccuracies that better convey meaning?

Is there a term or concept that describes instances where an author/speaker intentionally or knowingly uses wrong spelling/pronunciation/grammar because it better conveys the intended meaning, and is ...
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45k views

Punctuation around the word “namely”

It seems somehow tricky to apply the right punctuation when it comes to the word namely. I got the following advice: Search globally for "namely", and add a comma after it, as well as a comma, a ...
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About Lovecraft's style to start a sentence with 'For' [duplicate]

I'm reading my first ever novel in English (French is my mother tongue): Tales of Horror by H.P Lovecraft. Surprisingly, reading this book is fine for me, however there's a sentence construction I don'...
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It should be used **with** in this paragraph?

Should be used with in this paragraph to indicate the contribution that she could do by studying a specific master's program? Using water is necessary but it needs to be done carefully to avoid ...
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Using ellipsis to indicate a pause in conversation

Wikipedia has a sentence in its article on ellipsis: In reported speech, the ellipsis is sometimes used to represent an intentional silence, perhaps indicating irritation, dismay, shock or disgust. ...
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1answer
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Is 'excelled' appropriate here?

I am wondering whether excelled was correctly used or not in this paragraph?. I do not want to use outstanding. Despite she is from a vulnerable region in the countryside with low educational ...
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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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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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1answer
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Non-standard English to Standard English, in Milne's Ugly Duckling

The following is from Ugly Duckling written (a play, 1941) by A. A. Milne. I cannot understand Dulcibella's speech which seems to me non-standard. In this play Dulcibella is depicted as a very ...
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2answers
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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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1answer
21k views

Which idiom is correct “draw on” or “draw from”?

Is there any difference in meaning between those two: Gulf Racing draws on this history... Gulf Racing draws from this history... Are they both grammatically correct?
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1answer
971 views

Colon between “that is” and formal definition

Is it appropriate to use "that is" followed by a colon when defining something formally? I have the following example: Let γ be the set of groups that hold variables accessed by C, that is: ...
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1answer
29k views

What is the difference between “left/right side” and “left/right-hand side”?

This question arose in the context of referring to locations in a figure, e.g.: A dot is added to the left(-hand) side of the diagram. What is the difference in meaning (if there is one)? What is ...
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4answers
2k views

“from A to B” or “to B from A”

Which expression is more customary? Are their situations where one would be favored over the other? Edit: Sorry for making the question unclear. My motivation for this question came from reading ...
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3answers
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“trends from 400M visitors” vs “trends by 400M visitors”

The Overflow Blog, April 20, 2020 How the pandemic changed traffic trends from 400M visitors across 172 Stack Exchange sites. I have a problem with one of the prepositions used in that statement, ...
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4answers
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What is the abbreviation for 'century'?

I remember being taught in history classes to abbreviate century by writing a large capital C followed by the ordinal number as in: C18th without the full-stop (period). Recently I have noticed on ELU ...
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3answers
30k views

Is “month year” or “month, year” the more common form of punctuation in print publishing?

A great many style guides address the question of whether or not to separate the month and year with a comma in phrases of the type "January[,] 2018"—and yet, to my surprise, a search of English ...
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2answers
3k views

Where should the apostrophe go on a possessive abbreviation?

When expanding an abbreviation in parentheses, sometimes the thing that was abbreviate was used in a possessive context. Consider the following example: If the Giant Ostrich Bomb's (GOB) fuse is ...
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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
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Is defining the first use of an acronym within parenthesis allowed?

I don't see a rule against it, but defining an acronym within parenthesis does not seem correct (e.g., Awkward Definition of Acronym (ADA)). Does defining ADA like this break rules?
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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
53k views

“Need be” vs. “Needs to be”

I've written the following in a sentence, but now that I look at it, I'm doubting my grammatical instincts and wanted to get a second opinion. ...the balance need be swayed only slightly... Is the ...
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2answers
20k views

use of capital C in the word 'Century'

I know if you are referring to 'centuries' in general, you don't use a capital letter. I know that if you are talking about a particular century, like 'the 20th Century', it's a capital letter. If ...
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1answer
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What is the place of “say” between 2 direct speeches [duplicate]

I read a book, and I see that: "Oh - the black hat," I say. "No!" says Shami. "The blue hat is nicer." We watch and wait. In the end, the woman takes the blue hat. "...
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1answer
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Why did Thomas Paine use both “hath” and “has” in the same sentence?

My understanding is that "hath" is archaic, but has exactly the same meaning as "has". But then why would an educated writer use both in the same sentence when writing a formal ...
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1answer
69 views

Which is better here, colon or dash?

Their style favors texture and timbre over more familiar and comforting musical elements; there is no beat, melody, or rhythm – only techno-cacophony. Can I switch the dash for a colon, like this? ...
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1answer
112 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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How to write Vietnamese names in English correctly? (“Việt Nam” to “Vietnam” or “Viet Nam”?)

Commonly, in writing, the country name in Vietnamese is Việt Nam, in English is Vietnam; its capital city name in Vietnamese is Hà Nội, in English is Hanoi; its largest city name in Vietnamese is ...
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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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2answers
12k views

Capitalizing Work Titles — Beyond General Rules

The rule I'm getting is: Capitalize if it comes before the name: Janitor Richard McGill was a fastidious man. Director Campbell slept in the office as McGill the janitor proofread his annual report. ...
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1answer
1k views

“This is what I understand” or “This is how I understand it”, etc

Which one of the following statements is correct or do all of them make sense? System A works independently and does not affect System B. This is what I understand. System A works independently ...
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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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5answers
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Punctuation for the phrase “including but not limited to”

When using the phrase "including but not limited to", how should it be punctuated? When used in the following (no punctuation): There are many activities including but not limited to ...
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2answers
3k views

How should lists of questions be punctuated?

If one wishes to pose a series of questions in the form of a list, how would one go about punctuating that list? For example: I write to a colleague asking for an update on a project he is working ...
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1answer
16k views

Should a name that is capitalized contain a lower case letter, for example, McDONALD or MCDONALD? [closed]

If the name is capitalized, for example, should it be McDONALD or MCDONALD?
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2answers
19k views

When is it correct to use upper case letters for nouns that may only be unique in a given context?

First off, the title is misleading; feel free to improve upon it. I've noticed words surrounding titles often start with upper case letters, but I'm uncertain if this is correct. After reading this ...
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3answers
5k views

Should I use a hyphen after -ly when modifying a verb in the past participle verb?

Which of these are acceptable? Is one preferable over the other? "Chemically-deposited tourmaline is never periwinkle." "Chemically deposited tourmaline is never periwinkle." Also, is the title to ...
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25k views

Nonstop, non-stop, or non stop? [closed]

Which is the proper spelling of "nonstop?" nonstop or non stop or non-stop
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2answers
32k views

To hyphenate or not?

As a non-native speaker of English and an engineer by training, I always get confused about hyphenation and almost always end up referring to Google every time I need to make that decision. Does ...
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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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