There was a great article by Shawn Paul Wood on mediabistro this week about five grammar issues that PR people can’t agree upon. He takes aim at dashes, redundancies, the word “irregardless” (which is so not a word it makes me cringe when I see or hear it), and the oxford comma (which I’ve addressed in previous Grammar Hammer posts). Coming from the world of the wire where, up until a few years ago, I didn’t really care what type of dash you used. We used to transmit everything in ASCII text, so it didn’t matter to me if it was an em-dash, an en-dash, or a hyphen. By the time I was done with it, it was just a dash. I can appreciate the subtle nuances and function of each of them now, but admit I do miss the days when there just wasn’t another option. A dash was a dash.
The other issue he touched on in his article was the issue of “more than” vs. “over”. I can see why this is a peeve-inducing issue. My AP Stylebook says, “See over” when I look up “more than.” When I look up the word “over” in the AP Stylebook, I’m encouraged to “let your ear be your guide.” Are there any hard and fast rules on this?
If I’m letting my ear be my guide, I would never refer to my age as being “more than …” (come on, a lady never reveals her age). Let’s just say I’m “over 29” and be done with it. I would also never say I have “over 10 gray hairs” (which reminds me I need to schedule a much-needed appointment so I can cover up the more than 10 gray hairs I may or may not admit to having).
I cannot find any hard and fast grammar rule that says “use more than with numbers” or anything of the like. I leave you, dear reader, to consult your favorite style guide (and your ear) to determine which word is best for the context and content that you are carefully crafting.
Where’s your line in the sand on grammatical issues? Is there a style manual you defend to the death?
Have a grammar rule you’d like me to explore? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author Catherine Spicer is a manager of customer content services at PR Newswire.