Author Archives: Susan

Commonly confused words: medal and meddle and pedal and peddle (and pedaller and pedlar)

Medal and meddle The difference between medal and meddle is straightforward: a medal is a small, wearable ornament, usually a metal disk, that usually either commemorates an event or has been awarded in recognition of some achievement. We see returned service personnel or their descendants wear their medals as they march on Anzac Day or

Read More

Pronouns: reflexive pronoun use and Microsoft Word’s grammar checker

To start with, let’s remember what reflexive pronouns are. They are what I dubbed the ‘selfie’ pronouns: myself, ourselves, yourself, yourselves, himself, herself, itself, themselves and – a bit controversially – themself (for more on this particular pronoun, see the post on gender-neutral pronouns). We use them when we want to refer back to the

Read More

Pronouns: ‘that’ and ‘who’ and people and animals

Use ‘who’ and ‘whom’ for people (and for words that describe people) This seems obvious but more and more writers are using that as the relative pronoun to describe people. I have two theories why this happening: partly because people are worried about misusing either who or whom and look for another word to use

Read More

Pronouns – the difference between ‘who’ and ‘whom’ (cheat’s version)

Does the difference between ‘who’ and ‘whom’ really matter? No man is an island, entire of itself: every man … is a part of the main … any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in all mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. John

Read More

Pronouns: the that/which problem (and understanding your MS Word grammar checker)

Relative pronouns We use relative pronouns – that, which, who and whom – to join sentences, which refer to the same noun, together. (In this post, I’ll look at the difference between that and which, and next week I’ll look at who and whom.) For example: We use relative pronouns to join sentences together. The

Read More

Commonly confused words: wringer and ringer

In honour of International Women’s Day this coming Friday (8 March), I pay tribute to those who invented and developed washing machines, one of the great labour-saving inventions, freeing women from the hard work of boiling clothes in coppers, rinsing them and wringing them through a mangle. Washing machines have become so common that it

Read More

Pronouns: he or she? The gender-neutral problem

Pronouns provide a quick, convenient way to refer to an earlier noun without repeating it (as it does in this sentence). But there is one problem: what pronoun can we use for a single person when we don’t know the person’s sex, given that pronouns indicate sex? For example, consider this sentence: The child paddles

Read More