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English for Journalists, 4th Edition by Wynford Hicks

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4 Grammar: problems and confusions

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Grammar, syntax, usage, style — the terms are often confused. One person’s grammatical howler is a simple matter of style for somebody else. This chapter covers common problems and confusions under the heading of ‘grammar’ — but not all the entries feature ‘mistakes’.

A and an

Words with a silent ‘h’ such as ‘honest’ take ‘an’ instead of ‘a’:

an honest man

Unless your style book insists, don’t use ‘an’ before such words as ‘hotel’, ‘historian’ and ‘horrific’, as in:

It was an horrific example of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. (feature)

Absolute adjectives

Don’t misuse absolute adjectives such as:

absolute ideal
basic impossible
complete obvious ...

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