Category: Mrs. B

DEPARTMENT OF REDUNDANCY DEPARTMENT

Fasten your seat belt. Mrs. B is taking you on a high speed lesson in redundancies today. Ready? absolutely conclusive agricultural crops close proximity complete monopoly completely full end result exact counterpart future plan ...

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Most of the time Mrs. B prefers short words to long ones. And your viewers do, too. Instead of “approximately,” say ABOUT. Instead of “commence,” say BEGIN. Instead of “deactivate,” say SHUT OFF or ...

LISTEN UP EVERYONE

Every time Mrs. B thinks of Mrs. Bobo, her senior English teacher in high school (and her mentor), she thinks of the “everyone” lesson.  EVERYONE in this class NEEDS to learn how to speak ...

GIVING GRAMMAR ITS DUE

Due to” is an adjective phrase and should not be used as a preposition meaning “because of.” >The shoot was canceled BECAUSE OF a shortage of photogs.  >Schools were closed BECAUSE OF a snow ...

BEHIND BARS WITH MRS. B

Most viewers are confused by incarceration.   Mrs. B wants you to be sure your confusion is not adding to theirs. JAIL is a local lockup where newly arrested people are held pending trial or ...

NOT A FAVORITE

“Proactive” is not one of Mrs. B’s favorite words.  In fact, she would like to see it eradicated. (And that’s pretty radical for the tolerant Mrs. B.) “Proactive” IS in her two favorite dictionaries. ...

THAT WHICH IS CORRECT

“That” is one of those words that can make for a bumpy read and, therefore, a bumpy listen.  It’s also a word that, if left out, can leave behind a meaningless trail of words. ...

SOUND-ALIKES

Mrs. B would appreciate your taking a little time this morning to look at some sound-alike words that MEAN nothing alike. FLAK is gunfire, usually anti-aircraft artillery.  A public relations person is a FLACK. ...

THAT WHICH IS CORRECT

“That” is one of those words that can make for a bumpy read and, therefore, a bumpy listen.  It’s also a word that, if left out, can leave behind a meaningless trail of words. ...

COVERING COURTS COHERENTLY

Mrs. B turns your attention today to some more mistakes we’re making in covering the legal system.  A former reporter for nearly 20 years in print and broadcast journalism, says when he hears the ...

AFGHAN VS. AFGHANI

A letter to Mrs. B from Corpus Christi inspires today’s lesson. Can you tell me what the correct “term” is for the people of Afghanistan? I always thought it was the “Afghanis,” like the ...

SPOKESMAN OR SPOKESWOMAN????

Good morning. One of your classmates poses a good question: What about “company spokesman” vs. “spokeswoman” or “spokesperson”?? While the latter two choices seem politically correct, they don’t seem conversational. Maybe that’s because we’re ...

NO “S”, OK?

Today’s lesson is an easy one, for a change. It’s Friday, and Mrs. B knows you work hard and need a break every now and then. We have heard the word “toward” disputed by ...

A RECURRING MISTAKE

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 ...

HOW DO YOU PLEAD?

Into the courtroom we go for today’s lesson. Mrs. B has heard plenty of pleas to run a reminder about the past tense of “plead.” Plead, pleaded, pleading: Do NOT use the colloquial past ...

“WHO” vs. “WHOM”

When to use “who” and “whom” is such a bother, especially if you didn’t have a grandmother like Mrs. B’s, a one room school teacher in rural middle Tennessee, who began indoctrinating her first ...

SAY WHAT YOU MEAN

Mr. B used a software program to rewrite his and Mrs. B’s will.  That done, they had to find a NOTARY PUBLIC, not a notary “republic.” Then the Bluezettes put their notarized and newly ...

TOWARD BETTER GRAMMAR

Today’s lesson is an easy one, for a change.  Mrs. B knows you work hard and need a break every now and then. We look toward Orlando for the inspiration. I heard the word ...

SHE’S A GOOD SPORT, THOUGH

A sports fan Mrs. B is not.  Regardless, she tackles a few teams, per the request of a “shame based grammarian,” or so he identifies himself: Mrs. B, Sports no longer has only Lions, ...

MURDER, SHE EXPLAINED

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, but Mrs. B turns your attention to a not so neighborly subject: unnatural death and how you, as a broadcast journalist, report on it.  To cause the ...

RELIGIOUSLY CORRECT

As Easter looms before us, Mrs. B is intrigued by this letter from a member of the journalism faculty at Emerson College in Boston. She thinks you might be, too. How do you feel ...

DÉJÀ VU – SORT OF

Mrs. B had a sense of deja vu today when she heard a tune from the early 60s, her last years of high school.  In other words (instead of the French ones, pronounced day-zhah ...

A RECURRING  MISTAKE

A recurring mistake begins today’s lesson, courtesy of a reader of this column.  The other day I heard a radio announcer say a word that I’m not sure exists. He said “re-occurring,” as in ...

WE EAGERLY AWAIT YOUR REACTION

Let’s spend just a little time on “anxious” and “eager.  “Anxious” means full of worry or anxiety; “eager” means excited or enthusiastic. So… >Rosemary is anxious about her audition tape making the deadline. >I’m ...

LOSE THESE EXPRESSIONS

“Make up to 30-thousand dollars or more.” Now wait just a pea pickin’ minute. (Mrs. B is allowed to use such a colloquialism. She hails from Alabama.) How can you make “up to” an ...

NAVIGATING THE TRICKY ONES

Mrs. B is sad to tell you there will be no first annual reader reunion. That’s because there’s no such thing as “first annual.” There might be an INAUGURAL reader reunion. But we’ll have ...

LOSE THESE EXPRESSIONS

“Make up to 30-thousand dollars or more.” Now wait just a pea pickin’ minute.  (Mrs. B is allowed to use such a colloquialism. She hails from Alabama.) How can you make “up to” an ...

A SINGULAR FOCUS ON PLURAL

A faithful correspondent brings up a good grammar point and one worth exploring today.  She writes: “The legislature made *their* voices heard.” or The city council was busy last night. *They* passed several new laws.” ...

A NAUSEOUS GRAMMAR LESSON

Mrs. B wants you to remember that you cannot feel “nauseous.”  What you feel is “nauseated” when you see or smell something “nauseous” or when you experience something that causes “nausea.” For Mrs. B ...

THE EFFECT OF AFFECT

If you have mastered “affect/effect,” Mrs. B salutes you. If you haven’t, this lesson is for you.  The verb “affect” means to change, to influence, to stir emotions, to touch, or to move. >How ...

A SINGULAR COLUMN

If you have a singular subject, you need a singular verb. If you have a plural subject (more than one), you need a plural verb.  >The chief photog is waiting at the scene. > ...

LATIN TRANSLATIONS

Some of Mrs. B’s readers have asked about a Latin term you’ll see every now and then:  What does [sic] mean? The Latin adverb sic is part of the phrase sic erat scriptum, which ...

BREAK IT DOWN

A Chattanooga anchor writes: “Were having a discussion in our newsroom about causes of death.  Which of the following is correct?” (1) He died from two gunshot wounds to the head. (2) He died after being shot twice ...

IN BEHALF OF GOOD GRAMMAR

In behalf of you journalists who aren’t sure when to use “in behalf of” or “on behalf of,” Mrs. B presents today’s lesson. IN BEHALF OF means for the benefit of or in the ...

A SINGULAR COLUMN

If you have a singular subject, you need a singular verb. If you have a plural subject (more than one), you need a plural verb.  >The chief photog is waiting at the scene. > ...

WHO VS WHOM

The rule about “who” and “whom” is really pretty simple. Decide whether its a subject or an object. Use “who” is it’s a subject. Use “whom” if it’s an object. WHO do you think will ...

WHOM DO YOU TRUST IN GRAMMAR USAGE?

The rule about “who” and “whom” is really pretty simple. Decide whether its a subject or an object. Use “who” is it’s a subject. Use “whom” if it’s an object. WHO do you think will ...

MRS. B LAYS DOWN THE GRAMMAR LAW

It’s time to review “lie, lay, have lain” and “lay, laid, have laid.”  “Lie” means “to recline.” People LIE down. The 5,300-year-old Bronze Age hunter LAY (not “laid”) down and fell asleep and froze to ...

WHEN ARE NOUNS VERBS?

Mrs. B likes to give you the definitive word on subjects of grammar, style, and usage, but sometimes the best she can do is to offer you opinion. A freelance producer in Milwaukee wants ...

MAN, WE’RE SUNK!

Mrs. B has heard too many “sunks” lately that should have been “sanks.”  The past tense of “sink” is “sank.” The ferry SANK, and there are no survivors. Repeat after Mrs. B: sink, sank, ...

A DISSERTATION ON “NONE”

None of the two dozen or so reference books Mrs. B uses agree (some would have me say “agrees”) on “none.”  Patricia T. O’Conner, a former editor at The New York Times Book Review, ...

MRS B: GRADUATION DAY

It happens every year around graduation time – and fall graduation time is upon us..You hear the Latin words for graduate(s) mangled.  Mrs. B wants you to take a minute out of your busy ...

TIME TO SUFFER. REALLY

Are you up for a lesson on “suffering” today? Mrs. B promises it won’t hurt. It’s a hot topic with some Grammar Yammer readers: …could we put an all time cease and desist order ...

HEALTHY GRAMMAR

Mrs. B knows you want to use the correct word, not only in meaning but in appropriateness for broadcast news.  So today’s lesson is on some terms that come up often in health reports. ...

IN BEHALF OF GOOD GRAMMAR

In behalf of you journalists who aren’t sure when to use “in behalf of” or “on behalf of,” Mrs. B presents today’s lesson. IN BEHALF OF means for the benefit of or in the ...

A CRIME-FILLED GRAMMAR LESSON

Mrs. B is a bit breathless about today’s lesson.  It’s terribly exciting. It begins with burglary, turns into robbery, and ends with… well, you’ll have to wait and see. BURGLARY is about breaking in ...

A RECURRING  MISTAKE

A recurring mistake begins today’s lesson, courtesy of a reader of this column.  The other day I heard a radio announcer say a word that I’m not sure exists. He said “re-occurring,” as in ...

SAY IT LOUD…AND CORRECTLY

Get those lips all limbered up and that tongue ready to press against the roof of your mouth,  Mrs. B is doing a pronunciation lesson today. ANTARCTICA is Ant-ARC-ti-ca, not an-AR-ti-ca. Don’t forget that ...

TAMING THE APOSTROPHE

Mrs. B waxes poetic today. (Remember, “the” before a vowel sound is pronounced “thee.”) Apostrophes do NOT belong on signs like these in produce markets: TOMATOES, POTATOES, BANANAS, and GRAPES Tomatoes, potatoes, bananas, and ...

MRS. B HEADLINE ADVICE

Mrs. B has been seeing and hearing some headlines that need a little adjustment. They look and sound something like this: MEDIA SWARMS TOWARD TERRE HAUTE The problem is that MEDIA is a plural ...

MRS B

Let’s spend a little time on the “will” contractions in response  to a suggestion from a Grammar Yammer reader in Lansing: First, let Mrs. B say that she is rather fond of contractions. They ...

WATCH THOSE PRONUNCIATIONS!

This morning Mrs. B heard a word mispronounced on NPR, of all places, that made the left side of her face twitch: “FUSS-trated.” Don’t forget. Both syllables in FRUS-TRATED have an “r.” INTRAVENOUS all ...

PATIENCE, PLEASE

A short lesson today. Mrs. B knows you have places to go and people to see…and so does she. Take a look at two sets of P-words that sound alike but have very different ...

MRS. B: A BONA FIDE QUESTION

We recently heard an anchor on a Canadian radio show refer to bon-uh-fee-dees.  This is a word that we’ve also heard frequently as bone-uh-fides. Which is it? Bear with Mrs. B, please. This is ...

BEING POSSESSIVE

Now that you’ve mastered the possessive case with its apostrophe, here’s an exception. Possessive pronouns have no apostrophe: hers, its, theirs, yours, whose, oneself. “Who’s” means “who is.” >Who’s going to in master control ...

WE EAGERLY AWAIT YOUR REACTION

Let’s spend just a little time on “anxious” and “eager. “Anxious” means full of worry or anxiety; “eager” means excited or enthusiastic. So… >Rosemary is anxious about her audition tape making the deadline. >I’m ...

GIVE “ME” SOME RESPECT

“Myself” is one of those words that pops up a lot in daily conversation. 99 percent of the time we use it wrong. The only right way to use “myself” is reflexively or intensively. ...

IF SINGULAR WERE THE CASE….

When to use “was” and “were” is usually pretty easy. If the subject is singular, use the singular verb “was.” > The tape was in the editing booth. If the subject is plural, use ...

BETWEEN YOU AND ME…

I know you hear it in songs and on soaps, even occasionally from the hallowed mouth of a network correspondent, but “between you and I” is WRONG. “Between” is a preposition. It takes an ...

LAYING DOWN THE GRAMMAR LAW

Somewhere, way back there in middle school, you probably had a teacher explain the difference between “lie” and “lay,” but it’s kind of fuzzy now. And you hear them misused so much, you may ...

MRS. B’S SPELLING BEE

Mrs. B continues her campaign for the importance of spelling in TV news. Several sound-alike “c” words call out for attention today: CAPITOL (with an “o”) is both the national and the state building. ...

SPELLING STILL MATTERS

Mrs. B can hear the moans about to leave your lips when she tells you spelling continues to be a critical issue in TV news. Not only can a misspelled word trip up the ...

SAY IT RIGHT

A Charlotte anchor/reporter gets us going today. Part of his e-mail to Mrs. B made her juices flow: Now what do we do with HIGH ranking politicians who say “physical” when they mean “fiscal”? ...

TODAY’S LESSON IS NOT HARD

Dear Mrs. B, Please try to put out a missive on “hard” versus “difficult.” I must say I enjoy your daily lesson. Life just got simpler. “Hard” and “difficult” are synonyms. Use whichever you ...

STUFF THAT MAKES US SHUDDER

We start today’s lesson with a little friendly jabbing in the form of e-mail to Mrs. B. This is from a spam I received today. Pretty good! “Have you ever looked at consultants’ rates ...

WHEN “MAY” YOU USE “MIGHT?”

Several readers have asked Mrs. B to refresh their memories on when to use “may” and “might.” One reader in particular pulled at Mrs.B’s heartstrings: “What’s up with may and might? I’m a former ...

FIXING TO SIT A SPELL

Mrs. B is fixing to get herself in trouble. But one thing Mrs. B is not is cowardly. From an anonymous correspondent: “Mrs. B, I must ask about the line quoted below. I was ...

SAY WHAT?

Let’s go over a few pronunciation stumbles today. From Hartford we get this: “…. the word THE. I always thought it is pronounced THUH before words beginning with a consonant, an THEE before words ...

A SINGULAR FOCUS ON PLURAL

A faithful correspondent brings up a good grammar point and one worth exploring today. She writes: “The legislature made *their* voices heard.” or The city council was busy last night. *They* passed several new ...

A REVERIE ON REVEREND

Here’s a quiz to start today’s lesson. What’s wrong with this sentence? >Kraus and a pack of reporters seemingly ambushed the mother and child at the airport, where they were met and escorted out ...

THE EFFECT OF AFFECT

If you have mastered “affect/effect,” Mrs. B salutes you. If you haven’t, this lesson is for you. The verb “affect” means to change, to influence, to stir emotions, to touch, or to move. >How ...

SAYING IT CORRECTLY

Let’s go over a few commonly mispronounced words and send you on your way. The pronunciation of “vice versa” gets battered every now and then and comes out “VICE-UH versa.” You should say it ...

A PLEA FOR CLARITY

Into the courtroom we go for today’s grammar lesson. Folks have been pleading with Mrs. B to run a reminder about the past tense of “plead.” Indeed, my AP Stylebook has the following entry: ...

TAKING LIBERTIES

Mrs. B is a long-standing George Strait fan. When George sings, “Where it’s at,” she can deal with it. Outside the context of a country song, however, such a redundancy makes her cringe! “Where” ...

A SINGULAR COLUMN

If you have a singular subject, you need a singular verb. If you have a plural subject (more than one), you need a plural verb. >The chief photog is waiting at the scene. > ...

A SINGULAR DILEMMA

How about the use of “none?” If a reporter doesn’t know what should follow, s/he has a tendency to add a variety of prepositional phrases to muddy the water in the hope we won’t ...

NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF

Here’s a tip I think you’re going to like and one that may surprise you. You don’t have to turn cartwheels to avoid putting a preposition at the end of the sentence. Isn’t that ...

THAT WHICH IS CORRECT GRAMMAR

If you’re puzzled by when to use “that” or “which,” you’re not alone. It’s a common quandary. “That” defines and restricts. “Which” is explanatory and nonrestrictive Use “that” when it’s essential to the meaning ...

CONTINUAL GRAMMAR CHECK

When I hear “We’ll have continuous coverage of this story,” I have to stifle a giggle. “Continuous” means uninterrupted. You hear it on the radio all the time: “Continuous soft rock favorites all day.” ...

COMPLEMENT IS NO COMPLIMENT

Have you ever seen an ad like this? “Number one station looking for a morning anchor to compliment our male anchor.” Good luck! Who’s going to want to sit beside a man and tell ...

ANXIOUSLY EAGER

Let’s spend just a little time on “anxious” and “eager” because I’m anxious about it, but I’m eager to move on to “different from” and “different than.” “Anxious” means full of worry or anxiety; ...

BEING POSSESSIVE

Possessive pronouns have no apostrophe: hers, its, theirs, yours, whose, oneself. “Who’s” means “who is.” “There’s means “there is.” “It’s” is the contraction for “it is.” >It’s going to cost several hundred dollars to ...

HIGHLY IRREGULAR

Irregular verbs can be stumpers. Use your dictionary if you aren’t sure what the past tense or past participle is. “See, saw, seen” is like “swim, swam, swum.” “Saw” is the past tense. >I ...

JARGON IS SOMETIMES INEVITABLE

In TV news, you probably can’t get around using “allegedly” and “suspect.” But let’s be sure to use police jargon correctly, if we have to use it. Crimes are not committed by “suspects.” They ...

POSSESSIVE VS. PLURAL

The difference between possessive and plural. That’s today’s lesson, class. Plural means more than one. You do not need an apostrophe to make a noun (whether common or proper) plural. (singular) pro (plural) pros ...

BETWEEN BETTER AND BEST

“Between” and “among” are easy. Use “between” for two and “among” for any more than that. If I have to choose BETWEEN the morning show and the 11 PM, it’s a no brainer. But ...