writes: “I had a
co-worker ask me a question I didn’t have the answer to. I know you should
use an adverb to describe a verb. Is it proper English to say I’m
feeling poorly? It just sounds too odd!”
is odd – and incorrect. You feel well or unwell. Both words
are adjectives describing your health, not adverbs modifying the verb
problem is that the word well also is used as an adverb. As a
result, many people mistakenly think they are using an adverb when
referring to their health, so to be consistent they say I feel badly.
or to feel badly, however, means the nerves in your fingers aren’t
working so good – I mean, well.
writes: “As a writer, I occasionally use the word myriad, and when
I use the adjective, I do not couch it in articles. Rather than ‘We were
surprised by a myriad of choices,’ I use ‘We were surprised by myriad
a rather vigorous discussion among several of us – copywriters all – about
the correct usage of myriad. Can you shed some light on the
Your position on proper usage is unimpeachable: It should be myriad
rather than a myriad of. As Patricia O’Connor points out in Woe
Is I, the word myriad “originally meant ten thousand,
but it now means numerous or a great number of. Avoid
myriads or a myriad of.”
writes: “In the spring a magazine will publish one of my articles. They
returned a copy of my manuscript with slight changes – mostly in
punctuation – for me to proof. I am a little puzzled by one of their
changes and wondered if you could give me some advice.
that in her original manuscript she wrote, “‘How is this possible?’ he
thought. ‘How can one pray without ceasing?’ “ The editor changed the
punctuation to “‘How is this possible?’, he thought, ‘How can one pray . .
says, “I am puzzled by the insertion of the two commas.”
So am I.
According to The Chicago Style Manual, you are correct, and your
editor is wrong. I hope you are successful in dissuading the magazine from
publishing your article with nonstandard punctuation.
Because the rules governing quotation marks perplex
so many writers (and apparently certain editors), I’ve posted 17 helpful
guidelines on my website at
maybe I should have a look in the old mailbag. Dick has sent me something
written on a strange, papyrus-like material:
done your best, but the its and it’s . . . are rampant in
everything I read . . . So please, start over.”
listen up, youse guys who don’t know the difference between a contraction
(it’s) and a possessive pronoun (its). Do not – I repeat –
do not write it’s with the apostrophe unless you can replace it
with two words: it is. Got it?
Dick. I didn’t realize things had gotten so bad. I’ll keep my eyes open
for punctuation errors next time I go for a spin in my CommaMobile.