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Grammar And Style Guide - N

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No offense to the ecologists, but nature is often useless. Decisions of a delicate nature would be better if they were just plain old delicate decisions.
Ask an old-timer, and he'll tell you that nauseous means causing nausea, not suffering from it. The word for the latter is nauseated. A decaying carcass is nauseous, and (unless you go for such things) will probably make you nauseated. [Entry added 14 August 1999]
Ugly business jargon. If you mean require, say require or rework the sentence so that necessitate is not necessitated. [Entry revised 14 August 1999]
Network was very happy when it was just a noun; when you're outside the computer lab, don't force it to serve double duty as a verb. Networking summons up images of yuppies in power ties.
"Never" and "Always."
Any grammatical or stylistic rule beginning with "Never" or "Always" should be suspect, and that includes the ones in this guide. No word or construction in the language is completely valueless (even if some come pretty damn close). Apply all guidelines intelligently and sensitively, and forsake pedantic bugbears in favor of grace. See Audience and read it twice.
Although there are other possibilities, you can't go wrong if you use nor only after the word neither: instead of "Keats did not write novels nor essays," use either "Keats did not write novels or essays" or "Keats wrote neither novels nor essays." (You can, however, say "Keats did not write novels, nor did he write essays.")
Not un-.
This phrase, as in "The subtleties did not go unnoticed," is often an affectation. Be more direct.
A noun, as the "Schoolhouse Rock" song would have it, is a person, a place, or a thing. Piece o' cake.

Well, a qualified piece o' cake. We have to define thing broadly enough to include things that aren't particularly thingy. Heat is a noun; January is a noun; innovation is a noun; asperity is a noun.

Linguists use the term noun phrase to refer to any word or group of words that's used as a noun: his far-seeing eye, for instance, is a single noun phrase, even though it's made up of a possessive pronoun (his), an adverb (far), a participial verb (seeing), and a noun (eye). I've disavowed any intention of using the terms of contemporary linguistics in this guide (not because they're bad, but because they're likely to be unfamiliar to my readers), but this one is worth knowing.

See also Pronoun. [Revised 11 June 2001; revised 1 June 2004.]

The high school rule about spelling out numbers less than one hundred (some say ten; it's a question of house style) and writing them as numerals above has enslaved too many people. It's a good start, but here are a few more guidelines.

Never begin a sentence with a numeral: either spell out the number, or rewrite the sentence to move the number from the beginning.

Very large round numbers should be spelled out: not 1,000,000,000, but one billion — an American billion, that is; the British used to use billion for a million million, though they're increasingly using the American standard. If ever you need real precision in expressing very large numbers, scientific notation might make sense.

In a series of numbers, either spell them out or use numerals for every member of the list: don't switch in the middle, as in "pages thirty-two, ninety-six, 107, and 235."

Dates should always get numerals: "October 3, 1990."

There's no reason to use both numerals and words for the same number: unless a law firm is paying you enough money to butcher the language with impunity, steer clear of abominations like "two (2)" or "12 (twelve)."

The only time you should mix spelling and numerals is in very large numbers: not 8,600,000, but 8.6 million.

Use numerals for anything difficult to spell out: not four and sixteen seventeenths, thirteen thousand three hundred twenty six, or three point one four one five nine. You can spell out simple fractions like one-half or two-thirds. [Revised 1 June 2004.]