Writing Tip 377: “Pickup” vs “Pick Up” vs “Pick-up”

Writing Tip 377: “Pickup” vs “Pick Up” vs “Pick-up”

If you’re hoping it’ll be a pick-me-up to be picked up by a pickup, you surely must have a handle on your language. But just in case you’re slightly baffled and would rather go find a pick-up game you’d rather be a part of, let’s take a moment to pick through these possibilities. They’re always […]

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Writing Tip 376: “Ground” vs. “Grinded”

Writing Tip 376: “Ground” vs. “Grinded”

What is the past tense of “grind”? I’m asking this as someone who might grind coffee beans, not as someone dancing scandalously at a club. Yes, this changes the answer. Does that give you enough of a hint to know the difference? If you’re looking to history, there has always been the same answer to […]

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Writing Tip 375: “To pass muster” or “to pass mustard”

Writing Tip 375: “To pass muster” or “to pass mustard”

Dinner parties with a crowd you don’t know well can be complicated. Sometimes, you need to dress and act appropriately, and sometimes, you need to give your neighbor the appropriate condiment. So next time you’re worried about whether the expression is “to pass muster” or “to pass mustard,” remember:

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gauge vs gage

Writing Tip 374: “Gage” vs. “Gauge”

If you want to go zero to sixty in a matter of seconds, speed-racer, you’re going to have an eye on the tools on your dashboard. Your speedometer, your odometer, your tachometer—these are all types of what? You’ve probably got a handle on “gag,” “gaggle,” and “gouge,” but when it comes to “gage” and “gauge,” […]

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"To Riffle" or "To Rifle"?

Writing Tip 373: “To Riffle” or “To Rifle”?

This isn’t a gun debate. It’s a verb debate. And neither of them has anything to do with firearms. There is a difference between “riffling” and “rifling” through the pages of your favorite writing reference book. Both are possible. But I’m guessing there’s only one that you mean. And seriously, if you’re confused, please get […]

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Writing Tip 372: “Chomping at the Bit” or “Champing at the Bit”?

Writing Tip 372: “Chomping at the Bit” or “Champing at the Bit”?

You can see it, can’t you? There’s the racehorse in the starting gate. He’s hoofing the ground. He’s whinnying. He’s chomping on his bit impatiently waiting for the starting gun to fire… But the problem is, “chomping at the bit” isn’t the correct expression. The second problem is that “champing” and “chomping” are so incredibly […]

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To Whet or Wet Your Appetite

Writing Tip 371: To “Wet” or “Whet” Your Appetite?

When people talk about enticing you, they aren’t talking about making you drool. The question about how do you spell “whetting” your appetite comes up often, and I think it often comes back to confusion about that saliva. You see something delicious and you salivate. Sure, I get it, but that has nothing to do […]

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