Category: Mrs. B

IMPLICITLY EXPLICIT

“Implicit” and “explicit” occasionally pop up in conversation as well as in copy. Mrs. B encourages you to take a minute to go over the definition of each to assure that you use the ...

“TO BE” OR NOT “TO BE”  

A recent letter begins class today: “In the Midwest, certain areas like to talk without using verbs. For example, The car needs washed. The coffee needs bought. Perhaps an I-team somewhere can find TO ...

THEY’RE GOING THERE, THEIR WAY

No one will ever know you don’t the difference in “there,” “they’re,” and “their,” until the slip up appears on a graphic. And then, believe Mrs. B, you’ll hear about it. “There” is an ...

PREPPING YOUR PREPOSITIONS

It’s so easy to leave out the little guys, the prepositions. Don’t forget “of” after “couple” and “type.” >We need a couple OF editors. (not: “We need a couple editors.”) >They don’t use that ...

PLAYING THE PERCENTAGES

Mrs. B wants to clear up some confusion about “percent” and “percentage.” “Percent” is always used with a specific number. >The mayor won 80 PERCENT of the primary vote. “Percentage” is used with a ...

PREPPING YOUR PREPOSITIONS

It’s so easy to leave out the little guys, the prepositions. Don’t forget “of” after “couple” and “type.” >We need a couple OF editors. (not: “We need a couple editors.”) >They don’t use that ...

GET OFF YOUR BUTS

Mrs. B is excited about today’s “but” lesson. An anchor in Lansing gets us started: “Many of our writers are crazy about buts. I mean the conjunction, of course. It’s only supposed to be ...

KUDOS

“Kudos are in order for CNN for producing the recent coverage of the Presidential debate.” Wrong. Mrs. B wants to be sure you use “kudos” correctly. “Kudos,” which means praise, comes from the Greek ...

IF YOU’RE FROM MAINE YOU’RE A..

Mrs. B has noticed in her travels that anchors and reporters are having some trouble with how they talk about people from various states. Here’s a rundown courtesy of the U.S. Government Printing Office ...

A GRAMMAR WISH

Mrs. B has heard some “wish clause” mistakes this week. Here’s the easy part. If you begin a sentence with “I wish” or anyone else wishes, use a past tense verb.  >This time of ...

CORRECT USAGE

Some correct word combinations you just have to memorize. Mrs. B has no rule to help you out. Here’s todays list: conform to (not with) >We don’t want the 11:00 scripts to CONFORM TO ...

HUNG UP ON VERBS

Verbs can really hang you up unless you master a few rules… and their exceptions. When the verb in the main clause is in the past tense, the verb in the dependent “that clause” ...

CORRECT USAGE

Some correct word combinations you just have to memorize. Mrs. B has no rule to help you out. Here’s todays list: conform to (not with) >We don’t want the 11:00 scripts to CONFORM TO ...

CORRECT USAGE

Some correct word combinations you just have to memorize. Mrs. B has no rule to help you out. Here’s todays list: conform to (not with) >We don’t want the 11:00 scripts to CONFORM TO ...

HUNG UP ON VERBS

Verbs can really hang you up unless you master a few rules… and their exceptions. When the verb in the main clause is in the past tense, the verb in the dependent “that clause” ...

PICKY, PICKY, PICKY

Mrs. B was at her nit-picky best on her recent travels.  Here are some notes she made while watching local news. “He pled guilty to assault charges.” The anchor should have said PLEADED guilty. ...

OH, THOSE MISPRONUNCIATIONS!

During her recent travels, Mrs. B noted a few mispronunciations by local and network newscasters she’d like to correct. “Researchers at Johns Hopkin say they’ve come up with a breakthrough in breast cancer treatment.” ...

PICKY, PICKY, PICKY

Mrs. B was at her nit-picky best on her recent travels. Here are some notes she made while watching local news. “He pled guilty to assault charges.” The anchor should have said PLEADED guilty. ...

IDIOMS FOR…ALL OF US

Idioms are bound to pop out of your mouth on a regular basis, but let’s be sure that what pops out is standard. Here’s a list to keep handy: abide BY (a decision) agree ...

IFFY USAGE

In a clause that begins with “if,” don’t use “would have” in place of “had.” >If you HAD gotten here for the afternoon meeting, you could have brought up your complaint. (not: If you ...

SAY IT CORRECTLY

While on vacation, Mrs. B noted a few mispronunciations by local and network newscasters she’d like to correct. “Researchers at Johns Hopkin say they’ve come up with a breakthrough in breast cancer treatment.” It ...

IFFY USAGE

In a clause that begins with “if,” don’t use “would have” in place of “had.”  >If you HAD gotten here for the afternoon meeting, you could have brought up your complaint. (not: If you ...

SAY IT CORRECTLY

While on vacation, Mrs. B noted a few mispronunciations by local and network newscasters she’d like to correct.  “Researchers at Johns Hopkin say they’ve come up with a breakthrough in breast cancer treatment.” It ...

SOME OBSERVATIONS

Here are some notes Mrs. B made while on an out-of-state trip and watching local news. “He pled guilty to assault charges.”  The anchor should have said PLEADED guilty. “Stretch your vertebraes. “ The ...

A GRAMMAR WISH

Mrs. B has heard some “wish clause” mistakes this week.  Here’s the easy part. If you begin a sentence with “I wish” or anyone else wishes, use a past tense verb.  >This time of ...

KEEP IT CLEAN

Mrs. B doesn’t allow vulgarity in her class. But let’s look at the differences among the three major no-nos of polite language: >A VULGARITY is a crude word or phrase usually associated with a ...

A GRAMMAR WISH

Mrs. B has heard some “wish clause” mistakes this week. Here’s the easy part. If you begin a sentence with “I wish” or anyone else wishes, use a past tense verb.  >This time of ...

VERBAL COORDINATION

This is kind of tricky, but if you learn it, it will serve you well. When a phrase is the subject of your sentence, make your verb singular. Here’s what Mrs. B is talking ...

COMPARATIVES & SUPERLATIVES

Form the comparative of ONE-syllable adjectives and adverbs by adding “er.” Form the superlative by adding “est.” late/later/latest soon/sooner/soonest Here are some exceptions: good/better/best bad/worse/worst far/farther or further/farthest or furthest many/more/most Form the comparative ...

MALAPROPISMS PART 4

We continue today with our lesson on malapropisms: words we often confuse because they sound alike. “evoke” and “provoke” “Evoke means to bring to mind. >The sight of the bowling alley EVOKED memories of his ...

MALAPROPISMS PART 3

If you’ve ever used the wrong word, one that sounded like another, you’ve probably used a malapropism. Mrs. B invites you to join the club. “incredible” and “incredulous” “Incredible” means hard to believe. >The ...

MALAPROPISMS PART 2

When the wrong word tumbles out of your mouth, one that sounds like the one you MEANT to use, you’ve probably used a malapropism. Most everyone in the business has done it, including Mrs. ...

MALAPROPISMS PART ONE

Malapropisms are words that sound kind of like the correct ones but are just wrong enough to sound ludicrous. Here are some common ones. “solicit” and “elicit” “Solicit” means to ask for something, like ...

NOBODY’S PERFECT

Usually the American Journalism Review is a touchstone of grammatical writing, but Mrs. B caught this slip-up and builds today’s lesson around it: “He didn’t mention the station’s owners, who had expected the ABC ...

RECURRING ERRORS

A recurring mistake begins today’s lesson, brought to Mrs. B’s attention by a Kansas City reader. The other day I heard a radio announcer say a word that I’m not sure exists. He said ...

SOMEONE HAS TO BE THE JUDGE!   

Occasionally Mrs. B dons her grammar police badge and goes after the rule-breakers. An Orlando anchor recently talked about a teacher being extradited “back” to Central Florida. “Extradite” means to return to a jurisdiction, ...

NOBODY’S PERFECT

Usually the American Journalism Review is a touchstone of grammatical writing, but Mrs. B caught this slip-up and builds today’s lesson around it: “He didn’t mention the station’s owners, who had expected the ABC ...

APPLYING SOME GAFFE-R’S TAPE

Mrs. B noted a few gaffes on local news she’d like to share with you in today’s lesson. The word “residents” doesn’t work nearly so well as “neighbors” or “people in this community.” It ...

FEWER VS. LESS

An important letter of correction to share with you today on the issue of “fewer” and “less”: “I must take exception… to your example regarding fewer. You wrote: The asteroid came FEWER than 520-thousand ...

A CACHE OF GOOD ADVICE

Mrs. B thinks it’s time for a review of the words “cache” and “cachet,” pronunciations as well as definitions. A letter from Glendale, Calif., inspired today’s lesson. “Don’t know if you’ve covered this one ...

IRONIC, ISN’T IT?

“Irony” and “ironic” are a couple of words we occasionally use in copy. But are we using them correctly? Mrs. B takes the cue from an Atlanta reader who says he used to be ...

ACCEPTING THE USE OF “EXCEPT”

Mrs. B hears “accept” mispronounced so often, she’s thinking maybe it’s time for a lesson on the difference between “accept” and “except.” “Accept” is always a verb.  It means to take or to receive ...

APROPOS THE USE OF “APPROPRIATE”

A former producer, now a lawyer in Maryland, wrote to Mrs. B about “apropos/appropriate.” It might be helpful to you. One of her firm’s partners said: “We’ll decide which one is more apropros.” Sounds ...

AN AMIABLE TOPIC

‘Are you “amiable” today? If so, that means you’re friendly and good-natured. >Ellen’s cheerful personality makes her an AMIABLE manager. “Amicable,” though it, too, means friendly, is used to talk about relationships. >What began ...

IMPLICITLY EXPLICIT

The difference between “explicit” and “implicit.” That’s the subject of todays lesson. “Explicit” means expressed directly or clearly stated. >The news director’s EXPLICIT memo left no doubt that he was fired. >The assignments editor’s ...

IDIOMS FOR…ALL OF US

Idioms are bound to pop out of your mouth on a regular basis, but let’s be sure that what pops out is standard. Here’s a list to keep handy: abide BY (a decision) agree ...

IDIOMS FOR….ALL OF US

Idioms are bound to pop out of your mouth on a regular basis, but let’s be sure that what pops out is standard. Here’s a list to keep handy: abide BY (a decision) agree ...

ACCEPTING SOME EXCEPTIONS

Mrs. B invites you to go over some commonly confused words today. “Accept” is a verb that means “to receive.” >The producer said she wouldn’t ACCEPT the late package. “Except” is usually a preposition ...

A CONTINUAL REMINDER

It’s time for a refresher on a couple of lessons, namely the difference between “continually” and “continuously” and “its” and “it’s.” “Continually” means something is happening without interruption. Take a look at part of ...

REDUNDANCIES…AGAIN

Mrs. B knows it’s easy to fall into the accidental use of a silly sounding redundancy.  So here’s a reminder: Do NOT say “two twins” or “two twin daughters.” “Twins” MEANS two. >We haven’t ...

GET IT?

By itself, there’s nothing wrong with “got.” But put it with “have,” and Mrs. B’s finger starts wagging. She knows you hear it all the time especially is you reach as far back as ...

ON THE RACK

William Branigin was one of the first Washington Post reporters in Afghanistan to begin covering the war against Taliban and al Qaeda forces. He says a few weeks after journalists began showing up in ...

COMPARING DIFFERENCES

Mrs. B’s conversation with a Muslim from the Washington area inspired today’s lesson. A 43-year-old from Saudi Arabia compared the late, unlamented Osama Bin Laden to Hitler. Why “compare to” instead of “compare with”? ...

AN AIR OF FOREBODING

They look alike, sound alike, and even have similar meanings, but “forbidding” and “foreboding” are NOT interchangeable. “Forbidding” is an adjective. “Foreboding” is a noun. “Forbidding” means looking dangerous or threatening. >The sky is ...

AN AIR OF FOREBODING

They look alike, sound alike, and even have similar meanings, but “forbidding” and “foreboding” are NOT interchangeable. “Forbidding” is an adjective. “Foreboding” is a noun. “Forbidding” means looking dangerous or threatening. >The sky is ...

IT’S “IN”, NOT “UN”

A plaintive plea from a Grammar Yammer reader influenced Mrs. B to offer this admonition today: please don’t “un” the “in” words. Take the word INDESCRIBABLE. The reader heard “UNdescribable” from her TV. Mrs. ...

A “MASTERLY” LESSON

Mrs. B confesses she has misused “masterful” many times and is vowing not to again. She has confused it with “masterly” and wants you to be clear on the difference, too. “Masterly” means being ...

EMINENTLY IMMINENT

Mrs. B thinks a word that has come up lately is worth discussing in Grammar. Coroner: “imminent.” Notice it has two “m’s.” “Imminent” means “soon to come.” The idea of something threatening is usually, ...

WATCH THOSE WORDS

The U.S. military uses two names for the on-base jail. Mrs. B wants you to repeat after her. >The Army and the Air Force call it a STOCKADE. >The Navy and the Marine Corps ...

NO MORE CLICHÉS

“No one knows” and “everyone thinks” are not only clichés, they’re usually inaccurate. How many times have you heard, “No one knows where the child is”? Well someone probably knows. Better to say: >A ...

STARTING WITH “A”

You already know “all right” is two words, that “alright” is non-standard. But take a look at these “a”-words that work BOTH ways, as one word OR two. “All ready” means “completely ready.” >She ...

MRS B: GRAMMAR UPDATE

Mrs. B thinks a word that has come up lately is worth discussing in Grammar. Corner: “imminent.” Notice it has two “ms.” “Imminent” means “soon to come.” The idea of something threatening is usually, but ...

LEGAL TALK

OK, you legal eagles, legal talk is the subject of today’s Grammar Yammer.  “Impeachment” is the constitutional process that accuses an elected official of a crime. The goal is to remove him or her ...

AVOIDING THE NON-STANDARD

You’re not likely to write any of these non-standard expressions into copy. But Mrs. B wants to be sure they don’t pop up in your ad-libs, either. “Anyways” and “anywheres” have no business coming ...

THE MISPRONOUNCED ONES

Mrs. B has been saving up several words for this lesson. They’re words she has heard mispronounced and doesn’t want you to be one of those doing the mispronouncing. “Juvenile” is JOO-vun-ul. Put the ...

DAMAGES(S) CONTROL

Mrs. B wants to be sure you’re using the nouns “damage” and “damages” correctly. A letter from an investigative reporter inspired today’s lesson: I hear it in every size market and sometimes on the ...

A MYRIAD OF OPTIONS

“Myriad” means a huge number, maybe even too many to count. It can be both an adjective >There are MYRIAD reasons that I’ll probably never be a billionaire. and a noun: > The single ...

PREVENTING “PREVENTATIVE”

It’s a word you hear all the time, and Mrs. B certainly doesn’t want you to lose sleep over it, but preventative is not really the correct word. PREVENTIVE is. Preven-TA-tive, with the extra ...

BIAS VS. PREJUDICE

You’re “biased” TOWARD or FOR or IN FAVOR OF something or someone.  >She says she’s BIASED TOWARD a newscast with a mix of positive as well as negative news. >His BIAS FOR young blond ...

“CLIMATIC” OR “CLIMACTIC?”

“Climatic” and “climactic” sound a lot a like to Mrs. B  as I’m supposing they do to you, but the sound is where the likeness ends. “Climatic” comes from the word “climate.” Yes, it’s ...

A FORM OF TORTURE

“Torturous” and “tortuous” both come from the Latin word “torquere,” which means “to twist.” (Mrs. B’s 8th grade Latin teacher in Tullahoma, Tennessee, would be proud.) But “torturous” means “causing torture.” >Those first few ...

A “COMMA” ERROR

Mrs. B will never forget the superintendent visiting her 7th grade English class. He told us a comma MUST come before the the in a series.  Mrs. B was sure if she ever forgot, ...

DEPARTMENT OF REDUNDANCY DEPT. 

Conservation is the theme of today’s lesson. Mrs. B is going to help you use fewer words than you might think you need. We’ll begin with ENGULFED and DESTROYED.   Don’t use modifying words like ...

A “COMMA” ERROR

Mrs. B will never forget the superintendent visiting her 7th grade English class.  He told us a comma MUST come before the “and” in a series. Mrs. B was sure if she ever forgot, ...

BEING CENTERED

If you really want to sound as if you have a command of the language, use “center ON,” instead of “center around.” (And Mrs. B suspects that’s important to you since you are or ...

INJURE VS. WOUND

Today’s lesson comes by way of a tv reporter in Atlanta, where Mrs. B learned how to sing “My Country Tis of Thee” in kindergarten: Somewhere along the way I heard there is a ...

DOES THIS JIBE?

Mr. B once used a most primordial form of communication to ask Mrs. B for help in word choice:  “Yo, Mrs. B,” he hollered from the office across the hall, “What’s the difference in ...

A TRIP TO THE MIDDLE EAST

Mrs. B refers to the CIA factbook for her lesson on the country of Qatar. You may have been saying something like KAY-tar or kay-TAR for Qatar. But the native pronunciation is more like ...

AND NOW…MRS. B

Mrs. B loves her “Mares and Foals” calendar, but one year it had a punctuation error for November 11, the same error Mrs. B has seen in the paper and on TV. And a ...

JUST DESERTS. REALLY

Mrs. B knows when you’re reading a script about the place Bedouins live in Saudi Arabia, you’re going to SAY “desert.” But when it comes to spelling the word, make sure you do it ...

SEASONING THE SEASONS

Mrs. B has such witty students.  This question comes from a newsroom in Springfield.  Is the weather seasonal or seasonable? I would like some salt with the average temps! J.B. “Seasonal” is about what ...

STYLISTIC INCONSISTENCIES

Oh, the inconsistency of the English language and of those whom we rely on for the right and the wrong of it! Mrs. B is terribly frustrated today.  She is struggling with, no, not ...

TAKE INTO CUSTODY

Mrs. B hopes you’ve used that phrase (or variations of it) for the last time. From now on, make it ARREST or SEIZE. Take a look at some other simple words to substitute for ...

NEWSPEAK

We’ve talked about “newspeak” before, but Mrs. B is being nudged to address it again:  “The veteran catcher UNDERWENT hip surgery today and is HOSPITALIZED.” Sounds simple enough, but who says that in real ...

A CONCERNING COLUMN

Mrs. B s has a pen pal who is concerned about “is concerned”: America has an entire generation now dropping the words “is concerned” from the phrase “as far as grammar is concerned” and ...

WHAT’S YOUR SIGN?

Mrs. B’s sign is Libra. Today’s lesson is somewhat related. Read what arrived in her e-mailbox from the West Coast: I heard something on local TV that floored me. The tease was, “a big ...

INJURE VS. WOUND

Today’s lesson comes by way of a tv reporter in Atlanta, where Mrs. B learned how to sing “My Country Tis of Thee” in kindergarten: Somewhere along the way I heard there is a ...

WATCH THOSE WORDS

The U.S. military uses two names for the on-base jail.  Mrs. B wants you to repeat after her. >The Army and the Air Force call it a STOCKADE. >The Navy and the Marine Corps ...

REDUNDANCIES…..AGAIN

Mrs. B knows it’s easy to fall into the accidental use of a silly sounding redundancy. So here’s a reminder:   Do NOT say “two twins” or “two twin daughters.” “Twins” MEANS two. >We haven’t ...

THE CASE FOR PUNCTUATION

Mrs. B has noticed that some anchors, even on the network level, run their sentences together. There simply are no periods in their reading.  That not only confuses viewers, it makes the anchor sound ...

MRS. B’S DRINKING GAME

“Drink, drank, drunk.”  Mrs. B is going to set the record straight. “Drink” is an “irregular” verb. That means it forms its past and past participle in some way other than by adding “-d” ...

DON’T STRESS OVER DISTRESS

If you’re in a quandary about when to use “stress” and when to use “distress,” this lesson might help.  Here’s the letter from Morristown, New Jersey, that inspired it: Dear Mrs. B: I was ...