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

Words sometimes confused – climatic and climactic by Angela Caldin

One letter makes a big difference Climatic is an adjective which means relating to climate and climate refers to the average atmospheric conditions that prevail in a given region making it generally cold and wet or hot and dry, for example. There is still some scepticism about the claim that our carbon footprints are on course to lead to climatic extremes. The climatic conditions led to the heaviest rainfall for many years which caused extensive flooding. Drought and famine in some African countries can be attributed in part to climatic changes. Climactic… Read More

Similes and metaphors by Angela Caldin

What’s the difference? Both similes and metaphors are used to make writing more interesting by using striking comparisons. The difference between them comes down to two words. Similes use the words like or as to compare things: The thunder sounded like several fireworks going off at once. In contrast, metaphors directly state a comparison, as in Katy Perry’s song: Baby, you’re a firework! Here are some other examples of similes and metaphors: Life is like a box of chocolates. (Simile) My life is an open book. (Metaphor) The dancer’s hands fluttered like… Read More

Words sometimes confused: incredible and incredulous by Angela Caldin

Incredible means that something is difficult to believe whereas incredulous means that someone is unwilling or unable to believe. So something that seems unbelievable or implausible is incredible, but if you have trouble believing something, you are incredulous. The word incredible is often overused to describe something astounding. It applies to an unbelievable situation, while incredulous applies to an unbelieving person rather than a situation. They paused for a few minutes to admire the incredible sunset, fiery red and brilliant orange against the darkening sky. Maradona was an amazing footballer with fantastic… Read More