Clarity. Advocacy. Simplicity. Creativity. I like making connections. Not to confuse but to understand. From inspiring to amusing to unexpected ... to politically progressive. Between people, places, things. Ideas, beliefs, words. Events, issues, solutions. To explain. To enjoy. To grow. To advise. For fun, call me Garbl. I'm an acronym!
Here's the 17th in my alphabetical series of pet peeves--from entries in the T 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.
take action Wordy. Simplify. Consider replacing with act or another action verb.
take exception to, take issue (with) Wordy. Simplify. Consider replacing with challenge, disagree (with), dispute, object (to), oppose, protest, question or resent.
talk to, talk with The first term suggests that one person is doing the talking, such as a supervisor to a worker. The second term suggests that it's a mutual discussion between or among the participants.
tall in height Redundant and wordy. Simplify. Drop in height.
target Before using this word, visualize aiming an arrow at it. If you can't hit the target or miss it, avoid mixing metaphors and choose another word. Besides using hit and miss when mentioning atarget, consider using verbs like concentrate on, focus on, single out or aim at. If you prefer verbs such as achieve, attain or pursue, substitute nouns such as objective, goal or result for target.
tee ball Not T-ball. This version of baseball for young children got its name because the ball is placed on a tee, which looks nothing like the letter T.
telephone numbers Recommended forms for the United States: 206-937-XXXX, 800-XXX-XXXX, 937-XXXX, NU2-XXXX, FOR-FREE (367-3733). Using periods (or dots) instead of hyphens is trendy and potentially confusing.
For metropolitan areas with multiple area codes, put the suitable area code before all telephone, cellular phone, pager and fax numbers.
Refer to toll-free number instead of 800 number: 800-XXX-XXXX (toll free). Including the number 1 for long-distance and toll-free numbers is unnecessary.
terminate Overstated and formal. Simplify. Try end, stop, finish, wind up, limit or fire.
than I, than me Because of words understood or not stated, these phrases have different, potentially confusing meanings. "My girlfriend likes peanut butter better than I" means "My girlfriend likes peanut butter better than I like peanut better." "My girlfriend likes peanut butter better than me" means "My girlfriend likes peanut butter better than she likes me." To prevent unfortunate misunderstandings, use the correct pronoun and consider using all the words necessary.
than, then Often confused or misspelled. Use than when you're comparing things: No one is more aware of local driving behaviors than bus drivers. Use the adverb then when you're writing about time -- if one thing follows or results from another, suggesting a logical conclusion, or meaning "soon afterward": If this, then that. First they toured the vehicle maintenance shop; then they visited the sign shop.
that, this, these, those, it These pronouns must always refer clearly to a specific noun or other pronoun--or to a complete idea. Avoid using them alone to refer to the complete sense of an earlier statement. The result may be unclear and imprecise.
Instead, first ask yourself, "This what?" (or "That what?" or "These what?"). Then repeat a key word from the earlier sentence or clause, or include a word that refers to the earlier sentence or clause. Change: This helps prevent reader confusion. To: This rule helps prevent reader confusion. Change: If the dog leaves any food in the bowl, throw it out. To: Throw out any food the dog leaves in the bowl. Or: If the dog leaves any food in the bowl, throw out the leftovers. See these kind of, those kind of ... below.
Use this when writing about something near, such as this pencil I'm using or this feeling I'm experiencing. Use that to mention something farther away or more remote in distance, time or thought: that pencil in the desk or that feeling I had this morning. Apply the same distinctions to these as the plural of this and those as the plural of that.
that, which, who, whomThat is the defining, or restrictive, pronoun for essential clauses: The camera that is broken is in the shop (tells which one). Which is the nondefining, or nonrestrictive, pronoun for nonessential clauses: The camera, which is broken, is in the shop (adds a fact about the only camera in question).
In the examples above, note the correct use of commas: Which clauses are always set off with commas (or sometimes dashes or parentheses), and that clauses aren't. Essential that clauses cannot be cut without changing the meaning of a sentence. Don't set off an essential clause from the rest of a sentence with commas. Nonessential which clauses can be dropped without altering the meaning. Set off a nonessential clause with commas.
In addition, that is the preferred pronoun to introduce clauses that refer to an inanimate object: Greg remodeled the house that burned down Friday.Which is the only acceptable pronoun to introduce a nonessential clause that refers to an inanimate object: The house, which Greg remodeled, burned down Friday.
When an essential or nonessential clause refers to a human being or something with human qualities (such as a family), introduce it with who or whom. That -- but not which -- also may be used to refer to human beings, as well as inanimate objects. Don't use commas if the clause is essential to the meaning. Use them if it is not.
their, them, they The day may come--and should--when these plural pronouns are accepted as singular pronouns that don't note a person's sex. Some respected writing authorities now suggest this change in language as we eliminate the outdated use of he, him and his as references to both men and women. This updated usage would be similar to use of the pronouns you and your for both one person and more than person, taking a plural verb even when mentioning one person.
Still, for now, consider the potential reaction of your audience--and the reaction you would prefer as the writer or editor--before applying this use. Meanwhile, try other acceptable uses, especially using the plural pronouns to refer to plural nouns.
their, there, they're Commonly confused, misspelled or mistyped. And computer spellcheckers won't catch the mistaken substitution of one of these homonyms for the other--nor for there's and the plural possessive theirs. Their is the possessive form of the pronoun they, meaning "belonging to them." Don't misspell it as thier. They're is a contraction of they are. (And there's is a contraction of there is.) There (like here) refers to place. But see below for more on there.
there is, there are, there's, there was, there were Avoid beginning sentences with these often unnecessary, wordy phrases. Try rewriting the sentence. Change: There were two native rhododendrons at the nursery. To: Two native rhododendrons were at the nursery. Also, there's is a contraction for there is; it refers to a single noun: There's one signal at the intersection. Do not use it with plural nouns. Incorrect: There's better ways to write this sentence. There sure are!
therefor, therefore Unless you're an attorney who loves legal jargon, you'll never use therefor, which means "for that, for it" Use therefore, or better yet, simplify and use so, then or thus instead.
these kind of, those kind of; these sort of, those sort of; these type of, those type of In this use, these and those are plural adjectives that must modify plural nouns: kinds, sorts and types. Or use singular adjectives this and that instead with singular nouns kind, sort and type. See that, this, these, those, it entry above.
thus A simple, useful substitute for as a result, consequently and therefore. Or use even simpler so. For emphasis, a comma may follow thus (and so) at the beginning of sentences and other clauses. Also, adding ly to thus is a waste of time, space, finger energy and eye movement. Simplify.
till, 'til, untilTill and until are interchangeable. Some consider until as more formal. Don't use 'til or'till.
time Avoid redundancies such as 12 noon or 12 midnight and 8:30 a.m. this morning or 8:30 p.m. Monday night. Instead, use noon, midnight, 8 a.m. today, 8:30 p.m. Monday. The construction 2 o'clock in the afternoon is acceptable but wordy.
time frame, time period Two words. Jargon. Consider replacing with simpler period, time, age, era or interval.
to a certain degree Wordy. Consider using a simpler phrase, such as in part, less often, less so, partially or some.
to all intents and purposes, to all practical purposes Wordy. Simplify. Delete or consider replacing with effectively, essentially, in effect or in essence.
together Usually redundant when used with words like blend, combine, connect, consolidate, couple, group, join, link and merge: After the reorganization, all engineers were consolidated together on the fifth floor. Drop together.
tonight Avoid the redundant 6:30 p.m. tonight. Instead, use 6:30 tonight or 6:30 p.m. today.
too When using too to mean "also," no comma is necessary before too at the end of a clause or sentence: She finished her first task and her second task too. But set off too with commas elsewhere in a sentence: He, too, finished both tasks.
to take this opportunity Wordy. Simplify. Delete from sentences like this: I would like to take this opportunity to delete that unnecessary phrase.
total number Redundant. Drop total.
total, totaled, totaling The phrase a total of often is redundant. It may be used, however, to avoid a figure at the beginning of a sentence. A total of 322 people applied for the three jobs. Also, a total of takes a plural verb, and the total of takes a singular verb: A total of 22 days were spent on the trip. The total of 22 days was spent on the trip.
to the point of (that, when, where) Wordy. Simplify. Delete or consider replacing with so (that), so far (that), so much (that), to, to when or to where.
to, too, two Computer spellcheckers won't note the mistaken substitution of one of these homonyms for the other.
toward Don't use towards.
trademark Unless the trademark owner is paying you to follow a different style, capitalizing the first letter is your only obligation in using a trademark; do not capitalize every letter unless the word is an acronym or abbreviation: Subway, not SUBWAY. You do not have to use the trademark and registration symbols--TM and ® -- unless, perhaps, commercial products of another company are named in advertising.
transfer, transferable, transferred, transferring Commonly misspelled. Also, consider using forms of simpler move, change or give
transmit Overstated jargon, unless you're writing about sending out radio or television signals. Simplify. Use send when writing about passing something from one place or person to another. Other simpler choices, depending on what you're writing: broadcast, relay, transfer, pass on, bear, carry.
transpire Formal and pompous when misused to mean simpler happen or occur. Correctly used to mean "to become known or leak out": Reports on the conference never transpired.
travel, traveled, traveler, traveling No doubled l's.
tribe Capitalize when used with a proper name: Cherokee Indian Tribe, Hopi Tribe, Snoqualmie Tribe of Indians. Lowercase when used alone and in plural form: the tribe, the Cherokee and Hopi tribes, Indian tribes, the tribes. Lowercase the adjective tribal unless its part of a proper name: tribal art, Hopi tribal leaders, Muckleshoot Tribal Council. Add an s when making a tribal name plural: Cherokees, Snoqualmies.
true fact Redundant and wordy. By definition, a fact is true. If a fact is not true, it's not a fact. It could even be a lie. Drop true. Confirm accuracy of facts and correct them if necessary.
tryandTry and is colloquial. Write: Try to attend the meeting, not try and attend the meeting.
T-shirt Not tee shirt. So named because it resembles the letter T when spread out. Also, if a shirt or undershirt is sleeveless, don't call it a T-shirt.