Due to or because of by Angela Caldin

Does anyone else remember being told at school to be very careful when using due to, because in some situations it could be grammatically wrong? I avoid using due to for that very reason, but today I decided to find out what the distinction is between due to and because of. It turns out that due to acts as an adjective, which describes or modifies a noun. It can be replaced by caused by. It follows some form of the verb to be. For example: The car accident was due to poor… Read More

Empathy and sympathy by Angela Caldin

I was pondering the other day on the difference between empathy and sympathy and having a bit of difficulty distinguishing between the two. Empathy, it seems, is a fairly modern concept encompassing the ability to understand emotionally and cognitively what other people feel. It’s the ability to see things from another’s point of view, and imagine yourself in the place of another. In essence, it is putting yourself in someone else’s position and feeling what they are feeling. Sympathy, on the other hand, is a feeling of pity or sense of compassion… Read More

Standing and sitting by Angela Caldin

‘We stand for standing and sitting and we will not stand for stood and sat.’ So says the Guardian style guide and I am writing this post in solidarity and support. I think I may be in an ever-decreasing minority of those who wince when someone says: I was stood outside the night club waiting for it to open. This would be all very well if someone had picked the person up and placed them upright outside the night club, but it is not all very well if what they mean is… Read More

Dangling modifiers by Angela Caldin

Most people know a modifier when they see one. A modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that clarifies or describes another word, phrase, or clause. But do they know a dangling modifier when they see one? I like the term dangling modifier because it is so evocative and so unlike any other grammatical term. I imagine someone hanging off a cliff or escaping by clinging on to a window sill. With a dangling modifier, the thing it is meant to modify isn’t even in the sentence, so it seems to modify… Read More

The abstruse apostrophe by Angela Caldin

I’ve been pondering this week on apostrophes. What a sad life she must lead, I hear you sigh. But actually this particular case is quite interesting. It concerns the question of whether there should be an apostrophe after a plural adjectival or attributive noun. Specifically, I was writing up the notes of our recent residents meeting and wondering if there should be an apostrophe after residents or not. I looked it up and it seems that in this case, either would be acceptable: Residents’ meeting – the word residents’ is a possessor. The phrase could be rewritten… Read More