Posted by: episystechpubs | January 4, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Items 8, 9, and 10

Happy 2016!

I didn’t exactly time this right so we have a few more of the top ten grammar issues from 2015 today, plus we have a last-minute addition from one of you readers. Here we go!

Different Than and Different From

I’ve borrowed this description from Lit Reactor:

This is a tough one. Words like rather and faster are comparative adjectives, and are used to show comparison with the preposition than, (for example, greater than, less than, faster than, rather than). The adjective different is used to draw distinction. So, when different is followed by a preposition, it should be from (such as, separate from, distinct from, or away from). For example: My living situation in New York was different from home.

There are rare cases where different than is appropriate, if than operates as a conjunction. For example: Development is different in New York than in Los Angeles.

When in doubt, use different from.

As and Because

Here’s one we see a lot—people using the word as to mean because. The problem with this is that because isn’t always a synonym for as. For example, note how much clearer the sentence with because is:

· Your file system seems disorganized as you use the Greek alphabet to organize American names.

· Your file system seems disorganized because you use the Greek alphabet to organize American names.

May

Here’s a new one that somebody mentioned to me the other day. There are folks out there who are requesting something and trying to be nice, but instead of asking “Could you please plug in the phone?” “Would you please hand me a biscuit?” “May I please have some more gruel, Sir?” these folks are saying: “May you please call the client and help them?” To this, I say “Ay, carumba!” The word may expresses the possibility of something, like “It may rain tomorrow.” May also expresses or asks permission, so it is appropriate to ask, “May I feed your dog a pork chop?” But you aren’t asking for permission to call the client, you are asking somebody to make the call. It would be more appropriate in this case to use “Could you call” or “Would you call,” or even “Please call.” May just isn’t correct.

And a Happy New Year from a friend of mine:

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

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Symitar Documentation Services

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