The correct way to write “twenty cents”

Am I the only one who is bothered when I see “twenty cents” written with both a decimal point and the cent sign, as in “.20¢”? I see it everywhere. On a restaurant menu: “Add guacamole for .50¢.” At the grocery store: “Apples for .99¢ a pound.” There are two ways to...

Is “dethaw” a word?

Recently, I was in a yoga class, and the instructor used the word dethaw (repeatedly) to describe what our bodies do during the warm-up of spring. Instead of relaxing and tuning the world out, as I usually do during my yoga practice, I started stressing over the...

Common confusion: Peek, peak, & pique

The words peek, peak, and pique are homonyms that are often mistaken for one another. Here’s a quick reminder of these words’ meanings and how to use them correctly. Peek can be a verb meaning to look quickly or a noun meaning a quick look.    I peeked through...

Common confusion: dawned & donned

You may come across the phrase “It donned on me” from time to time. This is, however, incorrect. The right verb to use in this expression is “dawn.” Don means to wear or put on. For example, “Stephen donned his favorite straw hat while walking along the pier.” Dawn,...

When do you use an em dash?

Dashes have become a favorite punctuation mark, especially in blog writing. As Lynne Truss states in Eats, Shoots and Leaves, we like to use a dash “because it is so easy to use.” But what’s the difference between an em dash and en dash? And what...