Friday, March 21, 2008

A brief list of things I wish people knew

1. Cavalry is a military term for mounted units. Calvary is the place where Jesus died.

I know it's tricky, they have the same letters and everything. And it's not helped by the existence of Mount Calvary, Wisconsin, which only confuses the issue further. But every time someone says that "the calvary is coming," I picture hundreds of crosses hopping to my rescue.

2. The ellipsis is a grammatical tool, not a toy

Acceptable uses:

Indicating that a word has been left out of a sentence.

Example: "Why don't you understand how to use a . . . ellipsis?" (where the . . . takes the place of an expletive)

Conveying a pause in speech:

Example: "I don't know why you put ellipses all over this email . . . . yeah, that's pretty obnoxious."

And marking an unfinished thought, or one that trails off to silence.

Example: "You should really be punished for your crimes against English, but how . . . "

Unacceptable uses:

To separate thoughts, as an alternative to the "sentence."

Example: "Hi . . . just wanted to shoot you an email . . . how are you . . . I like stuff . . . there are big buildings here . . . "

At both the beginning and end of your subject line, for no reason

Example: Subject: . . . hi . . .

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