Home » usage

Tagusage

Snookums and Snicklefritz (#1604)

A new book about how animals perceive their environment reveals immense worlds beyond our own. A bee can see ultraviolet light, catfish have taste buds all over their bodies, and manatees use highly sensitive lips to examine nearby objects. Also...

An Outfit with Four Wheels and a V8

Jack from Sentinel Butte, North Dakota, observes that in his part of the country, the word outfit can have any of several meanings. Buying a new outfit doesn’t necessarily mean “buying a new set of clothes.” It could well refer to...

Episode 1584

Sleepy Winks

It was a dark and stormy night. So begins the long and increasingly convoluted prose of Edwards Bulwer-Lytton’s best-known novel. Today the annual Bulwer-Lytton Contest asks contestants for fanciful first sentences that are similarly...

Episode 1583

Made from Scratch

Enthusiastic book recommendations! Martha’s savoring the biography of Alexander von Humboldt, the 19th-century explorer, polymath, and naturalist who revolutionized our understanding of nature and predicted the effects of human activity on...

Episode 1601

Funny Papers

There are word nerds, and then there’s the woman who set up a folding chair on sidewalks throughout the country, cheerfully dispensing tips about grammar. She recounts her adventures in a new book. And the story of the brilliant pioneer of...

Rebel with a Clause

In 2018, author Ellen Jovin started setting up her folding “Grammar Table” on the streets of New York City, and dispensing helpful advice about grammar and usage to anyone who asked. She enjoyed those interactions so much that...