1. Less than / fewer than.
Even newscasters and experienced public speakers misspeak when it comes to the proper way to convey the fact that there were not as many or there were not as many as.
The bottom line? Less is for things you do not count. Fewer is for things you count. Use less when you're referring to something that can't be counted or doesn't have a plural (e.g. money, air, time, music, rain).
So, according to the Oxford Dictionary, Fewer than 30 children each year develop the disease. And, It's a better job but they pay you less money.
2. Prior to vs. Before.
Both are grammatically correct, but Grammar Girl recommends that we use Before, which is nearly always the better choice. Keep it simple, she says.
Rather than Prior to becoming a clown, Bob was an accountant; write Before becoming an award-winning clown, Bob was an accountant.
3. i.e. vs. e.g.
Both abbreviations for Latin terms, i.e. stands for id est and means ‘that is.’ e.g. stands for exempli gratia, which means ‘for example.’ Mistaking or interchanging these two Latin abbreviations is very common. Don’t second-guess yourself, even if someone says you are wrong.
4. Capitalizing Job Titles.
Everyone wants to feel important. Some people equate their importance and the importance of their jobs, with capitalization – even when capitalizing their title would be incorrect. You must determine if the job title is part of an official title, or if it merely describes someone’s role.
In general, titles that come before names are capitalized and titles that come after names are lowercase. If the description is part of a person’s official title, it’s capitalized. But if the so-called title merely describes someone’s role, it’s lowercase. Most job descriptions – actor Dustin Hoffman, writer Cathi Douglas – are not considered titles and are not capitalized. Formal titles denote a scope of authority, professional rank or academic rank, such as professor, judge, mayor, doctor, king.
Never capitalize a title used alone, no matter how important it seems. The president signed the bill; the pope blessed the multitude.
5. Light, lit, lighted.
Why do we have two past-tense forms of the verb to light? Maybe you’ve even wondered which is correct, lit or lighted.
Lighted is a regular verb, because you make it past tense by adding ed to the end. Lit is an irregular verb because you change the spelling to make it past tense.
In the past, English had a lot more irregular verbs. Over time, many changed form and became regular, making English much simpler. For some reason, light took the opposite route. Long ago, people used the irregular verb, saying they lit candles. For a time, the verb moved toward becoming regular, with people saying they lighted candles. And then, inexplicably, people started using lit as past tense, and it is still the most common form used today.
Lit and lighted also can be used as adjectives, such as a lit hallway or lighted hallway. In American English, lit and lighted seem to be used about equally, while lit is more common as an adjective in British English.
For more grammar tips…
Grammar Girl - Grammar: Quick and Dirty Tips ™
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