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The Many Meanings of “Groom” and “Grooming”

A formerly useful and innocuous set of words–groom, groomed, and grooming—has become a trope used primarily to stir anxiety and dread in parents. People who use words professionally may want to give some thought to taming some of the hysteria that has come to reside around these words. The noun groom Until recently, the noun groom denoted a person...

“Meaningless Buzzwords”?

I read that a political commentator, whom I will not name, asserts that five particular terms are “meaningless buzzwords.” Labeling these particular words “buzzwords” sent me to my language sources to discover whether my understanding of the word is faulty. Here are definitions from my two main dictionaries. buzzword: noun, Originally and chiefly...

Mustn’t Have Done and Couldn’t Have Done

A reader has asked for a post on the difference between “mustn’t have + past participle” and “couldn’t have + past participle.” He gives these examples: a) Ahmed failed the exam. He mustn’t have studied hard. b) Ahmed failed the exam. He couldn’t have studied hard. Before writing to me, the reader queried native English speakers of his acquaintance...

To Be a Writer

There’s a saying that “everyone has a book in him.” Since self-publishing has become so easy, quite a few people seem to be trying to expel it. During the month of November, hundreds of thousands of people signed up to write a novel during NaNoWriMo. The annual ritual of National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 with 21 participants, six of whom...

GPT-3 Writing Assistant: What is It?

Artificial intelligence is increasingly present in our lives, gaining new applications every day, including in the realm of writing! Generative Pretrained Transformer 3rd Generation, or GPT-3, is by far the most advanced technology of its kind, but, what is exactly GPT-3 and what can it do? If you want to try it out for yourself, check the list of...

4 Perennially Misused Words

Some word pairs will probably always continue to be confused. Here are five such, all of which have been mentioned on this site in the past. The examples in this post date from recent months. pore: (verb) to examine closely Confused with pour: (verb) to transfer water or some other substance from a container. [Agents continue] to pour through the...

List of Free and Paid AI Writing Generators

Producing articles and other types of texts seems to be getting easier and easier with the arrival of AI writing generators. The vast majority of AI generators and assistants use GPT-3, a system developed by OpenAI and which is the reference in the market. Some of these tools are paid and others are available for free. Most tools mentioned in the list...

Beginning an Email with Dear?

A recent request for linguistic advice ends with a plea that makes me feel like Obi Wan Kenobi: O Maeve, … I hope you can help because the silent scream starts every time I send an email. You’re my only hope. The required advice concerns the appropriate salutation for an email. Struggling to avoid rudeness The DWT reader, who says, “for decades...

Converting Direct Speech into Reported Speech

This post is in response to a recent reader request: I would be grateful if you could write about these two topics: Reported Speech and Indirect Speech. To clarify, “Reported Speech” and “Indirect Speech” are the same thing. I’ll assume that the reader intended to ask about the difference between Reported Speech and Direct Speech. Direct speech...

A Plumb Interesting Set of Words

When I saw the following passage on the Simon Schuster site, I was plumb surprised: When twelve-year-old Jamie Dexter’s brother joins the Army and is sent to Vietnam, Jamie is plum thrilled. I expect one of the last major publishers to get their spellings right. The words plum and plumb are homophones, but not synonyms. Admittedly, in the Middle...

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