That isn’t grammatically correct!

What she said isn't grammatically correct

I have overwhelming respect (and more than a little sympathy) for English teachers. But I do have to say they manage to make being an effective writer more difficult than it should be. Now, I’m not referring to all English teachers. Anyone who’s dedicated their adult lives to convincing bored adolescents to fall in love … Read more

Contractions really aren’t painful

Boy wondering about asking questions

One of the biggest misconceptions about writing involves those handy word combinations we call contractions. You’re familiar: cannot becomes can’t, will not shortens to won’t, and so forth. When professional writers insert those contractions into their work, clients are often confused. Some doubt the competence of the writer they’ve hired or assume that the writer … Read more


If your business requires that you communicate with counterparts elsewhere around the globe, be careful — even when you think they speak the same language. I was reminded of this while reading Robert Serling’s excellent history of the Boeing Company, “Legend & Legacy.” (Trivia note: his brother Rod used to appear on an early-60s TV … Read more


After all the uproar about Coca-cola employing a commercial in which immigrants sang “America the Beautiful” in their native languages instead of English (as the grandson of immigrants, I found it touching, beautiful, and far more patriotic than the outcry), it occurred to me that most people mistakenly believe that Americans share a common language.

I learned that lesson as a child when my family was vacationing in New England. We sat down at a lunch counter, and the friendly man asked me what I wanted to drink. I asked him what kind of pop he had, and he looked confused. I repeated my question, and he genuinely asked, “What’s pop?” Surprised at his ignorance, I replied, “You know, like Coke, Pepsi …” and he grinned and said, “Oh, you mean soda!”

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