Word Court

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There are two kinds of people in the world: those who can distinguish between “persuade” and “convince”, and those who could care less. Or is it couldn’t care less?

There are those who remember sending home letters from college, only to have them come back with the spelling and grammatical errors circled in red. But who (or is it “whom”?) among us appreciates being chastised? When you see someone boldly go where no grammarian has ever trod, can you hold your tongue? Should you? The Bible says, “Judge not that ye be not judged.” But that deprives the word police of the joys of “gotcha!”

Whether you are quibbler or quibblee, these debates come up more often (oftener?) than you might like to admit.


Barbara Wallraff, senior editor, The Atlantic Monthly and author of “Word Court.”