In the tradition of year-end roundups, I’m using the last post of 2009 to summarize the results of my recent poll asking readers which post topics are your favorites. With sixteen of the forty-nine total votes, “word usage” won out. I wasn’t too surprised, considering the most popular post written this year was about “a while” and “awhile.”
As The Chicago Manual of Style says, “the great mass of linguistic issues that writers and editors wrestle with don’t really concern grammar at all – they concern usage: the collective habits of a language’s native speakers.” (The Big Offenders series focuses on common – and controversial – usage issues, but there are more posts on this topic under the label “word usage.”)
Although “grammar” refers to the structure of language, it’s often used as a catchall to include related subjects, such as usage, punctuation, and spelling; therefore, it makes sense this topic would take second place with eleven votes. Coming in next are the profession-related posts, which appeal to a subset of readers: “style” ranked third with eight votes, and close behind, “copy editing” and “writing” tied for last place with seven votes each.
Thanks to those who voted – I’m looking forward to writing about all of these topics in the New Year!