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Less than or fewer than; that is the question.

Today's usage tip: When to use fewer than vs. less than. In most conversations, people will mistakenly use the words "less than" for any reference to a volume of one thing that is smaller than the other. For example, I have heard people say, " I have less books on my e-reader than you do." Most people would think that sentence is correct, but the sentence should be, "I have fewer books on my e-reader than you do."

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Tip of The Day #16: Beware the Spill Sucker

I learned long ago that those who depend on their computer's spell check function are doomed to embarrassment. In the early days of word processing and the spell check function, a friend of mine used to always joke about the "spill sucker", because she tried to search for a "spell checker" program one time and her computer suggested she change the words to spill sucker. They were, in fact, two real words, but they were the wrong words. 

Unfortunately, the dependence on spell check and grammar check functions has become the norm. Our writing and our literature is rife with errors due to the inability of a computer program to recognize which form of a word is correct in context, for example: their, there, or they're. The same is true of syntax. It takes a human being to accurately determine the nuances of our language. 

I've copied a link to an  article on this topic below, in which the writer describes a proof reading test he gave his wife and also ran through 4 different grammar and spell check programs. The results showed that none of the computer programs found all the errors in the paragraph. While the paragraph contained fact-check errors that one wouldn't expect a computer to recognize, they also scored poorly on spelling and grammar. 

The moral of this blog is: Beware the spill sucker!  Hire a professional to do your proof reading and editing! 


Tip of The Day #13: Paragraphs, please

The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White addresses the use of  paragraphs thus, " a convenient unit; it serves all forms of literary work. ...a paragraph may be of any length-a single, short sentence, or a passage of great duration. As a rule, single sentences should not be written or printed as paragraphs."

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