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Monday, October 1, 2012

My Pet Peeves: From the K and L Entries in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual

Here's the 10th in my alphabetical series of pet peeves -- from entries in the K section and the L section of Garbl's Editorial Style Manual. My style manual covers editorial issues like abbreviations, addresses, capitalization, English grammar, Internet terminology, numbers, plurals, possessives, punctuation, spelling and word usage. It focuses on U.S. standards for spelling, punctuation, definitions, usage, style and grammar.

Earlier blogs:

A peeves | B peeves | C peeves | D peeves | E peeves | F peeves | G peeves | H peeves | I peeves | J peeves


kind of, sort of Wordy and vague. Delete. If you must qualify (weaken) your writing, replace those phrases with rather, slightly or somehowIt's kind of (slightly) cloudy today. I'm sort of (rather) tired.Kind of and short of are acceptable to mean "a species of" or "subcategory of": That is the kind of development our region needs.

kudos It means "credit or praise for an achievement. The word is singular and takes singular verbs. There's no such thing as a kudoPraise is simpler, less pretentious synonym.


laid off, lay off (v.), layoff (n., adj.) Use these terms when writing about reductions in work force to cut costs, not for dismissals because of job performance.

large size(d) Usually redundant. Drop size(d).

last, latest, past Avoid using last to mean "most recent"; use latest instead. Use last to mean "after all others, after everyone or everything else." OK: The last time it rained, I forgot my umbrella. But: He made the last announcement at noon today may leave readers wondering whether the announcement was the final announcement or whether others will follow. Substitute latest for last. Other times, past may be a better word. Change: They worked together the last five months. To: They worked together the past five months.

The word last can also be confusing to mean "most recent" when using the name of a month or day; does last April mean April this year or April last year? Preferred: It happened in April. It happened Wednesday. Or: It happened last week. It happened last month. Redundant: It happened last Wednesday.

(the) late Think of the late as meaning "recently dead." If you think readers will no longer feel a person's death is recent -- or if you think most readers will know a person is dead -- don't use the late. And don't use the late to describe the former wife or husband of someone who's still alive! Use former or ex- (hyphenated) instead.

lay, lie Often confused. The action word is lay, which means "to place, put or deposit." It is followed by a direct object: I will lay the agenda on the desk. I laid the agenda on the desk. I have laid the agenda on the desk. I am laying the agenda on the desk. Use lay, laid or laying if place, placed or placing would substitute correctly.

Lie means "to be in a reclining position." It does not take a direct object. It is often followed by down or a prepositional phrase: The mechanic decided to lie down. The wrench lies on the workbench. The wrench lay on the workbench all day. The wrench has lain on the workbench all day. The wrench is lying on the workbench.

When lie means to make an untrue statement, the verb forms are lie, lied and lying.

lay the groundwork (for) Wordy cliche. Simplify. Try prepare, arrange, plan or ready.

lectern, podium Often confused. A speaker stands behind a lectern on a podium.

less than, under If you mean a lesser quantity or amount, use less than. Use under to mean physically underneath.

lets, let's Both are correct, depending on how you're using the word. If you mean let us, the correct spelling for the contraction is let'sLet's finish the job. But lets is correct as a present tense form of the verb letHe lets them get away with murder.

leverage Business jargon used by financial consultants to increase their return on the time they're investing in you by making you feel indebted to them for their understanding of the jargon they're using. For everyday, clear use, influence is a powerful word.

liberal Ignore misleading uses of this honorable word. Used accurately, liberal implies tolerance of others' views and open-mindedness to ideas that challenge tradition and established institutions. To be liberal means to be willing to understand or respect the different, even unorthodox behavior and ideas of other people. A liberal person supports changes and reform in political, social or religious systems that promote democracy and individual freedom. To be liberal is to be generous and plentiful. Be liberal proudly.

literally Overused and misused. It means "actually or in fact," not "figuratively." No politician, rock band or cult, for example, can literally sweep the Earth. In other words, use literally only when describing reality, or consider dropping the word.

livable Not liveable.

located Usually unnecessary when giving a location: The plant is in Renton. Not: The plant is located in Renton. Or: Their office is on Bourbon Street. Not: Their office is located on Bourbon Street. For other uses, consider using simpler verbs place or find.

login/log in, logon/log on, log off, log out Use one word as nouns, two words as verbs: Have you been told your login yet? She was told to log on to her computer. He logged in to the database program. Everyone was logging off the network. Verb use is more common. Log in and log on are interchangeable; so are log off and log out. Don't log into or log onto.

-ly A hyphen is unnecessary and redundant between an adverb ending in ly and the adjective it modifies: an easily remembered rule, randomly selected addresses.

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