Carnegie Mellon University
March 06, 2015

Every Day Is Grammar Day


Paul Hopper doesn't need a special holiday to commemorate grammar. A world-renowned linguist, he focuses on the relationship between the structure of language and rhetoric.

Hopper, the Paul Mellon Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the Humanities in the Department of English, offers five grammar tips to keep in mind:

1. Every day

“Every day” is an adverbial and means more or less “daily;" “everyday” is an adjective meaning “normal, regular, routine."

He will combine his professorial work at Haas with his every day experience as a partner in Greyrock, a junior capital/private equity fund. (CMU: alumni/Tepper 2009)

2. Lead

“Lead” when pronounced the same as “led” is a metal, not a verb.

As a consequence, the Internet has become an important channel that firms can use to reach out and connect to consumers, which has lead to the emergence of digital marketing. (CMU: Heinz School course description.)

3. Effect

“Effect” = “bring about." usually a noun; “affect” = “to change," usually a verb.

Ever wonder if an environment can effect your mood, productivity or focus? BXA students are researching the answer! (CMU: Office of Admissions on Facebook,  6/24/14)

4. Hone in on

It’s easy to see how “home in on” = “to target” and “hone” = “to sharpen” become confused.

In looking at the physical, economic, and cultural changes occurring in Pittsburgh over the years, we will hone in on debates over problems concerning urban design in the city. (CMU: English Department course description, 2014)

5. Militate against/mitigate

To “mitigate” (from Latin mitis “mild”) is to make less severe. “Militate against” is to counter or take measures against. “Mitigate against” is wrong but widespread.

The overall robustness of the system may be further enhanced through the use of flexible fueling of the distributed generation system and/or local fuel storage in order to mitigate against fuel pipeline attacks. (CMU: CEIC Working Paper 01-04)

Learn more about Hopper.