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Robert Pingree

The Grammarnator

Voting for a Presidents’ Day resolution

My annual survey of how we punctuate the day on which each president is honored for about 33 minutes (if Grover Cleveland gets over an hour) produced these: ∎ Presidents Day, the choice that avoids apostrophes altogether: Bonneville & Sons, Portsmouth Ford, Sears, and a brief notice in the Monitor about the… 0

February 24, 2015
The Grammarnator

He was told he was missed, so he’s out of hibernation

Here’s another potpourri of usage problems that I have been gathering for a while. ∎ An AP piece in the Monitor tells us that “Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire’s chances to enter the Hall of Fame are dwindling.” The writer probably thought it was awkward to write “Roger Clemens’s, Barry Bonds’, Sammy… 0

January 20, 2015
The Grammarnator

He’s back with a grammar grab back of musings for us

Here’s some miscellaneous usage that has appeared of late. ∎ Continuing the tendency to make compounds of words that have always been separated, the reviewer of a Chicago radio station calls And So It Goes, a film with what can at best be called mixed reviews, “a masterclass in acting.” If this trend continues,… 0

October 28, 2014
The Grammarnator

Read this before you go lie down for a bit

Looking back at a recent column on compound words, I can report that examples keep cropping up of the move toward joining words together instead of leaving them separate. On Route 3 in Tilton last week I noticed a sign for CLOUGH AUTOBODY. My immediate reaction was that if autobody could be one word, why not Chineserestaurant? The slippery slopeis now in play, and we will soon have… 0

August 5, 2014
The Grammarnator

Was this entire column just an excuse to use the word pluperfect?

To continue with verbs, we all know that they come in different tenses – present and past and future – and people once upon a time used to know about principal parts and participles and go even further and understand the subjunctive, which still bedevils those learning Spanish, and the pluperfect –… 0

July 29, 2014
The Grammarnator

Imagine if we would have learned about this earlier

The Grammarnator has been thinking about verbs recently, two uses of them, to be exact, one in the Monitor and one in the New York Times. The Monitor’s was a comment by an ordinary American about what seemed to be the widespread practice of taking time off from work to watch the United States in the World… 0

July 22, 2014
The Grammarnator

He’s back, and sharper than a pocketknife

The Grammarnator was struck recently by a sign at the Liquor & Wine Outlet asking people not to park in the Firelane. Compound words abound, and most of us can come up with a few without thinking very hard. Bookcase was the first that came to my mind, and then backpack. Others with the same beginnings are bookend, bookmark, bookshelf, bookstore, and bookworm; backslide,… 0

July 8, 2014
The Grammarnator

Cate Blanchett loses the grammar awards

The Grammarnator has not written in a while, and people he meets around town are asking him about it. So it’s time to use a whopper of a public mistake to get back into it. At the Oscars last week, Cate Blanchett grabbed her second statuette from Daniel-Day Lewis and immediately said that receiving it from his hands… 0

March 11, 2014
The Grammarnator

The grammar bus is leaving the station

The Grammarnator offers a challenge to our readers. Having left his Kindle on the dining room table when he rushed to the bus station a while ago, he had nothing to read on the trip to Boston except the back of the ticket. He was astonished to find that he would make nine changes in punctuation and usage in the message… 0

November 12, 2013
The Grammarnator

‘Lay’ versus ‘lie’ is a nerve-racking battle

 Since flesh out was well explained by last week’s letter writer, I see no reason to add anything about that phrase. But other usage issues have appeared in the last couple of days that merit comment.First of all, the very capable technician who did an ultrasound on my carotid arteries asked me to “lay… 0

October 1, 2013