Further Affected by the Farthest Effect

There are a number of common word pairs I see every day that are swapped one for the other. Sometimes it's just confusion on the writer's part, but I can think of at least one case that has more to do with precedent. When something is permitted—and even encouraged—for so long that it becomes commonplace, it's difficult to point to it as an example of linguistic error. Farther and further are two words frequently used interchangeably, and although there are plenty of historical examplesfollowing them only adds ambiguity to an already suffering language.

Farther should be used in connection with physical or chronological distance, while further has more to do with movement or distance in an intangible sense.

We had to drive farther than we planned.

As we move farther into the future, we begin to recognize the past.

In this way, we further the cause of justice.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

As you can see, the first two sentences are about the sort of distance you could measure with an instrument of some sort—an odometer and chronometer in this case. It's about time; it's about space. (If that triggered the memory of a very old TV show, you have my condolences.) In the third sentence, you could substitute the word promote for further; the meaning would remain the same. Further is often used in the context of some kind of abstract increase. In the fourth, the word is used to indicate a matter of degree; you could use a phrase like more removed instead.

Two more words I see swapped around all the time are affect and effect. An easy way to remember the difference between these two is to think of the phrase cause and effect. In the alphabet, a comes before e, and cause always occurs before effect.

Your actions will affect the outcome of the game.

What effect will your actions have?

In the first example, you could substitute the word influence for affect and still have the same meaning. In the second, you could use result in place of effect, thereby keeping the original intent.

Really, there are quite a few definitions for either of these words that have nothing to do with cause and effect, but this is the most common substitution blunder I've seen associated with these two words. You can take your personal effects with you when you go on vacation, and your therapist may have noted your flat affect, but the definitions related to influence and result are the two that cause problems every day.

Of course, when it comes to material like ad copy, all bets are off. While I don't think it's necessary to butcher the language, I understand that the perception is the reality; you have to make certain concessions in the name of common understanding. But aside from that, I think there's enough ambiguity and general language destruction out there as it is. We don't have to help.

 

How Do We Learn to Hyperhyphenate?

One of the things I like about English is its unrest. The language is always in flux: new words appear, old ones are abandoned, and words and phrases from other cultures are woven into the tapestry. But there are other changes that seem less positive to me. One disturbing trend I've noticed is the ease with which words are hyphenated when there's no pressing reason for it. It's almost like everything has to be hyphenated, or no one will understand. Although I've seen references to a current trend away from unnecessary hyphenation and am encouraged by the news, I continue to run into examples that leave me wondering when this trend will commence.

Small EquipmentThe principal purpose of hyphenation is to avoid ambiguity. Sometimes when several words are sitting there side by side, it’s tough to figure out which are supposed to be connected, but the hyphen removes all doubt. In the photo, the nameplate on the commercial dryer obviously refers to a company's name, but in the world of sentence construction it could go either way. It wouldn't be clear whether small is the name of a company that makes equipment, or if the entire phrase refers to a company that only makes little stuff. It’s ambiguous. In this case, it probably doesn’t make much difference to someone who’s mostly interested in drying clothes; it's just an example. But if you were creating a sentence with those three words in it—and assuming none of the three words were capitalized—you'd want to make the meaning clear.

I work for the small-equipment company on the other side of town.

I work for the small equipment company on the other side of town.

If you want to indicate that the company makes small equipment, the first sentence is what you're looking for. On the other hand, if you work for a small company, the second version would be the way to go. The third possibility is that you work for a company owned by someone with the last name of Small; if so, capitalization is all you need.

I work for the Small Equipment Company on the other side of town.

Anyway, that's the sort of situation that demands hyphenation. But what if a sentence's meaning already seems clear? If there's no real need for hyphenating words, why do it? I think somewhere along the line people began to doubt their sentences would be fully understood, so they began hyphenating words that hadn’t been before, just to avoid the possibility of trouble. Now it’s become a habit, and hyphenation is used where the possibility of ambiguity is extremely low, or even nonexistent.

Before you throw the main breaker, be sure to turn-off any appliances and lights in your home.

This is an extreme example, but I've actually seen this sentence in print. If there's a purpose for that hyphen, it's beyond me.

Her business-as-usual attitude had little effect on the stockholders.

Here in the heart of the city, it's business as usual.

In the first sentence you can see the hyphens at work, speeding up the reading process; you don't have to pause to think about what the sentence really means. Although there's a low probability of ambiguity due to the way the sentence is constructed, removing the hyphens would probably be a bad idea. The second sentence doesn’t need hyphens, and never will. And yet, you see that business as usual phrase hyphenated from stem to stern all over the place, regardless of actual need.

This is one of the little-known effects of global warming.

That sentence desperately needs the hyphen; without it, ambiguity reigns. No one would really be sure if you're talking about a minor effect of global warming, or one that ought to receive greater attention.

Although he denied it, Geoff was always a big-city mouse.

Unless you mean a large mouse who lives in the city, that sentence wouldn't work well without the hyphen, either.

Personally, I enjoy pulling two words tightly together instead of putting a hyphen between. I do this whenever I think I can get away with it. Not that I would attempt to meld words such as ice and cold; outside an advertisement, that could be a vulgar construct. But in my opinion, words like hyperdrive, preflight and citywide were never meant to live with a hyphen wedged in. In fact, I know how disappointed some will be at the liberties I've already taken with the title of this post; I know some will want to split it into two words, while others will demand hyphenation. What can I say? I just like it better this way, and it isn't really causing any grammatical harm.

One more obscure detail, and then I’ll quit. If you ever decide to reuse one half of a compound, you'll want to make sure the hyphen is there on the orphaned piece, too.

All first- and business-class passengers were required to disembark.

By the way, I'm not advocating hyphen reduction when it comes to compound numbers, or words that simply can't function without them. I wouldn't want to see the word unAmerican written the way I just did. Unlike Sir Winston Churchill, I don't think of the hyphen as a blemish; I just think there are too many of them in circulation.  

 

Semicolons Redux

The other day, someone left a comment on a previous post about semicolons. Woot! My first comment! As it turned out, it wasn't just any comment; it was a comment from the illustrious Craig Conley, proprietor of what might well be the ├╝berming of semicolon-related sites. I'm truly humbled. I hadn't seen it before, but A Semicolon's Dream Journal is absolutely worth a look if you're at all into semicolons. The Strange Dreams section of Craig's blog is fascinating, too, but I digress.

Craig made the observation that "people often talk about punctuation breaking ideas apart, but they rarely mention the power of punctuation to accelerate the flow of ideas. Quick sentences are a vital part of what makes a good book a 'page turner'!" Although I can't say I've ever had a book published, I know how important it is to keep sentences compact. In another lifetime, I was fortunate enough to see my first try at a technical article published in a computer magazine, and I remember the editor's delight at not having to do a lot of weeding on my copy. So I couldn't agree more: quick sentences are vital. I'm planning more discussion on this subject by and by, because I think it lies at the heart of effective writing, blogwise or otherwise. I just want to get through a few more of those basic grammar-related points first—start at the beginning, and all that.

For some exquisite examples of semicolons in action, don't miss Craig's post regarding the perfect use of a semicolon from Mackenzie Carignan's blog.

Parentheses and Dashes

Although the semicolon remains my favorite punctuation mark, I like a good dash, too. I don't mean a hyphen; I mean the wider em dash. Like the semicolon, this modest character is frequently ignored, and even when it isn't, it's often underused in favor of parentheses. Sometimes it's even confused with the hyphen, so life isn't always easy for the little guy.

Parentheses are too easily used, when in fact they ought to be used sparingly. Too many dashes can get old pretty quick, but a glut of parentheses is worse. The time for parentheses is when there's just no other way to cram the information into your sentence. Parentheses are for strong digressions; they're a last resort. Unlike dashes, you can put whatever you want inside parentheses without worrying too much about destroying the structure of your sentence, although this shouldn't be the primary motive behind their use.

Mike wasn't a professional mechanic -- he didn't even own a wrench -- but the engine ran better than it had in years.

It's extremely common to see the em dash rendered with two hyphens, as in the sentence above. This is a holdover from the days of limited character sets, and not a big deal to most people. It's also common to see a space on either side, again as in the sentence above. But if you really want to do it rightthe way it's done in books and magazines, and other high-octane publishing concernsit's best to use a real dash right off the bat, and get rid of the spaces while you're at it.

Mike wasn't a professional mechaniche didn't even own a wrenchbut the engine ran better than it had in years.

If you can easily assign an em dash to a simple key sequence on your keyboard, fine. If not, there's no real problem with using the two-hyphen substitute. The space-on-either-side issue isn't a big deal, either; in fact, some prefer things this way because it's easier to read, especially with certain fonts and typefaces. Nuff said.

When you use dashes, it's important to keep an eye on what's happening to your sentence structure. As I mentioned, you can't just put whatever you want between the em dashes; you still need a grammatically correct sentence with or without them.

Mike wasn't a professional mechanic, but the engine ran better than it had in years.

As you can see, the sample sentence still works without the words that were between the dashes. And if you look only at the words I just took out, the grammar still holds up, too.

He didn't even own a wrench.

Unlike parentheses, you don't have to use two dashes in a sentence, and in fact you often see just one. The side-material you're inserting could be at the beginning or end of a sentence, and in that case you would only need one dash.

Mike wasn't a professional mechaniche didn't even own a wrench.

That's just for illustration; personally, I would be more likely to use a semicolon in this sentence. Although there may be professional mechanics who don't own wrenches, that fact alone isn't enough to define a professional mechanic. In other words, I think a semicolon would be a softerand more appropriatelogical connection in this case, while a colon would be too extreme.

Since you can pretty much go nuts with stuff you might put inside parentheses, there isn't much to say about them. Probably the best advice I can come up with right now is simply to use them in moderation.

Mike wasn't a professional mechanic (come to think if it, I don’t believe he even owned a wrench) but the engine ran better than it had in years.

Colons

I've seen quite a few colons posing as semicolons and semicolons posing as colons, but the two aren't interchangeable. While the semicolon is commonly used to separate ideas within a sentence, the colon is used to introduce something. It acts as a pointer of sorts to whatever is coming next, which could be a list of some kind, a direct example, or a quote.

Contrary to popular belief, I play three instruments: the spoons, the nose flute, and the buffoon.

It acts as a pointer of sorts to whatever is coming next: a list, a direct example, or a quote.

When you're using a colon to introduce a list, one thing to keep in mind is maintaining the list's structure. It should retain its list-nature all the way through.

Contrary to popular belief, I play three instruments: the spoons, the nose flute, and sometimes after a hard day, the buffoon.

The sentence is evil now because it includes more than just the list of instruments. That sometimes after a hard day phrase is contaminating the former purity of the list.

Using a colon to simply introduce something that isn't a list couldn't be more straightforward.

There's one thing I can never remember about my sister-in-law: her name.

Introducing a quote with a colon is fairly undemanding, too. Just add your quote.

Mrs. Robinson was proud of her photograph, and said so: "I always told him that fruit flies like a banana, and now I have proof!"

In a recent interview, Dr. Robert's attorney seemed evasive: "I would simply indicate that I can neither confirm nor deny your allegations."

If you ever find yourself in doubt over whether to use a semicolon or a colon in a sentence, there's a simple test. If you remove the semicolon and replace it with a period, you should still have two good sentences. Short sentences maybe, but grammatically correct. On the other hand, replacing a colon with a period won't result in two good sentences if you were using the colon to introduce a list or an example. If you were using it to introduce a quote, you'll just have the introductory sentence on one side of the period, and the quote all by itself on the other.

The Economy of Semicolons

I don't think semicolons are used nearly as much as they ought to be. I've seen a lot of commas where semicolons should have been, but rarely the other way around. The semicolon's job is to separate related parts of the same sentence, and in the process, it takes the place of those connectors I mentioned in the previous post. It can also take the place of a period, as we’ll see shortly.

I don't like the color of that house; it's too close to mauve.

You could substitute a connecting word such as because for the semicolon in this sentence, but the semicolon is easier, and quickens the sentence a bit. You could also use a period, thereby breaking the sentence in two, but the second sentence would be a bit short if any degree of formality is required.

I don't like the color of that house. It's too close to mauve.

It's okay, and sometimes you want ultra-short, snappy sentences. But generally, I like semicolons; I think they're cool, and economical, too. One rule to keep in mind when you’re using a semicolon is that there has to be a complete sentence on both sides of it. No fragments, in other words.

I don't like the color of that house; too close to mauve.

Now the sentence isn't okay anymore, because the part on the right of the semicolon is a fragment. If you were to substitute a period for the semicolon in this sentence, it would probably become more evident. Too close to mauve is not only a really, really short sentence, but a partial one at that. Not that there's no such thing as a one or two word sentence, but in general, this one doesn't qualify. If you're feeling lucky and you really want to preserve the sentence structure, you might be better off with an em dash.

I don't like the color of that housetoo close to mauve.

Although you don't see it done all that much in everyday writing, it's okay to use more than one semicolon in the same sentence. It avoids confusion if there are already commas all over the place in a series of things.

Branford needed hammers and nails, which were in short supply; shingles, because the roof was leaking; and power tools, just in case the electricity came back on.

Maybe it goes without saying, but if you were to use commas instead of those three semicolons in the sentence above, the result would be an unfortunate number of commas. The semicolons are preventing fragmentation without the need to break the thing up into two or three sentences, and sometimes, that's exactly what the sentence doctor ordered.

 

The Trouble With Commas

You wouldn't know it to look at them, but commas can be a troublesome lot. You can't misspell a comma or forget to capitalize it, and you don't have to worry about how to punctuate one, because hey, it already is punctuation. But although commas are among the simplest writing elements, putting them in the wrong places—or forgetting them altogether—can result in unintended meaning, and annoyed readers.

Since most people seem to be increasingly pressed for time, commas have become less popular than they once were in media that distribute facts instead of entertainment. Newspapers, magazines, and trade journals are more likely to avoid too many commas in favor of high-speed reading. But the author of a novel, a short story, or for that matter any vehicle that emphasizes literary quality would generally prefer to retain the grammatical advantages afforded by this innocuous little character.

Commas are grouping symbols. They can be used to tie words together or keep words apart, clarifying a sentence's meaning and avoiding ambiguity. They can also be used for effect, to alter the timing of a sentence. Here's a very short sentence with commas in various locations.

I think, therefore I am.

I think therefore, I am.

I think, therefore, I am.

Note the difference in the way the words become grouped together as the comma’s position changes, completely altering the meaning. The second sentence is particularly obnoxious because it makes absolutely no sense. Although it’s possible to think out loud, or possibly even think pink, how in the world can anyone think therefore? And yet, this is exactly the sort of simple comma abuse you see everywhere. I like the first version because it doesn’t cause hesitation, although the meaning is clear. Version three isn’t wrong—in fact it's really the most correct way to punctuate the sentence—but people generally avoid writing this way when brisk communication is the goal.

So the sentence that’s just plain weird is number two. The words think and therefore are tied together by proximity, and remain so for lack of any signal to the contrary; there’s no punctuation such as a comma, semicolon, or period to signal otherwise. Obviously, most readers would figure out the intended meaning, but would also quickly tire of the chaos if this kind of problem appears throughout your writing.

This is a good camera for all-around use, the only real problem might be the shutter lag.

That's an excellent example of comma abuse, and this sort of thing is extremely common in otherwise competent writing. There are a handful of words that commonly function as connectors between ideas. For example, words like and, or, but, so, although and therefore are good at connecting phrases, and if you were to install one of those connectors in the sentence above (I'm going to choose so, but others would work, too) the problem is solved.

This is a good camera for all-around use, so the only real problem might be the shutter lag.

Personally, I'd probably use a semicolon instead of the word so, but that's just my preference; you'd have an acceptable sentence either way. Like commas, semicolons can be trouble, but that's another post. By the way, it's exactly because some words are connectors that you want to avoid using them to begin a sentence if grammar is the imperative. It's why your English teacher used her red pen to write fragment on your paper when you started your sentences with or, and, or but. She'd have a field day with my posts.

It might be worthwhile to mention, in passing, that commas frequently find their way out of quotes. There are exceptions, but if you have to bet one way or the other, you're better off keeping them inside the quotation marks.

"You don’t hear Hiram Percy Maxim on the radio much anymore," Stephen sighed.

 

Apostrophes of Death

Apostrophes are a common sight in every sort of writing, although they don't always show up where they ought to be. When you want to indicate possession, you normally just tack an apostrophe on the end of the word, followed by the letter s.

Mike's golf clubs spent the rest of the summer in the lake.

My car's left fender frequently fell off.

If the name of the person or thing already ends in the letter s, you just add the apostrophe to the end of the word, and call it a day.

Carlos' older brother watched the sky for signs of rain.

Like Jeff's, Dr. James’ blog post was long, and not entirely entertaining.

Simple enough. But for some reason, there's one word that never gets the apostrophe to show possession, or at least it never should. That word is it.

Its gleaming paint job commanded attention.

Wherever the plane landed was its home.

In other words, the only time you should see the word it with an apostrophe is when there's a contraction of the phrase it is.

It's really the best time to take a vacation.

I think it's a comical gesture, no matter where it occurs.

Since I'm already on the subject of contractions, I may as well finish with a few more examples of the apostrophe's use for those. If two words are combined to form a contraction, the missing letter or letters are indicated with an apostrophe.

It wasn't such a nice day after all.

I can’t believe she would do this to me.

In the first sentence, the words was not are combined, and the missing letter o is indicated by the apostrophe. In the second sentence, the words can not are combined to form the contraction can’t, and the missing n and o are indicated by the apostrophe. No matter how many letters are removed, you always use just one apostrophe. Sometimes, one or more letters are even missing from the front of the word. You probably won’t see this situation much in formal writing; it’s used more for things like poetry, or dialogue.

The flies buzzed ‘round his head.

There are words that have been around so long that we don’t give them much thought, but since they began life as two words, the apostrophe remains to this day. In some of these cases, the apostrophe indicates the absence of entire words.

Ralph is meeting my niece at one o’clock this afternoon.

In this instance, the words of the clock have been replaced with the o’clock contraction; the letter f, along with the entire word the have been deleted. You don’t see this word much anymore, but if you decide to use it sometime, make sure the apostrophe is there, too.

Some words have simply been used in a particular way for so long that any indication of missing letters has been abandoned; they have been added to the language through common use.

My photos turned out better than I had hoped.

Although photos is really a contraction of photographs, you won’t—or at least shouldn’t—see an apostrophe in there. The word has just been used this way for so long that no one expects to see it any other way.    

 

Pulling Weeds

One of the most important exercises you can do with your writing is weeding out words that don't add value. In the final analysis, there are really a lot of words your sentences can do without, and there are ways to rearrange and compact sentence structure to maximize efficiency, and add punch. But even in everyday writing, there are a few words in particular that needn't be there in the first place. One word you see way too much is that. Although it's generally used to point to something, it has somehow crept into a variety of sentences where it does nothing but take up space.

I think that you are sadly mistaken.

It’s one more reason that I hate the rain.

Neither sentence is benefiting from the word that. It isn't pointing to anything, adding information, or otherwise serving any useful purpose.

I think you are sadly mistaken.

It’s one more reason I hate the rain.

As you can see, both sentences are perfectly clear and just as meaningful without that in there. Once you get in the habit of looking for it, you’ll see a lot of unnecessary instances of the word. The basic idea is to ask yourself whether you’re using that to point to something, or just using it out of habit. In the next two sentences, it's doing some actual pointing work.

How do you get this from that?

I believe that is the better solution.

This might be a good time to also mention the difference between that and which. You often see these two words used interchangeably, but they really shouldn't be. Which adds information about something you're already pointing to; that doesn't serve the same purpose.

That old car, which won't start, should be towed.

My favorite hat, which is red, might have been stolen.

Another common abuse of the word that is using it to point to people. Who would be a better choice.

My sister, that couldn't come tonight, extends her condolences.

I don’t get along with people that can’t sing the blues.

In both sentences, the word that should be replaced with who, since we're talking about people. It probably goes without saying that you wouldn't use who to refer to an inanimate object, but you'll have to make your own call when it comes to situations involving household pets, or for that matter, your favorite horse or other well-loved animal.

Another overused word is of. You see this one all the time, too, doing absolutely nothing of value.

It happens all of the time.

In this sentence, the word of isn't necessary and should be removed. On the other hand, you wouldn't want to nuke it if it is, in fact, doing something useful.

I'd like to buy 25% of your land.

In this case, the sentence would obviously be incomplete without of in there, helping describe what you're interested in purchasing.

As I mentioned in the beginning, there are quite a few words that can be eliminated from sentences; there are others I haven't included here. But this brief list will, I hope, be enough to trigger a closer examination of necessary words, versus those that simply take up space.

 

Those Amazing Phenomenon

Listening to an interview on the radio yesterday, my ears perked up at the sound of another language error I see and hear a lot. There are a few words that have commonly come to be used as singulars, but they're really not. In this case, the interview subject happened to be an author, so you would think she knows better, but she was using the word phenomenon as both singular and plural. Normally, it's the other way around: you see and hear phenomena used as a singular quite a bit, while phenomenon more rarely makes its way into sentences.

I'm guessing this person was suffering from a misunderstanding similar to the one that causes the old I vs. me quandary I mentioned in the previous post. Perhaps someone had recently mentioned it to her, or maybe she had read something about misuse of the phenomena word, so she had decided to make a point of always using phenomenon, instead. I'm guessing it had just stuck in her mind in much the same way that old someone and I phrase gets stuck. In any case, phenomenon is always singular, and phenomena is always plural; you can't just swap the two at will without buggering up your sentence.

        These phenomena occur randomly.


        This phenomenon occurs randomly.


Another commonly misused word is toward. You see—and yes, hear—this one with the letter s hanging off the end all the time. I can't imagine a situation in which toward would be plural, and yet someone is always walking towards the horizon, moving towards the center, or even looking towards the future. Is this Zen? Is it a metaphysical reference? When does a word intended to indicate a particular direction represent more than one direction at the same time? And since I'm on the subject, some people always seem to move forwards, or talk backwards, when neither forward nor backward really need that letter s bringing up the rear, either.

One of my favorite misuses of a word's plural form is, of course, data. This one has become so ubiquitous in the language that any hope of change is probably misguided, and really, it almost certainly doesn't matter in everyday use anyway. But if you happen to be involved in technical writing, as I am, or otherwise stake your reputation on detail, it's simply one of those points you wouldn't want to overlook.

        These data are quantifiable, and robust.

        That datum has no place in this sample.

Actually, my favorite solution to the data problem is to just avoid using the word altogether, at least whenever I can get away with it.

How Do We Learn to Communicate?

omegaword.comThe other day, someone made the comment that blogging is just like e-mail, except more people read it. I think the guy was referring to the method of transport, and probably the fact that both are generally a collection of words. But it struck me as ironic, specifically because of that huge difference in readership. Last month, Technorati reported the creation of a new blog every second, was tracking something like 37 million blogs, and 50,000 posts per hour. Elsewhere, I read there were only 23 known blogs at the beginning of 1999, so it's beginning to look like there really are quite a few people out there who like to write, after all. Of course, not all those blogs are written in English, but probably more than enough to make lots of English teachers very happy.

Or very sad, depending on how all these new blogs are executed. I've seen a lot of very well-written blogs, and not all are published by large organizations with teams of professional writers at their disposal, eithernot by a long shot. But then there are others that really make you work to understand what the writer was trying to say. So this made me wonder: what about all the people who are now under tremendous pressure to write a blog, or die? Your boss has suddenly become hyper-aware of the blogosphere, and now you're responsible for cranking out a daily essay. Or maybe you're completely on your own with it; maybe you just want to reach out to your customers, or prospects. Unless you're planning to do the audio-blog thing, this is going to involve a lot of words. Sending e-mail to your friends and family is a fairly safe proposition, and even an exchange through your corporate intranet isn't in the same league as a written broadcast to the planet. Your friends and family will still love you if written communication doesn't happen to be your strong point, and your coworkers are probably more interested in content, too. Your blog, on the other hand, goes flying out to millions of potential readers, and not all are as forgiving as your mother.

But there's hope. I've noticed a lot of the errors that creep into otherwise intelligent writing are caused by little more than the misunderstanding, or misinterpretation, of a few basic rules. For example, there seems to be some confusion about the proper execution of a sentence such as Wanda and I went to the mall. While most people understand that it's courteous to put yourself in second place, the old I vs. me problem continues to cause problems. Wanda and me just doesn't sound right, and it isn't. But what if the sentence looks like this: My old car isn't an embarrassment for Robert and I. Maybe the sound of someone and I has just been hammered into a lot of heads in grammar school; maybe it's the only combination that sounds right after a while. Of course, the sentence ought to be My old car isn't an embarrassment for Robert and me, but why?

If you take the other person out of the sentence, and the sentence is still okay, you're good to go.

What could be simpler? Without Robert in there, you would be left with My old car isn't an embarrassment for me, which obviously sounds a lot better than My old car isn't an embarrassment for I, right? Right.

Anyway, there are other examples, but tomorrow is another day, and hopefully another blog post. By the way, if you happen to be an English teacher, or an English teacher's student, please don't gun me down for all the sentences that start with or, and, or but. I don't want to turn this blog into something too formal, at least not right now. I know you'll understand.