The Vocabula Review

March 2007, Vol. 9, No. 3 Friday, May 6, 2016

Letters to the Editor
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The Vocabula Review welcomes letters to the editor. Please include your name, email address, and professional affiliation. Send your letters to We reserve the right to edit letters for length and clarity.

A Few Rules of English-Language Use

This is a very good article, but I have a question and a comment.

Question: Your suggestion for the example in 3 (NewsCenter 5's Gail Huff reported that in Worcester, there was about 3 inches on the ground by noon.) is to use "there were." But is it possible to interpret the sentence to mean the 3 inches is a singular item, i.e., a measurement?

Comment: Why do we all ignore the clash of a singular noun combined with a plural pronoun as the price for avoiding the awkward and graceless "his or her"? An example is, Every student must have their pencils ready for writing. We see it every day, we tolerate it, but it remains grating. And as is clear from two of your example in 18 (In some situations, a businessperson may be evasive. One way he/she can do this is by changing the subject. S/he will also have a record of encouraging and nurturing collaboration by example and deed), efforts to deal with this in a novel way only make it worse. Can someone please find a solution for this?

Receiving the Vocabula Review is the best e-mail I get. I love it.

Harry Lembeck

"No one has said they can't handle it. Use he or she."

"No one" does not identify the person's gender. Today, "they" becomes the unidentified person. An inclusive non-gender so as to mollify anyone.

If the sentence is meant to include a group, containing both men and women and is said to include everyone, what do you say that is inclusive?

Sally Spangler

An Extinct Vocabula?

I love it. Please don't tell me it's in danger of extinction. I couldn't do without it.

Margaret Levine

RHF replies: Please tell your friends about Vocabula. I can manage to publish TVR each month only if enough people are interested in reading it.

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