Language and style are things that writers without degrees in English (uhh, that’d be me) improve upon by ‘listening’ when they read. And I use inverted commas for ‘listening’ because I think reading the latest Mark Billingham novel out loud will cause your nearest and dearest to lob the weightiest Stephen King novel they can lay their hands on at you. By listening, I mean being aware of what is being written, the words chosen, the grammar used – and learning from that.
Now there are plenty of resources out there on the World Wide InterWeb that highlight the differences between its and it’s (if you can replace the word with ‘it is’, then it’s is correct), but I’m going to post here some of the more obscure points about style. Not ‘cause I know it all and want to educate the world. More because I don’t know it all, and they’re all handy reminders for me!
Among and between
For more than two, among is usually better. For example: ‘Their lands were divided among the three victorious nations’. When there are more than two involved, but each is regarded individually, between is preferable. ‘The President argued for a strategic alliance between Africa’s leading nations.’ For two, always use between.
Anticipate or expect
Anticipate does not mean expect. The crowd at a football match may expect the winger to cross the ball into the penalty area; it is the job of the defenders and attackers to anticipate it.
Often unnecessary. ‘Both John and Dave’ means no more than ‘John and Dave’.
Means persistent and not acute or severe.
That’s it for today. More to follow.