Difference: SubtleGrammar (10 vs. 11)

Revision 112013-01-30 - JeffreyBarrick

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Subtle Grammatical Usage Notes

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  • Alternate / Alternative
    Alternate means "every other one" in a series. Alternative means "another option". (REL)
  • Bacteriophage / Bacteriophages
    Even though it sounds strange, the plural of bacteriophage is really bacteriophages.
  • Because / Since
    Since implies that time has passed. If you are using it correctly, you should be able to substitute "after" in its place and preserve the meaning of a sentence. Otherwise, you should be using because to join your two clauses.
  • By Contrast / In Contrast
    Use By contrast when the next word is a noun. Use In contrast when followed by a preposition such as "with" or "to". (REL)
  • Complimentary / Complementary
    Complimentary means praising or free of charge. Two things are complementary when they combine in a way that enhances each other's qualities or if they are nucleic acid bases that pair with each other. Thus, "complementary base", "complementary skills", "complimentary comments".
  • This Data / These Data
    Use this data when you can replace "data" with "information". Use these data when you can replace "data" with "facts". (source)
  • Gram-negative/Gram-positive bacteria
    The Gram in Gram staining is a proper noun, so it is always capitalized.
  • Gram-negative/Gram-positive bacteria
    The Gram in Gram staining is a proper noun. It's generally agreed that Gram stain is capitalized, but many sources say that Gram is not capitalized when describing gram-positive/gram-negative bacteria. I prefer to capitalize Gram-negative/Gram-positive.
  • Principle / Principal
    Principle means the fundamental basis of a fact. A Principal is the main player or the person of most importance in a project. Thus, "proof of principle", "principal investigator", "in principle", "the principle reason", "school principal".
  • Regardless / Irregardless
    Regardless is correct. Irregardless is a commonly heard but incorrect term, probably originating due to similar word pairs like respective / irrespective.
  • Where / Wherein
    Use wherein when you can replace with "in which" or "in what".
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