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The Most Dreadful Thing at Sea

Victor Hugo’s 1874 novel Ninety-Three includes a terrifying description of a heavy cannon coming loose on board a ship, an event he calls “perhaps the most dreadful thing that can take place at sea.” This is part of a complete...

The Thing Is, Is

Many public speakers, including President Obama, have developed a reputation for using the reduplicative copula. You know, that thing where he says, “the thing of it is, is…” In wonky speak, this is what happens when a cleft...

Borrow vs. Lend vs. Loan

What’s the difference between borrow and lend, or between borrow and loan? The real difference between these verbs is which direction the thing is traveling. Something similar happens with teach vs. learn and bring vs. take. This is part of a...