Mr, Mrs, and Ms

Teaching French-speaking teenagers recently, I was momentarily surprised when they started to call me Mister. Then I remembered that in French the word monsieur can be used like sir in American English. It doesn’t need to come before a surname, like Mister in English, so most students refer to their male teachers as Monsieur, as we use Sir in English. But they of course understandably translated monsieur to mister.

We use sir to refer to a teacher in most varieties of English too, but not to refer to a man in general when we don’t know his name. It’s only really used in that way in American English.

Mister though, is used in basically the same way in every form of English, as the standard honorific for an adult male. Isn’t it curious though, that for women there are three honorifics: Miss, Ms, and Mrs?

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Can I Begin a Sentence with “And” or “But?”

But of course you can! I mean, not every sentence of course, and not in every context, but you probably know what situations you might use them in, and, basically, I say yes, you can use them then. But obviously this is a common question, and often the answer provided is no, so why might someone say that this practice is wrong. First, let’s have a look at what but and and actually are. Continue reading

A Blogger’s Style Guide

Following on logically from yesterday, I thought it’d make sense to provide a general style guide for writing blog posts. As I said yesterday, you can feel free to do your own thing, especially as there are different conventions for doing certain things. I just want to write about what works for me, and should produce writing that’s easy to read and intelligible. If you want something more detailed, have a look at the many respected style guides online such as APA, MLA, Chicago, and Oxford (which I think is the one that’s accessible and logical for most people). If you’ve already got used to a particular style guide from university, then of course feel free to stick to that. Continue reading