GrammarPhile Blog

Gregory Stepanich

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Commas and Christmas Carols!

Posted by Gregory Stepanich   Dec 21, 2010 5:00:00 AM

The world of proofreading is not immune to the sugar-cookie siren song of the holidays, and at this time of year (yes, I really do this) I like to take a moment to re-read a favorite essay about punctuation.

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Topics: punctuation

New Compounds: When Two Become One

Posted by Gregory Stepanich   Dec 15, 2009 4:00:00 AM

Up until at least the 1993 edition, the Associated Press Stylebook called for the word teenager to be spelled teen-ager -- with a hyphen. I'm sure this was one of the most ignored rules in AP history, but it's interesting to note that some authorities were still hanging onto this compound as a two-word structure long past the 1950s, when teen culture made its first big impact and made both the hyphen and Beethoven roll over.

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Topics: hyphenation, compound words, two-word structure, word usage

Words That Mean the Opposite of What You Might Think

Posted by Gregory Stepanich   Oct 20, 2009 4:00:00 AM

Writing late last month in the New York Times Magazine, the journalist Jack Rosenthal came up with a good term of art to describe a word that means the opposite of what a typical user might think it means: phantonym.

This is a nifty little neologism, and here is Rosenthal's piece (link to:, which offers numerous useful examples. Among them: enervated, which means "weakened," not "energized," and fortuitous, which means "by chance," not "fortunately." Rosenthal cites seven others: fulsome, noisome, enormity, disinterested, penultimate, presently and restive.

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Topics: misused words, word meaning

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