Keeping up with style and usage

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Keeping up with style and usage in American English is tedious.

From The Associated Press Stylebook (1993):

reluctant, reticent

Reluctant means unwilling to act: He is reluctant to enter the primary.

Reticent means unwilling to speak:  The candidate’s husband is reticent.

running mate  (two words, no hyphen)

rush hour (n.) rush-hour (adj.)

Who, Whom: Use who and whom for references to human beings and to animals with a name.

Use that and which for inanimate objects and animals without a name.

Who is the word when someone is the subject of a sentence, clause or phrase:

The woman who rented the room left the window open. Who is there?

Whom is the word when someone is the object of a verb or a preposition: The woman to whom the room was rented left the window open. Whom do you wish to see?

Who’s Whose: Who’s is a contraction for who is, not a possessive. Who’s there?

Whose is the possessive: I do not know whose coat it is.

round up (v.) roundup (n.)

rubella: Also known as German measles.

runner-up, runners-up

sculptor:  Use for both men and women.

stationary, stationery: To stand still is to be stationary. Writing paper is stationery.

pupil, student: Use pupil for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. Student or pupil is acceptable for grades nine through 12.

Use student for college and beyond.

Editor’s note: It appears to me that common usage is now student in reference to all grades. The latest style book I have at the house is for the year 1993. I need to have a current style book.

The Associated Press Stylebook is used by most newspapers. Exceptions to this rule include The New York Times and The Washington Post.

American English is a complicated language that requires consistent updates because usage changes so much. Think for example how much change the development of the Internet has made and continues to make on our language.

And we all have to be aware of the differences in style and usage between the English Departments and the journalism departments. (Life is tedious.)

Gillis Morgan is an associate professor emeritus of journalism at Auburn University and an award-winning columnist. He can be reached at morgarg7@aol.com

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