Garbl's Writing Center
tables See charts, tables.
tablespoon, tablespoonfuls Use numerals when giving amounts, and spell out tablespoon. One tablespoon equals three teaspoons.
Taiwan An island nation off the coast of China. Formerly called Formosa.
take action Wordy. Simplify. Consider replacing with act or another action verb.
take exception to, take issue (with) Wordy. Simplify. Consider replacing with challenge, disagree (with), dispute, object (to), oppose, protest, question or resent.
take-home pay Hyphenate take-home.
take into account, take into consideration Wordy. Simplify. Consider replacing with allow for, consider, think about, provide for or weigh.
take out (v.), takeout (n. and adj.)
take over (v.), takeover (n. and adj.)
take place See occur, occurred, occurring, occurrence.
talisman If you have more than one of these good-luck charms with engraved figures or symbols, you have several talismans, not talismen.
talk to, talk with The first term suggests that one person is doing the talking, such as a supervisor to a worker. The second term suggests that it's a mutual discussion between or among the participants.
tall in height Redundant and wordy. Simplify. Drop in height.
target Before using this word, visualize aiming an arrow at it. If you can't hit the target or miss it, avoid mixing metaphors and choose another word. Besides using hit and miss when mentioning a target, consider using verbs like concentrate on, focus on, single out or aim at. If you prefer verbs such as achieve, attain or pursue, substitute nouns such as objective, goal or result for target. See ceiling.
task force Capitalize the full name of a task force set up by an organization. Lowercase when using only part of the name.
taught, taunt, taut, tout Sometimes confused or misspelled. Use the adjective taut to describe something that's "stretched tight" or someone who's "tense" or "controlled." Use the verb taught as the past tense of teach to mean "gave lessons in a school or college" or "showed someone how to do something." Use the verb and noun taunt to describe "making people upset or angry by teasing, insulting or mocking them." And use the verb tout to "praise someone or something and promote its worth or importance to other people."
taxpayer One word, no hyphen. Same with ratepayer.
taxonomy The scientific classification of plants, animals and other organisms into a hierarchical groups based on structure and origin--their presumed natural relationships. Organisms fall into five kingdoms: Animalia (animals); Plantae (plants); Fungi (fungi); Prokaryotae (bacteria); and Protoctista (algae, molds, protozoans).
From the broadest to the specific, here are the groups and an example (the common domesticated dog) showing correct style for Latin names of organisms within each group: kingdom, Animalia (animals); phylum, Chordata; class, Mammalia; order, Carnivora; family, Canidae; genus, Canis (italicized); and species, familiaris (italicized, lowercase). In botany, division is used instead of phylum. Organisms in intermediate groups--such as subspecies, suborders and subfamilies--have the same style as the base group. In most writing, only the genus and species names are used. The name of the genus always goes before the name of a species: Canis familiaris; in later references, the genus may be abbreviated, using only its first letter, capitalized: C. familiaris.
Nouns and adjectives derived from scientific names are lowercased: the phylum Protoza, protozoan. The Latin names for infectious organisms are treated like other taxonomic terms, but the names of diseases or pathological conditions derived from such names are lowercased and not italicized. See animals, plants.
teachers college No apostrophe.
teammate One word.
team, team names See collective nouns.
teaspoon, teaspoonful, teaspoonfuls Use numerals when giving amounts, and spell out teaspoon. Three teaspoons equal one tablespoon.
tee ball Not T-ball. This version of baseball for young children got its name because the ball is placed on a tee, which looks nothing like the letter T.
tee shirt See T-shirt.
telephone numbers Recommended forms for the United States: 206-937-XXXX, 800-XXX-XXXX, 937-XXXX, NU2-XXXX, FOR-FREE (367-3733). Using periods (or dots) instead of hyphens is trendy and potentially confusing.
For metropolitan areas with multiple area codes, put the suitable area code before all telephone, cellular phone, pager and fax numbers.
For extension numbers, abbreviate and lowercase extension, and separate it with a comma from the main number: 263-XXXX, ext. XXX.
For organization telephone numbers in internal publications, neither the area code nor the prefix may be necessary: Call 987-6543 for more information. Call ext. 210 for more information.
teletypewriter See TTY.
temperament Commonly misspelled.
temperatures Use numerals for all except zero: It's 31 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a word--not a minus sign--to show temperatures below zero: It's 8 degrees below zero. Also, temperatures get higher or lower, not hotter, warmer, cooler or colder. See Celsius, Fahrenheit.
tenant, tenet Sometimes confused or misspelled. Use tenant to name "someone who rents or leases a house, apartment or property." Use tenet to mention "a principle or belief of a person or group." And consider using simpler principle or belief instead of tenet.
terse See concise.
than I, than me Because of words understood or not stated, these phrases have different, potentially confusing meanings. "My girlfriend likes peanut butter better than I" means "My girlfriend likes peanut butter better than I like peanut better." "My girlfriend likes peanut butter better than me" means "My girlfriend likes peanut butter better than she likes me." To prevent unfortunate misunderstandings, use the correct pronoun and consider using all the words necessary. See I, me.
Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day Capitalize the name of the annual U.S. and Canadian holidays. Consider using Thanksgiving Day when mentioning the specific day and not the general celebration.
than, then Often confused or misspelled. Use than when you're comparing things: No one is more aware of local driving behaviors than bus drivers. Use the adverb then when you're writing about time -- if one thing follows or results from another, suggesting a logical conclusion, or meaning "soon afterward": If this, then that. First they toured the vehicle maintenance shop; then they visited the sign shop.
that, this, these, those, it These pronouns must always refer clearly to a specific noun or other pronoun--or to a complete idea. Avoid using them alone to refer to the complete sense of an earlier statement. The result may be unclear and imprecise.
Instead, first ask yourself, "This what?" (or "That what?" or "These what?"). Then repeat a key word from the earlier sentence or clause, or include a word that refers to the earlier sentence or clause. Change: This helps prevent reader confusion. To: This rule helps prevent reader confusion. Change: If the dog leaves any food in the bowl, throw it out. To: Throw out any food the dog leaves in the bowl. Or: If the dog leaves any food in the bowl, throw out the leftovers. See these kind of, those kind of ....
Use this when writing about something near, such as this pencil I'm using or this feeling I'm experiencing. Use that to mention something farther away or more remote in distance, time or thought: that pencil in the desk or that feeling I had this morning. Apply the same distinctions to these as the plural of this and those as the plural of that.
Also, use this, that, these, those or the when writing about something already mentioned instead of the formal, vague and legalistic said, above and abovementioned: That agreement, not said agreement or the abovementioned agreement.
that, which, who, whom That is the defining, or restrictive, pronoun for essential clauses: The camera that is broken is in the shop (tells which one). Which is the nondefining, or nonrestrictive, pronoun for nonessential clauses: The camera, which is broken, is in the shop (adds a fact about the only camera in question).
In the examples above, note the correct use of commas: Which clauses are always set off with commas (or sometimes dashes or parentheses), and that clauses aren't. Essential that clauses cannot be cut without changing the meaning of a sentence. Don't set off an essential clause from the rest of a sentence with commas. Nonessential which clauses can be dropped without altering the meaning. Set off a nonessential clause with commas.
James J. Kilpatrick, The Writer's Art, 1984: "Rule of thumb: If the qualifying phrase is set off by commas, use which; if not, use that."
In addition, that is the preferred pronoun to introduce clauses that refer to an inanimate object: Greg remodeled the house that burned down Friday. Which is the only acceptable pronoun to introduce a nonessential clause that refers to an inanimate object: The house, which Greg remodeled, burned down Friday.
When an essential or nonessential clause refers to a human being or something with human qualities (such as a family), introduce it with who or whom. That -- but not which -- also may be used to refer to human beings, as well as inanimate objects. Don't use commas if the clause is essential to the meaning. Use them if it is not. See who, whom.
Theodore M. Bernstein, The Careful Writer, 1977: "Which normally refers to things, who to persons, and that to either persons or things."
the See a, an, the.
theater Preferred spelling, unless the word is spelled as Theatre in a proper name.
their, them, they The day may come--and should--when these plural pronouns are accepted as singular pronouns that don't note a person's sex. Some respected writing authorities now suggest this change in language as we eliminate the outdated use of he, him and his as references to both men and women. This updated usage would be similar to use of the pronouns you and your for both one person and more than person, taking a plural verb even when mentioning one person.
Still, for now, consider the potential reaction of your audience--and the reaction you would prefer as the writer or editor--before applying this use. Meanwhile, try other acceptable uses, especially using the plural pronouns to refer to plural nouns. See he or she, he/she; his or hers, his/hers; pronouns; sex, sexism.
their, there, they're Commonly confused, misspelled or mistyped. And computer spellcheckers won't catch the mistaken substitution of one of these homonyms for the other--nor for there's and the plural possessive theirs. Their is the possessive form of the pronoun they, meaning "belonging to them." Don't misspell it as thier. They're is a contraction of they are. (And there's is a contraction of there is.) There (like here) refers to place. But see below for more on there.
then See than, then above.
there is, there are, there's, there was, there were Avoid beginning sentences with these often unnecessary, wordy phrases. Try rewriting the sentence. Change: There were two native rhododendrons at the nursery. To: Two native rhododendrons were at the nursery. Also, there's is a contraction for there is; it refers to a single noun: There's one signal at the intersection. Do not use it with plural nouns. Incorrect: There's better ways to write this sentence. There sure are!
therefor, therefore Unless you're an attorney who loves legal jargon, you'll never use therefor, which means "for that, for it" Use therefore, or better yet, simplify and use so, then or thus instead. See so.
these kind of, those kind of; these sort of, those sort of; these type of, those type of In this use, these and those are plural adjectives that must modify plural nouns: kinds, sorts and types. Or use singular adjectives this and that instead with singular nouns kind, sort and type. See that, this, these, those, it.
they See their, them, they above.
the total of See total, totaled, totaling.
thing Consider replacing with stronger, more direct wording that specifies an object or fact, idea, statement, action or event.
think See feel, think.
though See although, though.
three-D, 3-D Use 3-D. Short for three-dimensional.
(the) three R's Capitalize R and follow with an apostrophe. They're the fundamentals of an elementary education: reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic.
threshold Commonly misspelled. Not threshhold.
throes, throws Sometimes misused or confused. Use throes in the phrase in the throes of to describe the act of struggling with a very painful or difficult problem, situation, event, decision or task. Use throws as the present tense of the verb throw when describing the act of causing something to move through the air by a rapid propulsive movement of the arm.
throughput See input, output, throughput.
through, thru Through is the much-preferred spelling.
thus A simple, useful substitute for as a result, consequently and therefore. Or use even simpler so. For emphasis, a comma may follow thus (and so) at the beginning of sentences and other clauses. Also, adding ly to thus is a waste of time, space, finger energy and eye movement. Simplify. Also, see so.
ticketbook One word.
tie-die A "passing fad," I suppose, is why this term still contains a hyphen.
time Lowercase and use periods for a.m., p.m. Use numerals except for noon and midnight. Don't use 12 p.m. or 12 a.m. (In Latin, a.m. stands for ante meridiem, or "before noon," and p.m. stands for post meridiem, or "after noon.") Times on the hour do not take zeros. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes: 2:15 p.m., 7 a.m., not 7:00 a.m. Here's the style for giving ranges of time: The hours are 9:30-11 a.m. and 6-8 p.m. (or 9:30 to 11 a.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.).
Avoid redundancies such as 12 noon or 12 midnight and 8:30 a.m. this morning or 8:30 p.m. Monday night. Instead, use noon, midnight, 8 a.m. today, 8:30 p.m. Monday. The construction 2 o'clock in the afternoon is acceptable but wordy.
time line Two words.
timetable One word.
time zones Capitalize the full name of the time in a particular zone: Pacific Standard Time, Eastern Standard Time. Capitalize the region but lowercase time zone and time in shorter uses: Pacific time zone, Pacific time. Use time zone abbreviations (without periods) only when giving a time: noon EST, 7:15 a.m. PST. Don't put the abbreviations between commas or parentheses. See time above.
titles Abbreviate these position titles when using them before a full name outside direct quotations: Dr., Gov., Lt. Gov., Mr., Mrs., Rep., Sen., the Rev. Spell out all except Dr., Mr., Ms. and Mrs. when using them before a name in direct quotations. See academic degrees, titles; legislative titles; Miss, Mr., Mrs., Ms.
Capitalize job or position titles used directly before a person's name: Attorney General Michael Wonder, Store Manager Aretha Turner, Camera Operator George McCartney, Water Quality Planner Paul Starkey. Lowercase job descriptions and informal designations in all uses.
Lowercase and spell out titles when they stand alone or are separated from a person's name by commas: Sue Chin, attorney general, spoke at the meeting. The attorney general, Sue Chin, spoke at the meeting. The attorney general spoke at the meeting. Long titles are less awkward after a person's name.
If a title applies to only one person in an organization, include the word the if the title is between commas: The store manager, Aretha Turner, addressed her staff. Or Aretha Turner, the store manager, addressed her staff. Use this construction to set off a long title from a name: Tina Hope, the manager of the long-range service planning project, said ...
to all intents and purposes, to all practical purposes Wordy. Simplify. Delete or consider replacing with effectively, essentially, in effect or in essence.
tobacco, tobaccos Sometimes misspelled, misused and overused. A legal drug that's very likely to kill its addicted users and annoy if not harm people who breath its second-hand smoke.
today, tonight Avoid using these words except in direct quotations, documents meant for reading on the day of publication, and nonspecific uses: Many baby boomers prefer golden oldies over today's music. See tonight and tomorrow, yesterday below.
to-do Include the hyphen when used as either an adjective or noun: She prepared a to-do list. The new product caused a major to-do at the convention.
together Usually redundant when used with words like blend, combine, connect, consolidate, couple, group, join, link and merge: After the reorganization, all engineers were consolidated together on the fifth floor. Drop together.
together with See along with, together with.
toll-free number See telephone numbers.
tomorrow, yesterday Use only in direct quotations and in phrases that do not refer to a specific day: The world of tomorrow must be more peaceful. Yesterday when we were young. Use Monday, Tuesdayand so on for days of the week within seven days before or after the current date: The advisory committee will meet Thursday. Use the month and a figure for dates beyond that range. See months. Using today in a dated publication is OK: The Americorps team today visited the regional headquarters. See today, tonight above.
tonight Avoid the redundant 6:30 p.m. tonight. Instead, use 6:30 tonight or 6:30 p.m. today. See today, tonight above.
too When using too to mean "also," no comma is necessary before too at the end of a clause or sentence: She finished her first task and her second task too. But set off too with commas elsewhere in a sentence: He, too, finished both tasks. See to, too, two below.
tortuous, torturous Occasionally confused adjectives. Use the more common tortuous to describe something that's winding and full of twists, turns and curves, or someone who's not straightforward, who's devious and deceitful. Think torture when using torturous to describe something that's painful or painfully difficult: torturous instructions.
to take this opportunity Wordy. Simplify. Delete from sentences like this: I would like to take this opportunity to delete that unnecessary phrase.
total number Redundant. Drop total.
total, totaled, totaling The phrase a total of often is redundant. It may be used, however, to avoid a figure at the beginning of a sentence. A total of 322 people applied for the three jobs. Also, a total of takes a plural verb, and the total of takes a singular verb: A total of 22 days were spent on the trip. The total of 22 days was spent on the trip.
to the point of (that, when, where) Wordy. Simplify. Delete or consider replacing with so (that), so far (that), so much (that), to, to when or to where.
to, too, two Computer spellcheckers won't note the mistaken substitution of one of these homonyms for the other.
touch-tone Now a generic term for a push-button phone.
tout See taught, taunt, taut, tout.
toward Don't use towards.
towns See cities and towns.
toxic, toxicant Toxic is an adjective meaning "poisonous": The shop technician got rid of the toxic materials. Toxicant, used as a noun, means "a poison": The shop technicians got rid of the toxicants safely. Don't use toxic as a noun.
trademark A brand, design, phrase, symbol or word used by a manufacturer or dealer for its products and protected by law to prevent inappropriate use by a competitor. Unless use of a company's trademark name is essential in a document, use a generic equivalent (lowercased): facial tissue, not Kleenex; photocopy, not Xerox; cola, not Coke. When using a trademark or proper name of a product, capitalize the first letter of each word.
Unless the trademark owner is paying you to follow a different style, capitalizing the first letter is your only obligation in using a trademark; do not capitalize every letter unless the word is an acronym or abbreviation: Subway, not SUBWAY. You do not have to use the trademark and registration symbols--TM and Â® -- unless, perhaps, commercial products of another company are named in advertising. See brand names, service mark.
trade off (v.), trade-off (n. and adj.)
trade show Two words.
transcripts In transcripts, identify the speaker at the beginning of each paragraph, followed by a colon. Give the speaker's full name and identification on first use. Use only the last name of a speaker in later references. When using a question-and-answer format, begin each paragraph with either a Q: for question or an A: for answer. Don't put quotation marks around transcripted comments. Instead, put quotation marks around only words or phrases that were quoted by a speaker. Follow other standard style guidelines for capitalization, spelling and abbreviations. See ellipsis.
transfer, transferable, transferred, transferring Commonly misspelled. Also, consider using forms of simpler move, change or give
transmission When writing about vehicle transmissions, use manual transmission instead of standard transmission, or specify a four-speed or a five-speed or a stick shift. An automatic transmission is now often standard equipment on many vehicles.
transmit Overstated jargon, unless you're writing about sending out radio or television signals. Simplify. Use send when writing about passing something from one place or person to another. Other simpler choices, depending on what you're writing: broadcast, relay, transfer, pass on, bear, carry.
transpire Formal and pompous when misused to mean simpler happen or occur. Correctly used to mean "to become known or leak out": Reports on the conference never transpired. See occur, occurred, occurring, occurrence.
travel, traveled, traveler, traveling No doubled l's.
tribe Capitalize when used with a proper name: Cherokee Indian Tribe, Hopi Tribe, Snoqualmie Tribe of Indians. Lowercase when used alone and in plural form: the tribe, the Cherokee and Hopi tribes, Indian tribes, the tribes. Lowercase the adjective tribal unless its part of a proper name: tribal art, Hopi tribal leaders, Muckleshoot Tribal Council. Add an s when making a tribal name plural: Cherokees, Snoqualmies. See American Indian, Eskimo; race.
trolley bus Two words.
troop, troupe Sometimes confused. They're both groups, but a troop is an organized group of people, animals or soldiers, and a troupe is a working group of singers, actors, dancers or other performers. Troops (plural) applies to more than one troop or a large number of individual soldiers in a troop: Forty-nine troops were killed in the insurgent attack.
trouble call (n.), trouble-call (adj.)
true fact Redundant and wordy. By definition, a fact is true. If a fact is not true, it's not a fact. It could even be a lie. Drop true. Confirm accuracy of facts and correct them if necessary.
try out (v.), tryout (n.)
T-shirt Not tee shirt. So named because it resembles the letter T when spread out. Also, if a shirt or undershirt is sleeveless, don't call it a T-shirt.
TTY Abbreviations for TeleTYpewriters. TTY is preferred on first reference when used with a phone number. The following is a recommended format for stating a TTY telephone number: (206) 666-XXXX (for TTY users only).
tune up (v.), tuneup (n. and adj.)
turbid, turgid Sometimes confused. Use turbid to describe a liquid or water that's cloudy, muddy, unclear and thick or language that's confused. Use turgid to describe something that's swollen or inflated and language that's pompous.
24/7 Trendy term for "24 hours a day, seven days a week." Save for informal writing.
Twitter Capitalize the proper name; lowercase the verb forms: tweet, tweeted, tweeting. Also lowercase the term for a Twitter message: tweet.
two-by-four Spell out and hyphenate when writing about a piece of lumber that's about 2 inches thick and 4 inches wide. It's actually 1Â½ by 3Â½ inches, a potentially unfortunate discovery for people new to carpentry.
UFO, UFOs When you write about seeing one, the abbreviation UFO for unidentified flying object is acceptable on first use. No apostrophe in UFOs when you write about seeing or riding in more than one alien spacecraft or flying saucer.
ukulele Commonly misspelled.
ultimate, ultimately Overstated. Simplify. Try most, final, last, best, crowning, perfect, supreme or eventual for ultimate and at last, in the end, finally, lastly or eventually for ultimately.
ultra-, un- See prefixes.
U.N. See United Nations.
unanimous Everyone agrees or votes the same way in a unanimous decision. Completely unanimous and entirely unanimous are redundant.
unaware, unaware Sometimes confused. Use unaware, an adjective, to describe someone who doesn't know about a situation or fact. Use unawares, an adverb, to mean "by surprise, suddenly or unexpectedly": She was caught unawares of the change in plans. They were taken unawares of the decision to evacuate..
under See less than, under.
under- Usually, don't use a hyphen: underexpenditure, underground, underspend. But see prefixes.
under fire Cliche. Save this phrase for writing about brave police officers and soldiers in battle. When politicians, business leaders, athletes and celebrities are being attacked, censured, criticized, scolded or reprimanded, say they're being attacked, censured, criticized, scolded, reprimanded or other similar terms.
undergraduate student Redundant. Simplify. Drop student or be more specific: first-year student, sophomore, junior, senior.
underlining When possible, use italic type instead of underlining for certain types of compositions. See composition titles. Also, avoid underlining text in publications and on the Web to stress words and phrases. Instead, use other options, including italics, boldface, color and size. Underlining cuts through the tails of several letters and punctuation marks--the comma, semicolon and letters g j p q y--making them harder to read. Also, on the Web people expect underlined text to be a hyperlink.
under the provisions of Wordy. Simplify. Replace entire phrase with under or by. Or use simpler rules or terms instead of provisions.
underway One word: Construction is underway.
undoubtably Not a word. Use undoubtedly instead.
unidentified flying object See UFO, UFOs.
union names The formal names of unions may be shortened to conventionally accepted names: Change: United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America. To: United Auto Workers union. The short forms may be capitalized, except for the word union. Capitalize union when part of the formal name: Amalgamated Transit Union. See local of a union.
unique By definition, unique must be used sparingly. It means "one of a kind, without like or equal." It does not mean "unusual" or "uncommon." There can be no degrees of uniqueness. Nothing can be more, less, sort of, rather, quite, very, slightly or most unique. If you're describing more than one person, place or thing, none of them are unique. Remember: Uni- means one -- and only one.
United Kingdom It's Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom. Great Britain (or Britain) consists of England, Scotland and Wales. If naming the location of specific places in any of those entities, be specific: London, England, not London, Great Britain; Edinburgh, Scotland, not Edinburgh, Britain; Belfast, Northern Ireland, not Belfast, United Kingdom.
United Nations Sometimes misused and ignored. Include periods (with no space) when abbreviating as a noun or adjective: U.N. Look to this essential international organization to maintain international peace and security; to develop friendly relations among nations; to achieve international cooperation in solving economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems and promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; and to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations.
United States, U.S. The abbreviation is acceptable as both a noun and adjective--but consider spelling it out on first use in documents for international audiences. Include the periods in the abbreviation (except in headlines). No space between the letters in the abbreviation: No U.S. president of any political party can or should speak for all citizens of the U.S. See America, American.
uniform resource locator See World Wide Web.
university names If a university (or college) has only one campus, use in to name the city: Green River Community College in Auburn. But if an institution has multiple campuses, use at to refer to a specific place: the University of Washington at Bothell.
University of Washington Spell out and capitalize on first reference. UW (all caps, no periods) or the university (lowercase) may be used on second reference.
unless or until Wordy. Simplify with either unless or until.
unnecessarily Overstated. Simplify. Change to needlessly.
until such time (point) as Wordy. Simply. Replace with until.
up Idiom sometimes dictates use of up: We look up a word in the dictionary. Hard workers hope to move up in their careers. But don't use up when it's not necessary: We plan to tighten up the style guidelines. She ate up all the apple pie. Avoid those uses and others, such as buoy up, loosen up, ring up, use up, phone up and climb up. Also, if using an up term, avoid separating up from the base word with other words. See climb down, climb up; up until (till)
-up Follow your preferred dictionary for adding this suffix to the end of nouns or adjectives. If not listed there, hyphenate: The oil cleanup lasted two weeks. The new movie is for grown-ups. Use two words when using the terms as verbs. See up above.
up close and personal Wordy, redundant cliche. Simplify. Use close or personal, not both.
upon See on, onto, on to, upon.
uppercase One word.
upriver, upstream One word.
upstage One word.
up-to-date Hyphenate as an adjective to modify a noun.
URL See World Wide Web.
U.S. See United States.
usage, use, utilize, utilization Use is the preferred all-purpose word as a noun and verb. Usage means "habitual or preferred practice in certain fields, such as grammar, law and diplomacy." Utilize means "putting something to practical, effective use," but use is usually less pretentious and formal. Simplify. Try using use: He used the dishwasher. Not: He utilized the dishwasher. Need there be an explanation for using use instead of utilization?
U.S. armed forces See armed forces.
used to Correct spelling when you mean "did at one time" or "formerly did": He used to watch silly TV shows. But it's use to in a question or a negative statement: Did Bernie use to watch silly TV shows? Bernie didn't use to avoid silly TV shows. Did use is another way of saying used.
user interface The abbreviation UI is acceptable on second reference.
user friendly Vague jargon. Be more descriptive. For example: The instructions are easy to follow, not the instructions are user friendly.
us, we Sometimes confused. We and other "nominative" pronouns--including he, I, they and who--typically go before a verb as the subject of a sentence or clause (a group of words with a subject and a verb). Us and other "objective" pronouns--including her, him, me, them and whom--typically come after a verb or preposition.
Be careful when writing sentences with two clauses, like these: Please help us who are your children. This is a grand day for us who are your children. The word ending the first clause should be the "objective" pronoun us, not we. Us is the object of the verb help and the preposition for. Also, the word beginning the second clause should be the "nominative" pronoun who. See pronouns; we; who, whom.
Also follow those rules when joining pronouns and other nouns with conjunctions like and and or. Examples: We contacted them. They responded to us. He cooperated with Tish and us. Federal officials will explain the new policy to state agencies, including us in the Department of Ecology.
utilize See usage, use, utilize.
U-turn (n. and adj.)
Maintained by Gary B. Larson of Seattle, Washington, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated April 14, 2013.