Noun clusters can shut down your comprehension even if you understand each word. You may stop and reread. You may draw an incorrect conclusion. You may skip over the words. Or you may do the last thing the writer wanted you to do: move on to someone else’s words. Want some noun-cluster-busting tips for your writing? Read this.
What is a part of speech? You might not believe how much disagreement and nuanced analysis surrounds that question.
This essay ventures into some philosophical questions—What does it mean to classify a word, and how and why have those classifications changed?—before emerging with a bit of writerly advice. I find this excursion invigorating, like a deep‑sea search for treasure. Come along, and we’ll share the spoils.
According to one modern school of linguistic thought, only four word types—nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs—now qualify as parts of speech. Four. The nerve! … Continue reading