Grammar Friday

Today’s two grammar tips:

  • The first comes from Ned Maniscalco, a friend in St. Louis, who wrote to me recently with this tip: “I’ve noted a disturbing increase in the misspelling of adverbs such as publicly (‘publically’), accidentally (‘accidently) and incidentally (‘incidently’). A good general rule to remember is that an adverb is the result of adding the suffix ‘-ly’ to a word’s adjectival form. Thus, there is no need to tack an ‘-al’ onto ‘public’ because it’s already an adjective. In contrast, one cannot simply add ‘-ly’ to ‘accident’ or ‘incident,’ which are nouns. They must be converted to adjectives by adding ‘-al’.

    “There are, of course, exceptions. ‘Ironic,’ for example, is an adjective, but its adverbial form is ‘ironically.’ And because the adjectival form of ‘coincidence’ can be either ‘coincident’ or ‘coincidental,’ both ‘coincidentally’ or ‘coincidently’ are deemed acceptable.”

  • Adverse means unfavorable, contrary or hostile. Averse means having a strong feeling of opposition, antipathy or repugnance. If you sail despite adverse weather conditions, you are not averse to risk.

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